Moroccan Saffron Chicken

Moroccan saffron chicken recipe

The Spruce 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
550 Calories
43g Fat
8g Carbs
34g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 550
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 14g 70%
Cholesterol 135mg 45%
Sodium 1126mg 49%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Protein 34g
Calcium 116mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(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 onions (or yellow onions, chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (2- to 3-inch) pieces 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 fresh cilantro (chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Moroccan saffron chicken
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  2. Mix all ingredients in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot.

    Mix ingredients in pot
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  3. 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.

    Cook and cover
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  4. 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.)

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

    Serve the chicken and sauce on rice
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  6. Enjoy!