Moroccan-Style Chicken and Lentils

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Moroccan-Style Chicken and Lentils - Andrea Meyers

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My mouth started watering when I read this recipe in Bon Appétit a couple years ago, and I fixed it for dinner the next day. Because we had no brown lentils on hand, I used a bag of red lentils from the pantry. I had what I initially thought was a flop when the red lentils turned into a mixture with the consistency of watery pureed potatoes. I wasn’t too worried since this was not being served to guests, so I just skimmed off the excess water and stirred in some of the dressing. What started as a flop eventually turned into our standard way of fixing the lentils, and this dish has become a permanent fixture in our kitchen. I cut the amount of water for cooking the lentils in half, and they became that we think is amazing comfort food.

We love the dressing, and I usually double the recipe and pour it over the chicken right in the skillet. I’ve made a few other changes to the dressing, such as reducing the amount of olive oil and adding the cinnamon.

You can have this ready in 30 to 45 minutes if you work on the chicken while the lentils are cooking.


Adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2004.


3 quart pot
12 inch nonstick skillet
sharp knife


1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound red lentils, rinsed, drained

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped fresh parsley (garnish)


1. Dressing: Add the olive oil, vinegar, cumin, chili powder, garlic, cinnamon, and salt to a blender bottle or jar with a tight lid. Shake until ingredients are well combined. Set aside.

2. Lentils: Combine water and salt in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Add lentils; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until lentils are tender and have absorbed the water completely, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 3 or 4 tablespoons of the dressing.

3. Chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over high heat. Add onion and sauté until dark brown and soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and sauté 2 minutes. Add salt, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon. Sauté until chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

4. Place a serving of lentils on a plate and cover with sliced chicken and dressing. Garnish with chopped parsley.


We often pour the dressing over the chicken after it’s finished cooking in the skillet and let it sit for a few minutes.

I have substituted apple cider vinegar when I had no red wine vinegar in the pantry, and it turned out very nice with a slightly sweet twist.


Wikipedia – Lentils

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  1. Lily says

    I wasn’t very impressed with this recipe…I used red wine vinegar and it was still a little too tangy. I tried your method of pouring the dressing over the chicken and letting it sit. The spices didn’t seem to meld very well however the leftovers did taste better the next day though.

  2. says

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was fabulous! Unfortunately, I looked in three different stores and couldn’t find red lentils. So I used some dark brown ones that have been in my pantry forever. They took a lot longer to cook than the recipe states for the red ones. I also made some couscous to go with this dish because I was afraid that some of our family might turn their noses up at the lentils. The couscous was a nice addition, but 4 out of 5 kids actually ate the lentils: I was shocked! This will definitely be made again. I’m going to have to venture out to Whole Foods and see if I can find the red lentils there. Thanks for a great family friendly recipe!

    • says

      Kelly, I’m so glad your family enjoyed it! If you have any international grocery stores nearby (Hispanic, Asian), you might check there for the red lentils as that’s where I always find mine.

  3. says

    I was just randomly searching google for a recipe with chicken and red lentils and stumbled across your blog. I cooked the recipe last night for myself and my wife. It was great! I am definitely going to make it again. I just wanted to thank you for posting it. The only thing I did differently was to add some large pieces of green zucchini before sauteing the chicken (during the last minute or so of sauteing the onions) in order to get another veggie into the meal. It worked great, and I loved the spice level, though I’ll probably tone it down just slightly next time for my wife’s sake. I might even make just the lentils again they were so good. Thanks again!

  4. Dawn Waters says

    I just made this with red quinoa instead of lentils and it was delicious. Easy to make and not anything like what we typically do with chicken. Loved it and will make it again.

  5. cooking is fun! says

    hmmm…seems like WAAAAAAY too much oil. not necessary. but good flavour combo and super easy. we added raisins because was a little to bitey as far as vinegar. was a splendid addition. we also served with spinach to add a little green not to mention some much needed vitamins!


  1. […] Been a little busy the last few days so this ones a bit overdue. Tonights recipe was Moroccan-Style Chicken and Lentils courtesy of Andrea’s Recipe Box. This was an extremely easy recipe to make and had surprising results, for starters, it looked nothing like the picture in the recipe, but then again, when do things! The taste of it was sublime though, I used cider vinegar as we’d run out of red wine and it added a lovely tanginess to the chicken. The dish was actually a lot milder than I was expecting two, with all that chilli powder in it, all I got was a tingle on the tongue, no fiery hotness. This one is definately going on my cookagain list, thankyou Andrea! […]

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