Moroccan Saffron Chicken

Moroccan Saffron Chicken
Christine Benlafquih
Ratings (13)
  • Total: 75 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
550 Calories
43g Fat
8g Carbs
34g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This dish of chicken cooked with lots of onions, saffron, and other Moroccan spices is easy to make and is the savory foundation to a number of delicious Moroccan specialties such as Chicken Bastilla and Chicken Briouats

Saffron threads, a featured seasoning in Moroccan cooking, are the stigmas from a small purple crocus. Saffron is the world's most expensive spice by weight since each flower has only three stigmas, which have to be carefully hand-picked and dried, resulting in the saffron threads we find in jars on store shelves. Since this is a laborious process, and it takes over 14,000 of tiny stigmas to create an ounce of saffron, the spice comes with a hefty price tag. Fortunately, a little goes a long way.

You'll be tempted to eat this tender, flavorful chicken right from the pot, but it is best served on a bed of Moroccan Rice Pilaf or in Seffa Medfouna.


  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces and skin removed
  • 2 large sweet white or yellow onions, chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 small pieces (2 to 3 inches) of cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Steps to Make It

  1. Mix all ingredients in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Cover and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is very tender and pulls easily off the bone. Do not add water, and be careful not to burn the chicken.

  2. Reduce the liquids until they are mostly oils. Discard the cinnamon sticks and taste for seasoning. (The sauce should be a bit salty and peppery.)

  3. Serve the chicken and sauce on a bed of rice or hidden within a mound of steamed broken vermicelli or couscous.