Warmly spiced, this ultra comforting Moroccan chicken is a rich and earthy dish. Prepared with tomatoes, onions, garlic, chickpeas, notes of citrus, plus smokey spices, this abundantly saucy chicken recipe comes complete with a quick and easy lemon and toasted almond couscous for extra coziness!
Split Chicken Breasts with a Saucy, Moroccan Twist
Living in an incredibly food-centric and diverse city such as Los Angeles, I get the wonderful opportunity to sample many delicious international cuisines at our local restaurants.
As a recipe developer, I use these dining experiences as inspiration when creating my my own comforting recipes to enjoy and share, using a little of this and a pinch of that, in the same way that I would spices.
This Moroccan chicken recipe is a divinely comforting offering when I'm looking to turn simple split chicken breasts into a meal that's brimming with lots of spices to warm our bellies.
The notes of cumin, cinnamon, coriander, smoked paprika, plus orange and lemon zest create a rich, earthy, and slightly citrusy depth to this chicken dish.
And the diced tomatoes, onions, garlic and chickpeas add a layer of texture and hearty comfort that makes each spoonful utterly delectable.
Served over a lemon and toasted almond couscous, this Moroccan chicken is my personal way of making use of some of the classic flavors and ingredients found in Moroccan cooking, and to pay homage to a fantastically flavorful and rich cuisine, made very simply in my home kitchen.
My Recipe for Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Toasted Almond Couscous
For my Moroccan chicken dish, I like to use two pairs of split chicken breasts with their bones in and skin on. This is the equivalent of four individual chicken breasts that have been separated.
I then like to gently braise the split breasts in the rich sauce that I create, to allow them to become extra tender and juicy, with a succulent texture once simmered.
After a quick sear in the pan, the sauce is prepared and then the chicken is added back in to slowly braise for about 40 minutes, just until cooked through and tender.
When finished, one can either leave the split chicken breasts whole and serve them that way, or cut the meat from the bone to create slices, or even shred the meat, if desired.
Spooning all of this deliciousness over top of the lemon and toasted almond couscous, which takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, completes this dish and tastes a little like heaven!
Here's a glance at my Moroccan chicken recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I season my split chicken breasts and sear them off for a few minutes until golden brown in my Dutch oven. I remove the chicken breast to make the sauce.
- To create the sauce, I caramelize some onions, and add some garlic and spices, followed by diced tomatoes, chickpeas, orange zest and chicken stock.
- Then, I add the seared chicken breasts back into the pan, cover with the lid askew, and simmer for roughly 40 minutes.
- While the chicken braises, I prepare my simple lemon and toasted almond couscous, and keep it warm.
- Finally, I finish the Moroccan chicken with some fresh herbs and lemon zest, and spoon some of the chicken (you can leave it in whole breast form, or slice the meat from the bones) and lots of the sauce over the lemon and toasted almond couscous, and enjoy.
by Ingrid Beer
This Moroccan chicken is prepared in rich sauce of warming spices, tomatoes, chickpeas and citrus, and served over fragrant couscous!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 851 calories (per serving with about a generous ½ cup of couscous)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Moroccan Chicken Ingredients:
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- 4 bone-in, skin on, split chicken breasts (smaller ones are better for this)
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 (15 oz) can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 cups chicken stock, hot
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Lemon and Toasted Almond Couscous Ingredients:
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups couscous
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup toasted, sliced almonds
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your chicken ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- In a small ramekin, combine the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and smoked paprika with a fork, and set aside.
- Place the 4 split chicken breasts into a large bowl or onto a large platter, and drizzle them with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Next, sprinkle about half of the spice mixture from the the ramekin over the chicken breasts, along with a couple of generous pinches of salt and black pepper, and rub the spices into the chicken. Set the remaining half of the spice mixture aside for a moment.
- Place a large, heavy-bottom and deep pan or Dutch oven over medium-high/high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Once the oil becomes very hot, add the chicken breasts, skin-side down, and allow the skin to sear and become golden-brown, about 5-6 minutes. Then, flip the chicken over, and allow it to sear on the bone-side for another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the pot, and set them aside for a moment. Then, reduce the heat to low/medium-low, add in the sliced onion, and allow it to lightly caramelize for 2-3 minutes (add a touch more olive oil if needed), scraping up any brown bits from the bottom.
- Add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the remaining half of the spice mixture from the ramekin, and stir to incorporate.
- Next, stir in the tomato paste, and allow it to cook for just a moment or two, then add in the chopped tomatoes, the chickpeas, the orange zest and the hot chicken stock, and stir to combine.
- Nestle the chicken breasts back into the pot, bone-side down and skin-side up, and cover the pot with the lid slightly askew to vent. Simmer the chicken gently on low for about 40 minutes.
- While the chicken simmers, gather and prep all of your couscous ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare your couscous, add the water, olive oil and salt into a small pot, and place the pot over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover tightly with a lid for 5 minutes until all the water is absorbed, and after 5 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork.
