Za’atar and Lemon Roasted Chicken

Za’atar and Lemon Roasted Chicken
This is one of my favorite and most popular winter recipes, which actually works quite well all year round. This Za’atar and Lemon Roasted Chicken features the beloved spiced blend, za’atar (or zhatar) that is well known in Middle Eastern cuisine. Za’atar is a blend of hyssop (similar to oregano), sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Just like curry, za’atar varies from region to region. Syrian, Jordanian, and Lebanese za’atars may include or exclude an ingredient or two. For this particular recipe, I use the Israeli-style blend, which includes the ingredients described above.

I first discovered this delicious herb blend in Jerusalem, while perusing the vast markets. It is the quintessential flavor of Israeli-cuisine and one can find it sprinkled on hummus plates, baked into breads, and in fish, chicken, and lamb marinades and rubs. Most spice stores or Middle Eastern markets carry it.

Za’atar and Lemon Roasted Chicken with Radish Tzaziki, Olives, and Mint

Serves 4

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs with skin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup za’atar
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup oil-cured olives

Tzaziki Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chunked
  • 3 radishes
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 Tbsp mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Additional Ingredients:

  • 3 radishes, shaved paper thin
  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (sunflower, safflower, canola, etc.)
  • 2 lemons sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup oil-cured olives


  1. Place chicken thighs in a single layer in a glass baking dish.
  2. Combine olive oil, the juice from 2 lemons, zhatar, salt, pepper, paprika, and mint.
  3. Pour over chicken, wrap dish tightly in plastic, and chill 8-12 hours, turning occasionally.
  4. For tzaziki, place yogurt, cucumber, 3 diced radishes, lemon juice, and herbs in a food processor or blender and pulse until well blended but still slightly chunky. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Place shaved radishes in bowl with 1/2 cup water and 3 Tbsp vinegar. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  7. Remove chicken from fridge and marinade and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  8. Heat a large oven-proof skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. oil and let heat for a minute or two.
  9. Add lemon slices and sear until well caramelized, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
  10. Add remaining oil and add chicken thighs, skin-side down. Turn heat down to medium. Do not crowd pan, if your pan isn’t big enough sear chicken in two batches.
  11. When the skin-side is golden brown, transfer to a plate.
  12. Turn heat to high and add white wine to pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all the delicious brown bits. Let simmer for about 3 minutes, add butter and return chicken to pan (skin-side up).
  13. Tuck olives and caramelized lemons around chicken and place in oven for about 20 minutes or until  chicken reaches 165°F in center. Remove pan from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  14. Serve chicken with tzaziki sauce, pickled radish, and mint. Couscous would also go well with this dish.
  15. Enjoy!

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