This delicious za’atar roasted chicken with sumac, lemon, and herbs is an easy meal with tons of flavor! The za’atar seasoning and lemon compliment the chicken perfectly. This chicken dish works equally well as a one pan meal with vegetables or as a holiday main dish garnished with fresh lemon slices and herbs.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Great for feeding a crowd.
- Fresh and flavorful, with a delicious combination of spices.
- Easy recipe, just throw it all in a roasting pan.
- One pan meal, so less dishes!
Dana’s note: This recipe is my go-to chicken dish for holiday dinners like Rosh Hashanah, Hanukah, and Passover. The recipe makes enough chicken for a crowd, or you can cut the recipe in half if you have a smaller group. I like to make it for holidays because it's quick and easy to assemble, yet always tasty and pleases a range of palates. The garnish makes it look extra pretty.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
See the recipe card below for a complete ingredient list and measurements.Jump to Recipe
This recipe has a lemon and herb flavor profile. The Middle Eastern spices enhance those flavors - the za'atar adds to the herbiness and sumac has a lemony quality.
- Chicken breasts - You will need bone-in chicken breasts with the skin on. You can also make this recipe with chicken thighs or a whole chicken cut into pieces.
- Garlic - Use fresh garlic cloves.
- Fresh herbs - Using fresh herbs is best for this recipe. You will need sage, rosemary, and thyme. Or substitute with parsley if you don't have one of the herbs.
- Onions - I usually use sweet yellow onions, but you can also use white or red onion.
- Seasonings - Ground Sumac and Za’atar spice blend.
- Fresh lemon - I really like Meyer lemon because it's less bitter and more fruity, but any variety of lemon works for this recipe.
- Optional - You can choose to roast the chicken with vegetables as well to make it a whole meal. Try a mix of butternut squash cubes, sweet potato rounds, carrots, celery, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, or kalamata olives.
What is Za’atar?
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend of hyssop (sometimes substituted with thyme or oregano), dried sumac, and toasted sesame seeds. Many blends include salt too. Different regions use slightly varying spice combinations and might include mint, coriander, or chickpeas as well.
What does Za'atar taste like and how to use Za'atar
Za'atar is a seasoning that adds an herbaceous flavor so it's great for adding a little zip to different dishes. Just sprinkle a little on foods like hummus, grilled zucchini, salad dressing, roasted potatoes, or eggs. Also, add za'atar to olive oil, and it makes a tasty dip for pita or any kind of bread. And Za'atar works well as a dried rub to season beef, lamb, fish, or chicken.
Step by Step Photos
See the recipe card below for complete directions.Jump to Recipe
Step one: Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, za'atar, sumac, and garlic.
Step two: Arrange onions, herbs, and lemon slices under and on top of the chicken and drizzle with olive oil.
Step three: Roast at 375°F for 40 minutes.
Step four: Serve with a garnish of fresh herbs or lemon slices.
- Prepare the night before to save time.
- This recipe serves about 16 people, but you can easily cut it in half or ¼ for a smaller meal.
- Serve with Lemon Herb Tahini sauce on the side to make this an extra special and delicious holiday chicken dish.
Make ahead instructions
You can prep this za’atar roasted chicken the day before to save time. Assemble everything the day before, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator. Take out of the refrigerator a half hour before you plan to roast and place on the counter and let come to room temperature. Then roast in the preheated oven.
Storage and Reheating
How to store: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
How to freeze: You can freeze chicken in a freezer safe container for 3-4 months. It is not recommended to freeze the vegetables.
What to serve with za’atar roasted chicken
- Mini Potato Kugels (Potato Latke Muffins)
- Crispy smashed potatoes
- Fall Harvest Salad with Apples and Pomegranate
- French Green Beans with Mustard Shallot Sauce
- Farro With Rosemary, Leeks and Carrots
- Simple Skillet Flat Bread
More chicken recipes
- Honey Mustard Chicken with Apples, Butternut Squash, & Brussels Sprouts
- Chicken With Lemon, Olives, & Herbs
- Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing
Za'atar Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Herbs
- 8 pounds chicken breasts with bone in and skin on
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons za'atar
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- 6 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 2 medium onions sliced in ½ inch rings
- 8 sprigs fresh sage
- 8 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 lemons cut widthwise in thin circles
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Optional: extra herb sprigs or lemon slices as garnish for serving
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and place the oven rack just below the center.
- Place the chicken breasts in a large roasting or baking pan in a single layer. Use 2 pans if you need more room. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, za'atar, sumac, and garlic.
- Next sprinkle the onions, herbs, and lemon slices under and over the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast uncovered for about 40 minutes or until the thickest part of the breast reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF on an instant read digital thermometer. The chicken will be golden brown in color. Let the cooked chicken rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. Serve the za'atar chicken warm.
- Serve: The breasts are usually large, so I cut them in half to portion them before serving. You can choose to remove the bones from the breast meat prior to serving. Garnish the serving platter with extra herbs or lemon slices. I like to serve this chicken dish with green tahini sauce which makes a tasty accompaniment.