- Add in the lemon zest and the almonds, and fluff with fork to incorporate the ingredients, then keep the couscous warm.
- To finish the Moroccan chicken, stir in the chopped parsley, chopped cilantro and lemon zest, and add a pinch or two more of salt/pepper, if necessary. At this point, you can leave the chicken breasts on the bone, whole, or remove the bones/ribs and cut the breasts into slices and place back into the sauce.
- To serve, spoon some of the lemon and toasted almond couscous into a bowl or on a plate, place chicken on top, and spoon a generous amount of the sauce with the chickpeas, tomatoes and onions over top. Garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro, or some toasted almond slices, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Moroccan Chicken recipe:
- Split chicken breasts for succulent flavor: I like to use split chicken breasts with the skin on and bones in for this recipe, as they yield a juicy and tender result when gently braised in the spiced, rich sauce. You can substitute skin-on and bone-in chicken thighs, if you prefer, and this will make the dish even richer, with the darker meat. You can also use a combo of thighs and breast, or thighs and legs, if desired.
- Serve with fragrant couscous for an easy side: Couscous is the classic side dish served with meat dishes in Moroccan cuisine, and I love this fragrant version prepared with a hint of lemon and some toasted almonds for crunch. It takes only about 5 minutes to cook, and then five to set before you can fluff with a fork an enjoy. Other tasty options would be roasted potatoes, rice, or mashed potatoes.
- Prepare ahead for deeper flavor: A saucy dish such as this always benefits from a day or two of allowing the flavors to mingle together, which creates even more intense flavor and depth. So if you'd like to allow the flavors to mingle a bit more, you can prepare this recipe a day or two ahead of when you'd like to enjoy it with fantastic results. Then, simply reheat and serve.
Craving some more delectable and super cozy chicken dishes? Check out these Braised Chicken Thighs, this Chicken Cacciatore, this Pineapple Chicken, or this Harissa Chicken!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!
As I sit smelling your "Oktoberfest Stew" simmering away on the stove, I see this and think...this one's next! The snow is coming down hard outside and the stew smells incredible- my husband works nights and the smell woke him up. Thanks for some soothing comfort on a cold, snowy, wintery day.
The Cozy Apron
Jill, your precious comments touched me so very deeply - I truly consider it an honor when someone prepares a recipe of mine. Thank you for sharing with me; my hope is that you and your hubby will enjoy the stew that you've already prepared, and be comforted by it. And I hope that you enjoy this flavorful braise recipe as well - it is very soothing, indeed, on a cold, snowy wintery day. Thanks again for coming by to comment!
This dish reminds me of Moroccan Shabbat Fish! Goes great with a piece of challah to sop up the juices! I omitted the orange and lemon zests, as I didn't have either. And I added a sliced jalapeño, as well as a sliced green bell pepper in with the onions, for some heat 🙂 It was SO GOOD. It is May in Texas, but I couldn't wait till winter. Total. Comfort. Food. Thank you 🙂
The Cozy Apron
Hi Tasha, that's great! So happy you enjoyed the recipe, and even made it uniquely your own. Thank you for sharing!
How i wish I had this plate of chicken and couscous right now.
This sounds delicious. This is going on next weeks menu, that is if I can wait that long.
The Cozy Apron
Ha ha, love it!
We are expecting a winter storm tomorrow and I will be braising your Moroccan-style Braised Chicken! Sounds so good I can't wait to taste it tomorrow! 🙂
The Cozy Apron
Hi! That sounds like it will be very comforting and perfect for you during the storm! I truly hope you enjoy this.
I don't usually comment on blogs or websites, BUT I just had to for this one! I tried this recipe out last night and it was SOOOOO delicious! I was a little nervous about the orange zest and cinnamon...but trust the recipe! Absolutely fantastic! I had to send the recipe to my brother in law and my mom because I know they'll both rejoice in the deliciousness of this dish! To all those readers out there, do yourself a favor and try this dish out!! 😀
The Cozy Apron
That is so kind of you! Thanks! Very glad you decided to go with the recipe as it was written, and that you ended up enjoying it. 🙂
I often am inspired by Moroccan recipes. I did try this one last night. It reminded me of a cross between three dishes that I make. I used chicken breasts, no skin. I felt that I could cook the chicken in far less time in the braise than this called for. Frankly, it worked out well, although one of the cutlets I did have to cut up, as it was thicker than the others. Served with farro seasoned with bay left and salt.....oh, and a wee tad of butter. This recipe I will be keeping! I did think wedges of carrots might be a nice addition, and perhaps some honey, but this recipe stands on his own as a great dish.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Marybeth, nice to see you make this recipe your own! Glad you enjoyed, and thank you for taking the time to share your experience here.
I just returned back home to LA from a 2 week tour of Morocco. I'm missing the delicious food there, so I'm so happy to have discovered this recipe to make for my family tonight!!! A Moroccan feast! I'll let you know how it turns out...💖
The Cozy Apron
May you all enjoy, Tracie! 🙂