Chermoula chicken is an outstanding Moroccan dish that calls for minimal ingredients and is packed with serious flavor! Chicken thighs are baked in a delicious herb-based marinade featuring preserved lemon to bring you an amazing taste explosion!
I'll start by saying this is one of my all-time favorite chicken dishes, just outstanding in flavor and it tastes as good as it smells. PLEASE give this one a go!
Moroccan chermoula chicken is one of those dishes that will instantly fill your kitchen with flavorful aromas as it bakes in the oven — my favorite! North African cuisine tends to do that, and I’m here for it. Dishes like harissa chicken, pan roasted carrots with toasted spices, and shakshuka are just a few that I know and love.
Chermoula is a hugely important part of this dish. It’s a zesty marinade made from fresh herbs and spices like cilantro, parsley, oregano, and a handful of other ingredients. Depending on the variety (red, green, or yellow), paprika, harissa, and mint are also used. My favorite is the red version. Some chefs like to use it as a sauce and others serve it on the side as a condiment. There are so many ways to enjoy it!
I love slathering meats, seafood, and vegetables with the stuff, which is why this recipe is one of my specialties! It’s so easy to make, and once you prepare your chermoula marinade, all you have to do is pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes. It’s a simple (and yummy) weeknight dinner idea that is sure to be a hit. It’s versatile enough to be served all year long!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Chicken Thighs - Opt for boneless! I prefer the skin off — the chicken stays moist as it bakes thanks to the chermoula marinade.
- Chermoula - I love using my red homemade version, but you may be able to find a store-bought version in a specialty foods store.
- Lemons - You’ll need both lemon juice and sliced lemons for this dish. Roast the slices before serving for an added citrus touch.
HOW TO MAKE CHERMOULA CHICKEN
1. Marinate The Chicken. Place the chicken thighs in a bowl and rub with chermoula so that it can marinate. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature — no need to refrigerate it.
2. Prepare The Lemons. Slice a few lemons in half and heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Roast them with the cut side down until they are charred. Remove from the skillet and set aside for serving.
3. Bake The Chicken. Preheat your oven to 400° F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or oil. Place the marinade and chicken in the dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
4. Broil And Serve. Remove the foil from the Moroccan chermoula chicken and pour some lemon juice over it. Place under your broiler for about 5 minutes to crisp and char the top. Serve with your preferred rice and vegetables. For extra juicy results, pour the pan juices on top!
What Is Chermoula Sauce Made Of?
Chermoula is a North African marinade, relish, sauce, and condiment often seen in Moroccan cooking. It’s traditionally made from fresh herbs, spices, seasonings, and a bit of lemon juice. There are three different varieties: red, green, and yellow. Red chermoula features preserved lemon, saffron, paprika and harissa. The green variation features fresh mint as well. Green chermoula is sometimes compared to pesto or a chimichurri, but the two sauces have very different ingredients.
What Does Chermoula Taste Like?
The star of this dish, chermoula, is often compared to chimichurri, salsa verde, and (as mentioned) pesto. While it does look similar to all of the above, the flavor profile is quite unique and uses preserved lemon pulp! It’s a refreshing combination of citrus, herbs like cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, and mint — depending on the type of chermoula. It also sometimes features lemon juice and olive oil. It’s spicy, herby, and adds brightness to otherwise standard recipes. I love using it on shrimp, fish, chicken, and even steak!
What Can I Use Instead of Chermoula?
While I definitely recommend that you opt for the traditional homemade sauce for this Moroccan chermoula chicken recipe, you can replace it. You can check out your local supermarket for a dried chermoula spice blend. Add a bit of lemon juice and harissa and you’ll achieve a similar flavor to the homemade version. If you’re not in a rush, you can also order premade chermoula that comes in a jar online.
What Can I Serve With This Dish?
You can serve my Moroccan chermoula chicken with several different types of sides! Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Moroccan couscous with pomegranate
- Warm Moroccan carrots with yogurt dressing
- Instant Pot basmati rice
- Batata harra (Lebanese potatoes)
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Moroccan Chermoula Chicken
- 2 lbs bonesless chicken thighs
- 1 cup red chermoula (See Below)
- 3 lemons
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 small preserved lemons
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves chopped
- 2 tablespoon parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 ½ teaspoon Ras el Hanout
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Grind the saffron threads in the palm of your hand, or in a mortar and pestle (preferred). Mix with 2 tablespoons of warm water in small bowl. Let sit and allow saffron to bloom and draw out as much color as possible. It should be a deep ruby red.
- Slice preserved lemons into quarters, then scoop out the pulp. Discard any seeds, save rind for other use. Roughly chop pulp and place in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Stir through saffron water and use as marinade, basting sauce or relish for seafood and chicken dishes.
- Place the chicken in a bowl. Rub the chermoula all over the chicken. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Slice the lemons in halves. In a skillet over medium high heat pan roast the lemons cut side down for several minutes until charred. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Spray 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray or oil. Transfer marinade and chicken to baking dish. Arrange in single layer and cover with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, pour lemon juice over chicken and place under broiler for 5 minutes to slightly char the top.
- Serve with rice of choice and vegetables. Spoon pan juices over chicken.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
You always have the best when I want to make something a little different than the other food blogs out there, thanks for being you Kevin!
I really appreciate the kind words here Ariel. So happy you found me and try the recipes. 🙂
You hit it out of the park with this one Kevin! Another winner and the family ALL loved it.
So happy everyone enjoyed this one Constance. The flavors are incredible, right?!
Outstanding! Just amazing flavors and not a lot of work either.
One of my all-time favorites, thanks Dave!