Chicken tagine made with sous vide chicken thighs offers deliciously juicy chicken and bold Moroccan flavors. Ready in an hour.

A tagine is a type of North African earthenware cooking vessel with a conical lid, and it’s also the name for the hearty stews cooked in it. Namely, chicken tagine is one of the most popular Moroccan chicken stews.

I’ve included a sous vide chicken tagine recipe in my Complete Sous Vide Cookbook published in December 2020. Revisiting and cooking the recipe in the past three years has led me to modify it. It’s only natural, just like our perspectives on certain things change as we grow older and wiser. 

The dish is essentially the same. It still has an authentic Moroccan spice mixture and the classic tagine vegetables, but the way I make it is slightly different. It’s an improved version of the recipe, in my opinion. And that’s what I am about to share with you in this article. 

Before we get to the action steps, there are a few reasons that I found it beneficial to use the sous vide cooking method for chicken tagine. If you think it’s more practical for you, too, this recipe is a great option. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with making chicken tagine on the stove. 

Moroccan-Style Sous Vide Chicken Thighs (Chicken Tagine)

Sous Vide Chicken Tagine vs. Stovetop Chicken Tagine

It takes the same amount of time to make chicken tagine sous vide and on the stovetop. 

Traditional chicken tagine is made with chicken thighs, and it takes about one hour on the stove from start to finish. Sous vide chicken thighs take about the same amount of time to cook to perfection under the water. You can do all the other prep work and cook the tagine base while the chicken is effortlessly hanging about in the sous vide bath. So the total time using either cooking methods ends up being the same.

Sous vide chicken thigh is guaranteed juicy and tender. 

The guaranteed results that come with sous vide cooking apply to everything. With chicken thighs, you’ll never have to worry about overcooking, and you’ll be able to tweak the texture to your liking by controlling the cooking temperature. This is not something the stovetop method can achieve. 

With the sous vide cooking method, you don’t need large cookware to make a big batch of chicken tagine. 

Moroccan-Style Sous Vide Chicken Thighs (Chicken Tagine)

Some dishes just don’t turn out that well if you do a small batch. There are simply not enough flavors or juices to reach their full potential. Chicken tagine is one of these dishes. 

Don’t have a big enough pan to simmer 4 pounds of chicken thighs in a single layer? Don’t sweat it. Cook the chicken thighs sous vide and use a medium pan like I did to make the tagine veggies and base. You just need to place the sous vide-cooked chicken thighs in the tagine base when serving. This can even be done directly on a serving plate by showering the chicken with a generous amount of tagine base. Problem solved.

It’s so easy and convenient to prep ahead with sous vide. 

In this case, you can sous vide the Moroccan chicken a few days ahead of time and leave the bag, still sealed, in the fridge until you are ready to make the tagine. I found it super convenient for meal prepping or hosting gatherings. It’s like having the majority of cooking already done before the real action even starts. 

Moroccan-Style Sous Vide Chicken Thighs (Chicken Tagine) served over couscous

Sous Vide Chicken Thighs Cook Time and Temperature 

General Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Generally speaking, temperatures for sous vide chicken thighs range between 150°F (66°C) and 165°F (74°C). Cook time is one hour up to four hours, which means you can let your chicken thighs hang out in the water for longer without much texture change.

Chicken Thigh TextureCook Temperature Cook Time 
Very juicy but quite firm150°F (66°C) 1 to 4 hours 
Very juicy and completely tender 165°F (74°C) 1 to 4 hours 

Cooking the chicken thighs longer than 4 hours will give you fall-off-the-bone tenderness. The trade-off is that you lose some juiciness.

Also, please note that for bone-in chicken thighs, make sure to cook for at least two hours. 

Sous Vide Chicken Thighs for Chicken Tagine

For chicken tagine, I usually pre-sear the chicken thighs to render out most of the fat. Then I cook them at a slightly higher temperature for a little less time. The result has been phenomenal.

My favorite time and temperature combination to sous vide chicken thighs for chicken tagine is 167°F (75°C) for 45 minutes. 

What You Need

Now, it’s time to gather your ingredients and set up your sous vide. 

