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Moroccan lemon chicken and green olives

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Easy but takes some time

Moroccan recipe with an intriguing history

This recipe was published in 1997 in The San Francisco Chronicle Cook book. Rod Smith, a wine writer, submitted this recipe he discovered scribbled in the back of a Moroccan cookbook. I have made a few changes, but the recipe is pretty close to the published recipe.

Slow cooked and lemony good

This saffron-scented dish takes just a few minutes to assemble. I speed up the preparation by using a Cuisinart Mini-prep to chop the garlic, cilantro and parsley. The chicken is slow cooked in olive oil for an hour and a half during which time the chicken thighs break down into fork-tender shreds and the lemon wedges disintegrate and form a delicious lemony sauce. The final addition of green olives add a bit of zip and color.

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Serving suggestions

I like to serve this dish on a platter with hummus, pita bread and a pile of tabbouleh. Let your guests assemble little sandwiches of the chicken stew, hummus and tabbouleh.


Moroccan lemon chicken and green olives

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5 from 1 review

Chicken slow-cooked with lemon wedges, saffron and green olives is transformed into a delicious shredded stew. Serve with pita bread, hummus and tabbouleh.

  • Author: Something New For Dinner
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 servings 1x


  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Small handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • Small handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 lemons, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 cup green olives


  1. Put saffron in a small bowl and add an ounce or two of water. Allow saffron to soak for about 15 minutes.
  2. Put olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven and heat. Add onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro and saffron. Stir to mix and sauté for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken pieces and stir so they are all coated in the olive oil and herb mixture. Spread chicken pieces out in the bottom of the pan. Top with lemon wedges. Cover and turn heat to medium low. Simmer for 1.5 hours, turning the chicken pieces about every 20 minutes.
  4. Add olives and cook a few minutes more to heat the olives. Transfer to a serving dish.







  1. Joyce Hopkins Cassel says:

    I loved this recipe! My chicken did not brown as i noticed in your photos..and i probably will try to brown it next time before adding lemon wedges and i cover my pan. Also, i would like to have a little more “sauce” ..but it was delicious the next day as well! Thxs!!!

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Joyce —

      Did you use skin-on chicken? You will get better browning if you do. Also, don’t overcrowd the pan when you are browning protein or vegetables. When food is overcrowded, it steams instead of browns. Skin-on chicken should also produce more sauce.

      Glad you liked the recipe!


  2. jane says:

    I made this the other night. it was delicious. I used breast meat which was good, however the suggested thighs would have been better. I made enough to have the next day!!

    1. Kim says:

      HI Jane,

      Thank you for your post. Glad you liked the Moroccan lemon chicken. Regarding chicken breasts vs. thighs, Americans are definitely chicken breast people. I think we came to prefer breasts because we were looking to reduce fat in our diets. Most of the rest of the world prefers thighs and interestingly, people pay more for thighs outside the US than they do for breast meat. Thighs are moister, more flavorful and harder to dry out than thighs. And the bonus is, in the U.S., thighs are cheaper than breast meat. There is more evidence that low fat diets are not all they were cracked up to be. I highly recommend you give thighs a try. I don’t think I have bought a chicken breast in 10 years!

  3. Kim,
    You are making me look good! I loved this dish, thanks!

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