Chicken Tagine (Tangine/Tajine) is a traditional slow-cooked Moroccan dish with juicy chicken thighs, onions, olives, spices, and preserved lemons. The aroma wafting from your kitchen will have the entire family crowding around. And don’t panic! You can do this surprisingly simple dish without a tagine.
Whether you call it Tangine, Tajine, or Tagine, we all know that you’re talking about.
I tried this plate of deliciousness in a Morrocan restaurant a while back. I embarrassed myself by leaving my plate shining clean. Mopping up with pieces of khobz (Moroccan bread), I wasn’t about to waste one drop of that drool-worthy sauce.
When I finally got the chance to play with the recipe, it surprised me how easy it came together.
The chicken tagine (or as others would call it tajine or tangine) recipe looked complicated at the beginning, but after organizing the ingredients, it went together quite smoothly.
This dish comes from a little closer to home. It’s only half a continent away from my beloved Cameroon. That may be why I fell in love with it. The olives and preserved lemons give it salty umami that soothes the soul.
Moroccan Chicken Tagine/Tangine/Tajine
I’m sure the inventor of this fantastic recipe cut up a whole chicken. However, it’s really good with leg quarters or thighs, too.
Leg quarters don’t get tough when overcooked. And they’re budget-friendly on top of being downright delicious.
This recipe has several traditional Moroccan ingredients, the most unique being preserved lemons. You should be able to find them in a Middle Eastern grocery store. Also, they’re super easy to make.
Another unique ingredient is Ras el hanout spice mix. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go out and look for it. My recipe uses spices you probably already have in your pantry.
Just wash whole lemons really well, quarter them, and roll them in salt. Then pack them in a glass jar, squishing them down until the juices come out and cover the lemons.
You may need some extra lemon juice to cover them completely. I like to put a glass or stone weight to keep them under the brine. Put a lid on and let them ferment for a week, then refrigerate. Ready!
What is a Tagine (Tajine)?
Tagine, or tajine, refers to the North African cone-shaped clay or ceramic pot and the dish typically made in it. The most popular is chicken, but you can make it with lamb, beef, or fish.
This is the original slow cooker, and you can add spices and vegetables for a one-pot meal. Before modern stoves, this beauty set on hot coals and stayed hot for hours, slow cooking its contents to tender perfection.
It’s not hard to use a tagine, but watching a YouTube video won’t hurt to help get the hang of it the first time. However, don’t feel like you have to run out and buy one. Even modern Moroccan cooks use a Dutch oven or braiser.
- Chicken – You can use the whole chicken cut into pieces or the leg quarters.
- Salt and Pepper – Take it easy with these pantry staples. The olives and preserved lemons have quite a bit of salt already. So taste test before adding more.
- Marinade Seasonings – Ginger, garlic, cumin, and smoked paprika give this incredible recipe its intense flavor. And you already know how much I love intense flavor.
- Oil – My go-to oil, especially for this mouthwatering dish, is olive oil. It adds a more authentic flavor to the finished product.
- Tagine Seasonings – Onions, garlic, ginger, coriander, paprika, ground cumin, bay leaves, and cayenne pepper kick up the flavor more than a few notches to give the dish its authentic Morrocan flavor. And feel free to adjust the heat to your tastes.
- Green Olives – These babies are salty! We all have our favorites, whether they’re green or black. It’s a good idea to pit the olives first. It’s not fun going to the dentist with a broken tooth.
- Apricots – This ingredient might surprise you. However, it really does add depth of flavor and a subtle sweetness that is divine. Some recipes use raisins instead, but I prefer the taste of apricots in this recipe. I usually use dried apricots, but you can use fresh, too.
- Chickpeas – Also called garbanzos, they are filling and nutritious. If unexpected guests arrive, I can stretch the stew with extra chickpeas and have a great time.
- Chicken Broth – Just enough to steam the chicken tagine without turning it into a stew. It also helps deglaze the pan.
- Lemons – The original recipe uses preserved lemons. But hey, how many of us have those in the pantry. I didn’t use them, but you can if you want. You can find them and other seasonings in Middle Eastern stores or online.
- Parsley – A beautiful garnish that adds flavor and nutrition. Did you know parsely actually helps you digest your meal? Cool!
- Tagine – A braiser with a lid or Dutch oven will work fine if you don’t have a tagine. For that matter, you can even turn this into a stew with a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. I won’t tell. It’s the spices that make this dish.
A slow cooker will work, too. Brown the chicken and saute the onions first. Put the onions and remaining ingredients in the bottom of a slow cooker and arrange the chicken on top. Simmer for eight hours on low or four hours on high. Add the lemon just before serving.
- Olives and lemons – I love experimenting with different flavors. The amounts are only suggestions. If you love olives, put in some extra. If a strong lemony flavor isn’t your thing, squeeze in a little fresh squeezed lemon juice and the end and call it good.
- Apricots – A teaspoon of honey will sweeten this up if you don’t want to use apricots. You can also replace them with other dried fruit, like raisins or dried figs.
Serving & Storage Instructions
I live to serve Chicken Tagine in a bowl over white rice (basmati is my choice for this recipe), but it’s usually thick enough for a plate. And don’t forget the flatbread.
Chicken Tagine will last three or four days in the fridge in an airtight container.
It also stores well in the freezer in an airtight container for up to three months. When ready to enjoy, thaw it in the fridge overnight, then reheat it low on the stove.
While this mouthwatering dish is usually associated with Morocco, it is actually a Berber dish. Berbers are an ethnic group native to North Africa, including Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and other countries.
Soup is soupy; a stew is thicker but still may need to be served in a bowl. Then there’s tagine, and though it is classified as a stew, you can serve this on a plate, and it won’t run off.
