Yassa Chicken Bowl

Yassa Chicken Bowl

This Yassa Chicken bowl recipe is succulent, comforting, and packed with flavor. It’s made with chicken and caramelized onions coated in a sweet and spicy sauce, then paired with pickled carrots and served over a bed of fonio. Delicious! 

Yassa Chicken

If you’ve never heard of Yassa chicken (also known as chicken yassa), then allow me to introduce you to one of West Africa’s best-kept secrets. This cozy comfort food dish is made with tender, flavorful chicken and caramelized onions in a sweet and spicy sauce.

Yassa chicken is the perfect combination of savory, sweet, tangy, and spicy. I like to pair the chicken yassa with turnip greens and pickled carrots in my rendition of the classic Senegalese dish, and I serve it over a bed of fluffy fonio and top it off with some crushed peanuts. The final result is a succulent dish you won’t be able to get enough of.

This comfort food dish is packed with amazing flavors and works great as a meal prep recipe for lunch or dinner. The chicken yassa itself can be served however you like, whether it’s in a grain bowl like this one or even in a salad. The options are endless, so be sure to make enough for leftovers. You won’t regret it! 

Bowl VERZUZ Battle: How It Works:

Welcome to week three of the first annual BOWL VERZUZ! In this head-to-head competition, I’ll be competing against my wife, Meiko Temple (Meiko and the Dish), to see who created the finest bowl. Each week, we are given the same featured ingredient and must create a bowl around it. This week’s highlighted ingredient is fonio.

Every Friday in January we will share our submissions and we need you to vote by leaving a message in the comments below. 

Meiko’s bowl can be found here. If you like mine, leave a message below.

If her bowl is your favorite, leave a comment on her page

Key Ingredients:

To make this delicious Yassa Chicken recipe, you need the key ingredients listed below.

  • Whole Chicken: If you don’t want to use a whole chicken, feel free to use whichever parts you like—thighs, breasts, or legs. Alternatively, many people also make this dish with lamb or fish. 
  • Yellow Onions: Caramelized onions are the foundation of Chicken Yassa, so don’t leave them out! This is an integral part of achieving the rich, sweet, and delicious flavor profile we’re going for. 
  • Fonio: This ancient grain is widely known as a superfood and is popular in West African cuisine. Fonio has a texture similar to couscous and a nutty, earthy flavor. You can swap it out with white rice or quinoa if preferred. 
  • Turnip Greens: You can swap these out for collard greens, swiss chard, or spinach. It’s entirely up to your personal preference, so just pick your favorite.
  • Limes: This is essential for the sweet and spicy sauce you’ll be cooking the chicken in. The acidity in lime juice brightens up all of the flavors and brings everything together in a really beautiful way. 
  • Granulated Sugar: As a key component of our pickled carrots, it’s important to use quality sugar. That’s why I love using Imperial Sugar granulated sugar. Imperial Sugar is one of the largest processors and marketers of refined sugar in the U.S., supplying high-quality products to food manufacturers, retail grocers, and foodservice distributors.
Yassa Chicken Bowl

How to Make the Best Yassa Chicken Bowl:

This flavorful comfort food dish comes together in about two hours, but you can cut that time in half by preparing the pickled carrots ahead of time. To bring the dish to life (and impress all your friends!), just follow the steps below. 

Pickled Carrots: Combine carrots, serrano, onion, and salt in a large bowl. Place in a colander to drain off moisture for about 1 hour.

Add the vegetables, sugar, white vinegar, and rice wine vinegar to a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. 

Place in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for 3 weeks. Drain before serving or use a fork to remove the carrots as needed.

Yassa Chicken: Heat a 5-quart pot over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil, onions, and ½ teaspoons salt, stir to coat onions with oil. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until tender. Stir occasionally to make sure onions are not burning. 

While the onions are cooking, add salt, black pepper, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon of oil, blitz on high until chopped fine. Rub mixture evenly over chicken pieces. 

