Ethiopian-Spiced Chicken Stew

Ethiopian-Spiced Chicken Stew

34 Reviews
From: EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016

This chicken stew, generously seasoned with the Ethiopian spice mix berbere, is loaded with tomato and red lentils. Depending on brand, berbere spice blend can be rather spicy. For a less spicy stew, start with 3 tablespoons spice blend rather than 5.

Ingredients 8 servings

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Original recipe yields 8 servings
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  • 1½ cups red lentils
  • 2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped red onions
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 5 tablespoons berbere spice blend (see Tip)
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Wash lentils in cold water in a medium bowl until the water runs clear; drain and spread in an even layer in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Place chicken on top of the lentils.
  2. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add berbere and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping the onion mixture from the bottom of the pan, then stir in tomatoes with their juice.
  3. Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker on top of the chicken, then pour in broth.
  4. Cover and cook until the chicken is falling-apart tender, 5 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low. Stir the stew to combine.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Trim chicken, prep onions, garlic and ginger. Refrigerate separately.
  • Equipment: 5- to 6-quart slow cooker
  • The secret to the irresistible flavor of this chicken stew is berbere spice blend (find it in well-stocked supermarkets or at This staple in Ethiopian cooking is a heady mix that usually includes garlic, fenugreek, allspice, red pepper, ginger, chiles, coriander, cinnamon and black pepper. If you can't find it, use a mixture of 4 tablespoons garam masala, 1 tablespoon hot paprika, 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek and 1 teaspoon salt in this recipe.
  • For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 1¼ cups
  • Per serving: 430 calories; 14 g fat(4 g sat); 7 g fiber; 35 g carbohydrates; 38 g protein; 102 mcg folate; 98 mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 335 IU vitamin A; 14 mg vitamin C; 69 mg calcium; 5 mg iron; 666 mg sodium; 725 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Iron (28% daily value), Folate (26% dv), Vitamin C (23% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 1½ starch, 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 fat

Reviews 34

April 20, 2019
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By: Susie Thompson Miller
Actually, I love this recipe except for the spice level. I LOVE spicy food but this was beyond spicy, which takes away from the flavor in my opinion. I actually made it again with less berbere spice and added sour cream and it was 5 star in my opinion.
December 30, 2017
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By: christine.tezak
This is easy and delicious. We use 3 tbsp of Penzey’s Berbere. It has plenty of kick at that level while still preserving the individual taste of the components. I also tend to throw more veg in the pot, there is always room. Have found the leftovers freeze nicely for a midweek meal or work lunch.
September 11, 2017
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By: Cathleen Wilder
OMG! This is my very favorite recipe. Tonight I added a quarter teaspoon of clove and it is even more fantastic! I love the spice level, but I like my food hot. I did notice that the longer it cooks, the milder it gets.
April 01, 2017
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By: emcooks
This was really good. I made my own Berbere mix which was not too spicy so 5 tbsp. would have been fine. I would definitely make it again.
February 01, 2017
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By: robinsid
Holy hell that is spicy!!! It smelled so good but is inedible at this spice level. Was thinking maybe you all meant teaspoons when you said 5 tablespoons?? Will definitely make it again with way less berbere spice because it smells incredible!! UPDATE: I rinsed the lentils and chicken and reheated in a pan adding sour cream. It is still spicy and has flavor but at least I salvaged dinner!! Can't wait to make this again...minus 4Tblsp of spice!!
January 18, 2016
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By: EatingWell User
Great Recipe - Too Spicy + More Veggies After looking at the other reviews, I used 1.5 Tbsp of the Berbere spice, and was still a bit too spicy (the spice overwhelmed the delicious flavors)! Otherwise, a great dish and the chicken turned out perfect after putting in the crock pot for 5 hours on high. Next time, I will lower to less than 1 Tbsp of Berbere, put the lentils in after a few hours, and add more vegetables like carrots and bell peppers.
August 16, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Spicy goodness We tried this for the first time last night. Loving spicy foods, but unsure of the Berbere strength, we compromised on the suggestion and used 4 Tbsp of the Penzy's brand Berbere. It was just right (meaning - very potent, nose-running, but not tongue-lacerating). For most people this level would be considered very spicy, so know your limits. We had to put some salt in each bowl to really bring the flavor out, but that little bit did the trick. We also scaled back the chicken to 1.75 lb to focus more on the veggie content, but that's the great thing about stews - you can tweak them until your heart's content. The mixture of flavors is superb - the cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon bring sweetness to complexly balance with the cayenne heat. Pros: Incredible mix of flavors Cons: Needs salt to bring all the flavors out
June 06, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
One of my family's favorites! Added tumeric, saffron, diced tomatoes, and carrots. Worked up to the 5 tablespoons of bebere eventually!!
February 01, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Very healthy and delicious! I used only 3 tablespoons and less than 3 lbs of chicken. it was still spicey but tolerable. It was too much meat for me even at less than 3 lbs. Still I loved it and will make it regularly. Pros: healthy, delicious, easy to prep Cons: too spicey!
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