Moroccan Lemon Chicken with Chickpeas and Honeyed Sauce

Moroccan Lemon Chicken with Chickpeas and Honeyed Sauce

This simple and rustic dish uses honey to sweeten the sauce and bring together the dish. The lemon zest, cinnamon and cumin are all flavors that evoke Morocco. The pièce de résistance would be the addition of Moroccan preserved lemons, which you can find in Middle Eastern specialty stores or make yourself with our preserved lemon recipe. This authentic ingredient offers the perfect tanginess to balance the sweetness of the honey.

4 servings


4 split chicken breasts, bone in
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika

[Chef’s Note: If desired, you may substitute boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin before dredging in the flour. Shorten the cooking time accordingly.]

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus juice
½ Moroccan-style preserved lemon, sliced (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups strong chicken broth
1 cup Spanish green olives, pitted and sliced
4 tablespoons honey
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish

[Chef’s Note: Preserved lemons have been brined in a salted mixture with saffron, olive oil and other spices. They can easily be made at home, but require pickling over the course of two weeks, so you may need to plan ahead to make them for this recipe!]


Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Dredge chicken in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté chicken breasts until nicely browned on both sides. Remove chicken and keep warm.

Lower heat to medium-low and add diced onion. Cook, stirring occasionally to remove browned bits, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the grated lemon zest and juice, the sliced preserved lemon, then stir in the cumin, paprika and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and sliced olives. Return chicken to the pan, bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan, keeping warm. Add honey, chickpeas and cilantro to the sauce, stirring to dissolve honey and pull together the sauce.


Place chicken on warmed serving plate and spoon sauce over. You may spoon some of the chickpeas on the side, and garnish the dish with more cilantro leaves.

Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya