Sumac Roast Chicken

Sumac roast chicken draws on a single Middle Eastern spice to elevate an everyday roast hen with potatoes, onions, carrots, and garlic to something special. Something very special.

An oval pan filled with a whole roast chicken with sumac, surrounded by roasted carrots, garlic, lemon wedges; a bowl of yogurt, sumac, and olive oil nearby

When we think of comfort foods, roast chicken with vegetables is near the top of our list. This recipe takes the classic crisp skin, juicy chicken, and tender veggies and levels up with the notable additions of the slightly sour smack of sumac, a Middle Eastern staple, and a creamy labneh sauce that lends ordinary ingredients an exotic flair.–Angie Zoobkoff

Roast Chicken with Sumac

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4
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Place the chicken in a deep, large roasting pan. Using your fingers, gently tug the skin from the meat over the breasts and drumsticks. Rub the butter between the skin and the meat. Rub 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons sumac all over the chicken skin. If time permits, refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°̊C).

Squeeze half of 1 lemon over the chicken and place it inside the cavity along with a half head of garlic. Drizzle the chicken with 2 to 4 tablespoons oil.

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, potatoes, onions, and the remaining lemons and garlic. Pour over 1/4 cup oil, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sumac, and season with salt and pepper. Toss until the vegetables are evenly coated and scatter them around the chicken.

Roast, tossing the vegetables occasionally, until the chicken and vegetables are deep golden and cooked through and the chicken registers 165°F (72°C) in the thickest part of the thigh, 60 to 75 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Squeeze the garlic out of its papery husk and stir it into the vegetables.

Drizzle the labneh with oil and sprinkle it with the sesame seeds, some pepper, sumac, and flaky sea salt. Serve the labneh alongside the chicken.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I was stunned at how juicy and delicious this chicken was; I suspect that the butter under the skin was the biggest contributor but the lemon juice and salt definitely added to it.

I used a much larger roasting pan than I normally would, measuring 10 by 16 inches, so there was more than enough room to mix the vegetables during roasting and also to cut down the cooking time to just over an hour. What I like about this recipe is that you don't need the exact amount of ingredients for a dinner like this. The 3 lemons makes it VERY lemony and 3 heads of garlic might leave you with a lot of leftover roasted cloves. I think 2 of each would be enough for some people but we really liked the citrus flavor and, in my house, there’s no such thing as too much roasted garlic.

The flavors in the dish are sweet and bright and the addition of the labneh is amazing. I actually used za'atar seasoning (which really only has the addition of thyme compared to the original recipe). I mixed it into the labneh (at the same time I started marinating the chicken) and then sprinkled it with more sesame seeds and a swirl of oil before serving. I left both the chicken and labneh in the fridge for 7 hours before cooking.

This dish served 3 well with very little leftovers. We squeezed the garlic out of the skin and ate it with the vegetables as well as spreading it on some warm flatbreads. This morning, I used the rest of spiced labneh spread on a bagel and it was amazing. I will be making this recipe again, including just the labneh for a quick spread.

Like most people, I am always looking for new ways to prepare chicken. And I am always looking for new ways to use up my less frequently used spices. So this recipe started off promising!

It was simple to prepare, although in the future I might mix the softened butter with the salt, pepper, and sumac and rub the mix both under the skin and on top. The sumac gave the chicken and veggies a lovely citrusy flavor that was enhanced by the lemon juice. The flavor was subtle enough, though, that the labneh or some other dipping sauce was appreciated.

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