Experience incredible aromas and juicy spiced Moroccan roast chicken with the most scrumptious sweet potato, prune, onion, garlic and apple medley ever.
This recipe is loosely inspired by a similar one from Food and Wine. It’s now a simplified one pot dish with chicken, vegetables and fruit cooked all together. The mixture of roasted sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, apples and prunes – soaked in chicken juices – makes you weak in the knees.
How to cook this Moroccan chicken recipe
A couple of things to note. Many Moroccan chicken recipes require a Tagine (a special cone shaped cooking vessel) for cooking. This one uses a simple cast iron skillet. If you don’t have one, a roasting pan (not too large) will do too. Some recipes use chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken. I like the whole chicken route because there there is no need to saute and brown the chicken pieces first. Less steps, no frying.
The basic steps are as follows:
- Chop the vegetables, aromatics and fruit. Place them in a large skillet. Toss with olive oil and lightly salt and pepper them.
- Season the whole chicken and settle it into the pan with the veggies and fruit surrounding it. Add a bit of broth.
- Roast for about an hour (or two hours if you’re using a slow cook method)
- While the chicken is resting, put the sweet potato-fruit medley back into the oven to brown/caramelize more.
- Cut up the chicken and serve with the amazing roasted side and some lemon wedges.
I tried the recipe with two different cooking methods – slow roast and quick roast. I didn’t find a lot of difference in the juiciness of the chicken. The trick is really not to overcook the chicken and to let it rest. I preferred the quick roast method because it is a bit more straightforward, the chicken skin gets crispy and it takes about an hour less to cook.
The recipe creates its own delicious side dish while cooking the chicken. So you’ll only need a simple additional side at most. I suggest a green salad perhaps with mango salad dressing, a kale slaw, steamed asparagus or roasted broccoli (place in oven for last 10 minutes while potatoes are browning).
Tailor To Your Taste
- Try dates, raisins or dried apricots instead of the prunes.
- Halved baby white potatoes can be substituted for the sweet potatoes (if you insist).
- Use a teaspoon of sumac instead of the lemon zest.
- Add a drizzle of honey and chopped nuts over the chicken before serving.
- I sometimes add 15 purple grapes (instead of apples) to cook along with the potatoes and prunes.
- Some Moroccan chicken recipes add green olives.
- Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.
- Both quick and slow cooking methods are provided in the recipe. Obviously the quick roasting method is quicker!
Make Ahead Moroccan Roast Chicken
- Chicken and potatoes can be prepped several hours ahead or the night before.
- The entire recipe can also be cooked ahead and kept warm, loosely covered, for up to an hour without cutting up the chicken. Cut chicken just before serving to preserve juiciness.
Moroccan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
- 1 whole chicken 3.5-4 lbs
- salt and pepper
- 1 large lemon (for zest, juice and wedges)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth plus 1/4 cup used later if desired
Vegetables and Fruit
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed about 1.5 lbs total
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped or sliced
- 4 large garlic cloves peeled and cut in half
- 12 prunes, cut in half (or 15 if small)
- 1 apple, cored and cubed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp paprika sweet or smoked
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp lemon zest from the lemon listed above
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper for mild heat (use 3/4 if you like spicier)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- PREHEAT OVEN TO 425F. Spray large oven proof skillet with oil. I use a 12" cast iron skillet. If you don't have a skillet large enough or if you are doubling the recipe, use a roasting pan.
- ADD VEGETABLES/FRUIT TO SKILLET: Place cut sweet potatoes, onions, apple, prunes and garlic in skillet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss. Create a space in center for chicken to sit in, moving vegetables and fruit to sides of skillet.
- PREPARE CHICKEN: Mix all seasoning ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside chicken cavity generously. Insert chunk of onion and wedge of lemon if desired. Rub seasoning over chicken including under the skin (gently separating skin from flesh on breast of chicken and legs if possible). Place chicken in center of skillet with vegetables surrounding it. Add 1/2 cup broth on veggies/fruit.
- ROAST CHICKEN: If using a temperature probe, poke it into chicken now. Place skillet into bottom third of oven. Roast for approximately 50-70 minutes depending on size of chicken. Instant thermometer should read 160F. It will rise further with resting. Note 1
- REST CHICKEN AND FINISH POTATOES: Tip chicken to empty juices into skillet. Transfer chicken to cutting board and loosely cover with foil to rest. Gently stir potato mixture and adjust seasoning if needed. Place skillet with potatoes back in oven for 15 minutes to brown while chicken is resting. Remove from oven.
- FINISH AND SERVE: Add 1/4 cup extra broth if you want potatoes to be saucier. Cut chicken into pieces. For a nice presentation (totally optional), lay pieces on potatoes. Squeeze 1/2 a lemon over chicken and sprinkle lightly with salt. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro if desired. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
- Alternative slow roast cooking method: Instead, you can cook chicken and potatoes at 300F if you prefer. This will take about 2 hours (plus or minus 10 minutes depending on size of chicken). Transfer chicken to cutting board to rest. Increase oven temperature to 450F and place skillet with potatoes back in oven to brown for 15 minutes. The chicken will be very juicy and the potatoes will be firmer (less mushy), but the skin on the chicken will not be crisp and cooking time will be doubled.
- Make Ahead: Chicken and vegetables can be prepped several hours ahead or the night before. The entire recipe can be cooked ahead and kept warm, loosely covered, for up to an hour without cutting up the chicken. Cut chicken just before serving to preserve juiciness.
Other roast chicken dishes you might like: