Grilled Chicken in a Moroccan Marinade

This recipe is a crossbreed. I read about it as a roast chicken basted with honey and spices and stuffed with couscous, fruits, and nuts. The toasted sesame seeds were just a garnish on top. It was delicious but we decided to try a variation for the grill. We still serve the chicken with a side dish of couscous with almonds and raisins, but the sesame seeds, honey, and spices have become ingredients in a marinade for brochettes of boneless chicken thighs. You can, of course, use this marinade for half-chickens, chicken on the bone, a butterflied whole chicken, or even squab. We have found that brochettes are the most popular. Count on three boneless thighs per person.


  • ¾ cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons mild olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 12 boneless chicken thighs, about pounds (on the bone, about 4 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Warm the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquefied. Toast the sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until they start to pop. Save about 2 tablespoons for garnish and grind the rest in a spice mill. Stir the ground sesame seeds, the cinnamon, cumin, oil, and lemon juice into the honey.

Place the chicken in a shallow nonaluminum container. Pour the honey mixture over the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Let the chicken warm to room temperature. Heat the grill or broiler. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Thread the boneless thighs onto skewers, 3 per skewer, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grill or broil, basting often with the marinade, until cooked through, about 4 minutes each side. Sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds. Serve with couscous with almonds and raisins and Moroccan Carrots or Swiss Chard Tagine.