Craving some crispy, juicy, and ridiculously tasty roasted chicken? Enjoy a burst of delicious middle eastern flavors when you try out this za'atar lemon roasted chicken recipe! It's packed with tons of herbs, spices, and lemony flavors that are sure to brighten up your day.
If you're looking for an easy chicken recipe that you can make in less than an hour, you can't go wrong with a crispy and juicy roasted chicken. There are so many ways to roast a chicken. For this recipe, we'll be using our favorite za'atar seasoning and some lemons. And for some more flavors, we even threw in some roasted garlic and tahini.
This za'atar roasted chicken recipe is going to be the crispiest and juiciest roast chicken you will ever try. It is a zesty, savory, herby dish, full of bright flavors and depth. But before we get into the recipe, let us introduce you to the ingredient that makes this dish amazing—za'atar.
What Is Za'atar?
No other spice blend is as versatile and tasty as za'atar. You can use it to season meats (as we're doing in this recipe), or you can sprinkle it onto popcorn, chips—any dish really—for an instant upgrade in flavor.
Za'atar is a middle eastern spice blend traditionally combined with olive oil and used for dipping bread during breakfast. Each region has its own blend of za'atar. But it's usually comprised of these five main ingredients—that is, thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, salt, and sumac.
Most spice blends can only be used in certain dishes, but the versatility of za'atar is why we love it so much. You can bake it into bread, turn it into a dip, drizzle it onto salads, rub it onto meat, or sprinkle it over snacks. It can instantly brighten up any dish, even something as simple as a fried egg or baked potatoes. Once you've tried it, it'll become the go-to seasoning in your pantry.
How To Make Za'atar Lemon Roast Chicken
This recipe is great for several reasons. First of all, the prep time is only 10 minutes, maybe even less if you work fast. It's just a matter of patting the chicken dry and seasoning evenly all around the chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
Plus, it's extremely versatile. You can pair this chicken with almost any side, from soups to salads, or whichever carbs you choose.
And lastly—it's freaking delicious! Plus, if you follow our tips, the chicken skin is going to turn out crispy as ever and the meat will be super moist. That said, here's how to make a za'atar lemon roast chicken:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Za'atar Roasted Chicken With Lemon
- 3 lbs chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on, 4 thighs
- 1 ½ Tbsp za'atar
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 lemons
- 2 heads of garlic
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh parsley for serving
- Flaky sea salt for serving
- Tahini optional, for serving
- Preheat oven to 450F. While the oven is preheating, season the chicken. Start by patting the chicken dry with a paper towel. Then combine 1 ½ Tbsp za'atar, 2 tsp Kosher salt, and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Once you've got your seasoning mix, season the chicken liberally on all sides.
- When you're done seasoning the chicken, grab your lemons and thinly slice them into ¼" thick rounds. Place 3 or 4 slices together on a lined baking sheet, use parchment paper not aluminum foil. The lemon slices will act as little beds for the chicken thighs. Place chicken thighs on top of the lemon slices, each chicken thigh should have its own lemon bed.
- Grab your garlic bulbs and slice them in half. Place the garlic bulbs around the chicken, cut side up, then drizzle 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil on top of the garlic heads. You will also want to place a slice of lemon on top of each sliced garlic bulb.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven and let the chicken cook for 30-35 minutes. You can also use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. If it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, then your chicken is cooked. Add a sprinkle of chopped parsley, a pinch of flaky sea salt, extra lemon slices, roasted garlic, and tahini (optional) on top.
Tahini Sauce (Optional)
- 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 cup prepared tahini
- ½ cup lemon juice (or more, as needed)
- ¼ teaspoon dried cumin seed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. (Prepared tahini paste varies in thickness depending on the manufacturer. Add enough lemon juice to bring the paste to the consistency you like.)
- Pour into a bowl and cover until ready to use.
Tips For Crispy & Juicy Za'atar Roasted Chicken
If it's your first time trying a roast chicken recipe, we understand how daunting it can feel—we've been there too. Luckily, we've got some tricks to help you get the perfect roasted chicken. You can keep these in mind for your other roasted chicken recipes too.
To ensure that your chicken gets cooked thoroughly and that you're getting the juiciest, crispiest, and most flavorful roasted chicken, follow these tips:
Use Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken
Feel free to use any part of the chicken you prefer. We highly recommend using chicken thighs since this is the most flavorful part of the chicken. But you can also use chicken breasts, a whole bird, or whichever part is available to you. Just make sure that it's bone-in, skin-on chicken.
Boneless, skinless chicken isn't ideal for slow cooking methods such as roasting. The chicken skin is responsible for keeping in the moisture and preventing it from drying out. Besides, our goal here is to achieve the crispiest za'atar roasted chicken. How are we going to get crispy skin without the skin?
Pat The Chicken Dry
Before you even start seasoning the chicken, make sure to pat it dry with a paper towel. Getting rid of the moisture from the skin will really allow the chicken to roast, resulting in that crispy skin. If you leave the moisture on the chicken, it will steam rather than roast, so you won't get that crispiness.
If you really want your chicken to be bursting with flavors, don't be afraid to season your chicken liberally. Just season it as much as you like, especially when it comes to the za'atar. Make sure that you season all sides of the chicken evenly.
Dry Roasting Method
For this recipe, we will be using the dry roasting method. That means we won't be adding any water or olive oil to the chicken. This is to ensure that we get the crispiest chicken skin ever. You only need the olive oil for the garlic.
Use A Thermometer
If you aren't sure how to tell whether your roasted chicken is ready, an instant-read meat thermometer will come in handy. Insert this into the chicken—close to the bone but not touching. The internal temperature of the chicken should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit. That's when you know when your roasted chicken is good to go.
What Goes Well With Za'atar Roasted Chicken?
For this recipe, there is an option for you to drizzle plain tahini paste on top of the chicken. We also included a tahini sauce recipe that you can also try, but it is totally up to you. To make the dish even more nutritious, you can have a Mediterranean salad as a side. We have a recipe for a refreshing watermelon and feta salad that you should definitely try out.
Roasted veggies go perfect with any roasted dish. You can also do mashed potatoes. And of course, rice goes with any meal. If you have any leftover chicken from this recipe, you can take out the meat from the bones and mix it in some pasta for some variety.
More Za'atar Chicken Recipes To Try
If you're looking for more za'atar chicken recipes to try, here are some of our favorites:
- Za'atar and honey chicken: This is another za'atar roasted chicken recipe, but instead of lemons, we're using honey and dried fruits. It's the perfect combination of sweet and savory, plus the dried fruits make it the perfect dish for holiday festivities.
- Za'atar Baked chicken: Here's a hearty baked chicken breast recipe that only takes 4 ingredients to make. It's quick and easy and full of flavors, thanks to the za'atar.
- Crispy za'atar chicken cutlet: If you love crispy chicken as much as we do, then this crispy za'atar chicken cutlet recipe is the one for you.
If you want the best tasting za'atar chicken, you've got to buy za'atar mix from the best za'atar brand, and that's Zesty Z! Our za'atar mix is the purest and most authentic you can find. Plus, it's low-sodium and contains no fillers.