Lemon Zaatar Chicken

This recipe for lemon zaatar chicken is bright, citrusy, and expertly spiced. Savory zaatar seasoning, zesty garlic, and tangy lemon work together to transform regular chicken and potatoes into a Lebanese-inspired masterpiece. Plus, you only need one pan!

extreme closeup: zaatar chicken with chopped green onions on top

This lemon zaatar chicken recipe is easy to put together and loaded with authentic Middle Eastern flavor. Complete with meat and potatoes, this meal is hearty and satisfying with a bright yet sultry flavor profile.  

I like to make zaatar chicken on weeknights when I want a delicious meal that will fill me up without requiring a ton of work. You only need about 10 minutes of prep time and your meal will be ready in less than an hour! 

If this is your first time working with Lebanese zaatar (also spelled za’atar) seasoning, you are in for a treat! This simple, but mighty spice blend adds a depth of savory, nutty, and tangy flavors. And, as exotic as the name sounds, you can make zaatar spice blend at home with easy-to-find ingredients. Check out the link in the ingredient notes to learn how.

extreme closeup: crispy lemon zaatar chicken recipe with chopped green onions on top

For more lemon-infused entrees, check out my Chinese Lemon Chicken, Lemon Cilantro Chicken Meatballs, and these Lamb Meatballs with Lemon Rice.

overhead: ingredients needed for this zaatar chicken recipe

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken thighs work best for this recipe.   
  • Olive Oil – Olive oil is the perfect choice for its high smoke point and versatile flavor.  
  • Lemon – This bright, citrusy dish uses lemon zest, juice, and quartered pieces to infuse the meal with lively flavor. You’ll need a total of at least 3 lemons. 
  • Garlic – Fresh cloves add a pungent, zesty element to the marinade. 
  • Zaatar Spice – The star of the show! Gives the recipe a savory, aromatic, and slightly tangy flavor. Try your hand at my easy DIY version or shop for a premade version in the spice aisle. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes – Offers just the right pop of sweet, smoky heat. 
  • Potatoes – I usually use Russet or Yukon gold potatoes for this, but you can use any potatoes you’d like. 
  • Onions – I like the mild sharpness and sweetness of red onion for this recipe, but yellow or white will also work. Green onions, as a finishing touch, add a mild, fresh flavor and dash of color.
closeup: baked zaatar chicken with potatoes and green onions

Tip From Kevin

Lebanese Za’atar Seasoning

Lebanese zaatar (also spelled za’atar) is a fantastic, aromatic spice blend of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt.

Zaatar is a very common spice blend found in the foods of several Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Egypt, and Iran, among others.

The flavor is savory, with a combination of tangy, woodsy, and nutty afternotes.

closeup: baked zaatar chicken recipe with potatoes and green onions

How to Make Lemon Zaatar Chicken

  1. Prepare the Oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and use parchment paper to line a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside. 
  2. Make the Marinade. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice from one lemon, garlic, zaatar, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes in a blender and blend until smooth. If desired, you can use an immersion blender for this instead. 
  3. Marinate the Chicken. Place the chicken in a mixing bowl, pour the marinade over top, and toss to coat. Set aside and allow the chicken to marinate while you prepare the vegetables. 
  4. Chop the Vegetables. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2-inch cubes. Cut the red onion and the lemons into quarters. Transfer the potatoes, onions, and lemons into the bowl with the chicken and toss to coat in the marinade. 
  5. Transfer & Bake. Pour the marinated chicken and vegetables into the prepared baking dish, spread out evenly, and sprinkle paprika over the top. Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 28 minutes, or until the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 
  6. Serve. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with freshly chopped green onions. Spoon the drippings from the pan over the chicken when serving.
closeup: zaatar chicken on a baking sheet after baking

Frequently Asked Questions

What is zaatar made of?


Zaatar is a widely popular spice blend that is Lebanese in origin and beloved throughout the Middle East. You’ll find this blend in the cuisine of Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, and many other countries. 

Each region will have slightly different spices in slightly different ratios but generally speaking, the key players include sumac, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, salt, oregano, cumin, and coriander. I hope you try making my blend at home to use all the time!

Can I grill this zaatar chicken recipe?


Technically, yes, you can grill the chicken instead of baking it. However, there are a few things you will need to tweak to be successful. 

First of all, you’ll want to marinate the chicken for longer. As is, the zaatar chicken recipe includes a short marination because we bake the chicken in the sauce.

Instead, marinate the chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes, or ideally, 2 hours up to overnight for maximum flavor absorption. Then, turn your grill to medium-high heat and grill the thighs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 

It’s up to you if you still want to include the potatoes and how you want to cook them. Switching to the grill requires a bit more work but leaves you with a deep, deliciously smoky flavor.

What sides go well with zaatar chicken?


This recipe for lemon zaatar chicken with potatoes is hearty enough to be enjoyed by itself, and it also pairs well with a number of side dishes. Here are a few ideas to round out your meal: 

– Start your meal with a simple appetizer of Hummus and Tabouli Salad with pita chips and veggies. 
– Serve with a fresh salad like this Lebanese Fattoush or Mediterranean Chopped Vegetable Salad
– Pair with vegetable side dishes like Carrots with Yogurt Dressing or Briam Roasted Vegetables.
– Enjoy with a fresh batch of Pita, Zaatar Bread (Manakish), or any bread of your choice.

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Lemon Zaatar Chicken

Savory zaatar seasoning, garlic and lemon transform this recipe for zaatar chicken with potatoes into a one-pan Lebanese-inspired meal.
Servings: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 28 minutes
Total: 38 minutes

Ingredients 

Marinade

Mix

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a blender or cup with immersion blender, add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice from 1 lemon, garlic, zaatar, salt and red pepper flakes. Blend until smooth.
  • Add the chicken to a bowl and pour marinade over, tossing to coat. Let marinate as you prep vegetables.
  • Peel and cut potatoes into 2-inch cubes. Transfer to the chicken bowl. Cut the red onion in half and each half into quarters. Quarter the lemons. Transfer the onion and lemon pieces in with chicken and toss to coat with zaatar marinade.
  • Spread onto the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle paprika all over and bake for 28 minutes. Remove from oven, top with green onions and spoon pan sauce (drippings) over all at serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 658kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 215mg | Sodium: 515mg | Potassium: 1237mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1047IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 352mg | Iron: 22mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): lemon zaatar chicken sheet pan dinner

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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4 Comments

  1. This sounds really good and I’m anxious to try it. I purchased the zaatar spice and wasn’t sure what to do with it, but 1/4 cup seems like a lot for any dry spice. Is it strong? That may even be more than is in the spice bottle I purchased.

    1. It’s one of my favorite spice blends. You could always start with 2-3 tablespoons (a quarter cup is 4 tbsp). Don’t be afraid!