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Win over dinner with this Roasted Za’atar Chicken leg recipe. This seasoned dark meat chicken is savory and juicy with classic Middle Eastern flavors for a dish that’s sure to become a new family favorite. Pair the baked za’atar chicken with couscous or rice, a fresh salad, and warm pita bread for a satisfying meal. Your kitchen will be filled with the delicious scent of warm za’atar spice, signaling something delicious is about to be served!
Table of Contents
- What is za’atar chicken
- Why you’ll love this baked za’atar chicken recipe
- Roasted za’atar chicken ingredients
- How to make baked za’atar chicken
- Tips for making the best za’atar chicken thighs
- Popular substitutions & additions
- What to serve with baked za’atar chicken
- How to store & reheat za’atar chicken
- Frequently asked questions
- More Lebanese Chicken recipes:
- Roasted Za’atar Chicken Recipe
If you’re looking for a simple and flavorful chicken recipe perfect for weeknight dinners or gatherings, look no further than this roasted Za’atar chicken! With its Middle Eastern-inspired flavors and easy preparation, it’s a dinner you’ll be adding to the rotation. Plus, it’s an excellent option for those observing Ramadan or anyone who wants to enjoy a Lebanese-style dish.
What is za’atar chicken
Za’atar seasoning is a Middle Eastern spice mix made from dried thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. Its distinct earthy and tangy flavor makes it a go-to ingredient for many Middle Eastern dishes. Za’atar is perfect for seasoning chicken, but you’ll also find it used to season other meats, veggies, dips, and bread.
Why you’ll love this baked za’atar chicken recipe
- Easy to bake. Simply season and roast the chicken, and let the oven do the rest while you focus on preparing your meal’s side dishes.
- Protein-rich meal. This recipe packs a protein punch with a drumstick and thigh per serving, providing approximately 22 grams of protein from the chicken.
- Easy to customize. You can adjust the amount of za’atar or other spices to your liking or even substitute the chicken drumsticks and thighs with different cuts of chicken or meat.
Roasted za’atar chicken ingredients
- Chicken legs: I like to buy the whole chicken leg and then cut the chicken into thighs and drumsticks.
- Za’atar seasoning: Each brand uses similar spices but may switch out a few ingredients. Choose one you like, or make your own blend.
- Oil: Any oil will do. I prefer to use a neutral oil, such as olive or avocado.
- Red onion: Cut the onion into wedges. Red onion tastes great with the za’atar spice, but you could use another type of onion.
- Salt, pepper, and fresh parsley
How to make baked za’atar chicken
It doesn’t get much easier than roasting chicken legs in the oven; mix the seasoning marinade, prepare the meat, and roast until the chicken is cooked.
- Add the seasonings and oil to a small bowl.
- Stir until well combined and set aside.
Roast The chicken in the oven
- Pat the chicken dry. This helps to make sure the seasoning sticks to the skin while baking.
- Rub the za’atar all over the chicken until it is well coated.
- Scatter the red onions all over before roasting in a high-heat oven.
- Roast until the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. For crispy skin, broil the chicken a few more minutes until nice and browned on top. Keep a close eye while broiling as it works quickly, and you don’t want the tops to burn.
Tips for making the best za’atar chicken thighs
- Pat the chicken dry. The seasonings will stick to the chicken much better when dried first.
- Get extra crispy skin. While roasting should give you an evenly baked chicken, you may want to add a nice crisp top to the skin by broiling for just a few minutes.
- Use a thermometer to check for doneness. Because we’re using bone-in chicken drumsticks and thighs, it’s best to get right next to the bone to make sure it is cooked through.
Popular substitutions & additions
- Switch up the spices. Lebanese za’atar is so delicious and adds a fantastic aroma to these roasted chicken thighs, but you can easily swap them out for any seasoning blend you like! If you want to stick with a Lebanese-inspired flavor, you can try my homemade 7 spice blend, and I also have a few more blends, such as lemon pepper and blackening seasoning.
- Use boneless chicken thighs. You’ll likely roast the chicken for a little less time. This exchange is easy to make as long as you reach the correct internal temperature.
- Roast with extra vegetables. The onions are simple, but you can also add cherry tomatoes, zucchini, or other veggies to the pan. If adding more ingredients, I’d suggest using a larger baking dish or swapping to a baking sheet so everything roasts evenly.
What to serve with baked za’atar chicken
- Spicy Lebanese Potatoes (Batata Harra)
- Lebanese Rice
- Kale Tabbouleh Salad
- Lebanese Fattoush Salad
- Mujadara (rice and lentils)
How to store & reheat za’atar chicken
Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge. You can reheat or shred the chicken off the bone for another Lebanese meal, such as Lebanese Chicken and Rice, Chicken Fatteh, or Freekeh Soup with Chicken.
How long will roasted chicken last in the fridge?
You can store cooked chicken in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Can I freeze cooked bone-in chicken?
Yes, you can freeze roasted chicken. Allow to cook thoroughly and transfer to a freezer-safe bag. Remove as much air as possible and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a preheated 350-degree oven until heated through. You can also reheat it in an air fryer for 5-6 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can. Overcooking chicken can lead to dryness and brittle bones, so making sure it’s cooked just right is ideal. Dark meat chicken is more forgiving than white meat, but you should still check for doneness with a meat thermometer, making sure the center near the bone reaches 165 degrees. To finish, pop it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to crisp up the skin. Following these steps, you’ll always achieve perfectly cooked and juicy chicken without risking undercooking or overcooking.
Cooked chicken legs at the right temperature can still look slightly red or pink due to the natural occurrence of red bone marrow that can sometimes leak out when cooked, giving the meat a slightly red or pink appearance. As long as the internal temperature reaches 165°F and it has been cooked for the correct time, it’s safe to eat. However, if you’re unsure, cook it longer.
Za’atar chicken has a savory, earthy flavor that is slightly tangy from the sumac. The sesame seeds in the za’atar add a nutty flavor, while the thyme provides a slightly floral note.
Za’atar chicken is easy to make and flavorful, making it a healthy and delicious meal option. The unique blend of spices in za’atar gives the chicken an irresistible aroma and taste that is sure to satisfy. It’s a versatile dish that can be paired with various sides to create a simple and complete meal for weeknight dinners or serving a crowd.
More Lebanese Chicken recipes:
- Chicken Shawarma
- Grilled Chicken Kabobs
- Chicken Freekeh Soup
- Molokhia (jews mallow with chicken stew)
- Moghrabieh (semolina couscous with chicken stew)
- Freekeh with Chicken
- Chicken Bean Stew
- Shish Tawook
- Chicken Kafta
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Roasted Za’atar Chicken
- 4 chicken legs cut in half (about 2 ½ pounds)
- 3 tablespoons za'atar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ red onion sliced into wedges
- Chopped fresh parsley for serving
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Pat the chicken dry and place in a 9×12 baking dish.
- In a small bowl, stir together the za'atar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub the za'atar seasoning well into the chicken all over. Scatter the red onions all over.
- Roast until the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F, 35 to 40 minutes. Broil for an additional 2-4 minutes until the chicken is browned.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with potatoes, rice pilaf or salad.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.
Another excellent recipe! This was definitely super quick and easy to prep and cook. I doubled the marinade because I had some giant leg quarters and really got it under the skin. The whole family loved it and went back for more. Lebanese and Moroccan food is my favorite food to eat, but not having any of those types of restaurants anywhere near is a bummer, but making your recipes at home is way better.
Aw, thank you so much Rob, it really means a lot to me to “hear” you say that!