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Za’atar Chicken

Two white plates each topped with a serving of za'atar chicken, Israeli couscous, sauteed onions, and pan juices.
This za'atar chicken, made with the earthy, nutty, warming spice blend of the same name, disproves the notion that simple can't also be stylish and supremely satisfying.
Danielle Oron

Prep 25 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 45 mins
4 servings


For the Israeli couscous

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous (or ptitim)
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken and sauce

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade za’atar*
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) slices
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley


  • Heat the butter over medium heat in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Once it has melted, add the Israeli couscous and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer until the couscous is tender and has absorbed the water, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, slice each chicken breast into 2 pieces, as if you were butterflying the breast open, but instead cut all the way through. Pound each piece between 2 pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap with a mallet or the heel of your hand or the bottom of a heavy skillet until it’s as thin as possible. The chicken should be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Season both sides with a generous amount of za’atar and, if desired, salt.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken. Cook until browned and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken fillets. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  • Add the butter and the onion to the skillet in which you cooked the chicken. Sauté, tossing often, until the onion softens and begins to pick up some color, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook, stirring constantly for about a minute to eliminate the floury flavor. Pour in the stock to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a spoon. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the pan and spoon the sauce over the top to warm it through. Remove from the heat.
  • Place some of the Israeli couscous on each plate and top with a chicken breast, some onions, and a drizzle of sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.