Skillet Chermoula Chicken

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

Skillet Chermoula Chicken
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.

Chermoula Chicken on a plate with couscous
Elise Bauer

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

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings


  • 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

Special Equipment

  • Food processor


  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.

    Elise Bauer
  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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  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.

  6. 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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    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.

  7. 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.