This juicy one pot Moroccan chicken recipe has the most scrumptious sweet potato, prune, onion, garlic and apple medley, soaked in the chicken juices. It makes you weak in the knees.
No special equipment and no frying needed. And wait till you smell the heavenly aromas filling your kitchen!
The recipe is loosely inspired by a similar one from Food and Wine. It’s now a simplified one pot meal with chicken, vegetables and fruit cooked all together. It creates its own delicious side dish while cooking the chicken.
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.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Chicken: Some recipes use chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken. I like the whole chicken route because there there is no need to sauté and brown the chicken pieces first. Less steps, no frying.
Prunes: add a delicious sweetness to the dish. You can substitute them with raisins, dates or dried apricots if you like.
Potatoes: One of the stars of this recipe is sweet potatoes. I highly recommend them but you can substitute halved baby white potatoes (if you insist).
Spices: I fiddled with the spice mix and included lemon zest (really good) along with paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne (or red pepper flakes). Here are a couple of other Moroccan spice blends you can play with – one from Wanderlust and the other from Epicurious.
Lemon zest: brightens the dish. In a pinch, you can add a teaspoon of sumac instead.
Apples: more sweetness and texture. I sometimes add 15 purple grapes (instead of apples) to cook along with the potatoes and prunes.
- Add a drizzle of honey and chopped nuts over the chicken before serving.
- Add green olives if you like them (some Moroccan chicken recipes do).
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or fresh cilantro.
- For a juicier, more flavorful chicken, brine it or buy a kosher chicken (already brined). See instructions in FAQ.
- Don’t over cook the chicken or it will become dry. Use a temperature probe if you have one or an instant read thermometer.
- While the chicken is resting, put the sweet potato-fruit medley back into the oven to brown/caramelize more. Scrumptious!
How to make this Moroccan chicken recipe
What to serve with Moroccan chicken
You’ll only need a simple additional side at most. I suggest a citrus salad with greens, a kale slaw, steamed asparagus or roasted bok choy (place in oven for last 10 minutes while potatoes are browning).
- Both quick and slow cooking methods are provided in the recipe. Obviously the quick roasting method is quicker!
- Buy a pre-peeled and cut up sweet potato.
- 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.
- Serving this recipe for company? You might find our post on how to keep food warm helpful.
Common Moroccan spices include cinnamon, cumin, ground turmeric, ginger, paprika, coriander, saffron, mace, cloves, fennel, anise, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fenugreek, caraway, black pepper and sesame seeds according to Wikipedia. Ras el hanout is a mix of aromatic spices used more for special occasions or specialty Moroccan cooking.
No. A tagine is a clay conical cooking vessel with a shallow base and a tall cone shaped lid. It’s typically used in Moroccan cooking to slowly cook savory tagines or stews made with protein, vegetables, aromatic spices, dried fruit, and nuts. You do not need a tagine for this recipe. We use a simple cast iron skillet. If you don’t have one, a roasting pan (not too large) will do too.
Place 8 cups (2 liters) of room temperature in a large ziploc bag or pot. Add 8 tablespoons kosher salt – the ratio is 1 tablespoon salt to 1 cup/250 ml water. Throw in a couple garlic cloves, 8-10 peppercorns and some herbs if you like. Stir or squish until the salt dissolves. Add the chicken to the salted water (make sure the chicken breasts are completely submerged) and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Rinse and pat dry. The chicken will NOT be overly salty.
Other roast chicken recipes to try
Roast chicken is pure comfort food. Here are a few other favorite recipes.
- Simple roast chicken and potatoes
- Roast chicken breast with gravy
- One pan roast chicken and vegetables
- Instant pot roast chicken and gravy
- Company chicken with citrus sauce and pistachios
And if you like Moroccan flavors, try our spicy cherry tomato sauce.
Moroccan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
- cast iron skillet, large frying pan or rimmed sheet pan (not too big)
- 3.5 pound whole chicken, Note 1 or 4 pounds
- salt and pepper
- 1 large lemon (for lemon juice, zest 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/680 grams total
- 1 onion, roughly chopped or sliced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and cut in half
- 12 prunes, cut in half (or 15 if small)
- 1 apple, cored and cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika sweet or smoked
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest from the lemon listed above
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper for mild heat (use 3/4 if you like spicier)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- PREHEAT OVEN TO 425F/218C. (Note 2 for slow cook method). Spray oven proof large skillet with oil. I use a 12 inch/30 cm 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/118 ml 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/71C. It will rise further with resting.
- 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/60 ml 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 fresh parsley or cilantro if desired. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
- How to brine the chicken (optional). Brining will make the chicken juicier and more flavorful. Place 8 cups (2 liters) of room temperature in a large ziploc bag or pot. Add 8 tablespoons kosher salt – the ratio is 1 tablespoon salt to 1 cup/250 ml water. Throw in a couple garlic cloves, 8-10 peppercorns and some herbs if you like. Stir or squish until the salt dissolves. Add the chicken to the salted water (make sure the chicken breasts are completely submerged) and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Rinse and pat dry. The chicken will NOT be overly salty.
- 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.
- Substitutes and variations
- Instead of prunes, use raisins, dates or dried apricots
- Instead of apples, use 15 purple grapes
- Instead of sweet potatoes, use halved baby white potatoes (but sweet potatoes are amazing in this recipe!)
- Add-ins: a drizzle of honey and chopped nuts over the chicken before serving. Green olives.
- 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.