This traditional Moroccan chicken tajine with olives and preserved lemon is one of the best and most flavorful tajines ever! Think juicy chicken thighs marinated in Moroccan spices in a rich sauce served with bread or over couscous.

a chicken tagine on a white counter

This post shows you how to make traditional Moroccan chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemon at home. It’s a terrific, flavorful tajine (or tagine) that’s made with juicy chicken tighs marinated in Moroccan spices and a rich sauce. Serve with bread or over couscous.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to try Moroccan recipes, chances are you’ve tried a tajine.

This chicken version celebrates the flavors of traditional Moroccan ingredients and is one of the most universally loved dishes across the country, along with this Moroccan couscous.

If you want the full Moroccan tajine experience, I recommend serving this with traditional Moroccan bread, side salads, and Moroccan coffee. I also recommend checking out this beef tagine if you’re looking for more ways to use your tagine!

bowls of onion, spices, olives and more on a counter

Ingredients

There are a few special ingredients you will need to make this recipe.

For starters, preserved lemons are a staple in creating the rich sauce in this Chicken tajine. You can use this recipe for homemade preserved lemons or you can find them online.

Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • olive oil
  • garlic, minced
  • yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • chicken thighs and/or wings
  • parsley, minced 
  • cilantro, minced
  • saffron (optional), bloomed with an ice cube for 15 minutes
  • salt
  • pepper 
  • ginger
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • turmeric 
  • preserved lemon, sliced thinly
  • green olives 
  • water 

See recipe card for quantities.

How to make it

Optional: Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the tajine from the oven, set the temperature to broil and, using tongs, move the chicken from the tajine to a baking sheet, leaving behind the sauce, olives and preserved lemons. Broil the chicken, skin side up for 5 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy.

Substitutions

Here are some easy substitutions you can make to this chicken tajine recipe if needed:

  • NO PRESERVED LEMONS – if you can’t find preserved lemons and don’t have the time to make your own, simple substitute them with thin slices of fresh lemons and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • NO GREEN OLIVES – if you can’t find mediterranean green olives, I recommend substituting them with kalamata olives for a similar flavor profile.
  • SKINLESS CHICKEN – NO BROIL – if you’re using skinless chicken thighs you can skip the broiling step altogether as your chicken will be cooked through simply from the time spent in the tajine in the oven.

Another easy substitution you can make if you’re gluten free is to serve this with your favorite gluten free bread or over quinoa instead of couscous.

a chicken tagine on a white counter

Can a Tagine (Tajine) go in the oven?

In Morocco, it is very common to see tajines used on the stovetop, in ovens, and even submerged underground (read more about that technique in this tangia recipe).

Most Moroccan tagines should be good to go in your oven.

That said, this answer will depend on the style of tagine you are using. I recommend checking the manufacturer directions before putting your tagine in the oven.

Some may allow baking up to a certain temperature, so it’s best to check first.

Making a tajine without the tajine

This might sound a little crazy but I promise there are plenty of Moroccans who make tajines (the style of dish) without an actual tajine (the cooking vessel).

Tajines can be an investment (especially if you purchase a good quality one), so I totally understand it if you’re not ready to go there.

The good news is you can still emulate the flavors and textures of a tajine meal, like this Moroccan chicken recipe, without the tool.

Here are some tips for success with making this chicken tajine without an actual tajine from my aunt in Morocco:

  • sear the chicken in a cast iron pan before sautéing the onions and garlic
  • sautee the onions and garlic with the chicken in the pan
  • follow the same steps as the recipe in the tajine, just make sure to use an oven safe lid before placing your pan in the oven

If you try this method and need help, feel free to reach out to me and ask questions in the comment section below!

Moroccan chicken tajine over a plate of couscous

Variations

Once you know how to make 1 tajine successfully, your confidence will boost and you’ll realize it’s actually quite an easy vessel to cook with.

Here are some of my family’s favorite tajine combinations:

  • Lamb tajine with tomatoes and green beans
  • Vegetable tajine
  • Chicken tajine with caramelized onions and garbanzo beans
  • Lamb shank tajine
  • Tajine with prunes and almonds
  • Tajine with peas and artichokes
  • Fish tajine with tomatoes and potatoes

There are so many amazingly flavorful tajines to explore and I hope you’ll take a second to subscribe to the blog so that you can stay up to date on all the recipes as they’re published!

a chicken tagine and salads on a white counter

What to eat with your tagine

This post talks all about how to serve your tagine. Here are a few of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy this Moroccan tagine:

  • With Moroccan Khobz – as mentioned above, the most traditional way to enjoy a tagine is with fresh bread, specifically this flatter, round style of khobz
  • With Krachel – this brioche style of Moroccan bread is flavored with anise seeds, sesame seeds, and orange blossom water. It’s fluffy, sweet, and perfect when paired with a savory sauce.
  • With couscous – as you can see pictured below, a fluffy bed of couscous makes a wonderful vessel for soaking up the delicious sauce in this tajine. Try this warm couscous salad for an extra serving of veggies.
  • With french fries – this may sound strange, but freshly fried potatoes are commonly paired with tagines like this one, and are seriously delicious with the Moroccan flavors this dish brings.

Bismillah,

Salima written in cursive
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a chicken tagine on a white counter

How to Make Moroccan Chicken Tajine (Tagine)

  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hours
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree, Dinner, Lunch
  • Method: Baked, Tajine
  • Cuisine: Moroccan, North African, Mediterannean, African

Description

This post shows you how to make traditional Moroccan chicken tajine with olives and preserved lemon at home. It’s a terrific, flavorful tajine (or tagine) that’s made with juicy chicken thighs marinated in Moroccan spices and a rich sauce. Serve over couscous. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 46 chicken thighs, skin on & bone in
  • 1 tbsp parsley, minced
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 56 strands saffron (optional), bloomed with an ice cube for 15 minutes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 preserved lemon, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup green olives
  • 2 tbsp water
  • couscous or Moroccan bread (khobz) to serve with


Instructions

  1. Prep the oven & ingredients. Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees and prepping all ingredients: mince the garlic, onion, preserved lemon, cilantro, and parsley. 
  2. Saute onions and garlic. Add half of the olive oil, plus all of the garlic and onion to the base of the tajine and sautee over medium heat until the onions begin to appear translucent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Season chicken with herbs and seasonings. Turn off the heat and carefully arrange the chicken in the tajine over the onions and sprinkle with parsley, cilantro, the rest of the olive oil, bloomed saffron, salt, pepper, ginger, paprika, cumin and turmeric. Mix well with your hands until the chicken is coated with all the spices.
  4. Arrange chicken & veggies in tajine and bake. Spread the seasoned chicken evenly around the base of your tajine. Arrange the sliced preserved lemon and olives over top. Drizzle with water, cover and bake for 1 hour (or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees), checking every 30 minutes or so. 
  5. Broil (OPTIONAL). Remove the tajine from the oven, set the temperature to broil and, using tongs, move the chicken from the tajine to a baking sheet, leaving behind the sauce, olives and preserved lemons. Broil the chicken, skin side up for 5 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Serve!

Notes

Chicken Thighs: You can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Note that they will likely take less time to cook, so be sure to check the temperature with a meat thermometer after 30 minutes to make sure they don’t overcook.

Spices: If you don’t have saffron, double the amount of turmeric used to add color. 

Keywords: Chicken Tajine, Chicken Tajine with Olives and Preserved Lemon, Moroccan Chicken Tajine