A mistake many makes is adding too much liquid to this recipe. Basically, tagine steams itself and browns for that wonderful caramelized taste. The advantage of having an authentic tagine is that the shape of the lid allows escaping steam to condense and drip down back into the stew.
Years ago, in ancient kitchens, a wood fire was the primary cooking method. These unique pots make the most of the heat and are meant for the stovetop or oven.
What to Serve with Chicken Tagine
Most people think of couscous when they think of Moroccan food. Surprisingly, that is not the typical side for chicken tagine, but don’t let that stop you. That’s what I served it with, and the family was ecstatic.
More Flavorful Chicken Recipes
- Smoked Chicken Legs – This soul-satisfying comfort food, perfect for smoking enthusiasts, is a super-easy way to prepare your favorite chicken piece without messy splatters. The delicious aroma is irresistible.
- Instant Pot Curry Chicken – Warming comfort food on a chilly day is quick and easy. Tender, saucy, and spicy chicken in an instant pot takes the worry out of what’s for dinner. Throw it all in that morning and come home to dinner ready and waiting for you.
- Homemade Chicken Pot Pie – Chunks of diced chicken, carrots, and peas make this Homemade Chicken Pot Pie the perfect Southern comfort food. You can make one big pie for the family or cute mini pies for individual servings.
- Chicken Lasagna – A creamy three-cheese mix, white sauce, and tender chicken layered with lasagna noodles is a super easy makeover for Fettuccine Alfredo. Add mushrooms and spinach, and you have something worth writing home about.
- Peri-Peri Chicken – This mildly spicy luscious chicken dish bursts with delightful flavors from Peri-Peri Sauce, Creole Seasoning, lemon, and herbs. Then break out the grill or turn on the oven for a perfectly tender and juicy chicken entree.
How to Make Chicken Tagine
Marinate the Chicken
- Season the Chicken – Place chicken thighs in a large bowl, then salt and pepper. Next, add garlic, ginger, cumin, and paprika. (Photos 1-3)
- Allow to Marinate – Mix chicken with a spoon or hands until they are well coated with spices. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use or marinate for up to 24 hours. (Photo 4)
Prepare the Chicken Tagine
- Brown the Chicken – When ready to cook, heat a skillet or large saucepan with about 2 tablespoons of oil, and then brown the chicken for about 3-5 minutes until the chicken is golden brown. Remove and set aside. Drain any excess oil from the skillet. (Photos 5-7)
- Saute the Veggies and Seasonings – Add onions, garlic, ginger, coriander, smoked paprika, cumin, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste. Stir for about 3-4 minutes for the flavors to come together and the onions to wilt. (Photo 8 & 9)
- Add the Good Stuff – Add chickpeas and apricots. Pour in chicken stock or water, then olives. Season with salt and pepper, being careful with the salt. (Photo 10-11)
- Add the Chicken – Return the chicken to the pan along with the accumulated juice from the chicken and sliced lemons. (Photo 12)
- Bake – Place in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes.
- Ready to Serve – Remove and serve with Moroccan couscous, garnished with parsley and more lemon slices, if desired.
- Cover and Simmer – Reduce heat and cook covered for about 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. As the chicken cooks, add more liquid if needed. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Finishing Touches – Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley, serve with this Moroccan couscous and extra lemons, if desired.
Watch How To Make It
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Chicken Tagine Marinade
- 2 tablespoon (28 ml) olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 3 teaspoons (6 g) garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground coriander
- ½ tablespoon (3.5 g) paprika
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground cumin
- 2 small bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) cayenne pepper
- 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup apricots
- 1 cup (240 ml) chicken stock or water, more as needed
- 1 ½ cup (195 g) green olives
- 1 tablespoon (4 g) fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced plus extra for serving
Chicken Tagine Marinade
- Place chicken thighs in a large bowl, then salt and pepper. Next, add garlic, ginger, cumin, and paprika.
- Mix chicken with a spoon or hands until they are well coated with spices. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use or marinate for up to 24 hours.
Preparing the Chicken Tagine
- When ready to cook, heat a skillet or large saucepan with about 2 tablespoons of oil, and then brown the chicken for about 3-5 minutes until the chicken is golden brown. Remove and set aside. Drain any excess oil from the skillet. (Use an oven-proof skillet if you want to make the oven-baked version.)
- Add onions, garlic, ginger, coriander, smoked paprika, cumin, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste. Stir for about 3-4 minutes for the flavors to come together and the onions to wilt.
- Add chickpeas and apricots. Pour in chicken stock or water, then olives. Season with salt and pepper, being careful with the salt.
- Return the chicken to the pan along with the accumulated juice from the chicken and sliced lemons.
Oven-Baked Chicken Tagine
- Preheat oven to 325℉/163℃. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes.
- Remove and serve with Moroccan couscous, garnished with parsley and more lemon slices, if desired.
Stovetop Chicken Tagine
- Reduce heat and cook covered for about 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. As the chicken cooks, add more liquid if needed. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley, serve with this Moroccan couscous and extra lemons, if desired.
Tips & Notes:
- Take it easy with the salt. Olives are pretty salty, and you may not need to put much more. I would definitely do a taste test first, especially if I use preserved lemons.
- Marinating the chicken is an important step. Your taste buds will thank you if you don’t skip it. In fact, it’s better if you can start it marinating the night before.
- This recipe may seem dry, but don’t be tempted to add more liquid. Unless, of course, it’s completely dry on the bottom and starting to stick.
- Cutting the chicken into serving size pieces makes it easier to marinate and fit in the pot.
- Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.