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One Moroccan Pan Lemon Olive Chicken

Do you ever stop to wonder who is behind that can of tomatoes, pineapple or olives you pick up in your local grocery store?

I have a confession to make.

I generally don’t either – and I’m “in the food business”.

But one of the benefits in writing this blog is that sometimes you have an opportunity to “peek behind the curtain”. In this case, I got a “peek” behind both the Lindsay and Early California labels, attending a dinner hosted by the California Olive Committee.

overhead shot of the one pan moroccan lemon olive chicken

After that dinner I was on a bit of an olive kick and decided to  re work one of my favorite recipes using olives – Djej  M’Chernel – a moroccan dish of chicken with lemons and olives. Like many traditional recipes, this dish has many variations and each household has their own version. I’ve been making a version from Paula Wolfert’s the Food of Morroco   for years. The original dish calls for a whole chicken (or in my case, pieces) that are rubbed with a spice mixture and left in the fridge overnight. Traditionally cooked in a tangine, it is a wonderfully flavorful and fragrant chicken dish that combines two of my favorite flavors – lemons and olives.

Since I’m notorious for not planning ahead though, I wanted to streamline the dish into one that I could easily make on a weeknight, no advance planning needed.  This One Pan Moroccan Lemon Olive Chicken is the result. With all the flavors of the original, it satisfies my craving – no need to plan ahead! Remember to  serve it over couscous or rice to sop up all those tasty olives and sauce!!!

One-Pan-Moroccan lemon olive chicken recipe

One Pan Moroccan Lemon Olive Chicken

video :

If you don’t have preserved lemons, don’t worry – the dish is still great without them.
Course: main dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 262kcal


  • 1/2 lemon thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium sized chicken breasts or thighs with or without skin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onions cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon saffron water *
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Lindsay natural green olives
  • 1 preserved lemon diced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley minced
  • * Saffron water: Dissolve 1 pinch of saffron threads in 1 Tablespoon of warm water.


  • Pat the chicken breasts/thighs dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  • Heat a large saute pan with a lid over medium high heat.
  • Add the lemon slices and cook until slices are caramelized. About 3 minutes.
  • Remove the lemon slices and reserve.
  • Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.
  • When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken breast/skin side down.
  • Cook for 3- 5 minutes until chicken is browned. If chicken releases easily from the pan, it’s ready to turn.
  • Turn chicken and cook until remaining side is browned.
  • Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
  • Add remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.
  • Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent – about 7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin and turmeric, cinnamon and pepper.
  • Stir for about 1 minute.
  • Add the saffron water and regular water.
  • Stir, scraping up the brown bits on the pan.
  • Add the chicken pieces back to the pan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Check the chicken for doneness.
  • Remove the lid and add the olives, preserved lemon and fresh lemon juice.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Serve over couscous or rice.
  • Garnish with the lemon slices and fresh parsley.


Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 821mg | Potassium: 546mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 425IU | Vitamin C: 17.6mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1.1mg

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