My Favorite Moroccan Chicken Tagine Recipe

October 19, 2009 | By | Comments (8)


While I love a slow cooker and my braiser, at the first sign of cold weather I pull out my tagine. A tagine is a cooking vessel originally from Morocco with a conical top that sits on the stove or can be used in the oven. I received one as a wedding gift years ago and I use it constantly: for beef, pork, lamb, vegetables – even turkey thighs. It’s essentially an old-fashioned slow cooker: throw the veggies and meat in the pot and simmer for a few hours. (The word tagine applies to both the cooking vessel and the dish itself.) Mine is a fire-engine red version with a cast-iron base from Le Creuset but you can find other brands at cookware stores like Sur La Table and online.

This is one of my favorite tagine recipes, a tangy spiced chicken dish using classic Moroccan ingredients that is divine served with a platter of basmati rice. (For more on tagines check out authors Paula Wolfert and Claudia Roden; they are both authorities on Moroccan cuisine.)




1 whole large chicken, cut into 8 pieces

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon saffron

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 onions, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 cup green olives, pitted

3 small preserved lemons, pulp removed (you can find them in specialty stores; if you don’t have any substitute 2 tablespoons lemon juice)


Rinse and dry chicken and place onto a clean plate.

For the marinade: In a large bowl, mix three tablespoons olive oil, the coriander, cinnamon, saffron, salt, half the onions, garlic, cumin, ginger, paprika, and turmeric. Mix thoroughly, crush the garlic with your fingers, and add a little water to make a paste.

Roll the chicken pieces into the marinade and leave for 10 to 15 minutes.

To cook, heat the tagine base on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Drop in the chicken and pour excess marinade juices over the top. Add the remaining onions, olives, and chopped preserved lemons. Place the lid on the base, bring to a boil, and immediately reduce to a simmer.

Simmer on low for 50 minutes to 1 hour. (While chicken is cooking excess juices will bubble up and pool around the edges of the tagine; just carefully ladle the juice out into a bowl. After the chicken is cooked transfer the bowl of juices to a saucepan and cook on high, reducing the liquid for about 5 minutes — essentially making a gravy — and serve on top of the chicken.)

Serves 4-6


Here are a few tagine recipes from MyRecipes:





  1. Ashley

    YUM! Your recipe looks so delicious and I have a whole chicken in my freezer right now! If you don’t have a tagine, is there any way to make it?

    October 19, 2009 at 8:17 am
  2. Erin

    I’ve always been curious about the Tagine and how to use it. Now that I have a recipe to start with, it might be time to bite the bullet and get one!

    October 20, 2009 at 11:26 am
  3. jim

    Just saw a segment ont he Learing Channel about North Western African foods, Morroco being one of the destinations. The tagine was featured in the episode and seemed so simple I had to have one. Just brought my tagine home from Williams & Sonoma, went searching for recipes and found this one, which mirrors the same ingredients as mentioned in the documentary. Can’t wait to try it out.

    September 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm
  4. Missy

    Tried this recipe, followed it to the letter. I found it to be time intensive, very salty, and generally lacking in taste aside from salt, which is sad considering it calls for about 7 dollars worth of saffron. Should have known better when the recipe called for 2 tbs. sea salt and green olives. Will not use again.

    December 6, 2012 at 7:01 am
  5. Tracey steen

    This recipe is the most beautiful tasting yummy thing put! Made it with chicken, beef and lamb! Wow!

    May 5, 2013 at 7:31 am
  6. Cathy Rae

    I just bought a tangine. This recipe looks great! Can I do in the oven? And do I need a special plate to use on a stovetop?

    May 15, 2013 at 12:44 am
  7. Mel Carraway

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I do have to say we tried it last night and the chicken fell off the bone! Fork-tender chicken! amazing.

    One thing I do have to say though, is that it was way too salty, so the other flavors got completely drowned out. I would try it with only one teaspoon of salt instead of an entire 2 TABLEspoons, That is, if I used any given the olives considering that they are also salty to begin with.

    To answer Cathy Rae – you should never use a tagine in the oven. First, it won’t work very well and it’s not really efficient at all. To use a tagine you bring everything to a boil (just to get the base hot) and turn it down to the lowest simmer setting, like you’re making rice. The heat and steam rise into the conical top where it condenses and rolls back down into the base because that top part is significantly cooler, which won’t ever happen in an oven, where the whole thing is heated evenly and uses SIGNIFICANTLY more energy to do so. Not to mention that the base will be full of gravy/juices and heavy with no real handles, so that will be potentially VERY dangerous to handle.

    June 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm
  8. Scott Pitman

    I’m assuming the 2 TABLESPOONS of salt is a typo. I make this with just under one Tablespoon and its delicious!! I’ve made it several times and now my coworkers are asking for the recipe. Another thing to note is the cilantro and also called coriander.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm

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