Grilled Chicken with Za'atar Recipe

Grilled Chicken with Za'atar Recipe

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  • 2 heads of garlic, top third cut off
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 3-4-pound chicken, cut in half lengthwise, backbone removed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 small serrano chile, seeded, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cumin Aioli (click for recipe)

Recipe Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400°. Put garlic on a large sheet of foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and wrap tightly with foil. Roast until tender and golden brown, 45-50 minutes. Let cool.

  • Place chicken in a 13x9x2" glass baking dish. Sprinkle 2 1/2 tablespoons za'atar over chicken. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves out of skins and into a small bowl; mash into a paste with the back of a fork. Add 4 tablespoons oil, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, chile, and marjoram; whisk to blend. Pour over chicken; turn to coat. Cover; chill overnight.

  • Season chicken with salt and pepper; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, build a medium fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Brush grill rack with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Grill chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is crisp and browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of thigh without touching bone reads 160°, about 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon za'atar, and let rest 10 minutes.

  • Cut each chicken half into 4 pieces and serve on a platter with Cumin Aioli.

Nutritional Content

Analysis based on 4 servings. Cumin Aioli analyzed separately. 1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 560.0 %Calories from Fat 56.5 Fat (g) 35.2 Saturated Fat (g) 8.5 Cholesterol (mg) 174.6 Carbohydrates (g) 2.9 Dietary Fiber (g) 1.0 Total Sugars (g) 0.5 Net Carbs (g) 2.0 Protein (g) 55.0 Sodium (mg) 226.1Reviews Section

Za'atar Grilled Chicken

Published: Jun 28, 2016 · Last updated: Jan 7, 2018 by Marissa · As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Summer + Middle Eastern flavors make this za'atar grilled chicken an easy-to-make and addictive meal. Check out the DIY recipe for the za'atar blend here!

I wish Boston had summer weather all year round. I am really getting into this whole "having a grill available on the back deck" thing and we've been using it most nights since we bought it. Also, beer, cocktails, and rosé all taste better while grilling. I have confirmed this.

Yes, I said beer! I very rarely drink beer because it doesn't tend to love me, but I've been enjoying some corona and blueberry ale lately. There are a small few beers I can drink without feeling like I want to curl up and die afterwards and these are a couple of them, so I'll stick with what doesn't hurt me.

A couple weeks back, I posted a DIY recipe for za'atar and mentioned my obsession with it aaaand I've made another batch since then. All za'atar, all the time! I've been especially into having it on chicken. I went from roasting it in the oven to grilling it. Because summer! I've been known to turn the oven on in 80+ degree weather in the past and always hate myself for it.

This summer, I'm going to try and not do that. Okay, actually, I did that once already in my failed karidopita attempt, but that was only once, you guys.

I'm hoping to post lots of tasty grilled recipes this season. I kicked off the grilling fun with the open-faced grilled caprese sandwich last week and today, it's all about za'atar grilled chicken. Let's get it on!

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon za’atar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless organic chicken breasts or thighs
2 tablespoons finely chopped
fresh parsley, for garnish
My Everything Drizzle

To make the za’atar, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Set aside 1 tablespoon to season the chicken and reserve the remainder for other uses.

To make the chicken, put the olive oil, za’atar, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Working with one piece at a time, put the chicken between several layers of parchment paper and pound with a meat pounder until about 1/4 inch thick. Put the chicken in a pan in which the pieces fit without overlapping. Spread the reserved tablespoon of za’atar evenly over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.

Bring the chicken to room temperature. Oil a grill or grill pan to and heat to medium-high heat. Place the chicken on the grill and cook until the chicken is firm to the touch and the juices run clear, 2 minutes on each side.

Serve garnished with the parsley and the drizzle.

COOK'S NOTE: Giving your chicken a good pounding will allow the flavor to infuse into the meat in as little as 15 minutes of marinating time.

Reprinted with permission from The Healthy Mind Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

How To Grill Drumsticks

Fire up your BBQ grill and make the perfect fall off the bone drumsticks.

