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Chicken Yassa – poulet-au-yassa

Enjoy the flavors of West Africa with this Senegalese Poulet Yassa made from Chicken pieces, marinated overnight with lots of onions, some mustard, and a bit lemon juice. This dish is so easy to make, smells great, looks beautiful, and tastes delicious. If you are in the mood for an exotic dish try this one!

Yassa Poulet served in a white bowl and garnished with parsley.

Chicken Yassa 

When you think about YASSA, what first comes to mind is ONIONS! Yes, onions are the foundation of the delicious recipe, but don’t let that scare you from making this dish. When you make it, you will see how well the onions complement the flavor of the Chicken. Trust me; Chicken Yassa will be unthinkable without Onions! You will be wowed!

A well made Yassa chicken speaks for itself, but I will like to add that the more the onions, the better the Yassa.

 yassa au poulet served over white rice in a black plate

What is Chicken Yassa?

Chicken Yassa or Poulet Yassa is one of the most popular traditional Senegalese dish made with Chicken, caramelized onions, lemon, and a mixture of flavors and spices, which typical of African cuisine.

Besides Yassa chicken, you can also make Yassa lamb – from lamb meat or Yassa Poisson (Yassa fish) from fish. 

Yassa poulet with green olives in a pan.

How to make Yassa poulet in four easy steps:

  • Step 1: Marinate the Chicken and Onion: Leave the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours. If you can go overnight, that will be just fine. The longer, the better. The chicken gets its deep flavor from marinating, and this goes a long way in making the chicken more flavorful. Please be sure not to skip this step.
  • Step 2: Brown the Chicken: Get the oil heated up and brown the chicken on both sides. You want the skin to be nicely browned and crispy.
  • Step 3: Cook down the Onions for about 5 to 10 minutes depending on how caramelized you want the onions to be.
  • Step 4: Combine everything: Add the browned chicken to the cooked down onions together with the leftover marinade and chicken stock. Cook further till done and serve over white rice.

If you are new to making African dishes, this is a good recipe to start with and you will be glad you did.

Other Delicious African Soups and stews


  • Please don’t skip the onions, lemon, and hot pepper. You will be missing out a whole lot if you do.
Yassa Poulet served in a white bowl and garnished with parsley.

Senegalese Poulet Yassa

Enjoy the flavors of West Africa with this Senegalese Poulet Yassa made from Chicken pieces, marinated overnight with lots of onions, some mustard, and a bit lemon juice. This dish is so easy to make, smells great, looks beautiful, and tastes delicious. If you are in the mood for an exotic dish try this one!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: African, West African
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Marinating Time: 6 hours
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 187kcal


  • 6 pieces Chicken thighs
  • 4 onions cut in halves and then thinly sliced into half-moon (preferably white/yellow onions)
  • 5 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup Peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup Lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider vinegar or red wine Vinegar
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 Habanero finely chopped (for added heat)
  • 1 Tsp Ginger spice
  • 1-2 tsp Salt or to taste
  • 2 Tsp Bouillon powder or cubes
  • 3/4 cup Chicken stock or water
  • 3/4 cup green olives optional
  • Parsley for garnish if desired


  • Prepare the marinade by combining the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, ginger powder, black pepper, minced habanero, seasoning powder, minced garlic, bay leaves, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  • Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, add the onion slices, bay leaves, and marinade. Mix well then cover with a tight-fitting lid or a plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight.
  • When ready to cook, remove chicken pieces from the marinade. Save the marinade.
  • Add 3 to 4 tablespoon of oil in a pan, gently place the chicken in the oil and brown them on both sides (be sure not to crowd the pan). Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Scoop out the onions from the marinade (don’t discard the marinade) and fry the onions until they well reduced. 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Return the browned Chicken inside the cooking onion together with the remaining marinade and chicken stock or water. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for another 15 to 20 or until the chicken is nice and tender, and the sauce is well reduced to your preference.
  • Add the olives and simmer. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.



Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 929mg | Potassium: 200mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 82IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg

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If you make this Chicken Yassa Recipe, I’d love to see pictures of your creations on Instagram or Facebook. #cheflolaskitchen

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Recipe Rating

Andria Villanueva

Friday 22nd of January 2021

Thank you for posting this recipe! I had it in Senegal 12 years ago, and am hoping to make it for my family, missing this delicious meal. Can't wait to make it!


Monday 26th of October 2020

Thank. You for your recipe ! I have just made it it’s delicious but I find that it is always a bit to acidic when I do chicken yassa and it overtakes on the onion taste. Do you have any advice to avoid this ? Thank you 🙂 Laura

Lola Osinkolu

Monday 26th of October 2020

Hi Laura, thanks for the feedback. Glad you found it delicious. The acidic taste is part of what makes the recipe. However, you can use reduce the quantity of vinegar and lemon to your taste.


Tuesday 1st of September 2020

Hi Lola, how do you get the yassa to be so dark? mine always comes out so much lighter.

Lola Osinkolu

Friday 5th of February 2021

Hi Chidera, I guess it's the lighting I used for the photography. It's not that dark physically.


Saturday 25th of July 2020

Thanks for a well detailed recipe ! I will try this Yassa poulet with spaghetti or rice

Lola Osinkolu

Saturday 25th of July 2020

You are welcome, Justin. I will be glad to know how well you like it when you get to try it!