Sheet Pan Roast Chicken with Za’atar

This sheet pan roast chicken with za’atar is an easy meal of tender, marinated chicken that’s roasted on a bed of onion, garlic, and lemon slices. The result? A sum of SO much more than its parts.

Pieces of sheet pan roast chicken with za'atar with onion wedges, halved garlic heads, and lemon slices.

As anyone who has cooked chicken sheet-pan recipes knows, the secret to effortless dinners is a make-ahead chicken dish that can just be put into the oven when needed. All the work is done in advance, which means that at dinnertime there is little fuss, and happy feasting.–Sami Tamimi & Tara Wigley

Sheet Pan Roast Chicken with Za'atar

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 3 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4
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Ingredients


Directions

Cut 2 of the lemons into slices 1/4 inch thick (6 mm) and place in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Finely grate the zest of the remaining lemon (you want about 1 1/2 teaspoon of zest) and set it aside for later. Squeeze 1 1/2 tablespoons juice from that same last lemon into the bowl or bag.

Add the chicken, onions, garlic, sumac, allspice, 2 tablespoons of za’atar, 2 tablespoons of oil, the stock, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and a good grind of black pepper to the lemon juice. Mix well to combine and then cover with a large plate or seal the bag, and let marinate in the fridge, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours (or up to overnight, if you have the time).

About 30 minutes before baking, take the chicken out of the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).

Transfer the chicken to a large rimmed baking sheet, skin side up, and pour on the marinade, including the onion, garlic, and sliced lemon.

Drizzle the chicken with 1 tablespoon of oil and roast, giving everything a bit of a stir halfway through, until the chicken is golden and cooked through and the onions have taken on some color, 40 to 45 minutes.

Tester tip: If your chicken skin isn’t as golden as you’d like, set your oven to convection or broil for the last few minutes of cooking time.

Toward the end of the cooking time for the chicken, in a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of za’atar, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Transfer the chicken to a platter along with the onions and lemon slices and any juices that have collected at the bottom of the pan. Some people will love to eat the lemon slices and others won’t. Either way, serve them up with the chicken—they look great!

Spoon the parsley mixture on the chicken, sprinkle with the almonds, and serve.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I love the unique taste of za'atar and use it on everything—roasted veggies, roasted meats and fish, in salad dressings, as a flavoring for pita bread, and sometimes even with eggs. I was excited to use the combination of spices in this sheet pan roast chicken recipe, which includes not only za'atar but allspice and sumac. The sumac gives the chicken a bright citrusy flavor, the allspice a warm comforting flavor, and the za'atar a toasty, herbal flavor.

Combined with fruity olive oil, tarty lemons, and caramelized onions, this recipe was a huge hit at our dinner table. I served the chicken with roasted baby yellow potatoes and a chard saute with mushrooms and sliced garlic.

As for the recipe itself, I used a whole chicken, which I cut into legs, thighs, and breasts. I had some homemade stock on hand, so that is what I used for the liquid portion of the marinade. I marinated my cut-up chicken for about 5 hours in the fridge.

I thought the almonds were a nice last minute crunch for the cooked chicken, but I think they should be an optional ingredient—the chicken was already flavorful enough and I didn't think they were essential to the success of the recipe. The sprinkle of parsley at the end was a lovely pop of color, though!

This is a great, flavorful roast chicken dish! As a fan of Mediterranean flavors, I wasn't disappointed. Prep work was quick and done earlier in the day using pre-cut chicken. At dinnertime, baking it on a sheet pan put dinner on the table with no fuss.

The chicken was thoroughly cooked after 45 minutes in the oven. This was served with a baked sweet potato and spinach blueberry salad.

Next time I would like to add new potatoes to the marinating chicken and bake them alongside the chicken. I would also serve this with tabbouleh as we enjoy eating Mediterranean since my husband is of Syrian descent.

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Comments

  1. Recipes typically discard chicken soaking marinade, this approach is unusual but understandably cooks to a temperature without concern. Will try with leg qtrs.

  2. Any recommendations on a brand/type of Za’atar that can be ordered online? The nearest market that sells middle eastern groceries is over an hour away.

    1. Bkhuna, what you’re looking for is a za’atar blend with the core mix of hyssop (a wild herb also called “za’atar” that grows in the Middle-East and the basis of all za’atar blends), crushed sumac berries, sesame seeds, and salt and can be used in any recipe where za’atar is called for. There are more regional specific variants that sometimes include Aleppo pepper, cumin, or dill, but the triumvirate of hyssop, sumac and sesame is really what you want, especially for this recipe. We have recommended Burlap & Barrel’s “Wild Za’atar” in our shop because it sticks as close to this classic blend as possible (you’ll find it right below the instructions in this recipe). Other good options would be from The Spice House or New York Shuk.

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