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Chicken Yassa – poulet-au-yassa

Last updated on August 4th, 2021 at 11:50 pm

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 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!
4.86 from 7 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
  • 1/2 cup Lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider vinegar or red wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup Peanut oil or any other cooking oil
  • 5 cloves Garlic minced
  • 2 Tsp Bouillon powder or cubes
  • 1 Habanero finely chopped (for added heat)
  • 1 Tsp Ginger spice
  • 1-1½ tsp Salt or to taste
  • 2 tsp Black pepper
  • 4 onions cut in halves and then thinly sliced into half-moon (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, 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 2-3 tablespoon of oil in a pan, gently place the chicken in the oil and brown them on both sides. 7 to 10 minutes on each side on medium heat (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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Recipe Rating


Tuesday 15th of June 2021

Hello, Is this something I can make in advance and keep on the stove to just heat up when we are ready to eat? I would love to make it for a dinner party but dont want to be cooking while I have guests here. I am hoping I can finish before they arrive and heat up just before serving. Do you think this would affect the chicken tenderness or moistness?

Lola Osinkolu

Thursday 5th of August 2021

Hi Kristina, apologies for the late response. Yes, you can make it ahead and heat it up when you are ready to use it. If it's a little thicker by the time you are warming it, you can thin it out with some water or broth.

Nancy Carlson

Monday 14th of June 2021

Delicious smells, beautiful dark color. I think that's due to how long you caramelize the onions. This dish is so incredibly flavorful and attractive with the olives for a bit of color. I was thrilled with how easy it was. Jasmine rice is perfect with it. Thank you!

Lola Osinkolu

Thursday 5th of August 2021

Sounds like you absolutely nailed it! 😊😊😊😊😊😊


Wednesday 28th of April 2021

I fell in love with Yassa while visiting Dakar and Theis, this recipe takes me back to those days.

Lan P

Saturday 17th of April 2021

Hi! Help, I’m a little confused. The ingredient list calls for oil, 1/4 cup and then 2 tablespoons. Step 1 says to use “oil” to make the marinade. Step 4 says to use “3 or 4 tablespoons of oil” to brown the chicken. Could you clarify that please.

Lola Osinkolu

Wednesday 4th of August 2021

Apologies for the late response Lan. 2 tablespoons of oil is for the marinade and the 3-4 tablespoons of oil is for frying the chicken. I hope that helps?

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!