Once 20 minutes are up, and the onions are tender, turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir in bay leaves, juice of 4 limes, butter, chicken, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cover, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes until chicken is tender. 

Turnip Greens: Cut off the bottom of the stems and slice turnip greens into ½ inch slices. To a food blender, add ginger, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper, then pulse 5 times. 

Cut processor on low and slowly drizzle in olive oil until blended; taste and adjust seasoning. Toss turnips in dressing and set aside. 

Fonio: Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat and add the chicken stock, oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and stir in fonio, then cover with a lid, turn the heat off, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir to fluff. 

Bowl Assembly: Add fonio, turnip greens, a piece of chicken with caramelized onions, 1 tablespoon of pickled carrots to a bowl and garnish with peanuts. 

Yassa Chicken Bowl

Yassa Chicken Bowl Recipe Tips and Substitutions:

Here are some of my top tips to help you make the best Yassa Chicken dish: 

  • The key to any truly mouth-watering Chicken Yassa is allowing the onions to properly caramelize before adding the chicken. I’ve found 20 minutes to be the sweet spot, so make sure to let the onions cook for the total amount of time. 
  • Fonio is a delicious grain and superfood found at most grocery stores. Any grain will work fine if you can’t find it or want to try something else. Some good alternatives to fonio include couscous, white rice, and quinoa. 
  • You can chop the peanuts by hand, but if you have a food processor, then I recommend using that to speed up the process. 
  • I love using serrano peppers in my pickling mixture for the pickled carrots because of the flavor and heat they bring. However, if you’re worried about the spice level, you can replace them with jalapeno peppers instead. 
  • If you have a peanut allergy, you can swap out the peanuts for cashews or almonds. 

How to Store the Dish:

This Yassa Chicken Bowl recipe can easily be prepared ahead of time and stored for later. I find this to be especially helpful when I know I will be too busy to cook later in the week. 

If you want to make this dish ahead of time, here’s how to do it:

Pickled Carrots – Carrots can be made 2 weeks in advance, as long as you keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Yassa Chicken – You can make the chicken one day in advance and reheat it the next day. To store, keep the chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Fonio – Cooked fonio can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2 months. 

Turnip Green Salad – You can prepare the salad dressing ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7-10 days. However, I don’t recommend adding it to the turnip greens until you’re ready to serve the dish. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this Chicken Yassa recipe: 

What is Yassa Chicken?

Yassa Chicken is a West African comfort food dish consisting of tender chicken and caramelized onions cooked in a rich, sweet, and spicy sauce. Originally from Senegal and made with French influence, this succulent chicken recipe is one of West Africa’s most popular dishes. 

Do I have to use a whole chicken?

Absolutely not. While I prefer to use a whole chicken, you can use any parts of the chicken you prefer. Many Chicken Yassa recipes are made with the legs, breasts, thighs, or any combination of the three. For a non-chicken version, you can also use lamb or fish. 

What can I use instead of fonio?

Fonio is a delicious and nutritious grain that is incredibly popular in West African cooking. If you can’t find it at the store or want to try something else, you can use any grain of your choice. Couscous, quinoa, and rice will all work well. 

Yassa Chicken Bowl

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Yassa Chicken Bowl

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More Delicious Chicken Recipes

If you’re on the hunt for more awesome chicken recipes to try, check these out:

This Yassa chicken bowl ensures comfort for everyone with its succulent mix of caramelized onions and fonio grains soaked in a sweet and spicy sauce. The pickled carrots are also my favorite because they give an acidic flavor profile that complements the other ingredients perfectly. Leave a 5-star review and tell us what you thought about the dish. Your feedback is important to us–we want Yassa Chicken’s fans worldwide to be satisfied with their meal experience!

