Instant Pot: Moroccan Chicken

Since moving to the suburbs, one thing I do miss is the accessibility of good Moroccan cuisine. I especially like Moroccan cuisine during the spring and summer months because of the exotic and bright flavors. With a craving for Moroccan cuisine grumbling in my stomach, I'm glad to have come across this recipe for Moroccan Chicken that highlights a wonderful combination of aromatic spices and tender, braised chicken...

Traditionally, Moroccan cuisine makes use of tagine pots, a special piece of cookware that does a great job at braising meats at a low temperature. I don't have a tagine nor is it really necessary to cook with one for good Moroccan fare. In fact, you could use a Dutch oven or even a slow cooker/crockpot. However, my trusty Instant Pot has been great for this recipe. The chicken is coated with a mix of spices before browning. Then the chicken is placed in the Instant Pot along with other ingredients and pressurized to infuse the chicken with all that flavor. The result is an extremely flavorful and tender chicken dish, that's best served with couscous or even rice. If you don't have an Instant Pot, get the slow cooker/crock pot recipe version here!

Moroccan Chicken 
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 teaspoons sweet paprika 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
2 tablespoons water
4 medium garlic cloves, minced 
2 bay leaves 
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 (2-inch) strip of lemon peel
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves

In your Instant Pot:

Combine paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl. Pat dry the chicken thighs with paper towels, then place in the bowl with the spices. Coat chicken with the spices.

Plug in the IP with insert set in place; Press SAUTE.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the IP. Add half of the seasoned chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook without moving until lightly browned. Flip chicken and continue to cook until second side of golden. Transfer browned chicken to a plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs. Place all browned chicken into the IP.

Add onion and water to the IP. Cook, scraping the brown bits on the bottom until the onion has softened and begins to brown. 

Add the minced garlic, bay leaves, raisins, lemon peel, olives and chicken broth to the IP. 

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 20 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 20 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 20 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 5 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

When the display reflects 5 (which is 5 minutes since the IP has beeped) all pressure should have naturally released. If not, turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

To serve, add lemon juice to dish and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Transfer chicken to serving dish, pour sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.


  1. Arent cumin and ground coriander the same thing? Should there be tumeric in here?

    1. No, totally different. Coriander is the sead from cilantro.

  2. Cumin & ground coriander are different. Tumeric is not called for in the recipe

  3. Can this recipe be made with boneless/skinless chicken breasts, and if so, would there be a need to change instant pot times for cooking?

  4. Can I make ahead and freeze?

    1. * To make ahead & freeze - Prepare chicken as directed above and allow to cool. Reheat as needed.

  5. I am planning to make this (minus the olives) but 20 minutes seems like a lot of cooking time in the IP. Most recipes I have seen for bone-in chicken thighs are for that amount of time or less.

    1. Feel free to adjust the timing if you'd like. For 3 pounds of bone in chicken thighs, I pressure cooked for the full 20 minutes and it came out perfectly.

  6. Hi - Can i use Chicken drumsticks instead of thighs for this recipe?

  7. What would cooking time be for boneless skinless chicken thighs?

  8. Thank you so much. My client requested moroccan chicken and this turned out so good. The chicken was sooo tender and juicy at 20 min. just like you promised!! I did add a lot of cinnamon and honey and extra golden raisins to the sauce. It was perfect.