The Washington Post

Lemon and Apricot Cinnamon Chicken

Lemon and Apricot Cinnamon Chicken 4.000

Goran Kosanovic For The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes May 9, 2017

This is a happy jumble of flavors in which there's just enough cinnamon to perfume the dish rather than carry it in the direction of something sweet; the blend of red and black peppers gives it depth.

Cold leftovers make a nice lunch salad the next day. Serve with a green salad.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup dried orzo pasta
  • 6 to 8 stems curly parsley
  • 2 or 3 stems fresh dill
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper (may substitute a fruity/mild ground red pepper or sweet paprika), plus more for optional garnish
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2/3 cup dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Heaping 1/3 cup blanched almonds
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


Fill a deep saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; add a good pinch of the salt and the orzo. Cook according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, coarsely chop the parsley and dill fronds (both to taste; reserve the stems for stock, if desired). Cut the chicken crosswise into bite-size strips/planks.

Drain the orzo, reserving 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water, then return to the pan. Stir in the butter and a generous pinch of salt, then the fresh herbs and Aleppo pepper.

Cut the onion into small dice. Coarsely chop the apricots, or cut them into 1/4-inch slices.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the chicken and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, so it loses its raw look; the pieces may not all be cooked through. Add the onion and almonds; cook for about 6 minutes, stirring a few times, until the onion has softened and the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken mixture is cooking, cut the lemons in half and squeeze their juice.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the lemon juice, cinnamon, black pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and continue to cook for a minute or so. Add the cornstarch, stirring until slightly thickened.

Add the orzo mixture to the skillet, stirring gently to incorporate. Once it has warmed through, stir in the apricots and remove from the heat.

Serve warm, drizzled with a little oil and sprinkled a final pinch or two of salt and with more of the Aleppo pepper, if desired.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Turkish Delights: Stunning Regional Recipes from the Bosphorus to the Black Sea," Kyle, 2016).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 580

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 25g 38%

Saturated Fat: 5g 25%

Cholesterol: 100mg 33%

Sodium: 790mg 33%

Total Carbohydrates: 52g 17%

Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%

Sugar: 14g

Protein: 39g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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