With za'atar, sumac, and 7-spice, these za'atar chicken thighs are a great weeknight dinner. Marinate when you get home from work, then roast for just 25 minutes. Serve with vermicelli rice or roasted potatoes, or try flatbread and za'atar hummus for a meal everyone will love.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
Crispy, juicy, spiced to perfection - what's not to love? Za'atar chicken takes your everyday chicken thighs to the next level with a mouthwatering spice blend in the marinade.
- It doesn't need much active time: essentially a quick onion chop, toss, and transfer, and that's all the work you need to do. The rest of the work is done by the marinade and oven.
- You can prep it in advance: while it only needs about an hour, the chicken can marinate for longer, up to a maximum 24 hours.
- It makes enough for leftovers: the recipe calls for eight chicken thighs, so you'll probably have quite a few leftover. These can be frozen or kept in the fridge for lunches.
You probably have most of these ingredients already at home, and they can easily be found at most grocery stores. To use frozen chicken thighs, thaw them in the refrigerator first. See below for substitutions if you can't get 7-spice.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Chicken thighs: choose bone-in for the best taste and juiciest chicken. Skin should be left on as it crisps up perfectly in this recipe.
- 7-spice: substitute a scant teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin, and cinnamon for the 7-spice blend if you don't have it. Looking for more ways to use 7-Spice, try Musakhan (Sumac Chicken).
How to Make Za'atar Chicken
With just about half an hour cooking time - in the oven, so it's very hands off - this can be ready in about an hour and a half total. Make the sides while the chicken is in the oven, and have everything ready in 30 minutes.
1. Make the marinade: toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl, coating the chicken thighs. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
2. Transfer: move the chicken to a baking sheet or braising dish.
3. Roast: cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 170°F (77°C) with a meat thermometer. Make any desired sides at the same time.
4. Serve: garnish the finished chicken with parsley and serve hot.
Make Ahead, Storage, Freezing
- Make Ahead: the chicken can marinate overnight in the fridge if you want to prep in advance. Just take it out and cook as usual.
- Storage: leftover chicken can be placed in a sealed container and refrigerated for 3-4 days. It's good cold and excellent on sandwiches.
- Freezing: remove the meat from the bone and place in an airtight container (the bones can be used to make stock). Freeze for up to four months.
About the Spices
This recipe uses a mix of Middle Eastern spices for a big hit of flavour. While za'atar is the primary note, extra sumac adds a bit more brightness, and 7-Spice gives more warmth.
- Za'atar: typically a blend of oregano, marjoram, with sumac and toasted sesame seeds. It's a little nutty, herbal, and bright from the sumac.
- Sumac: a bright red berry that's dried and usually sold ground, sumac is a popular Middle Eastern spice. It's tart and almost citrus-y, but not sour like lemon. It accentuates the flavour of many dishes (like this chicken!).
- 7-Spice: a Levantine spice blend, also called baharat, this is commonly made up of coriander, allspice, cumin, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
These spiced chicken thighs are so easy to make at home, and will turn out perfectly every time with these tips. This is one of my favourite weekday dinners.
- Broil to brown: if the chicken isn't golden brown, place it under the broiler for five minutes to get that crispy golden skin.
- Seek out the spices: not just za'atar, sumac and 7-spice also play important roles for this recipe. If you can't get 7-spice make the substitutions outlined above, but don't leave it out altogether.
- Don't forget to marinate: even if it's just for an hour, the thighs must be marinated before roasting. If you want to do this in the morning before work and leave them in the fridge for a few hours that's good too.
- Season to taste: while salt and pepper should be added based on personal preference, a good place to start is ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat.
They're much more flavourful, with more fat than breasts meaning a better overall taste. You're using bone-in thighs here as well for an extra boost.
Skin-on is going to make for the best tasting, juiciest chicken, as the skin prevents the meat from drying out during cooking. You also want that delicious crispy skin for this recipe!
While sumac is an element included in za'atar, sumac is made of a single element (dried sumac berries). Za'atar is a delicious blend of herbs, sumac, and sesame seeds.
More Mains You'll Love
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Za'atar Chicken Thighs
- 8 Chicken Thighs - Bone in and skin on
- 1 Red onion - Cut into wedges
- 1 Garlic cloves - Minced finely
- 3 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Lemon - Juiced
- 1 Lemon - Sliced into rings
- 2 tablespoon Za'atar
- 1 tablespoon Sumac
- 2 teaspoon 7-Spice blend - See notes
- Salt and fresh cracked pepper - See notes
- In a large bowl, add chicken thighs, onion, garlic, olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, lemon slices, zaatar, sumac, 7-spice, salt and pepper. Toss to coat chicken thighs. Marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C.
- Transfer the chicken thighs and onions along with the marinade to a baking sheet, braiser or large oven-safe pan. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170°F/77°C. Skin should be browned and crispy. If not, broil for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve chicken thighs with rice, potatoes or your favorite sides.
I found this while I was looking for something "different" to make for supper. I was able to find the za'atar and sumac in a specialty store and used the instructions on this site to make the 7-spice mix. At first I was worried that the mix of spices would be a bit much, but as I made the marinade, the aroma was amazing. Preparation was easy and the taste was amazing. I served this with asparagus and Lebanese rice on the side. Definitely a keeper as is!
Thanks for the feedback and review. Glad you liked it.