Baked Moroccan Chicken Thighs is an easy, flavorful, shake ‘n’ bake weeknight meal featuring the Moroccan & Mediterranean spices ras el hanout and sumac.
I like to think of this Baked Moroccan Chicken Thighs recipe as more of a recipe hack than my own unique creation. In full disclosure, I took inspiration for this recipe after seeing a similar meal appear on the Sunbasket meal delivery website.
Truthfully, I’ve never tasted Sunbasket’s version but glancing over the rough recipe and ingredients on their website, I sensed the flavors they were going for. I also tested my own version of this recipe with both chicken wings and chicken thighs to see which worked best.
When I asked <3M which he preferred, he went with the chicken thighs (which I also preferred since they were meatier and less fatty) which is why we’re going with the chicken thighs title. Below, I offer both options in case you do prefer chicken wings over thighs.
Now, you can definitely head over to Sunbasket and sign-up to receive this recipe in one of you’re weekly meal deliveries or you can DIY it and make my twist on their Moroccan Chicken Wings. But I promise you, this recipe is a super easy, weeknight meal — so easy that you don’t really need Sunbasket’s help! If you remember the old Shake ’n’ Bake recipes from the 90’s then you’ll be familiar with the method. These Moroccan Chicken Thighs are literally season, bake, and eat.
In fact, this recipe is so easy that the chicken thighs photographed for this post were actually made by <3M himself (maybe I should upgrade his name to Mr. Modern Kitchen)! I simply left the ingredients on the counter with a few quick instructions and he did the rest while I was working late one night. #myhusbandisawesome
Now, let’s dig into what makes this recipe so dang delicious!
The reason I love this recipe is because it uses almost every spice in my cabinet! There’s no single note here; it’s spicy, salty, savory, earthy, and sweet. This multitude of flavor comes from the spice blend ras el hanout. It’s a Moroccan spice blend that’s found in Moroccan and North African cuisine. When translated, it means something along the lines of ‘top of the shelf’ as it combines the best of the spices (top of shelf spices) from the spice market.
When I heard the translation for ras el hanout it made total sense to me.
If you’ve ever visited a spice market in Europe, Morocco, or somewhere in the Mediterranean, then you may have wandered into a spice market yourself. The one I experienced was in Greece and it was shelves and shelves of spices. Some were pure ground spices, while others were seeds. There were even familiar mixes of spices like Shawarma seasoning. Even still there were actual barrels of dried herbs and nuts. It was overwhelming to the senses and as a cook and baker, I could have spent hours exploring the spice market.
Ras el hanout seems to be a product of a traditional spice market — a blend of spices pulled by the market owner to create an entirely new, all-seasoning spice blend. You can purchase a pre-made ras el hanout blend, or like me, you can make your own blend at home (which I share in the recipe below). I have a pretty well-stocked spice cabinet, so to assemble ras el hanout I simply had to measure & mix. I used this recipe as inspiration for my homemade ras el hanout which as I mentioned, included most of the spices in my cabinet! My recipe below makes about a quarter cup of seasoning which you can store for a few months in your cabinet along with your other spices to remake this recipe in the future.
The other unique spice in this recipe is sumac, another Moroccan / Mediterranean spice made from the berries of a bush found in the Middle East & Europe. Sumac has a beautiful, purple-pink color to it and it’s unlike any other spice I’ve come across. I was lucky enough to get my sumac from a friend after her trip to Turkey but you can find the spice online or at specialty spice markets like Spices at Penzeys.
I highly encourage you to invest in sumac. Because it’s so unfamiliar in American cuisine, I find myself obsessing over its earthy, sweet & sour flavor! Besides using it in this recipe for Baked Moroccan Chicken Thighs, I’ve also mixed it into a simple olive oil & vinegar dressing and swirled into cream cheese for a unique morning treat spread on a bagel!
I can’t emphasize how easy Baked Moroccan Chicken Thighs are to make! Once you combine the spice mix, you simply rub it all over the chicken thighs — top, bottom and under the skin. Pop those babies in the oven and bake them for 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 165*F. Serve them with a wedge of lime to squeeze overtop and you’re ready to eat!
Lastly, if you’re looking to make my Baked Moroccan Chicken Thighs into a meal, trying serving it with my 10 Minute Sautéed Asparagus or pairing it with my Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower to bring my meal together! All those lovely flavors will blend perfectly with the spice mix in the Baked Moroccan Chicken Thighs!
- For the ras el hanout:
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon hot smoked paprika*
- ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- For the Moroccan Baked Chicken Thighs:
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout spice mix (from the mix you made above)
- 2 teaspoons ground sumac
- 1½ teaspoons garlic salt
- 4 chicken thighs (bone and skin included)
- 1 lime cut into quarters, optional as garnish
- Preheat oven to 425*F
- Line a large baking sheet with foil and lightly spray it with olive oil
- In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of the ras el hanout spice mix, sumac, and garlic salt
- Generously rub each chicken thigh with the spice mix - top, bottom, and under the skin.
- Place each chicken thigh on the prepared baking sheet with ample space between each thigh
- Bake the chicken thighs for 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 165*F
- Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving with a slice of fresh lime