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Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken

Haven’t made any preserved lemons yet? No worries, click on the SHOP button and buy yourself some! I’m creating an online store with the hard to find ingredients required for ethnic cooking. I’m even making box kits for Moroccan and Persian cuisines, which would make great Christmas gifts. Do yourself a favor and order some saffron too – I bought it wholesale and the low price will make up for some of your shipping costs. So stay tuned and please be patient as I struggle through the technical issues to get the store up and running.

Now – on to the cooking! This dish is delicious and arguably the most popular of Moroccan recipes. It uses preserved lemons and the spice blend Ras El Hanout. I am selling both ingredients in my online store so don’t fret. Ras El Hanout is a blend of multiple spices and herbs and each recipe is slightly different and regional. My recipe blends 21 spices and herbs and has a very slight heat to it.

This recipe is traditionally cooked in a tagine, but a large oven proof dish, such as a dutch oven works just fine.

First you are going to make a marinade for the chicken. Mix together some garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, tumeric, salt, pepper, Ras El Hanout and vegetable oil. Rub it onto 6 chicken thighs. Let it marinate in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.


Heat 1/2 tbsp. of oil in a dutch oven on medium heat. Add in your marinated chicken and brown it on both sides.


Add the onions and cook until translucent and soft.

Add the chicken stock and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and cover.


Place in a preheated, 350 degree, oven for 40 minutes.

Place the dutch oven back on the stove and remove the chicken. Set the chicken aside someplace warm (like back in your turned off oven).

Simmer and reduce broth for 10 minutes.

Rinse off one preserved lemon. Remove the flesh and pith (white part) and thinly slice the peel.


Add the preserved lemon peel, olives, parsley and cilantro to the dutch oven. Stir and heat for 1 minutes.

Serve over the chicken and enjoy!

Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ras El Hanout
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil divided
  • 2 large onions sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • peel from 1 preserved lemon cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup green olives pitted
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp cilantro chopped
  1. Mix together the garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, tumeric, salt, pepper, Ras El Hanout, and 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Rub onto chicken thighs.

  2. Heat remaining 1/2 tbsp. oil in a dutch oven on medium heat.

  3. Add the chicken and brown on both sides.

  4. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  6. Add the chicken stock and cinnamon stick.

  7. Bring to a boil.

  8. Cover and move the dutch oven to the oven. Cook for 40 mins.

  9. After 40 mins, remove the dutch oven and place it back on the stove.

  10. Remove the chicken and set aside.

  11. Simmer and reduce the broth for 10 minutes.

  12. Rinse one preserved lemon. Remove flesh and pith (white part) and thinly slice peel. 

  13. Add the preserved lemon peel, olives, parsley and cilantro. Stir and heat for one minute.

  14. Remove from heat and serve over the chicken.

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Moroccan Preserved Lemons

As promised, here is how to make this Moroccan kitchen staple. I made my preserved lemons 4 weeks ago and finally was able to try them in a recipe. I have to say I was not disappointed! The bitterness was gone, but all the lemony flavor remained. These delicious lemons can be used in dishes, dressings, sauces and salads. Best of all, they are incredibly easy to make. The hardest part is waiting a month to eat them.

These lemons are essentially pickled in salt and allowed to ferment in their own juices. The whole lemon is preserved, but typically only the peel is eaten.

Use Meyer lemons. They tend to be less sour and contain more juice. Also, buy organic if you can. Wash and dry them well to remove any dirt and pesticides.

You need a pint sized glass jar and lid. Either reuse an old jar or buy one that is used for canning. Clean the jar and lid well, then boil in water for 10 minutes to ensure it is sterile. (Tip: save about 1 cup of the boiled water in case you do not have enough lemon juice to fill your jar).

Now the prep is all done and it’s time to make this delicious North African condiment.

Use coarse sea salt that does NOT have an anti-caking agent in it. Pour 1 tsp. of salt in the bottom of your sterilized jar.

Slice the tips off the top and bottom of the lemons.


Slice into quarters, leaving the bottom 1/2 inch intact. In other words, slice only 3/4 of the way through.


Place 1 tbsp. sea salt inside the lemon.


Press the lemon into the jar and cover with another tbsp. of salt. Repeat until the jar is full. You want them stuffed in tightly.


Juice the remaining lemons and add the juice to the jar. If the jar is not full, add boiled (then cooled) water to fill within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

Place on lid and invert jar several times to distribute the salt.

Leave on the counter for three days, inverting several times each day.

After three days, place in the fridge. Invert every few days.

After one month the lemons will be ready to eat.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons
  • 6 Meyer lemons
  • coarse sea salt ensure there are no additives
  1. Clean and boil a pint sized glass jar and lid. Set aside to cool. Reserved 1 cup of the boiled water.

  2. Wash and dry the lemons to remove any dirt or pesticides.

  3. Add 1 tsp coarse sea salt to the bottom of the sterilized glass jar.

  4. Cut the tips off of the lemons.

  5. Cut lemons into quarters, but only cut 3/4 of the way through, leaving the bottom intact.

  6. Open the lemon and place 1 tbsp. sea salt inside.

  7. Press lemon into the jar. Add another 1tbsp sea salt on top. Repeat until jar is full.

  8. Juice remaining lemons and add juice to the jar. If it is not full to the top, add the reserved boiled water until within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

  9. Place sterilized lid on jar. Invert to redistribute the salt. 

  10. Leave on your kitchen counter for three days. Invert several times a day.

  11. Move jar to the fridge for a month. Invert every few days. 

  12. After a month, the lemons will be ready to eat. Only the peels are traditionally used.