Braised Chicken with Cinnamon

Braised chicken with cinnamon takes its hue from saffron and can be made ahead of time for the best flavor. Perfect for entertaining. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, couscous, or polenta.

A decorative bowl with braised chicken with saffron, cinnamon, lavender, and almonds over rice

This lovely braised chicken with cinnamon dish, as contemporary as it sounds, is inspired by an Andalusian cookbook dating back to the 13th century, offering insights into the manner in which spices were used in Islamic Spain, explains author Deborah Krasner. And making us think they dined better in the Middle Ages than we’d ever imagined.–Renee Schettler

Braised Chicken with Cinnamon

A decorative bowl with braised chicken with saffron, cinnamon, lavender, and almonds over rice
Braised chicken with cinnamon contains saffron, cinnamon, and lavender. Braise the chicken a day ahead for the best flavor and serve the chicken over rice.

Prep 45 mins
Cook 1 hr 15 mins
Total 2 hrs
4 servings
405 kcal
5 / 4 votes
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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 whole chicken legs thigh and drumstick separated or 1 whole chicken, cut up
  • 2 small onions chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry or Marsala
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads dissolved in 1 tablespoon very hot water
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 heaping tablespoon dried lavender buds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup chopped toasted almonds


  • Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the oil and let it warm until it's shimmery and beginning to thin and flow. Add the chicken, skin side down, working in batches if needed so as not to crowd the chicken. Cook until browned on all sides. Transfer the browned pieces to a plate.
  • Spoon off all but a very thin film of fat and oil. Add the onions to the pot and cook over low heat until softened and translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the spices and cook, stirring, for another minute or two. Add the sherry, saffron, water, and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Return the chicken to the pot, cover tightly, and let cook slowly over the lowest possible heat, turning the chicken once, until it's cooked through, about 45 minutes.
  • Place the chicken on a platter and pour the excess fat into a defatting pitcher or scoop it off with a spoon. You should have about 1 1/4 cups liquid.

    TESTER TIP: If you're serving the braised chicken later in the day or the next day, when it's even better after the flavors have melded, you can refrigerate everything and simply skim the hardened fat on the surface with a spoon.

  • About 20 minutes before serving time, in a small pan, heat the vodka to just below boiling. Take it off the heat and add the lavender buds. Let steep for 15 minutes.
  • Strain and discard the flowers and add the vodka to the defatted pan juices. Return to medium heat long enough to cook off the alcohol, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Pour the lavender-enhanced pan juices over the chicken and gently heat until warmed through. Pour the honey over the top, add the toasted almonds, and serve.
Print RecipeBuy the The Flavors of Olive Oil cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 405kcal (20%)Carbohydrates: 18g (6%)Protein: 8g (16%)Fat: 25g (38%)Saturated Fat: 2g (13%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 8mgPotassium: 357mg (10%)Fiber: 6g (25%)Sugar: 9g (10%)Vitamin A: 4IUVitamin C: 3mg (4%)Calcium: 119mg (12%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This recipe’s long list of small amounts of ingredients had me wondering if they were all necessary and worth the bother (though only the lavender buds took any effort to track down). The resulting aromas and complex flavors of the dish convinced me that I wouldn’t have wanted to leave out a thing. I was unable, however, to verify the headnote’s contention that the dish improves over time because there was not a morsel left over. This is definitely going on my short list of potluck dinner dishes.

The divine medley of tastes from this dish is still sumptuously smacking on my palate. Tender chicken that succulently falls from the bone, boldly flavored with a unique spice blend and enlivened by the sweet toasty crunch of the honey and almonds, it brings to the table a very surreal and ultra-satisfying dining experience.

I served this for a small dinner party with a spinach and dried cherry salad, crunchy baguette with an herbed compound butter and a toasted-almond banana ice cream. My appreciative sated guests swooned. This dish is undoubtedly in the top ranks of my frequently made recipe list.

Originally published March 02, 2020



  1. What a surprise and great pleasure to see my recipe here! Thank you! When you write a cookbook, you hope to make every recipe outstanding. This one, however, has long been one of my favorites.

  2. Dear David
    Thank you for your recipe. I want to add to it in a very modest way. Where it says:

    Add the spices and cook, stirring, for another minute or two. Add the sherry, saffron water, and balsamic vinegar

    add a comma after “saffron” so it says “saffron, water, etc and NOT “saffron water”

  3. Any thoughts on doubling the recipe? Should I just double the spices? I’ve had varying degrees of success with that over the years and am wondering if anyone has any advice. I’d like to make this for my book club but I need to feed 8.

    1. Jan, cinnamon can be tricky. If it’s strong, it’s like eating a Red Hot candy. Since we didn’t test the recipe by doubling it, my suggestion is to make two batches. I know, I know. What a pain in the butt. But I’d hate for your book club to have anything less than perfection.

  4. 5 stars
    After a recent move I cleaned out my recipe binder which is how I’ve always organized my favorite recipes and kept track of various milestones. I can look up what I made when meeting a best friend’s new-at-the-time girlfriend (now partner for over 10 years with two kids), the meals that we enjoyed as new parents, as well as desserts that I’ve made for my former bosses’ birthdays over the years. It’s always a treat to read through this binder and it is one of my most prized possessions!

    I was so happy to come across *this* recipe which I first tried on October 26, 2007 and wrote the note “Best dish I’ve ever made! Look for more recipes on this website.” I ended up becoming a recipe tester several years later and still feel the same excitement at reading their weekly emails as I did so many years ago. Try this (and all the others) and you will feel like a goddess/god in the kitchen!

  5. 5 stars
    Just made this tonight- unbelievable recipe!! I couldn’t find the lavender so I used rosemary instead. So delicious- toasting the almonds made a huge difference! I did skip the part about pouring off the excess fat after it had been cooking as well- didn’t seem greasy or fatty at all! Also made my kitchen smell amazing! Thanks!

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