Moroccan Chicken Tagine is a savory stew made with bone-in chicken thighs, carrots, chickpeas, and a blend of warm spices. Sweet, dried apricots complete this full-flavored recipe.
Moroccan Chicken Stew with Chickpeas and Apricots
Chicken thighs are always high on my list of easy, affordable protein options. They are flavorful, juicy, easy to work with, hard to overcook, and can be used in so many different recipes! This easy chicken tagine takes the humble chicken thigh and turns it into a wonderful stew, filled with spices and sweetness. Perfect for a chilly evening!
What makes this chicken tagine so easy (and yummy)? Well, for one thing, it all comes together in one pot, which is a huge win in this busy cook’s book. Or cookbook. Uhm… Whatever. 😐
Second, you don’t have to search for any hard-to-find ingredients. I’ve streamlined things so that you can pull this dinner together with ordinary grocery items you probably already keep on hand.
And third, the combination of flavors here is so simple, but so bold! Mild chicken and chickpeas play beautifully with tangy lemon, pungent garlic, an array of colorful spices, and sunshiny dried apricots.
What Is a Tagine?
Okay, so what puts the “tagine” in chicken tagine? That’s a great question, and the answer is in the cooking method. A tagine is a special cooking pot with a cone-shaped lid. The lid allows some steam to escape, but also catches much of the steam and funnels the moisture back down to the food. If you don’t have a tagine, though, you can still enjoy this recipe. Just substitute a braiser or Dutch oven, as I’ve done here.
What Is Chicken Tagine Made Of?
Let’s look at the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. At first it may seem like a lot, but many of the ingredients are just ground spices, but aside from those, there are only a few other things you’ll need.
Lemon: A whole ripe lemon. We’ll be zesting it and juicing it.
Garlic: Freshly minced is best, but you could also use garlic from a jar, or even garlic powder in a pinch.
Spices: You will need paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and coriander. So flavorful and colorful!
Oil: Vegetable oil or another neutral cooking oil.
Chicken: Look for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.
Salt and Pepper
Onion: I use yellow onion, but any kind will do. Thinly slice the onion.
Chicken Broth: Low sodium is my go-to. Regular chicken broth or stock would work also, or you could use homemade chicken broth, bone broth, or even vegetable broth.
Carrots: Sliced into ½-inch thick coins.
Chickpeas: Rinse and drain one 15-ounce can of chickpeas.
Honey: For a touch of sweetness.
Dried Apricots: Cut in half lengthwise. They should not have any pits.
Cilantro: Some for the pot, and a little extra for garnish.
How to Make Chicken Tagine
This one-pot dish uses a sort of “layered” technique, cooking the chicken first, and then adding the other ingredients a few at a time to build up plenty of yummy flavors in the stew. Here’s how to do it:
Prep the Lemon, Garlic, and Spices. Before you start cooking, you’ll need to zest the entire lemon. Then, cut the lemon in half, juice it, and set the lemon juice aside. Next, mix a teaspoon of the zest with a teaspoon of the garlic, and set that aside as well. Finally, mix the spices together and set them aside.
Brown the Chicken. Set a 4 to 5 quart braiser over medium-high heat, and add the oil. (You can also use a Dutch oven.) Pat the chicken dry using paper towels, season the chicken with salt and pepper, and brown it in the hot oil for about 5 minutes per side.
Cook the Onions, Lemon Zest, Garlic, and Spices. Take the chicken out of the braiser, and set it aside on a clean plate. Add the onions to the braiser and turn down the heat to medium. Stir in the rest of the lemon zest (not the mixture you made in step one), and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the rest of the garlic (not the mixture from step one) and the spice blend as well. Let that cook for a minute to release the fragrances.
Add the Broth, Carrots, Chickpeas, and Honey. Now it’s time to deglaze the pot, scraping up all the yummy “fond” or browned bits at the bottom. Pour in your chicken broth, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot, stirring all the browned bits into the broth. Add the carrots, chickpeas, and honey; bring the tagine to a simmer.
Finish Cooking the Chicken. Now you can return the chicken thighs to the braiser. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the braiser, and cook the tagine for 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook for 15 more minutes, or until the chicken’s internal temperature registers at 165˚F.
