Za’atar Chicken

white plate with three chicken legs and lemon slices

This simple chicken recipe is just so easy, it’s the must-have almost-not-a-recipe, recipe. Seriously—just arrange the chicken thighs in a pan, add rub garlic and lemon and sprinkle some za’atar spice and bake.



  • 4 chicken legs
  • 4 large garlic cloves, mashed into a paste(remove 1/4 tsp for the za’atar oil)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • olive oil as needed
  • a pinch of sea salt (omit if the chicken has been brined)

Za’atar oil:

  • 23 tbsp za’atar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt


  1. Prepare the chicken. Clean the chicken to remove excess fat and slimy bits. Cut four slits in to the chicken legs. Place the chicken in a baking dish or on a sheet pan.
  2. Flavour the chicken. Using half a lemon squeeze a little juice on each leg of chicken. Once the lemon juice has been add to each chicken leg, then gently rub the lemon peel against the chicken legs (be careful not to rip the skin) Remove 1/4 tsp from your garlic paste and set aside for the za’atar sauce. Equally, distribute the garlic to each chicken leg, then rub the garlic all over the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle the za’atar. Your going to sprinkle 1/2 tbsp of za’atar on to each chicken leg (if using sumac, add 1/2 tsp for the leg) Lightly pat the za’atar to ensure equal distribution of the spice but don’t rub it or you’ll end up without any spice in patches.
  4. Drizzle the oil. Quickly drizzle your olive oil over each chicken leg, your looking for a light drizzle not a bath of oil.
  5. Marinate. Cover your chicken, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes up to 6 hours. But no longer than 6 hours or you’ll end up with tough chicken.
  6. Preheat oven. Heat to 400ºF. Once you’ve turned on the oven, take out the chicken from the fridge, this gives a chance for the chicken to lose some chill from the refrigeration before cooking.
  7. Bake. Bake the chicken for 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165º. Once the chicken is cooked allow to rest 5 minutes before serving, this will allow the chicken to redistribute its juices and allow the za’atar sauce to infuse with the chicken.
  8. Make za’atar sauce. Mix together the za’atar sauce, well, the chicken is cooking. In a small bowl add the lemon juice, reserved garlic, za’atar and olive oil. The sauce should be a paste-like consistency and may thicken slightly once resting. If the sauce is too thin add more za’atar, if it’s too thick add more olive oil. Taste for saltiness, you may not need any and if you do just add a pinch.
  9. Serve! enjoy this recipe with your family and friends


Chicken Brine: A delicious trick to creating delicious chicken, but you’ll need to plan ahead. I personally brine all my chicken before freezing. First, Wash your chicken, remove all the slimy bits and excess fat. Secondly, Add your chicken into a large bowl filled with enough water to cover the chicken add 4 tbsp of salt and 1/4 cup vinegar allow to sit one hour. You’ll notice how white the chicken after. The cooking time will be slightly reduced and no need to salt your chicken.

Keywords: za'atar chicken, Za'atar marinade, zaatar, roasted chicken