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!
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.
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.
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
- Banga Soup – delicious Palm-nut Soup
- Okra soup – One-pot soup made with okra, spinach, and meat.
- Maafe – Easy Chicken Peanut Soup – one of our most favorite soup! You will love it!!
- Stewed Spinach – Delicious stew made with spinach.
- Ogbono soup – Made with wild mango seeds
- Ewedu – Viscous soup made with Jute leaves
- Chicken Pepper Soup – Delicious Spicy soup made with Chicken.
- Goat meat Pepper Soup – Another one you should try!
- Nigerian Chicken Stew – Delicious stew with a twist to the traditional. You will love it!
- Please don’t skip the onions, lemon, and hot pepper. You will be missing out a whole lot if you do.
Senegalese Poulet Yassa
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
- 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.
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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
Friday 30th of December 2022
I made this for my housemates tonight and it was absolutely delicious! It tasted just like the yassa poulet I had in Senegal. Thank you for your work and for sharing this!
Monday 2nd of January 2023
Thank you for the feedback, Maeve! I'm glad that you enjoyed the poulet Yassa. I hope you'll come back for more African recipes in the future!
Tuesday 25th of October 2022
Would it be a crime if I leave out the pepper part? I love spicy food but my husband and toddler well they are scared of anything spicy… Would that make so much difference on the taste?
Saturday 28th of May 2022
I remember growing up eating this almost every week & this recipe tastes exactly the way it did back then. 10/10
Chef Lola's Kitchen
Monday 30th of May 2022
Thank you, Khadijah
Monday 7th of February 2022
This was SO GOOD! Couldn’t stop eating it! Best recipe for Poulet Yassa
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?
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.