The right temperature of the grill, the right amount of turning the chicken, and the right final internal temperature all play a role in making the chicken drumsticks fall off the bone!

The best part? It’s real easy to do!

(If you have a smoker-grill, try these smoked chicken wings!)


Traditionally grilled on skewers over a charcoal grill, I find it even easier to grill the breasts whole to save me time during busy weeknights. You can also saute or bake chicken tawook.

Made with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic, I like to add lemon zest as well for even more flavor. While optional, I also like to sprinkle in a little za’atar to the marinade.

Za’atar Grilled Chicken Bulgur Bowls with Tahini Sauce

Lately I’ve been struggling with the age-old question: “what the hell should we make for dinner?” Regardless of how large a role cooking plays in your life, I feel like this is a question that plagues many of us.

Thankfully, I have a few favorites that we turn to time and time again in this often-occurring predicament. That being said, I’m always looking for trusty (preferably healthy!) main course recipes that pack flavor, can be prepared easily, and make great leftovers. These za’atar grilled chicken bulgur bowls have been in our rotation for months, and I’m so excited to share them with you!

Please don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list or recipe length. This dish comes together in a few steps – many being hands-off – and I’ll share time-saving, preparation tips below that help make this meal come together even more quickly! Let’s get started.

I don’t know about you, but I’m very much into the grain bowl trend. It is so nice being able to create an all-in-one dinner that pulls together all the main essentials in one bowl.

If grain bowls had a formula, it would be:

Fluffy whole-grains make up the hearty base, vegetables and protein are added in some form or other, and the whole thing is pulled together with a few zesty garnishes and toppings. Toppings are key! [Also, I’m obsessed with toppings.]

Grains are the starting points of one-bowl meals, and a very important one at that. For these za’atar grilled chicken bowls, we’re using bulgur!

Bulgur, made from whole grain soft white wheat, doesn’t get nearly enough credit and attention in the whole grain world. It is a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, and most popularly known for its role in classic tabbouleh.

Bulgur is, by far, one of my favorite whole grains, because it cooks incredibly quickly (about 10-12 minutes!) and consistently, packs a healthy amount of fiber and protein (1/4 cup contains 5 grams of each), and has a great nutty texture. One of the reasons why bulgur cooks so quickly is that it is sold in par-boiled form.

If you’ve seen bulgur at the grocery store, you’ve probably noticed that it can come in a variety of forms or ‘grinds’: fine (#1), medium (#2), coarse (#3), and very coarse (#4). They are all made from the exact same whole grain, but will vary in cooking time and texture.

My favorite grind, and coincidentally the most commonly found in my experience, is medium (#2) grind. I have been using Bob’s Red Mill golden bulgur (medium #2 grind) for years, and it is the one used in today’s recipe.

It is heartier than fine bulgur (which resembles the texture of couscous), but is still fluffy once cooked (unlike other whole wheat grains such as wheat berries or farro!).

The cooked bulgur is topped with za’atar grilled chicken and roasted vegetables. If you haven’t cooked with za’atar, I highly recommend getting your hands on some immediately!

It is a Middle Eastern spice blend made from toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and thyme (and occasionally a few other spices!). You can try your hand at making your own – though sumac is difficult to find – but I’ve had better luck finding za’atar spice blend online or in the international aisle of my grocery store.

It can be used in so many things (or just sprinkled on meat or vegetables before serving!), and once you’ve tried it – you’ll want to put it on everything!

The bowls are finished off with creamy tahini sauce (this stuff is so addictive and I used a similar one on this roasted carrot lentil salad), crumbled feta, fresh dill and mint. So many awesome flavors in one bowl – I love this dish!

