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Moroccan Chicken Stew without a Tagine

Moroccan Chicken Stew without a Tagine
Home » Low Carb Lifestyle » Low carb dinner ideas » Simple Mediterranean

This low carb Moroccan chicken thighs recipe packs a lot of complex flavor into a one-pot meal.  It is traditionally made in a specifically designed shallow clay cooking dish with a tall conical lid, known as a “tagine”, but it’s quite simple to make in a dutch oven or large covered pot. Sometimes this dish is referred around the web as a keto chicken tagine.

Low carb Moroccan stew with chicken thighs
Low carb Moroccan stew with chicken thighs

Jump to: RECIPE | Moroccan Spice Blends | Illustrated Steps | Dump Stews vs Layered Stews | More Moroccan Recipes

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Moroccan Spice Blends

The spice combinations are what really distinguish Moroccan dishes, turning ordinary dishes into something truly special.  

Five different powdered chile spices in black small bowls.
5 different powdered spice blends, from hot to mild

This “stew” includes harissa paste along with a range of Moroccan dry spices. Harissa includes several different chile peppers which are up to the cook’s discretion, but the trio of ”cumin, coriander and caraway” spices are the traditional spice medley (many include cinnamon also)

 Instead of the harissa paste you can make your own powdered spice blend (recipe is in the Notes section of the recipe below).

If you are making your own spice blends, it does make a difference to buy the spices as whole seeds, give them a quick toast in a dry frying pan and then grind fresh in a coffee grinder. You will definitely notice the difference.

Ingredients for Moroccan Chicken Stew

Most of the ingredients are readily available. The only key ingredient that might be a little difficult to find is the harissa. The recipe includes a DIY harissa spice blend that you can use instead of the paste.

Fennel is easy enough to find in most grocery stores (but not Walmart). If you have trouble finding fresh fennel, just grind up some fennel seeds and use the ground fennel instead. It will enhance the flavor quite a bit however, if you lightly toast the fennel seeds first before grinding.

Ingredients for Moroccan chicken stew, including chicken, harissa, lemons, garlic, mint, fennel, and spices.
Ingredients for Moroccan chicken stew

Illustrated Steps:

This is really a very easy dish to make with a lot of unique flavor. The recipe is detailed in the recipe card below, but here are a few pictures to further illustrate the individual steps.

Chicken thighs browned in oil in a dutch oven.
Step #1: Brown the chicken thighs in oil
Ingredients for adding to chicken to make Moroccan chicken stew; black olives, onion,stock, spices, lemons, garlic and harissa.
Step #2: Add all ingredients to chicken in dutch oven
Dutch oven pot with all ingredients for Moroccan chicken stew.
Step #3: Bring all ingredients to boil – reduce heat & simmer 1 hours

One Pot “Dump” Stews vs Layered Stews

I have likened this low carb Moroccan stew to a “dump” type of recipe where you just toss everything into a pot after the chicken is browned and turn on the heat for an hour.  Not the most appealing phrase, but it speaks to the ease of this dish.

Pot of Tuscan bean stew with white beans, cabbage and sausage and garnished with parsley.
Example of a one-pot stew with no layering

If you are the type of cook that likes to spend some time bringing out the full flavor of each ingredient you may want to layer the ingredients into the pot after browning or sauteing them one by one.

This layering approach takes a little longer, but it brings out the flavor of the individual spices more thoroughly. An example of layering would be this Basque Chicken and Chorizo dish:

Similar Moroccan Dishes

Probably my favorite Moroccan recipe is a North African beef and sweet potato stew. I love anything with sweet potatoes and this stew is awesome!

This North African Shakshouka (baked eggs) has become somewhat trendy as of late and you will find many versions of it on the internet (as well as my version).

Lastly this South African Bobotie (meat pie) is a recipe that is more unique and a little more complicated than a stew. I made it everyday for a week trying to get the recipe the way I wanted it. Needless to say my husband got pretty darn tired of ”that bobotie”.

Low Carb Moroccan Chicken Thighs

Low carb Moroccan stew with chicken thighs
A robust stew made with chicken thighs, harissa and a range of Moroccan spices.
4.70 from 13 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 649



  • 2 ½ lbs. chicken thighs and/or legs About 6 thighs
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 Cups chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoon Harissa paste or 2 tablespoons harissa spice blend
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin toasted and freshly ground
  • 1 Teaspoon turmeric optional
  • 1-2 fresh lemons cut into wedges
  • 8 garlic cloves slightly smashed
  • ½ Cup coarsley chopped fennel bulb can se 1-2 tablespoons ground fennel
  • 1 onion coarsley chopped or 2 leeks, white part only, sliced
  • ¾ Cup black olives
  • 1-2 inches ginger root grated
  • 1 Cup fresh mint leaves
  • ½ Cup dried apricots optional


  • Heat oil and butter in dutch oven (or large skillet). Salt and pepper chicken thighs and brown in the hot oil (skin side down). Remove chicken thighs and drain some of the oil out of the pot.
    2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs and/or legs, salt & pepper, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except mint into the pot and stir together thoroughly. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add back in the chicken. Tear up about 1/2 cup mint and add to the pot. Cover and simmer for about an hour.
    3 Cups chicken stock, 3 Tablespoon Harissa paste, 1 Tablespoon ground cumin, 1 Teaspoon turmeric, 1-2 fresh lemons, 8 garlic cloves, 1/2 Cup coarsley chopped fennel bulb, 1 onion, 3/4 Cup black olives, 1-2 inches ginger root, 1 Cup fresh mint leaves, 1/2 Cup dried apricots
  • Just before taking the pot to the table, scatter the remaining mint leaves over the chicken.
    1 Cup fresh mint leaves


**DIY Harissa Spice Blend:
Mix together:
  • 2 parts powdered chile peppers (mixed hot and sweet peppers)
  • 1 part cumin (toasted seeds & then ground)
  • 1 part coriander (toasted & ground)
  • 1 part caraway (toasted & ground
  • 1 part salt
  • 1/2 part cinnamon


Calories: 649kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 41gFat: 48gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 231mgSodium: 738mgPotassium: 803mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 785IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 91mgIron: 4mg
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  1. Melanie says:

    Making this now! Any idea on the serving size – protein count?

  2. Linda says:

    4 stars
    I cut out the apricots (higher carb) and reduced the lemon to one to save even more cals + carbs.
    It was a lovely meal to entertain a new immigrant family and show them some true Canadian hospitality.

    • Good going on the apricots Linda. I usually cut those out myself, but as they are such a mainstay of Moroccan food, I left them in for people to decide. I had not thought of excluding the lemon however.

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