Skillet Chermoula Chicken

AfricanGluten-FreeLow CarbChicken Thigh

Chicken thighs with spicy chermoula sauce, a North African parsley and cilantro pesto.

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.

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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

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


  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin 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 extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


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 when tested with a meat thermometer.

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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Chermoula Sauce from Serious Eats

Chermoula Sauce from David Lebovitz

Grilled Carrots with Chermoula from Naturally Ella

Skillet Chermoula Chicken

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

16 Comments / Reviews

No ImageSkillet Chermoula Chicken

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jenny

    I made the sauce, following this recipe exactly, but used it to top halibut filets instead of chicken, baked in the oven over veggies(peppers, onions, squash). It was AMAZING, and so easy. I’ll be making this often.


  2. Prax

    Great dish and easy to cook! Thank you for the wonderful recipe


  3. Joyce

    I have to give this 5 stars, because I did not follow the recipe, and it would have been excellent if I did. The combination of herbs and spices was excellent! My mistake was marinating the chicken first, then trying to brown it. It didn’t brown, and I wanted it to be crispy, but it wasn’t. The taste was great; I love the sauce, but make sure to follow the recipe, so you get the same texture.


  4. Vicki Tunell

    We made this tonight using chicken tenders, served with basmati rice, and we didn’t use the oven, it was a huge hit at our house. A quick, flavor-filled dinner, thanks!

  5. 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!

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