To make this meal even more weeknight-friendly, try the following:

  • cook the bulgur the night before, store in the fridge, and reheat just before serving
  • prep the tahini sauce several days in advance store in the fridge and whisk in a teaspoon or two of warm water to loosen before serving

Dorie’s Chicken with Za’Atar and Lemon

I think that our dinner of roasted chicken with za’atar, lemon, and fabulous spices from Dorie Greenspan’s “Everyday Dorie” cookbook is one of the best new to me chicken recipes that I have made that outshines so many others and definitely headed to the “favorites” file. The sauce was wonderful so flavorful with a delightful combination of
za’atar or dried oregano, ground cumin, ground sumac or finely grated zest of one lemon, and ground coriander. You can find Za’Atar on Amazon if you don’t see it in any of your grocery stores…

I find that the chickens are so large these days so I tend to find the smallest organic ones at my local store and still they are too much for 2 people so I just cooked 1/2 of the chicken saving the other for another recipe. Mike still has 1/2 of the chicken breast left for lunch along with a bit of sauce for the sauce man. BTW the roasted garlic is wonderful when smooshed on crusty artisan bread.

The whole recipe will serve 6

This recipe is not at all complicated and would be a wonderful dinner to share with friends, just something new and certainly adventuresome in the flavor department.

  • 1 spatchcocked chicken with backbone removed, 3-4 pounds patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 heads of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 1 small onion or 5 to 6 shallots, sliced
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • ¾ cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar or substitute crushed dried oregano leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground sumac
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

Preheat your oven to 425º

Since I was only roasting 1/2 a chicken for the two of us I chose an appropriately sized pan and lightly brushed it with EVOO before adding the shallots, garlic, and herbs. Pour in the chicken stock and wine. My 1/2 chicken roasted for about 40 minutes. I did keep my eye on it and rotated the pan 3 times to get it pretty evenly cooked.

Zaatar Grilled Chicken

With a history that goes back to the Book of Exodus, zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that carries a heavy weight of cultural tradition. Regional variations of the recipe are touchstones of social identity, and used to flavor everything from bread to yogurt to fried vegetables. Some enthusiasts even eat it straight – in fact, it’s so popular that the wild thyme used to make the mix was in danger of extinction before Israel declared it a protected species.

Outside the Middle East, you can usually find zaatar in specialty stores, but mixing up the blend yourself gives you a lot more control over the flavor, and a chance to work with some interesting new spices. Thyme, basil, and oregano are easy to find at any grocery store. Sumac might send you foraging a little more widely: find it at an ethnic market or order it online if you have to. It’s definitely worth the effort to find and include it, especially since once you have the sumac, you can expand your cooking repertoire by using it in all kinds of other dishes as well.

Zaatar traditionally also includes sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are a gray area food – like other nuts and seeds, they’re high in minerals, but also in phytic acid and Omega-6 fats. Used as a garnish once in a while they’re probably not dangerous, but I’ve left them out of this recipe for people who prefer to avoid them entirely.

Besides the zaatar, this recipe is very simple. A quick turn on the grill cooks the chicken while allowing the spice mix to truly shine through. Mixed with olive oil and lemon juice, the zaatar flavor is heady and fragrant: close your eyes and savor every bite, and you might even start to understand how some people eat it plain.

Ritzy Cheddar Chicken Breasts

Armando Rafael for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich.

They’re as good as they sound: cheesy chicken cutlets coated with buttery Ritz crackers. Skipping the usual flour-egg-bread crumb dredge, this recipe relies instead on a flavorful base layer of tangy sour cream, which has lactic acid that tenderizes boneless, skinless chicken breasts beautifully. When it comes to breaded white meat, thin cutlets are ideal, which you can buy from the store or achieve by slicing thick breasts in half laterally (no pounding necessary). They cook more evenly this way, staying tender throughout as they’re quickly baked in a hot oven. Serve with something fresh — a big green salad, perhaps — to balance the wonderful richness of this nostalgic number.


NOTE: Since my recipe for Za'atar calls for sea salt, I go easy and only add 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. You can always season the chicken after grilling if you feel it needs more.

OVEN INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat your oven to 400°. Toss all the ingredients onto a rimmed, metal baking sheet. Spread in an even layer and roast on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes or until fully cooked. Rotate the pan half way to ensure even cooking and browning.

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