Essential Ingredients

Moroccan-Style Sous Vide Chicken Thighs (Chicken Tagine) Ingredients
  • Boneless skin-on chicken thighs: Prepare 3-4 pounds of them, about 8-12 pieces. I found that a smaller batch doesn’t produce the same flavor depth. 
  • Olive oil or unsalted butter: For searing the chicken. 
  • Tagine spices: Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. 
  • Tagine vegetables and base: Yellow onion, carrots, garlic, lemon, flour, chicken stock, honey, black or green olives, and fresh cilantro. You can also add sweet peas, apricots, and/or chickpeas to the base as hearty variations.

Essential Equipment

  • A sous vide immersion circulator. I often use my Anova Precision Cooker because I hook it to my Anova sous vide cooking container and keep the setup in a corner of my kitchen. 
  • A sous vide container or a large soup pot. There’s always water in my Anova sous vide cooking container, so it gets reused and preheated whenever I sous vide, which is quite often. It’s wide enough to hold a large bag of chicken thigh pieces. If you use a deep soup pot, you’ll want to place the chicken pieces into multiple bags to submerge them in the water.
  • A vacuum sealer. To keep all chicken thigh pieces in a single layer to cook, a vacuum sealer makes it easier. You can also use Ziploc bags and implement the water displacement method. When it comes to making ahead and meal prep, my vacuum sealer is my best friend. 
  • Vacuum-sealer rolls. For this recipe, I used vacuum-sealer rolls to custom-cut a big bag to hold 9 chicken thighs in one single layer. Want to know how to choose the right bags for sous vide every time? Read my deep-dive guide: Sous Vide Bags 101.
  • A non-stick frying pan with a lid. Something like this, which has enough depth to hold the tagine base and also pre-sear the chicken thighs beautifully. You can also use a cast iron skillet with lid or a Dutch oven for this recipe.
  • Tongs. You’ll be reaching for them quite a lot when making the sous vide chicken tagine. 

How to Make Moroccan-Style Sous Vide Chicken Thighs Step by Step

Step #1: Preheat water to 167°F (75°C) using a sous vide machine.

Step #2: In a small bowl, combine salt, freshly ground pepper, paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Mix well, and divide the tagine spices in half. 

Tagine spice mix

Step #3: Rinse and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season chicken thighs with one-half of the mixed spices on both sides and sear them skin-side down in a hot pan along with fresh garlic cloves. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Set the skillet back on the stove.

Sear the chicken thighs

Step #4: Place chicken in one or multiple sous vide bags in one single layer, and seal the bag(s) and sous vide for 45 minutes.

Place chicken in one or multiple sous vide bags in one single layer, and seal the bag(s) and sous vide for 45 minutes.

Step #5: Chop onion and carrots; zest lemon and squeeze lemon juice; prepare olives and cilantro.

Chop onion and carrots; zest lemon and squeeze lemon juice; prepare olives and cilantro.

Step #6: Cook the tagine vegetables and base. 

Cook the tagine vegetables and base. 

Step #7: Bring the chicken tagine together by nesting the sous vide chicken into the tagine base along with its juice from the cooking bag. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, and serve with couscous or flatbread.

Bring the chicken tagine together by nesting the sous vide chicken into the tagine base along with its juice from the cooking bag.

StreetSmart Sous Vide Tips

  • Skin or no skin? Most of the fat cooks off when you sear the chicken thighs before putting them into the sous vide bath. I like to keep the skin on for my chicken tagine. With traditional cooking methods, if you want to remove the chicken skin, I would recommend you do it after cooking because the skin will give a degree of protection to the meat during the cooking process, and the fat will help keep the meat moist. Since the sous vide cooking method guarantees moist and juicy chicken, you can remove the skin before cooking, skip the searing, and go straight to sous vide.
  • White meat or dark meat? The reason white meat is normally not used in chicken tagine is that it dries out easily using the traditional cooking method. But you can use skinless chicken breast to make chicken tagine using the sous vide cooking method for less fat and higher protein. Just cook the chicken breast at a lower temperature of 140°F (60°C).
  • Make-ahead magic: You can prepare the sous vide chicken thighs before you make your tagine. No need to season or pre-sear, just sous vide cook them first. Once done, rapidly chill the vacuum-sealed bag of chicken thighs in an ice bath and refrigerate it for up to one week if your chicken is vacuum-sealed. When you’re ready, you’ll then make the tagine spices, sear the chicken, and carry on from there. 
  • Storage tips: If you have leftovers, you can store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to three days or freeze them for longer. This chicken tagine freezes well. 
  • Moroccan chicken thighs: The chicken thigh is a fantastic stand-alone dish by itself without the tagine, right? 

