dinner/meat/mediterranean food/recipes

Za’atar Roast Chicken Recipe

Posted November 4, 2017 by Stephanie

We’ve been on a hardcore Middle Eastern/Levantine food kick lately. Our favorite place for happy hour has these fries that are topped with parsley, lemons, and za’atar – they’re incredibly addictive. They also have halloumi fries. I mean, grilled halloumi is good but when you deep-fry it!? I’m going to have to make those guys soon because my halloumi habit is getting pricy. Although, we can’t quite figure out how they have it on their happy hour menu because halloumi is so expensive. They must have some sort of halloumi discount. I got to get in on that.

Za'atar Roast Chicken Recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

Anyway, this isn’t a post about halloumi, it’s a post about za’atar roast chicken. We decided to invite some friends over for a little chicken feast, with a bunch of mezze. It’s one of my favorite way to eat: lots of variety and different little bites. At first we were planning on just mezze but then I got kind of worried because I didn’t want us to run out of food. I shouldn’t have worried because we had too much. But, that’s always a good thing, if you like leftovers, like I do.

Za'atar Roast Chicken Recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

I thought the mezze would be the stars of the show, but the honor ended up going this za’atar roast chicken. It was tender, juicy, and just the right amount of tangy and rich. I loved how caramelized the onions and lemons got and the butter roasted pine nuts were little bursts of nutty goodness. It went so well with the tzatziki and fattoush. I loved how I was able to prepare everything beforehand so that this dish was just finishing off in the oven as people arrived. I think that might be the best part for me, throwing a mostly hands off dinner party so I can just relax and enjoy good friends and good food.

Happy roasting friends!
fried halloumi and crispy potatoes,
xoxo steph

Za'atar Roast Chicken Recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

Za’atar Roast Chicken Recipe
serves 6

  • 4 lbs chicken, legs and thighs
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • 1½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup pine nuts

via Bon Appetit

In a deep baking sheet or casserole dish, toss the chicken with the onions, garlic, lemon, sumac, allspice, cinnamon, chicken broth, and oil. Chill for minimum 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Sprinkle the za’atar on the chicken and roast until brown and cooked through, 45-55 minutes.

When there’s 5 minutes left on the chicken, toast the pine nuts. On medium high heat, melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the pine nuts, stirring, until butter is foamy and brown. The pine nuts should be lightly golden. Season with salt.

Turn the broiler on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the chicken browns, slightly. Top the chicken with pine nuts and extra za’atar, if desired. Enjoy hot!


  1. Jennifer says:

    Oh my gosh, thank you! I traveled in the Middle East long ago, and still crave the food. I recently stocked up on ME spices and have been looking for recipes to use them. This sounds delectable!

  2. Geoff says:

    So funny, I just made za’atar chicken on a fluke the other day, pulled up your blog and bam! There it was. I added a bunch of my CSA root veggies to the mix, made a great roasted dinner. Cheers.

  3. Jamie says:

    Ingredients mentions olive oil, but I do not see where it is used in the recipe.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jamie,

      thanks for the heads up! it goes in with the marinade at the beginning. i’ve updated the recipe :)

  4. Lisa says:

    I made this last night, and it was awesome!!
    I found a middle eastern market not far from home, and was able to purchase the Sumac and Za’atar :-)
    This is a real crowd pleaser…

    1. Stephanie says:

      yay! so happy you liked it :) i’m in love with sumac and za’atar!

  5. Raquel says:

    What if i dont have sumac?what can i use?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi raquel,
      you could leave it out or use a bit more za’atar and extra lemon zest.

  6. Alissa says:

    Your post kicked off an obsession to learn about, then cooking and eating Levantine food. I found this recipe and made it tonight- it doesn’t look like much, but is SO good. Plus, you get the added benefit of a fragrant broth to save for later. https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Chicken-with-Onions

  7. Dipal says:

    5 stars
    Ottolenghi has the same recipe in one of his books and these flavours are amazing!

    1. Stephanie says:

      yes! i got this off the bon app site (there’s a link to it in the recipe) and they got it from ottolenghi, it’s amazing :)

  8. Marli says:

    Do you recommend the chicken be skin on or off? Bone in? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie says:

      skin on, bone in :)

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