Finish the Sauce. Once again, take the chicken out of the pot and set it aside on a clean dish, covered with foil or a lid. Skim any excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid, turn up the heat to medium, and add the dried apricots to the pot. Simmer for about 5 minutes before stirring in the lemon zest and garlic mixture, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper, and adjust as needed.
Enjoy! Return chicken to the sauce, garnish with more cilantro, and serve.
Tips for Success
This savory-sweet stew is guaranteed to be a hit, especially if you check out these helpful tips for success. Happy cooking, and bon appetit!
Slow Cooker Option: You can also make this recipe in your slow cooker! Just follow the first two steps of browning the chicken and cooking the onions, lemon zest, garlic, and onions. Then deglaze the pot with chicken broth, and pour that along with everything else over the browned chicken in your slow cooker insert. Cook on HIGH for about 4 hours, or on LOW for about 8 hours.
Preserved Lemons: Preserved lemons are not always easy to find, but if you can use them instead of the regular lemon, go for it! There’s no need to zest the lemon, just separate the pulp from the rind and finely chop the pulp. Use the chopped pulp in place of the zest, and add the rind to the tagine in place of the lemon juice.
Whole Chicken: If you like, you can also make this recipe using a whole chicken, cut up into serving pieces.
What Goes with Chicken Tagine?
Traditionally, chicken tagine is only served with Moroccan bread (khobs) and perhaps a salad. If you are looking for an easy side dish or two, try one of these:
Bread: Traditional Khobz bread takes somewhere around 2 hours to make because it is a yeast bread that has to rise before baking. If you’d like a slightly simpler flatbread recipe, try this Easy 2 Ingredient Naan Bread. It’s not an authentic side, but it is quick and very tasty! Pitas are also a good substitute.
Salad: One of the most popular Moroccan salads is made with tomatoes, herbs, onions, and spices. It’s very simple, not unlike Tabbouleh. For an even simpler salad option, try this Tomato Salad with Sweet Onions.
A Simple Grain (or Not): In Morocco, tagine is rarely if ever served with anything other than bread, but stateside tagine is often paired with couscous. Whip up a batch of plain couscous, plain rice, or go low-carb with this easy Cauliflower Rice instead.
Storing and Reheating Guidelines
Leftover chicken tagine can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. To keep it fresh, store it in an airtight container.
Reheat on the stove over low heat until the chicken is piping hot.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, you can! Place the cooled chicken tagine in an airtight container, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Prep Time 15mins
Cook Time 1hr
Total Time 1hr15mins
Zest the entire lemon. Then, cut the lemon in half, juice it, and set the lemon juice aside.
In a small mixing bowl combine 1 teaspoon lemon zest with 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Set aside.
In a separate small mixing bowl, combine the paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and coriander. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a 4 to 5-quart braiser set over medium-high heat. You can also use a Dutch oven.
Pat dry the chicken thighs with paper towels.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken thighs to the heated oil and brown the chicken thighs for about 5 minutes per side. Add more oil as needed.
Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add onions to the braiser, decrease heat to medium, and stir in remaining plain lemon zest; cook for 4 minutes, or until onions are soft, stirring frequently.
Stir in remaining plain garlic and previously prepared seasoning mixture; cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Stir in the broth and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned pieces from the bottom of the pot.
Add in carrots and chickpeas.
Stir in the honey and bring mixture to a simmer.
Return chicken thighs to the pot.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove cover and continue to cook for 15 more minutes, or until chicken’s internal temperature registers at 165˚F. Use an Instant Read Meat Thermometer to check for doneness.
Remove chicken thighs from the pot and set aside; keep them covered.
Using a spoon, skim off any fat from the surface of the sauce.
Increase heat to medium, stir the apricots into the sauce and bring sauce to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in previously prepared lemon zest and garlic mixture, reserved lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Taste sauce for salt and pepper, and adjust.
Return chicken to the pot and remove from heat; let stand for about 5 minutes.
Garnish with more cilantro and serve.
Tagine is a traditional Moroccan cooking vessel made of clay. For those that do not have one, a braiser or a Dutch oven works just fine.
Chicken Tagine strives for the balance of sweet and savory, and that is why we use sweet spices and apricots alongside lemons, and sometimes olives. If you’d like to use olives, about 1 cup green olives should be enough.
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