What to Serve with Sous Vide Chicken Tagine

It’s popular to serve tagine with couscous, but if you want to score authenticity points, serve it with a Middle Eastern flatbread (traditionally used instead of utensils to scoop up the tagine.) 

Side dishes that will round out the meal nicely include greens like green beans, steamed broccoli, or sautéed kale

Here you have it—a Moroccan-style sous vide chicken thigh recipe. If you like it, you might also like my other sous vide recipes such as Sous Vide Chicken Breast with Asparagus, Thai Sous Vide Chicken Thighs with Tomato Salad, and Chinese Sticky and Crispy Sous Vide Chicken Drumsticks.

Moroccan-Style Sous Vide Chicken Thighs (Chicken Tagine)

As always, once you get a chance to make this chicken recipe, please share your experience in the comments below so all of us StreetSmart home chefs can learn from it. Happy sous viding!

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Moroccan-Style Sous Vide Chicken Thighs (Chicken Tagine)

Moroccan-Style Sous Vide Chicken Thighs (Chicken Tagine)

  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes (including 15 minutes prep time)
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Sous Vide
  • Cuisine: Moroccan
  • Diet: Low Lactose

Description

Chicken tagine made with sous vide chicken thighs offers deliciously juicy chicken and bold Moroccan flavors. Ready in an hour.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 34 pounds skin-on, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed

For the tagine spices: 

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the tagine base: 

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

  1. Set up the sous vide: Preheat water to 167°F (75°C) using a sous vide machine.
  2. Prepare the tagine spices: In a small bowl, combine salt, freshly ground pepper, paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Mix well, and divide it in half. 
  3. Prepare chicken thighs: Rinse and pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season them with one half of the mixed spices on both sides. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until really hot, add olive oil and swirl. Sear the chicken skin side down in a single layer until golden brown, about a minute or two. Throw smashed garlic in the skillet to roast at the same time. Flip the chicken and sear the other side for about 30 seconds. Transfer the chicken from the skillet to a plate and let it cool. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Set the skillet back on the stove.
  4. Sous vide the chicken thighs: Prepare a large sous vide bag or use multiple bags if needed. Place the chicken in the bag(s) in one single layer along with the garlic. Vacuum-seal the bag(s). Submerge the chicken thighs in the preheated water and set the timer for 45 minutes.
  5. Prepare for the tagine base: Cut the onion in half, peel, and cut into ¼-inch-slices; peel carrots and cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices; mince 1 clove of garlic; zest, then juice the lemon and combine 1 teaspoon of lemon zest with the minced garlic and set aside; halve olives; then chop cilantro. 
  6. Cook the tagine base: Heat the same skillet with the residual fat over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. (Add a few tablespoons of chicken broth in the skillet if it gets too dry.) Sprinkle the remaining spices and flour, stirring constantly, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, honey, remaining lemon zest, and a pinch of salt, scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen any browned bits. Add the carrots, cover, and simmer until the carrots are tender-crisp, about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Bring the chicken tagine together: Once the timer goes off, remove the chicken from the water bath. Open the bag and add the chicken into the skillet and pour all the chicken juice from the bag, including garlic, into the skillet. Stir in olives, the lemon zest-garlic mixture, cilantro and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste the sauce and adjust the flavor with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice to your liking. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with couscous or flatbread.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 380
  • Sugar: 8.4g
  • Sodium: 847.9mg
  • Fat: 25.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.4g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 15.5g
  • Fiber: 1.8g
  • Protein: 22.9g
  • Cholesterol: 127.3mg

Keywords: Sous Vide Chicken Tagine

About the Author

Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, an author and a sous vide fanatic who believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she's on a mission to help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.