Recipe:

Yassa Chicken Bowl

Yassa Chicken Bowl

Kenneth Temple
This Yassa Chicken bowl recipe is succulent, comforting, and packed with flavor. It’s made with chicken and caramelized onions coated in a sweet and spicy sauce, then paired with pickled carrots and served over a bed of fonio. Delicious! 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 6 persons
Calories 909 kcal

Ingredients
  

Pickled Carrots:

  • 10 oz. bag shredded carrots
  • 1 serrano sliced
  • 1 small onion chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup Imperial Sugar granulated sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar

Yassa Chicken:

  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 4 large yellow onions sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 limes 1 lime quartered
  • 1 whole chicken 3 ½ – 4 ½ lbs. washed, cut in 8 pieces
  • 3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • ½ cup chopped roasted peanuts

Turnip Greens:

  • 1 bunch turnip greens washed
  • 1 inch piece ginger unpeeled
  • 1 garlic clove chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup lime juice 2 medium limes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Fonio:

  • 1 ½ cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup fonio

Instructions
 

  • Pickled Carrots: Combine carrots, serrano, onion, and salt in a large bowl. Place in a colander to drain off moisture for about 30 minutes.
  • Add the vegetables, sugar, white vinegar, and rice wine vinegar to a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Place in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for 3 weeks. Drain before serving or use a fork to remove the carrots as needed.
  • Yassa Chicken: Heat a 5-quart pot over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil, onions and ½ teaspoons salt, stir to coat onions with oil. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until tender. Stir occasionally to make sure onions are not burning.
  • While onions are cooking add salt, black pepper, cayenne, garlic, ginger and 1 tablespoon of oil to a food processor, blitz on high until chopped fine. Rub mixture evenly over chicken pieces. Once 20 minutes are up and the onions are tender, turn the heat up to medium-high and stir in bay leaves, juice of 4 limes, butter, chicken and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add thyme, cover, reduce heat to medium, cook for 30-35 minutes until chicken is tender.
  • Turnip Greens: Cut off the bottom portion of the stems and slice turnip greens into ½ inch slices. In a food blender add ginger, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper, pulse 5 times. Cut processor on high and slowly drizzle in olive oil, until blended; taste and adjust seasoning. Toss turnips in dressing and set aside.
  • Fonio: Turn the heat to medium in a medium pot add the chicken stock, oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and bay leaf, bring to a boil, stir in fonio, cover with a lid, turn the heat off and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir to fluff.
  • To assemble chicken bowl, add fonio, turnip green, a piece of chicken with onions, 1 tablespoon pickled carrots and garnish with peanuts.

Notes

Recipe Tips and Tricks:
Here are some of my top tips to help you make the best Yassa Chicken dish: 
• The key to any truly mouth-watering Chicken Yassa is allowing the onions to properly caramelize before adding the chicken. I’ve found 20 minutes to be the sweet spot, so make sure to let the onions cook for the total amount of time.
• Fonio is a delicious grain and superfood found at most grocery stores. Any grain will work fine if you can’t find it or want to try something else. Some good alternatives to fonio include couscous, white rice, and quinoa.
• You can chop the peanuts by hand, but if you have a food processor, then I recommend using that to speed up the process.
• I love using serrano peppers in my pickling mixture for the pickled carrots because of the flavor and heat they bring. However, if you’re worried about the spice level, you can replace them with jalapeno peppers instead.
• If you have a peanut allergy, you can swap out the peanuts for cashews or almonds. 
Storage:
  • Pickled Carrots – Carrots can be made 2 weeks in advance, as long as you keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. 
  • Yassa Chicken – You can make the chicken one day in advance and reheat it the next day. To store, keep the chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.
  • Fonio – Cooked fonio can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2 months. 
  • Turnip Green Salad – You can prepare the salad dressing ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. However, I don’t recommend adding it to the turnip greens until you’re ready to serve the dish. 

Nutrition

Calories: 909kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 33gFat: 60gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gMonounsaturated Fat: 31gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 3164mgPotassium: 863mgFiber: 7gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 8466IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 108mgIron: 3mg
Keyword chicken yassa, yassa chicken
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