Moroccan chicken tagine is a classic that's so easy to love. Tender chicken pieces are braised with onions, olives, preserved lemons and warm spices and served on couscous, making this a comforting meal for any time of year.
If you love Moroccan flavors, today's recipe is for you. This chicken tagine recipe is simple and easy, giving you a delicious stew that's filled with warm spices. For more inspiration, check out my chicken stew, Moroccan chickpea stew and easy lamb stew.
Table Of Contents:
What Is Tagine?
Tagine (also known as tajine) is a North African cooking vessel usually made of clay. It's round and shallow with a cone shaped lid to trap the moisture and keep the meat tender. This cooking vessel is used to make tagine which is a Moroccan stew made of meat, vegetables and warm spices slow cooked over medium heat to make a comforting meal, usually served over couscous.
You can make tagine on the stove top or in the oven. This stew has many variations: you can use lamb, chicken or only vegetables. Some variations use chickpeas or dried fruit such as apricots and prunes.
Chicken Tagine Ingredients
- Chicken: You can use any cut of chicken for this recipe, as long as it's skinless. I have found skinless bone-in chicken thighs to work best.
- Saffron: Use my tutorial on how to bloom saffron to maximize the aroma, color and flavor.
- Spices: A combination of warm spices such as cumin, paprika, ginger and turmeric would work well. If desired, use my homemade ras el hanout spice mix.
- Garlic: Use a few cloves of garlic for the chicken marinade.
- Herbs: Fresh parsley and cilantro add a lot of flavor to the chicken. If you're not a fan of cilantro, leave it out.
- Preserved lemon: We're only using the peel and discard the flesh. It's tangy, a bit salty and absolutely delicious. You can make preserved lemons at home or use store-bought.
- Onion: Use large white or yellow onion and slice them thinly.
- Olives: Green pitted olives work best for this recipe. I don't recommend using black olives.
- Tomatoes: Juicy large tomatoes such as roma would work.
- Carrots: Adds a subtle sweetness that goes well with the spices.
- Potatoes: To make the dish heartier, use Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes.
How To Make Chicken Tagine
- Place the skinless, bone-in chicken thighs in a bowl and add in the bloomed saffron, spices, minced garlic, herbs and chopped preserved lemon peel. Mix and let it marinate for 2 to 6 hours.
- Pour some olive oil at the bottom of the tagine. Thinly slice the onion and add it to the tagine, making sure to cover the bottom. Top with the marinated chicken thighs.
- Chop the rest of the vegetables. Top the chicken with potatoes, carrots and tomatoes.
- Add the olives and pour in ½ cup water. Place the lid on and make sure it's sealed on all sides.
- Cook over medium heat for 2 hours and 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are tender.
- Serve warm over couscous.
Pro Tip: Sine the tagine pot is made out of clay, it can crack if the heat is high. Therefore, keep the heat at all times for the chicken to cook perfectly.
Can I Cook Tagine Without a Tagine Pot?
Yes, you can make this chicken tagine without using the traditional tagine pot. Possible alternatives would be a Dutch oven or lidded sauté pan.
Follow the instructions as mentioned above. While the alternative vessels can handle higher heat, I recommend keeping the heat on medium at all times to let the chicken and vegetables braise and cook the same way they do when cooked in a tagine.
Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pan or pot over medium heat and add a little bit of water or stock if needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you're in a pinch, marinate the chicken for as long as it takes you to prepare and chop the rest of the ingredients.
If preserved lemons are not available, add the juice of a lemon to the marinade. Slice two lemons and place them on the chicken with the rest of the vegetables.
This completely depends on the type of tagine you have, therefore I recommend following the manufacturer's instructions. Most Moroccan tagines can go into the oven up to a certain temperature.
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Moroccan Chicken Tagine
- 8 saffron starnds
- 1 preserved lemon
- 6 chicken thighs bone-in and skinless
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- ⅓ cup parsley chopped
- ⅓ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large white onion sliced
- 1 large tomato cut into chunks
- 1 large carrot cut into chunks
- 1 russet potato cut into chunks
- 1 cup green olives pitted
- ½ cup water
- Ground the saffron strands using a pestle and mortar. Sprinkle the ground saffron over 2 ice cubes and let it melt at room temperature. This will be your bloomed saffron.
- Cut the preserved lemon into quarters, slice off the flesh and discard it. Finely chop the peel and set it aside.
- Place the chicken thighs in a bowl, add in the bloomed saffron, chopped preserved lemon peel, cumin, paprika, ground ginger. turmeric, minced garlic, parsley, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix to combine and make sure all chicken pieces are completely coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours. (If you are short of time, just do 30 minutes until you prepare and chop the rest of the ingredients)
- Drizzle the olive oil in the tagine pot. Add the onion to cover the bottom of the pot. Arrange the marinated chicken on the onion.
- Top the chicken with tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and olives. Add the water and place the lid on the tagine. Place the pot over medium heat and cook for 2 hours and 15 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables are tender.
- Serve with couscous, bread, salad or rice.
- If you don't have a tagine pot, use a Dutch oven or a lidded sauté pan. Follow the recipe as mentioned above.
- You can leave out the cilantro if you don't like the flavor.
- If preserved lemons aren't available, add the juice of a lemon to the marinade. Slice 2 lemons and add them to the tagine with the other vegetables.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat over medium heat in a pan or a saucepan and add a bit of water if needed.