Pomegranate chicken has a great balance of sweet and tangy flavors. Even better, make this 30-minute recipe for Persian chicken in one pan!
Busy weeknights call for quick and easy dinner recipes, but that doesn’t mean they have to lack bold flavors.
Cooking chicken with the skin on allows for a crispy texture on the outside while locking in all of the juices. This ensures that each piece is perfectly tender and juicy on the inside!
Aside from using bone-in chicken with the skin on, another key to creating crispy skin is cooking chicken in cast iron. These pans are fantastic at holding heat, so creating a sear couldn't be any simpler!
One perfect pan + bone-in chicken with skin + Persian spices and pomegranate = a simply fantastic and flavorful Persian chicken dinner!
Cuisine: Middle Eastern / Persian
Persia is a historic region of southwest Asia, and what we know as present day Iran. Its close proximity to both Asia and Africa have influenced the use of aromatic spices and fragrant fruits, especially pomegranates and apricots.
Evidence of this can be found in this recipe for Persian chicken, as well as dishes like Persian saffron rice with apricots and kookoo sabzi.
Stove top and oven
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Bone-in pieces of chicken seasoned with Persian spices, and oven roasted in a rich, sweet pomegranate sauce.
Searing chicken in cast iron leads to perfectly crispy skin, followed by oven roasting with a mixture of pomegranate juice and molasses. This leads to juicy and tender pieces of pomegranate chicken!
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Chicken - This Persian chicken recipe can be made using either breast or thigh meat. Choose pieces of equal size so they cook evenly.
For the best flavor, use bone-in chicken, leaving the skin-on for crispy skin and tender meat.
- Pomegranate molasses - A staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, this is simply pomegranate juice that has been reduced down to a thick syrup. It adds acidity and just a hint of sweetness to the dish, but without being overwhelming.
If you can’t find it in stores, you can purchase it from Amazon. The brand I use is 100% organic and has no added sugar. If you prefer, use cranberry juice concentrate instead.
- Ground sumac - Made from ground sumac berries, this spice has a tangy lemony flavor without the full tartness of actual lemon juice.
It’s slowly becoming more common in the US, but you may need to visit a Middle Eastern market to find it, or you can purchase it on Amazon. The brand I use is non-GMO and I love the quality.
- Pomegranate seeds - You can save time by buying a container of ready-to-eat seeds, but they don’t always have the best flavor or texture.
Seeding fresh pomegranate is easy to do. You can find instructions on how to remove the arils in the recipe notes section below.
Video: Making one pan pomegranate chicken
First, sear the chicken with a blend of spices, then make a delicious homemade pomegranate sauce. Combine the two, then finish cooking the meal in the oven - it’s that simple!
To see the process from start to finish, watch the video located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
- Season the meat.
Combine the powdered spices in small bowl, then use your fingers to carefully lift the skin and get the spices underneath. Rub the mixture in, then add salt to the top of the pieces.
- Sear chicken in cast iron pan.
As mentioned earlier, cast iron really is the best choice for searing meat, but if you don't have a cast iron skillet, that's fine too. Just use a heavy-bottomed pan without a non-stick coating.
- Make the pomegranate sauce.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and add the sauce ingredients to the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer until thickened and reduced by half.
- Bake in oven.
Return the chicken to the cast iron pan and coat it with the pomegranate sauce. Then, put the pan of pomegranate chicken into a preheated oven and bake until the internal temperature of the thickest portion of the breast meat reaches 163°F.
- Allow the pomegranate chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
The rest time is important, as it ensures that the juices don't run out when you cut into the chicken.
Persian chicken recipe notes
- Storage - Store in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. The reduction can be stored separately or in the same container, whichever you prefer. You may want to slice the chicken first to make reheating easier.
- Reheating - Heat in the microwave or low-temperature oven until the chicken is warmed through. Drizzle extra pomegranate reduction before heating or heat separately and add before serving.
- Cookware - To get the chicken skin nice and crispy, you’ll need to use a high level of heat. Most non-stick cookware cannot be used above medium heat without damaging the pan or releasing toxic fumes. So, if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, stainless steel is the next best choice.
Removing pomegranate arils (seeds)
There are several methods available for removing pomegranate seeds (also known as arils) from a pomegranate fruit. This method seems to be the most popular:
- Soften the fruit. Start by rolling the pomegranate around on the counter to loosen the seeds.
- Split the rind. Next, run a paring knife around the middle of the fruit, cutting just deep enough to get through the rind.
- Separate the halves. Pull the two halves apart. Then, use one hand to hold one half of the fruit, cut-side down. Hold a wooden spoon in your other hand.
Holding the fruit over a bowl of tap water, use the spoon to slap the outer rind. Squeeze the pomegranate gently while doing this, until all of the seeds are released into the water.
- Scoop the pomegranate arils out of the water with your hands or a slotted spoon.
If there are still some seeds stuck inside of the pomegranate membrane, break the fruit into smaller pieces and submerge them in the water. Then, use your fingers to release the remaining seeds.
Serving suggestions for pomegranate chicken
This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes Oct. 15, 2020, was last updated with new content on Oct. 6, 2021.
One Pan Pomegranate Chicken + Video
- pomegranate seeds (arils)
- fresh chives chopped fine
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a small bowl mix the cardamom, sumac and 1 teaspoon salt. Divide and rub the seasoning mix under the skin using your index finger. Season the top on each piece with remaining salt.
- Heat a cast iron pan or skillet on high. Add olive oil to the pan and place the chicken skin side down and turn heat to medium high. Make sure to leave room around each, you want to sear and brown the chicken, not steam it. Brown for 5 minutes each side.
- Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Turn heat to Low, add red pepper flakes, pomegranate molasses, thyme bundle and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and scrape bottom of pan to get all the bits from frying the chicken. Allow to reduce to half. Add chicken back to the pan, turning to coat. Place in the oven and roast for 15-18 minutes, or until internal temp reads 165°F.
- Remove from oven, and spoon pomegranate reduction over chicken. Top with chopped chives, pomegranate seeds and serve.
- For the best flavor, use 2 bone-in chicken breasts and 2 bone-in thighs with skin on, each of equal size. If using boneless chicken, cooking time will be less. Be sure that the internal temp reaches 165°F.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.