Baharat roast chicken draws on a traditional Middle Eastern spice rub to lend an easy flourish to everyday roast chicken.
This baharat roast chicken recipe uses a popular Middle Eastern spice blend, baharat, to create spectacularly flavorful roasted chicken thighs. Not only does it lend an exotic flourish to your table, it might also be the easiest chicken you’ve ever made.–Angie Zoobkoff
Baharat Roast Chicken
- 2 tablespoons baharat spice blend
- 2 teaspoons ground sumac
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 4 7 oz store-bought or homemade preserved lemons halved and flesh scooped out and discarded
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 3/4 cups store-bought or homemade chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- A few grinds black pepper
- 12 4 1/2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 14 oz red onions thinly sliced into half moons
- Cooked rice or couscous (optional) for serving
- In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the baharat, sumac, cumin, coriander, preserved lemon rinds, garlic, chicken stock, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Seal the bag and gently massage everything together. Open the bag and toss in the chicken thighs and onions, reseal, and massage again to fully coat the chicken. Toss the bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight to marinate, turning the bag once or twice.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Dump the chicken and the marinade in a large roasting pan and arrange the chicken, skin side up, on top of the onions. Roast until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear when pierced with a knife, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Ladle the chicken, sauce, onions, and lemon onto mounds of rice or couscous.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
What a wonderfully easy chicken dish full of flavor! I can’t express enough how easy this baharat roast chicken is. You literally throw all the ingredients together to marinate overnight and then in the oven it goes. Done. I already had some Baharat spice but not enough for this recipe. When I ventured out to buy more, I found out that there is quite a variety of baharat mixtures out there and the one I ended up buying was quite different than the one I already had. (Baharat can be found in Mediterranean/Middle Eastern markets under “7 Spices.”) The spices rendered a very flavorful chicken. I would experiment with adding a bit more baharat and possibly also adding some dried mint and increasing the amount of preserved lemon.
I was unfamiliar with the spice blend baharat and made my own. It’s smoky and sweet smelling and we’re now finding other uses for the spice blend! This baharat roast chicken recipe was straightforward and fast to assemble. Let the chicken marinate, dump the chicken and marinade in a roasting pan, and cook while you’re making a pan of rice—an easy weeknight dinner to get on the table. It was also good enough for company. The recipe could be doubled, but I’d cook it in 2 separate pans. I now have a batch of Baharat spice mix in the cabinet and I’m on the lookout for other uses!
This baharat roast chicken is a fantastic weeknight dinner—any recipe where you just throw all the ingredients in a resealable plastic bag the night before, empty it into a baking dish when you get home from work, and chuck in the oven for 45 minutes is a life saver. Even better, however, is that the aroma from the spices permeates the house while it’s cooking, getting you into a Middle Eastern mood just in time to steam some couscous, make a Moroccan mint tea, and whip up some green veg to go on the side. Fortunately, the flavor is just as good as the smell, if not better, so it’s a winner all around! I couldn’t get boneless thighs this time so used bone-in thighs and drumsticks—about 3 pounds in all, which served 6 people. I marinated the chicken for about 2 hours this time but will certainly be making this again and leaving it overnight—I can’t imagine the flavor will intensify any more as it was already very punchy, but we shall see! There are two key things that I would suggest to improve the dish. One, make sure the onions are mainly beneath the liquid as they catch and burn on top of the chicken. The other is to add some chopped cilantro or parsley on top when serving for a color contrast—although the dish tastes lovely, it looks very brown and boring. Some color from a garnish would definitely help, as would a wedge of lemon to squeeze over. I would make sure I had the 4 preserved lemons as specified next time—they give a lovely citrusy hit when you get a piece in the sauce, although their flavor wasn’t obvious throughout the overall dish.
I haven’t had a lot of experience with Middle Eastern food but I love the flavors, especially the spices. I recently picked up some sumac and have been looking for a way to use it in a more authentic dish. This baharat roast chicken recipe takes a little bit of preparation but the cooking is simple and the results are delicious. And the way it smells while cooking is just incredible! I thought that so much lemon rind would prove to be bitter but, in fact, it added a lovely, deep lemon flavor. I let the chicken marinate for 24 hours. The chicken was cooked after 45 minutes but I did give it a few minutes under the broiler to make the skin nice and crisp. I served it with couscous and a green salad—the chicken was so juicy and the spices gave it such a complex flavor. We spooned the juice, lemon, and onion over the couscous and it was delicious.
This baharat roast chicken is a deliciously simple family recipe that plates perfectly for company. Roast chicken is a childhood favorite of mine, even for birthday dinners. Although my own mother would have done her chicken simply with oregano and lemon, this is a great alternative and reminds me it’s okay for you to cook only the pieces of the bird you love most. Moist thigh meat with the skin on is a great way to portion this. The spicing is interesting. I made up a batch of the baharat seasoning, freshly grinding everything except for using ground cinnamon, so I had a fresh batch for this recipe and to use again. I made it up on a previous day, then mixed with the additional freshly ground spices and homemade preserved lemons. For just two of us, I made a half recipe using 6 bone-in, skin-on thighs. I gave it overnight to marinate, and then turned it out on a half-sheet (18” x 13”) as it looked a bit crowded on a quarter sheet and might have cooked too wet. The skin was turning a nice golden brown at 40 minutes and the internal temperature near the bones was above 170℉ (77°C) on all pieces, and the onions were just starting to slightly char at the edges of the pan.
Served over rice, the perfect serving per person was one piece of roast chicken, although it would not have been excessively greedy to go back for seconds. I think the combination of the gently warm spicing with the tang of the preserved lemons and earthy sweetness of the red onions, tamed by marinade and roasting, was very good.
I found that by cutting the onion in half and then placing it flat side down, I was able to safely get uniform 1/8-inch-thick half moon slices, which were easily distributed with the chicken both in the marinade and the roasting. Next time I might even take the time to remove the bone from the chicken and leave the skin on to make the final serving even more elegant.
This baharat roast chicken recipe makes a great chicken dinner for six and it’s very straightforward. (Throw everything in a bag, then into a pan, and stick it in the oven and leave it? Couldn’t be easier!) And once the wonderful fragrance of the spices starts to fill your kitchen, you can hardly wait to taste it! When done, the chicken was golden brown and crisp on top, and the rest was moist and tender. The juices and the sweet onions didn’t disappoint, either—they were wonderful over fluffy basmati rice. One thing to note: it was a bit hard to scoop out the flesh of the preserved lemon halves. In a pinch, I think you could just get rid of the seeds or, if you want to be meticulous, quarter each lemon and run your knife between the flesh and the pith.
Originally published May 07, 2017