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A white plate filled with chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives with a fork resting on the plate.

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Course: Entree
Cuisine: Moroccan
Keyword: chicken entree, how to make chicken tagine, Moroccan cuisine recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4
Calories: 633kcal
This dish is truly something special. You can cook it in a traditional tagine cooking vessel, or in a large skillet, and have excellent results. Serve over prepared couscous. Divine.
Print Recipe


  • Tagine, or a large skillet/saucepan with a tight-fitting lid


  • 1 tbsp saffron threads
  • cup Organic Chicken Bone Broth
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 3 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 6 chicken thighs bone-in, skin on
  • 2 preserved lemons sliced
  • cups onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • cups green olives pitted
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • ½ cup cilantro fresh, chopped
  • ¼ cup pistachios roughly chopped (optional)


  • Use your fingers to crumble the saffron threads into the chicken broth and stir to dissolve. Set aside.
  • On a platter, season the flour with ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper. Dredge the chicken through the seasoned flour until fully coated.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Sear the lemon slices until browned slightly on both sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  • In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken, skin side down, until golden and crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. (The chicken will not be fully cooked at this point).
  • Add the onion to the skillet and cook until soft and translucent, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir into the onions the paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, and ½ tsp salt. Stir until combined and very fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the stock-saffron and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan by scraping up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet.
  • Place the chicken, skin-side up, throughout the pan. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and stir in the reserved lemons, olives, lemon juice, zest, and cilantro. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  • Serve over couscous and garnish with remaining cilantro and chopped pistachios.



Chicken breasts can be substituted for the thighs, though you'll lose some of the flavor if going with skinless.  If using large skin-on, bone-in breasts, you'll need to increase the braising (simmering) time to 35 to 40 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
All the spices in this dish can be found in the spice section of many well-stocked supermarkets, or at gourmet food shops, or online.
Although you can make preserved lemons at home, you'll need to start about a month in advance.  We find ordering them online is easy and the quality is good.
This dish is best served right off the stove, however, warmed leftovers are still really good.  
Searing the lemons and the chicken can all be done in advance, however, the chicken will lose some of the crispiness on the skin the longer it waits.  Be sure to simmer the seared thighs skin-side up. 


Calories: 633kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 166mg | Sodium: 1375mg | Potassium: 614mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 957IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 3mg