Moroccan Tagines

Recipe for Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Olives, Figs, and Almonds with Bonus Tips on Tagine Cooking

As we noted in our complimentary blog post about how cooking with a tagine offers delicious variety, there are countless recipes to use with your artisan Moroccan cookware. Here, Verve Culture co-founder Jacquie Lewis, who’s been cooking with Moroccan cooking tools for more than 10 years, shares her recipe for Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Olives, Figs, and Almonds, as well as a few helpful tips and tricks for authentic tagine cooking.

It’s all about the base

Many traditional tagines begin with a red onion base, but home chefs are encouraged to let their creativity run wild. Don’t be afraid to add other veggies like butternut squash, garlic, or carrots to your collection of onions. Whatever veggies you choose, layer them on the bottom of the tagine with a hefty helping of olive oil. 

Water it down with a little something extra

Adding water to your tagine is an essential step in the cooking process. Elevate your H20 by dissolving a pinch of saffron threads in ¼ cup of warm water. Then add this delectable mixture to the tagine for an intense and slightly floral note in your dish. 

The sweet life

About 5 minutes before serving, stir a teaspoon of honey into your tagine. Then put the lid back on for 1-2 minutes  to allow the honey to absorb. “The sweetness makes the flavor pop like you can’t believe!” Lewis says. 

Garnish like a pro

You’ve finished letting your Moroccan cooking tagine slow cook for hours (and managed not to sneak a bite before the rest of your guests). Now it’s time to present your masterpiece. Walk the tagine over to the table and remove the lid with an excited flourish. But don’t let people dig in yet! “Sprinkle some garnishes like strips of red pepper, preserved lemon, or fresh herbs like oregano or cilantro on top for a delicious final touch,” Lewis says. 

ingredient for tagine

Pan-roasted almonds are one of Lewis’ favorite garnishes. She puts whole, raw almonds in a fry pan with a couple tablespoons of butter. Toast the almonds in the pan until golden and remove from heat. Then take the butter remaining in the pan and drizzle it over the finished tagine. Lastly, add the roasted almonds to your tagine. “It looks stunning and tastes absolutely amazing!” Lewis says.

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Olives, Figs, and Almonds

Chicken Marinade Ingredients

4-6 chicken thighs with skin on

½ medium grated red onion

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Base Ingredients

2 large red onions, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

Sweet and Salty Ingredients

Half preserved lemon, thinly sliced; remove pulp and only use the skin

12 green olives 

3 dried figs or dried apricots


At least 1 cup water or saffron water 

(To make the saffron water, soak a pinch of saffron threads in ¼ cup of warm water)

Almond Garnish and Honey Finish

¼ cup raw almonds 

3 tbsp butter

1 tsp honey

2 tbsp chopped parsley

chicken tagine with lemon


Start the marinade by mixing all of the spices together and marinating  with the chicken thighs. Be sure to put some of the marinade under the skin. Marinate for at least one hour or overnight.

Begin cooking by putting the base ingredients on the bottom of the tagine and heating them slowly until they begin sizzling, about 3 minutes.

Then, arrange the marinated chicken on top of the base ingredients in a conical shape and pour in the water and/or saffron water. 

Add the sweet and salty ingredients on top of the chicken marinade ingredients. 

Cook on a very low heat for 30 minutes. At this point, check the level of moisture to see if more water/saffron water is needed. If the mixture appears dry, add an additional ¼ cup of water/saffron water.  Cook for another 30 minutes.

While the tagine is cooking, pan-fry the raw almonds in the butter until toasted and golden. Set the almonds aside and reserve the butter in the pan.

Once the chicken thighs are fully cooked (after about an hour), remove them from the tagine. Keep the vegetables cooking in the tagine on low heat. Put the chicken thighs on a baking sheet and brush the reserved, almond-flavored butter over their skin. Place the baking sheet under the broiler until the chicken thigh skin bubbles and gets crisp, about 5 minutes.

Stir the honey into the tagine ingredients and heat for a few minutes.

Once honey has dissolved, rearrange the broiled chicken thighs in a conical shape on top of the onions and vegetables.

Sprinkle the chopped parsley and the toasted almonds over the chicken. Serve with couscous.


Serves 2-3 people

Ready to get cooking? Shop our inspiring collection of Moroccan ceramics, complete with traditional-looking and more modern tagines, as well as an authentic couscous platter and gorgeous terracotta serving bowls.
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