This recipe for Moroccan chicken with dates combines tender braised chicken breast with sweet dates, lemon juice, and aromatic spices like cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, and ginger. The sweetness of the dates complements the savory spices and chicken and makes it a dish that your entire family will love.
This chicken and date recipe is an easy recipe that’s perfect for a beginner cook. It takes not quite an hour, but much of that cooking time is hands-free. So you have time to make a salad or let your kiddo distract you with multiple games of Uno.
This recipe was originally inspired by dates in the pantry and Claudia Roden’s Book of Jewish Food. Roden’s cookbook is a masterpiece, showing the influence of different cultures and local ingredients as they are shared around the world.
Fun facts about dates
Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, with evidence of date cultivation dating back to ancient Mesopotamia, more than 5,000 years ago. A 2000-year old date palm seed found in the 1960s at Masada is the oldest seed to successfully germinate and grow.
Variations and substitutions
- Try boneless chicken thighs in place of breasts.
- Substitute thinly sliced red onion for the shallots.
- Although not traditional, you could substitute prunes for the dates.
- Use another toasted nut in place of the almonds. Whatever nut you choose, don’t skip out on toasting them. Toasting nuts brings out their flavor, whether it’s in sweet bakes like this coffee walnut cake or in savory dishes like pesto.
Tips and tricks
Step by step
Giving the chicken a quick sear (Panel #1) before braising browns the chicken. Some say it increases flavor and keeps the meat moist. It is entirely optional, although in this recipe it adds only a little time and one dish, so I would encourage you do to it.
Add the thinly sliced shallots to the pan and cook until soft (Panel #2), then add the spice mixture and heat until the spices are fragrant (Panel #3). It helps to prep by combining the spices into a single bowl so you can add them at once.
Add the liquid (Panel #4, above) and bring it to a boil while scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom of your pan. Add the chicken back to the pan along with any juices that have collected. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the chicken is fully cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add the chopped dates and lemon juice and cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately and garnish with the toasted almonds and chopped cilantro or parsley.
What to serve with chicken and dates
This recipe goes well with other Mediterranean-inspired dishes including:
- Couscous or Israeli couscous. Or make a pumpkin couscous salad.
- Roasted carrots.
- A side salad with creamy lemon herb tahini dressing.
- Homemade pita.
Leftover chicken and dates can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days or the freezer for up to three months.
There are more than 1000 date varietals you could use. The Medjool is one of the largest dates and isn’t quite as dry, so it breaks down quite nicely for this sauce.
Depending on the size of your pan and how much you want to make, you might not need to scale up the chicken broth and vermouth. The braising liquid should only come up to about halfway up the side of the chicken breasts.
More easy chicken recipes
Morrocan Chicken with Dates
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs whole
- 2 shallots sliced very thinly
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ginger powder
- 1½ cup chicken broth or water
- 1 tablespoon vermouth or white wine, optional
- 8 dates pitted and chopped into large chunks
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice from ½ lemon, plus more to taste
- ¼ cup toasted almonds sliced or chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large lidded frying or saute pan.1 tablespoon olive oil
- Optional step: Add the whole chicken pieces and cook without stirring for a minute or two until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip them over, brown the other side, then remove them from the pan to a plate.1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- Turn the heat to medium-low, add the shallots, and cook on low heat until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.2 shallots
- Add the spices and toast them until they are fragrant, about one minute.1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon ginger powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Add the chicken broth and vermouth and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then reduce heat to a simmer,1½ cup chicken broth or water, 1 tablespoon vermouth
- Add the chicken back to the pan as well as any juices that have collected (if you have done the optional first step). Cover the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165℉.
- Add the chopped dates and lemon juice and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened.1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 8 dates
- Taste the sauce and add additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice, as desired.
- Serve over couscous or rice, and sprinkle with the toasted almonds and chopped cilantro or parsley.¼ cup toasted almonds, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
- Giving the chicken a quick sear before braising browns the chicken. Some say it increases flavor and keeps the meat moist. It is entirely optional, although in this recipe it adds only a little time and one dish, so I would encourage you do to it.
- You can substitute half a red onion for the shallots.
- To scale up this recipe, add only enough broth and (optional) vermouth so the level of the liquid comes halfway up the thickness of the chicken.
This recipe for Moroccan chicken and dates was first shared on January 20, 2021. It was last updated on March 19, 2023.
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