Skip to Content

Authentic Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Authentic Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

When we were planning a visit to Marrakesh we couldn’t wait to try Chicken Tagine. And when we tried our first authentic chicken tagine dish, we knew we had been right! It was sublime! 

The savory, briny notes of preserved lemons and olives with aromatic spices, created a delightful and well-balanced dish. The chicken itself was tender and juicy due to the slow cooking process. There was a slight smokiness to the dish, due to being cooked over coals.

We’ve recreated this dish at home many times.

What is a Tagine?

A Tagine is a pottery dish with a cone-shaped lid used to make traditional Moroccan cuisine. 


Colorful and Unique Tagines (Photo Credit)

The most traditional method is to set the tagine on top of a base heated with wood coals. The meat, vegetables, and herbs are slow-cooked to perfection over the coals. The conical lid of the tagine is designed to capture and condense steam, allowing it to drip back down into the dish. This helps to keep the ingredients moist during the slow cooking process.

While our recipe is a chicken tagine, many different types of meat can be prepared in a tagine. Lamb is a popular choice, and there are delicious dishes made with beef and fish as well. Tagines also produce delicious vegetarian dishes with ingredients like tofu, legumes, or tempeh.

In the absence of wood coals, the tagine can also be simmered on a gas range with a metal diffuser, or placed directly in the oven.

Don’t forget to pin or bookmark the recipe for later!

Chicken Tagine Recipe

If you don’t have a traditional tagine, you can use a Dutch oven or large covered skillet for this recipe. The key is finding the right ingredients and allowing time for them to mingle together over low heat.

Tagine recipes vary and some are sweetened with the use of dried fruit and honey. But the one that became a favorite for us was a very traditional tagine made with preserved lemon and olives.

What’s a Preserved Lemon?

Preserved lemons are a staple in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines, and are known for adding a unique and intense citrus flavor to the dishes in which they’re used.

It’s quite easy to make your own preserved lemons if you can’t find them available. Just follow the following steps.

Preserved Lemons for Chicken Tagine

Salty and Citrusy Preserved Lemons (Photo Credit)

First, wash the lemons thoroughly to remove any dirt or residue. Next, cut each lemon into quarters, but do not completely separate the pieces. The quarters should remain attached at the base.

Generously coat the inside of each lemon with kosher salt.  Gently open the lemons and press them into a clean, sterilized glass jar.

Squeeze additional lemons to obtain fresh juice. If the juice doesn’t cover the lemons in the jar, add the extra lemon juice to ensure they are fully submerged.

Seal the jar tightly and let the lemons ferment at room temperature for about a week. Shake the jar occasionally to distribute the salt and juice.

After the initial fermentation period, move the jar to the refrigerator. The lemons will continue to develop flavor over the next few weeks.

The preserved lemons are ready to use when the peel becomes soft. Rinse off excess salt before using it in recipes


For this chicken tagine recipe, you can substitute with the zest of one lemon and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or salt flakes for the preserved lemons. But if you can track down or make the real thing, I suggest you do!

Serve it with traditional Moroccan crusty bread, and rice, couscous, or quinoa. And if you love the exotic flavors of Morocco, you can also try this Grilled Harissa Shrimp and Moroccan Couscous Salad from Beyond Sustenance. Delicious!

Related articles about travel in Marrakech and Moroccan Recipes that you might enjoy:

Yield: 3-4 Servings

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Authentic Moroccan Chicken Tagine Recipe with Preserved Lemon and Olives. This classic Moroccan dish can be made using a traditional clay pot (tagine) or a dutch oven. The resulting chicken will be tender, juicy and full of flavor!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 3 - 4 Pieces of Skin on Chicken, legs or thighs
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Red Onion - Finely Diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic - Finely Diced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon (1 g) Ginger Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons (6.3 g) Turmeric
  • 1 Teaspoon (2 g) Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon (1.17 g) Black Pepper
  • Pinch Saffron, optional
  • 1/2 Preserved Lemon
  • 2 Cups (475 ml) Chicken Stock
  • 1 Teaspoon (4.7 g) Butter or Ghee
  • 4 - 6 Olives, with Pitts
  • 1 Tablespoon Cilantro - Chopped (about 2 sprigs)
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley - Chopped (about 2 sprigs)


  1. Add the olive oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, pulp of the preserved lemon, cumin, ginger, turmeric and black pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken to the pan and brown on both sides (about 8- 10 minutes per side).
  3. Add the chicken broth until the chicken is 3/4 covered by liquid. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the butter or ghee, cilantro, parsley and saffron. Turn the chicken occasionally, and add a little water if the liquid reduces below covering 1/2 of the chicken.
  4. Continue to cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through. Turn off the heat, add the lemon peel and olives. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
  5. Serve with crusty bread or over rice or couscous.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 307Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 135mgSodium 376mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 27g


Wednesday 27th of January 2021

Can i cook this in a dutch oven in the oven? What temp would you suggest?


Saturday 30th of January 2021

I think a dutch oven would work! Try 325 degrees (163 C)

dixya @food, pleasure, and health

Monday 4th of April 2016

i have been dreaming of eating a real Morocco!!! this looks heavenly.


Tuesday 5th of April 2016

It's delicious! And if you're thinking of planning a trip to Morocco - do it!

Skip to Recipe