This is a quick, easy, and healthy variation on the classic Senegalese dish Chicken Yassa. Chicken quarters are roasted in the oven while a simple pan sauce of caramelized onions, mustard, and lemon juice ties everything together.

Chicken Yassa, also known as poulet yassa, is a flavorful dish that originates in Senegal. It consists of grilled or fried chicken cooked in a thick stew with caramelized onions. Traditionally, the onions are marinated in Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and a blend of herbs and spices like cayenne pepper, parsley, and garlic. This dish is mildly spicy and is considered one of Senegal’s most beloved comfort foods.

While chicken is the traditional meat used in Chicken Yassa, it can also be prepared with lamb, beef, or fish. The onions in this dish are slow-cooked to perfection, providing a sweet and creamy sauce that complements the chicken beautifully. The combination of citrusy notes from the lemons, a hint of heat from the cayenne pepper, and the earthy flavors from the onions create a truly delightful taste experience. Additionally, the addition of olives adds a slightly bitter and earthy taste that pairs wonderfully with the onions, mustard, and lemon juice.

The spice level in Chicken Yassa can be adjusted according to your preference. If you enjoy a spicier kick, you can include scotch bonnet peppers or add extra cayenne pepper to the stew. Feel free to experiment and find the perfect balance of flavors for your taste buds. Whether you’re cooking for yourself or entertaining a family-friendly crowd, you have the flexibility to make it as mild or spicy as you like.

Traditionally, Chicken Yassa is served with white rice, but it can also be enjoyed with other grains such as quinoa, couscous, or bulgur wheat. If you’re looking for a twist, you can even pair it with a regular, sweet potato, or yam mash. The options are endless, and each one will enhance the flavors of this delicious dish.

So why not give Chicken Yassa a try? It’s a comforting and flavorful meal that will transport you to the vibrant culinary world of West Africa.

Easy chicken yassa with onion mustard sauce and olives
Image By: Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

A Chicken Yassa Recipe That’s Quick, Easy, and Healthy

I’ve come up with a quicker and healthier twist on the traditional chicken yassa recipe. It’s a breeze to make and won’t require you to spend hours slaving away over the stove.

In the traditional method, the chicken is marinated in onions, lemon juice, and mustard for up to an hour. Then, it’s taken out of the marinade and either pan-fried or deep-fried in canola oil. Meanwhile, the marinated onions are cooked separately until they turn golden and caramelized. Finally, the fried chicken is added back to the onions, creating a delicious combination of flavors.

For my version, we’ll be roasting Chicken Yassa quarters in the oven, which uses less oil. You can also use any other part of the chicken, like boneless chicken breast. This method is much healthier since we’re avoiding deep frying. While the chicken roasts, we’ll prepare a caramelized onion mustard sauce on the stovetop. It’s a lot less work and time-consuming, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner. You can have this meal ready in just one hour, including prep time!

After a tiring day at work or a busy day with the kids, this vibrant and satisfying comfort meal will fill your stomach and leave you feeling content.

A Quick 10 Minute Rub 

Even though this is a quick and easy weeknight meal we still want to impart as much flavor as possible so we’re doing a quick 10-minute rub for this dish. Chicken Yassa The rub for this chicken is very simple: Garlic granules or garlic powder, salt, black pepper, dried parsley, and some cayenne pepper for heat! Rubbing the meat with the spices and leaving it to sit for a short time will help the seasoning seep into the meat better, thus giving it more flavor.

Making a Finger Licking Good Caramelized Onion Mustard Sauce

Version 1: The star of the dish is undoubtedly the flavorful onion mustard sauce. What makes this mustard sauce so amazing is its simplicity—you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make!

To create this sauce, we start by caramelizing onions and generously coating them in Dijon mustard. We then add a splash of lemon juice, fresh garlic, herbs, Chicken Yassa, and spices to enhance the flavors. The onion mixture is cooked down in a pan until it begins to caramelize, and then we add chicken broth or a stock cube and water to create a thick and delicious sauce.

Even if you’re not a big fan of mustard, don’t worry! Chicken Yassa The sauce doesn’t have a sharp mustardy taste at all. The onions and chicken, along with the stock, provide a delightful sweetness that balances out the flavors perfectly.

