Looking for a delicious and easy-to-make chicken dish with a Moroccan twist? Try this recipe for Moroccan Lemon Chicken thighs! This flavourful dish features tender chicken thighs marinated in fragrant spices and tangy lemon juice, all cooked to perfection in a skillet without the need for a tagine or preserved lemons.
This Moroccan chicken recipe is a streamlined version of a traditional Moroccan lemon chicken tagine. It's a 30-minute skillet recipe, all cooked in one pan. Delicious Mediterranean flavours in a simple weeknight meal! Gluten-free, Paleo and Keto.
Chicken with fresh lemons, like these recipes for Easy Baked Lemon Chicken, or Baked Lemon Artichoke Chicken is always a popular combination. And when you add fragrant Mediterranean spices, tomatoes and olives to it, you have a dish with bold flavours.
Whether you're a fan of Moroccan cuisine or simply looking for a new twist on chicken, this recipe is sure to become a new favourite.
Be prepared to be asked for seconds when you make this recipe!
❤️ Why this Moroccan chicken thighs recipe works
- All the flavour without the fuss! I love dishes with intense flavours, and I also like those that are quick and easy to make. This one fits the bill!
- A one-pan 30-minute meal. This spiced chicken thighs recipe is made in one pan on the stovetop and can be ready in 30 minutes or less.
- No tagine is necessary! This is an adaptation of a classic Moroccan dish. While traditional Moroccan chicken recipes are simmered in a clay or ceramic pot called a tagine, you can achieve similar results without one. Just use your everyday skillet!
- Make it without preserved lemons. Yes, preserved lemons are incredibly delicious. They also take a while to make. If you don't have the luxury of extra time to do so, simply use fresh lemons in this lemon chicken recipe.
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are a few details about the ingredients and steps to help you make this Moroccan lemon chicken recipe perfectly every time.
- chicken: this recipe is designed to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you'd like, but be sure not to overcook them. Chicken breasts can easily become dry and stringy if they're cooked too long.
- spices: cumin, onion powder, garlic poweder, coriander, paprika, black pepper and sea salt--a perfect combination for this Moroccan spiced chicken recipe!
- vegetables and aromatics: onions, cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic cloves, and green olives
- herbs: oregano and thyme. Fresh or dried.
- lemon: You'll need the juice from half a lemon as well as fresh lemon slices for serving and garnishing this dish.
- chicken broth: to make a sauce to serve over rice, quinoa or gluten-free couscous. Check the label to make sure the broth is gluten-free.
You'll find complete instructions to make this easy Moroccan chicken with lemon and olives in the recipe card below. Here's a short summary of what you'll do.
- Spice it up! You'll start by combining the Mediterranean spices and sprinkling them on both sides of the chicken thighs.
- Sauté and Sear: Next, in a large skillet or Dutch oven, you'll sauté onions and garlic over medium-high heat, sear the chicken on both sides, then sprinkle it with herbs.
- Sauce and scrape: Remove the chicken from the pan and keep it warm while you add lemon juice and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer: Return the chicken to the pan. Add cherry tomatoes and olives and simmer while the tomatoes soften and burst and the sauce reduces.
- Serve: Add a few slices of fresh lemon. Serve with vegetable side dishes or over rice or quinoa or a bed of gluten-free couscous like this cauliflower couscous.
👍🏼 Helpful Tips
An instant-read meat thermometer can be your best friend when you're cooking chicken. It takes the guesswork out of the equation. No more worrying if you've undercooked or overcooked your chicken.
Be food safe! Always refrigerate leftover food promptly. Bacteria can form in food left at room temperature for more than two hours.
🔁 Possible Variations
Instead of tomatoes and olives, substitute dried apricots and/or raisins for authentic North African flavours.
❓ Frequently Asked Questions
For the best flavour, choose deli olives over those that are sold in jars or cans. I use green olives like Castelvetrano in this recipe, and you can also use a combination of green olives and kalamata olives.
Even though olives with pits sometimes have more flavour, it's best to use pitted olives in this recipe.
🥶 Storage and Freezing Instructions
Keep leftovers covered in the fridge for three days. You can freeze this dish, too. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a skillet over low to medium heat until heated through. You may want to add a little more chicken broth to the pan.
🍽 What to serve with Moroccan chicken
Serve over or alongside rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa.
A staple of North African cuisine, couscous makes a perfect side dish for Moroccan Lemon Chicken thighs. You can prepare it plain or add vegetables like carrots and onions. Substitute my recipe for gluten-free cauliflower couscous, if necessary.
Try it with this Instant Pot Cranberry Pistachio Jasmine Rice, but leave out the cranberries this time. (Their sweet-tart flavour would conflict with the tomatoes and olives.)
Air Fryer Roasted Carrots with Feta and Pistachios also pair well with this Moroccan chicken. Or simply make a sheet pan of roasted root vegetables to go with it.
Flatbread: Serve warm flatbread or pita bread to soak up the juices from the Moroccan Chicken thighs. Use gluten-free flatbread if necessary.
Enjoy every bite!
🗒More favourite chicken thigh recipes
Easy recipes with juicy chicken thighs:
- Honey-Dijon Turmeric Chicken Thighs
- Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken Thighs
- Grilled Cajun Chicken Thighs with Zesty Quinoa
- 4-Ingredient Honey Lime Chili Chicken Thighs
- One-Pan Lemon Artichoke Chicken
When you make this recipe for Moroccan chicken with lemon and olives, please leave a comment and a rating below. I love hearing how my recipes turned out for you, or what adaptations you made. Thanks in advance!
Subscribe to my weekly newsletter and have new recipes delivered straight to your inbox.
This post has been updated with new photos and extra information.
Moroccan Lemon Chicken Thighs with Olives
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepepr, freshly ground
- 3 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
- ½ cup yellow onions, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, (about 6 thighs)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tbsp. fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or 1 tbsp. fresh
- 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
- 1 large lemon
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, or other small tomatoes
- ½ cup mild green olives, like Castelvetrano
- Combine the spices: cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, paprika, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle the spice mix over both sides of each chicken thigh.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Add sliced onions and sauté until softened, then add coarsely chopped garlic cloves. Stir for 1 minute.
- Add the chicken thighs. Sear on one side for 4- 5 minutes until nicely browned, then flip and sear on the other side for 4 - 5 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm while you add lemon juice and scrape up the brown bits from the pan. (You can leave the onions and garlic in the skillet.) Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Return the chicken to the pan. Add cherry tomatoes and olives. Simmer while the tomatoes soften and the sauce reduces.
- Check the temperature. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F. when inserted into the thickest part of each thigh.
- Remove from the pan and serve with vegetable side dishes, or over rice or quinoa.