Today’s recipe for chicken tagine is a slow-cooked dish featuring savory chicken, salty olives, earthy chickpeas, and loads of warm, aromatic spices. These comforting flavors and textures come together to create an authentic North African masterpiece.
Chicken tagine with chickpeas is a gift from the world of Moroccan Cuisine. Rich, earthy spices like saffron, coriander, and turmeric infuse the dish with rustic flavor while salty olives and tangy preserved lemons add a zesty brightness. You are going to love the way these flavors play together!
Traditionally, recipes like chicken tagine are prepared in a specialized clay pot, also called a tagine. If you are lucky enough to have one of these in your kitchen, that’s awesome! However, you can absolutely make this recipe without one (Dutch oven or oven proof casserole dish).
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If you enjoy this tagine recipe, try my Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Dates or Beef Tagine with Sweet Potatoes for another Moroccan evening feast! For more North African recipes, check out my Egyptian Pea Stew, Spicy Tunisian Meatballs, and this Berbere Chicken.
- Chicken – Feel free to use thighs, legs, or breasts for this chicken tagine recipe. Boneless or bone-in are both acceptable, just be sure to adjust your cooking times accordingly.
- Chickpeas – To save time, I use canned chickpeas. By all means cook your own, too. Read more about How to Cook Chickpeas here.
- Olives – Use green, black, or a combination.
- Seasonings – Chicken tagine with chickpeas is chock full of bright, earthy, and warming spices including saffron, coriander, white pepper, turmeric, and ginger.
- Preserved Lemons – These pickled lemons are bright, refreshing, and loaded with earthy spices. You can find preserved lemons in most large grocery stores or at an international market. Try your hand at my DIY version but keep in mind the lemons need a month to cure.
Do I have to use a Tagine?
A tagine typically serves as the traditional clay cooking vessel for this dish, featuring a wider base than its conically shaped top. However, it’s not necessary to have a tagine on hand to prepare this recipe. Instead, you can utilize a Dutch oven or any other pot with a snug-fitting lid.
- Prepare the Oven & Saffron. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the saffron by crushing it with your hand and combining it with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Set it aside to bloom.
- Season the Chicken. Combine the turmeric, coriander, white pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Use a paper towel to pat the chicken dry, then rub the spice mix all over the pieces. Set aside.
- Brown the Chicken. Heat one tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down first, and cook for about 3-4 minutes each side, until browned. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Alternatively, you can use a traditional tagine cooking vessel for this step. However, to avoid cracking, be sure you use a heat diffuser underneath it when on the stovetop.
- Saute Onions & Ginger. Toss 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and butter into the skillet, followed by the onions and ginger. Saute for several minutes, then add the chicken back in. Press down gently to nestle the pieces throughout the onion and ginger mixture.
- Add Other Ingredients. Sprinkle the preserved lemons and chickpeas evenly over the top of the chicken. Follow that by adding the saffron water, 2 tablespoons of parsley, and a cup of chicken stock.
- Bake the Tagine. Cover the skillet (or tagine) and transfer to the oven. Bake for 50 minutes if using bone-in chicken, or 40 minutes if using boneless.
- Add Finishing Touches. Remove the vessel from the oven and stir in the rest of the butter, parsley, and olives. Stir well and use a spoon to cover the chicken in the juices.
- Rest Before Serving. Replace the cover and let the dish rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve your chicken tagine spooned over your choice of couscous or rice.
The term tagine can refer to either the dish being cooked or the specialized vessel it is cooked in. The cooking vessel is cone-shaped with a tight-fitting lid, perfect for trapping steam and tenderizing any ingredients.
When we are talking about recipes like chicken tagine, we are referring to a group of hearty, slow-cooked stews traditionally prepared in North African cuisine. They usually include chicken, beef, or lamb along with hearty ingredients like chickpeas or other legumes. Oftentimes, tagines will include dried fruit like apricots or raisins along with briny olives and other similar ingredients.
Above all else, the defining feature of a tagine is the slow cooking process. Whether you are using a specialized, conical-shaped tagine vessel or a standard deep skillet, a tagine recipe will boast a rich aromatic flavor, tender veggies, and succulent meat.
Traditionally, this chicken tagine recipe is served over a bed of rice or couscous. If you want a bit more variety, check out a few of these ideas.
– Plain couscous, Pomegranate Couscous, or this Israeli Couscous Salad.
– Simple Jasmine, Basmati, or Jeera Rice.
– Seasoned rice like Persian Saffron or Greek Lemon Rice.
– A fresh salad like Tabouli Salad or Lebanese Fattoush.
– Pita Bread, Zaatar Bread, or any other warm, freshly made bread.
While this chicken tagine recipe may remind you of a chicken curry, these are two very distinct dishes.
A tagine is a North African (Moroccan) creation traditionally made in a specialized, cone-shaped vessel. Various meat might be included along with veggies, dried fruit, olives, nuts, spices, and herbs. The flavor profile is usually deeply aromatic, savory, and slightly sweet.
Curries, on the other hand, are a South Asian creation popular in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and beyond. A blend of meat and veggies is prepared, usually stovetop, in a coconut, tomato, or cream-based sauce. Curries can range anywhere from mild and somewhat sweet to hot and fiery.
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Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas and Olives
- 2 lbs chicken pieces (See Note 1)
- 1/8 tsp saffron
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 5 tbsp butter/ghee divided
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
- 1/4 cup preserved lemon chopped
- 14 oz chickpeas drained
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 8 oz green olives (and or black olives)
- 4 tbsp parsley chopped, divided
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Crush the saffron in the palm of your hand and add to a small bowl with 2 tablespoons warm water to bloom.
- Use paper towel and pat dry the chicken. In a small bowl mix together the coriander, white pepper, turmeric and salt. Rub this spice mixture all over the chicken pieces and set aside.
- Heat a tagine on top of a stove burner with a heat diffuser underneath or use a deep skillet without diffuser on medium heat (See Note 2). Add 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter and brown the chicken pieces, skin side down first, for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from tagine/skillet and set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté the onions and ginger. Cook for several minutes and add the chicken on top of the onion mixture, pressing down to nestle the chicken in between the onions.
- Scatter the chickpeas and diced preserved lemon pieces over chicken. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the parsley, saffron water and 1 cup of chicken stock over all. Put tagine lid on, or lid to skillet, and place in the oven for 50 minutes (40 minutes for boneless chicken pieces).
- Remove from oven and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining parsley and olives. Stir and spoon juices over chicken. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with couscous or steamed rice of choice.
- I use both bone-in and boneless, skinless thighs, breasts and or legs. For the bone-in, cook in oven for the 50 minutes and 40 minutes for the boneless if using.
- You should not place a glazed clay tagine on a direct flame or it will crack and ruin the tagine.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.