Braised Moroccan Chicken and Olives

By • October 9, 2009 144 Comments

3,923 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Author Notes: This flavorful dish was inspired by two of my favorite Moroccan ingredients- olives and preserved lemons. They work beautifully together in this dish to add a ton of flavor to the sauce. In addition, braising the chicken makes the meat wonderfully tender and juicy. Serve this dish over a bed of couscous to soak up all of the delicious sauce. Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Food52 Review: This is a pitch-perfect take on a classic dish. Sonali assembles a mouth-tingling spice mixture of ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, saffron and then adds green olives and preserved lemons to the party. The chicken is browned in oil (it's worth taking your time with this step, as you don't want it to burn) and then coated in the spice base before simmering gently in chicken stock until tender. Adding the lemons and olives towards the end helps retain their integrity and perfume. You may want to discard some of the fat after browning the chicken (this will depend on the meat you buy) -- we kept about 2 tablespoons. And couscous is a must. We used our favorite Israeli couscous (which Amanda blogged about a while back) and it was such a perfect foil for the rich, spicy sauce that we couldn't resist forking up every last grain. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2.5 pounds chicken legs and thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 cup green olives, rinsed
  • 2 preserved lemons, pulp removed; rind cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet or over medium high heat. Dry the chicken pieces and season them with salt and pepper. Place them in the skillet in batches and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.
  2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until slightly softened. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir together. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet so that 2/3 of the chicken is submerged. Add the saffron and stir to combine. Bring liquid to a simmer, cover the skillet and simmer on medium low heat 20-25 minutes. Add the olives and preserved lemons. Cover and cook another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and turn the heat to high. Cook for another 6-8 minutes until sauce reduces slightly. Stir in the cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro.

More Great Recipes: Chicken|Entrees|Stews

💬 View Comments ()

Comments (144) Questions (3)


21 days ago Sf2oak

has anyone tried the trader joes preserved lemons? if so what do you think?


3 months ago Grace Harper

This was soooooooo fantastic!!! I made it with Ina Garten's Moroccan couscous and they paired perfectly together! I used 4 chicken legs but in my opinion the sauce can accommodate 6. Great recipe!


7 months ago Ellen

This was tasty but the chicken was a bit tough. Will definitely try again, though, and maybe just cook on a lower flame during the braising phase. I loved the way the lemon and olives tasted so would definitely increase the amount of each (1 cup olives and 3 lemons).


8 months ago Jillian

I would love this as it looks delicious but I here is the nutritional information? I have dietary restrictions and would live to know the fat, carbs and protein amounts. Thanks!


8 months ago Jenny

Saw this recipe mentioned in Food & Wine and had to try it. It's outstanding - especially perfect in winter when you want something spicy and warming, yet not too heavy. And despite all of the ingredients, it comes together quickly enough for a weeknight dinner. I served it with quinoa toasted with a little olive oil. So happy I now have a big jar of preserved lemons, because this one is going into heavy rotation!


8 months ago keg72

I made this over the weekend and thought it was delicious. Due to time constraints on my end, I actually prepared it Saturday and then refrigerated it (the chicken, sauce, everything in one pot) until Sunday night. I then reheated it over a low flame, and it was perfect! The other thing I wanted to mention is that I halved the cayenne pepper because I'm a bit of a wimp, and I still felt the heat. Just something for others to consider . . . . Thanks for a great recipe!


9 months ago Merry

Do I rinse the rinds?


9 months ago Lauren Wiscomb

When you say use 2 preserved lemons, do you mean 2 whole lemons or 2 quarters of a lemon from a jar of preserved lemons? Can't wait to make this!


12 months ago Svetlana Pavelko

This i amazing recipe! My family loved it. Only, instead of preserved lemons I found a very delicious lemon-ginger marmalade and added 3 teaspoons of it to the dish. Very tasty!


about 1 year ago Beth100

We loved this(!) and as was noted in the recipe's headnotes, the flavors are beautifully balanced. Thank you for sharing a new go-to recipe!


about 1 year ago Beth100

I can't wait to try this! Boneless/skinless thighs, or bone in with skin?


about 1 year ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Bone in with skin works best. You can remove the skin before serving to cut some calories/fat. I'm sure the recipe would also work with boneless, skinless thighs but I haven't tried it that way.


about 1 year ago Beth100

Perfect, thanks! I have everything ready to make this tomorrow morning and serve tomorrow evening.


about 1 year ago ama

So good! I didn't have a few things (turmeric, cumin, saffron), so I substituted Sazon mix (I always have some) instead. And no preserved lemons, so I just threw some lemon slices in the pan instead. I reduced this recipe by more than one half using boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Served with brown rice made with coconut and chicken stock. This recipe is SUCH a keeper. I'm very happy. Thank you!


about 1 year ago Smw2170

I just made this last night and it was SO GOOD!!! I will definitely be adding this to the regular rotation of my go-to dishes, I'm so glad I found this!


about 1 year ago SweetTooth

Really excellent! I served it with black rice and I thought the sweetness of the rice complemented the sauce very well. Everyone thought it was delicious. There were several of us who did not care for green olives and we thought the olives were great. One thing I would say: if you are using "quick" preserved lemons, rinse them *very* well and use less salt on the chicken. The dish was a little salty between the lemons I used, the olives, and the chickens (I tended towards the semi-generous side for seasoning my chicken).


over 1 year ago Caroline Scriven

I just had this for dinner! It was wonderful.... served with rice. My hubby loved it too. Can't wait to give some to my neighbour tomorrow. YUMMY to the MAX


over 1 year ago Chef Bunky

If it is bitter, you may have had the heat too high and something burned on the bottom. However, you can add more broth, and try adding some honey or agave syrup to tone it down a bit. The prunes or dry apricots would need to be added at the beginning of the cooking process in order to benefit the sauce.


over 1 year ago Bali Miller

I just made this and reduced the sauce. While it is pretty -- my sauce is too spicy and bitter. Can you suggest what I can do? I am slightly desperate. I could pull out the chicken and add more broth and something to sweeten the sauce? Honey? Agave? Prunes?


over 1 year ago wisesamsmum

Hi Sonali, I finally made this after months of drooling over the pictures and procrastinating. I'm so mad that I waited this long, because it was truly divine! Would you believe it, my 17-month old ate it all up, chicken, sauce, olives and all and pronounced it 'nummy' (yummy). Thanks for a brilliant recipe!


over 1 year ago Muse

This sounds delicious...I have a question: can you use chicken breasts instead of thighs and dark meat? Thank you for posting your recipe...Peace, Light and Love.


over 1 year ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Yes, you can use chicken breast but I would use bone-in, skin on chicken breasts so that the meat doesn't dry out.


over 1 year ago LeeLeeBee

This recipe was a big hit! I used one and a half homemade preserved lemons, since mine were quite big, and omitted the saffron. I also added a handful of dried currants during the reduction of the sauce; I found that I needed a little sweetness to balance the saltiness and sourness of the lemons. I served it with vegetariannirvana's Citrus Olive Couscous (