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


For the chicken:

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the chermoula cauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds (or 1 teaspoon ground)

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (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 kosher 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 the chicken thighs:

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

  2. Lightly toast whole cumin and coriander seeds, if using whole seeds:

    Toast 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 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. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Brown the chicken thighs in skillet:

    Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium high heat in a large cast iron pan.

    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
  6. Drain the 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.

  7. Spread the 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.

  8. Spoon the 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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
326 Calories
29g Fat
2g Carbs
16g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 326
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 38%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 83mg 28%
Sodium 504mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 16g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 22mg 2%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 219mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.