Skillet Chermoula Chicken

Chicken thighs with spicy chermoula sauce, a North African parsley and cilantro pesto.
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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Are you familiar with Chermoula? It’s the Moroccan answer to pesto—a spicy herb sauce often used in North African cuisine.

Although chermoula is most often paired with fish, it’s excellent with chicken! Chicken thighs hold their own with this flavorful rub made with parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon, and olive oil.

This recipe is an easy one-skillet dish, perfect for a midweek meal. First we brown the thighs on the stovetop, then we slather the thighs with chermoula sauce and pop them in the oven to finish. A cast iron pan works well for this because it easily goes from stovetop to oven.

Given its North African flavors, my favorite way to serve this chermoula chicken is on a bed of couscous. I hope you give it a try!

Skillet Chermoula Chicken Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Chermoula Sauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seed (or 1 teaspoon ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups medium packed parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups medium packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Method

1 Salt chicken thighs on both sides and let rest while you prepare the sauce.

2 If using whole cumin and coriander seeds, lightly toast the whole cumin and coriander in a small skillet on medium heat, until fragrant. Put into a mortar and pestle and grind until powdery.

3 Make the chermoula sauce: Put 4 cloves garlic, parsley, cilantro, salt, cumin, coriander, paprika, and lemon zest in a food processor. Pulse several times. With the motor running, slowly add in 1/2 cup of olive oil, then the lemon juice. Process until you have a smooth paste. You should have almost a cup of chermoula sauce.

4 Brown chicken thighs in skillet: Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil on medium high heat in a large cast iron pan and preheat oven to 350°F. Pat dry the chicken pieces and place them skin side down in the hot pan. Let them cook until deep golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Then turn them over and cook a few minutes more.

5 Drain excess fat: Because you are working with skin-on thighs, you will likely render quite a bit of fat. Remove the chicken from the pan and pour off any excess fat. (Do not pour down the drain unless you want to clog your drain pipes.) Return the chicken to the pan.

5 Spread chermoula on chicken, bake in oven: Spread most of the chermoula sauce on both sides of the chicken thighs, reserving 1/4 cup of the fresh sauce to add later.

With the chicken skin-side up, put the skillet in the 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the thighs are cooked through and the temperature near the bone is 165°F.

6 Spoon remaining sauce over chicken: Stir the reserved fresh chermoula sauce in with the pan sauce. Spoon sauce over the chicken to serve.

Serve with couscous or with basmati rice for a gluten-free option.

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Links:

Chermoula Sauce from Serious Eats

Chermoula Sauce from David Lebovitz

Grilled Carrots with Chermoula from Naturally Ella

Skillet Chermoula Chicken

Showing 4 of 12 Comments

  • Sarah Jaggi

    This was delicious and so good, but I did several things differently that I thought worked well. I love chicken thighs, but I thought this was the best thing I have ever done with boneless skinless chicken breasts. They were so moist. With the cilantro and parsley, I didn’t bother removing stems. I just rinsed the bunches and stuck the whole thing in the blender. So the sauce took 5 minutes to make and then 30 minutes in the oven. Super fast and easy. Like other reviewers, the sauce needed more liquid to work in my blender. I thought it had enough oil, so I used a tablespoon or so of water, and it worked great. The sauce was still thick enough to sit on top of the chicken. I didn’t brown the chicken either, primarily because I was using breasts. But this is a new favorite. I had never had chermoula before, and it is now in the regular meal rotation!

  • Dawn

    I made this last night, following the recipe exactly, except that we are low FODMAP, so I used 1 tbs of garlic oil in place of the garlic cloves. My husband has never enjoyed chicken thighs, but he LOVED these. I agree with Cindy, the prep probably took about 30 mins, but it was totally worth it. The cooking time was perfect too, considering the cast iron skillet, and the crisping/browning before baking, 15 mins was just what my Thermopen thermometer needed for a perfectly safe final temperature. We served it with rice (low FODMAP) and stuffed jalapeños – really good, thanks Elise!

  • Rob Roy McGregor

    We loved the Skillet Chermoula Chicken. But I needed to use a Nutri-Bullet and more olive oil to make the chermoula sauce – it was too hard for the food processor to get the cilantro and parsley to mix. When putting the chicken in the oven I would give it more like 30 minutes rather than the 10-15 the recipe calls for. Even so, it is so good that I am more than willing to work on it to make it a consistent dish for us.

  • Cindy Day

    I made this last night & I’m hooked! I paired it with pearl couscous & roasted pine nuts (subing chicken broth for water). Chermoula was easy to make but definitely took longer than 10 minutes of prep. . .45 realistically. This will be a fave of mine to cook for guests.

  • Alida @My Little Italian Kitchen

    Never tried chermoula sauce before, this looks so tasty! A wonderful way to make super tasty chicken!

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