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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 of 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 dishes made with Chicken, caramelized onions, lemon, and a mixture of flavors and spices, which is 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 of lemon juice.
4.87 from 22 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: African, West African
Keyword: chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Marinating Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 7 hours
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 207.6kcal


Ingredients for marinating the Chicken

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil or any other cooking oil - divided
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons bouillon powder or 2 cubes
  • 1 habanero finely chopped - for added heat
  • 1 teaspoon ginger spice
  • 1-1½ tsp salt or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 6 pieces chicken thighs
  • 4 onions thinly sliced into half-moons - preferably white/yellow onions
  • 2 Bay leaves

Yassa Poulet

  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 3/4 cup green olives optional
  • Parsley for garnish if desired


  • Prepare the marinade by combining the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, 2 tbsp oil, minced garlic, bouillon powder, minced habanero, ginger powder, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  • Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, and add the onion slices, bay leaves, and the 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 2-3 tablespoons of oil to a pan, and brown the chicken on both sides for 7-10 minutes on medium heat (don't 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 are well reduced - about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the browned chicken, remaining marinade, and chicken stock or water to the onion-based cooking pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking for 15 to 20 more minutes or until the chicken is tender and the sauce is well reduced to your preference.
  • Stir in the olives and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Garnish with parsley if desired and serve over rice or mashed potatoes.


Calories: 207.6kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.4g | Protein: 2.6g | Fat: 17.3g | Saturated Fat: 2.5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9.4g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 1.9mg | Sodium: 1121.4mg | Potassium: 216.4mg | Fiber: 2.5g | Sugar: 4.6g | Vitamin A: 98.2IU | Vitamin C: 16.8mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 0.7mg

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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

Recipe Rating


Monday 13th of May 2024

A recipe that brings joy to the table. Just delicious.

Chef Lola's Kitchen

Saturday 25th of May 2024

That's great.


Monday 29th of January 2024

Absolutely delicious over rice, the olives make it.


Wednesday 29th of November 2023

I used to order yassa chicken quite often from a nearby African restaurant that was sensational, but since moving I haven't had it.. until now! So thankful I came across your recipe--it's such a faithful reproduction of what I used to order, and I'd say even more delicious! I think the habanero is absolutely essential, as it pairs with the vinegar and mustard to create such a specific taste profile that you simply don't get from any other dish. I've made this three times already, the latter times using even more mustard than you note here. But it's absolutely a hit. Thanks again! You've quickly become a tried and true resource for me when it comes to authentic delicious dishes of the diaspora.

Lola Osinkolu

Wednesday 13th of December 2023

Thank you for your wonderful feedback Elise! What a joy to read your message. I'm absolutely thrilled that the yassa chicken recipe has brought back fond memories and even nudged you into exploring with more mustard. That's what cooking is all about! Keep experimenting and enjoying the culinary journey. I'm truly honored to be a part of your kitchen adventures. Thank you!


Monday 7th of August 2023

I have been using this recipe for over a year now and I can't believe I haven't left a review! I make it per the instructions (as everyone should) and it's a family favorite. To anyone who may be afraid of the habanero, don't be. It's barely detectable and it's necessary for the balance and slight tingle this dish delivers. I'm looking forward to coming back for additional authentic recipes to expand my flavor profiles. Thank you, Chef Lola!

Chef Lola's Kitchen

Saturday 26th of August 2023

Thank you for your kind words, Sav


Monday 26th of June 2023


What kind of bouillon powder or cube is best to marinate the chicken with? The chicken stock or vegetable stock one?

Thank you!

Chef Lola's Kitchen

Sunday 27th of August 2023

You can use any one you prefer. If you want more chicken flavor use the chicken stock.