Easy chicken yassa with onion mustard sauce and olives
Image By: Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

Tips and Tricks for Making Chicken Yassa

Although this recipe is pretty simple to make, there are some things you should do to ensure you make the optimum version! Chicken Yassa

  • You need good quality Dijon mustard. The mustard is what brings the sauce together and so the quality of the mustard used is very important, I prefer to use the French brand Maille.
  • Don’t be shy with onions. The amount of sliced onions before you start cooking may seem daunting and your first thought might be “I surely do not need so much onion!” Wrong! Use all the onions because they’ll end up shrinking as they cook (similar to mushrooms or spinach). 
  • Cook your onions low and slow! This is a must—you may feel tempted to rush the onions but making sure they caramelize properly this will bring out the natural sweetness.
  • Score the chicken. This is to ensure that the seasoning gets through the meat as the chicken is not left to marinate for very long.  
Chicken yassa with white rice
Image By: Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

Make Ahead and Storage

This recipe is suitable to be made in advance, preferably just the day before, and warmed up when ready to be eaten. In fact, Chicken Yassa I find that all the flavors in the sauce intensify overnight and most of the time it tastes even better the next day.

To reheat, you can simply use a microwave to heat the yassa, alternatively, add it to a deep pan with a splash of water (no more than 3-4 tablespoons) and allow to steam cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes.

For storing, this can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 to 5 days, otherwise, I recommend that you freeze the Chicken Yassa. It can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months. Once taken out of the freezer this can be defrosted in the fridge overnight or left at room temperature if you want to eat it within the next 3-4 hours.

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Chicken Yassa

Chicken Yassa


  • Author: Jeanine
  • Total Time: 82 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This is a quick, easy, and healthy variation on the classic Senegalese dish Chicken Yassa. Chicken quarters are roasted in the oven while a simple pan sauce of caramelized onions, mustard, and lemon juice ties everything together.


Ingredients

Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks attached)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules or garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley, divided
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup green olives

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Score the chicken:

    To do this, make two slits in the chicken. One on the leg end and another on the thigh end. This allows for the flavor of seasoning to penetrate deeper into the chicken.

    Sliced pieces of chicken for chicken yassa
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

  3. Season and marinate the chicken:

    In a small mixing bowl combine the salt, cayenne pepper, garlic granules, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon dried parsley.

    In a large bowl, season the chicken on both sides with the spice mix. Cover with some plastic wrap, set aside and let marinade for 10 minutes.

    Seasoning the chicken for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

  4. Prepare the onions:

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the onions, garlic, Dijon mustard, remaining 1 teaspoon dried parsley, remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper, and lemon juice.

    Onions in bowl with mustard, garlic and spices for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

    Combining mustard with onions for sauce for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

    Combining mustard with onions for sauce for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

  5. Roast the chicken:

    Place the chicken quarters on a sheet pan and bake at 400°F for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown and crispy. If you insert a fork near to the joints you should have clear juices flowing out. If you have an instant read thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the chicken and it should read between 165°F-175°F.

    Chicken on sheet pan for chicken yassa
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

    Roasted chicken for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

  6. Make the onion mustard sauce:

    In a large pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion mustard mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. The onions should be translucent and start to take on a golden-brown color.

    Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, and olives to the onions. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. The onions should be golden and caramelized and the stock should have thickened slightly.

    Cooking onions for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

    Cooking onions for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

    Cooking onions for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

  7. Add cooked chicken to onion mustard sauce:

    Once the chicken is done, using tongs, nestle the chicken quarters into the onion mustard sauce. Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for another 5 to 7 minutes then turn the heat off. now you have what looks like a rich stew.

    Adding chicken into onion sauce for chicken yassa recipe
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

  8. Serve:

    Serve the chicken yassa with white rice or any other grain of your choosing.

    Did you love this recipe? Give us some stars below!

    Chicken yassa with white rice
    Nancy Odogwu / Simply Recipes

Notes

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 62 mins
  • Category: Main Course, Side Dish
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4 servings
  • Calories: 314 kcal
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Sodium: 1252mg
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 21g
  • Cholesterol: 85mg

Keywords: chicken yassa, chicken yassa recipe, senegalese chicken yassa, ayo chicken yassa, chicken yassa near me

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