This roasted za'atar chicken and potatoes recipe is so simple and perfect for weeknights, when you have only 10 minutes to throw something in the oven. The chicken is marinated with a flavorful blend of za'atar (a middle eastern herb and spice blend), garlic, and honey resulting in a balanced and quite addictive sauce. Crispy chicken skin and tender meat. Serve with bread to mop up all the delicious juices.
What is Za'atar?
Za'atar is a seasoning blend that comes from the Levant region. There are various regional variations of za'atar, and the two you'll find most often on shelves are Palestinian za'atar and Lebanese za'atar. It tastes bright, herby and with a lot of earthy notes. Za'atar is typically made up of these three core ingredients:
- dried oregano (a type of oregano that is native to the Palestine region, which is slightly different than the oregano you'll find in North America, though it is a good replacement).
- sumac, a citrusy and fruity flowering plant, dried and crushed into a powder. This is what brings the bright flavors in the blend.
- toasted sesame seeds for deep nuttiness
Za'atar is a treasured seasoning blend, celebrating the ingredients often grown on the land in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. It is typically always found on the dinner table in small bowl, next to a small bowl of olive oil. You can enjoy it by simply dipping a piece of bread into the olive oil, then into the za'atar.
A typical breakfast in the levant also includes za'atar manakish, which is just a za'atar and olive oil paste spread out on homemade dough and baked. It is also commonly sprinkled on top of labneh, along with a drizzle of olive oil.
Making Za'atar Chicken
Given the flavour profile of za'atar, it makes for an excellent chicken marinade (also great on fish and vegetables). I was tinkering in the kitchen one day and decided to also add honey and garlic to the marinade, and ever since that day, I never make za'atar chicken any other way.
Something about the sweetness from the honey and the zing from the garlic that go so well with the herby za'atar. A splash of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice has been proven to enhance the flavour, as I discovered after testing this recipe a few times.
This recipe is as simple as mixing together the marinade ingredients and then pouring it all over the chicken and potatoes. Here are some visual instructions:
Start by preheating the oven to 425F. Then, place all of the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine.
Next, peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks. I like to cut each potato into eights (cut the potato in half, then in half again, then in half again). Grab a 9x13 inch baking dish and place the potato chunks inside, then season with salt.
I usually never pre-marinate the chicken when I make this dish, but I'm sure if you were to marinate for an hour or so in the fridge, it would intensify the flavour. But if you don't have the time, simply dump the drumsticks on top of the potatoes, then pour the za'atar marinade on top and mix well until they are coated.
I found that baking it uncovered yielded the best crispiness on the chicken. I have tried covering it for the first 30 minutes, then uncovering it to broil, but the chicken doesn't brown as much.
Pour about ½ cup of water on the bottom of the baking dish to prevent the potatoes from burning. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check it at the 35 minute mark to see if the chicken is cooked through. It should be browned and crispy, and fully white and juicy on the inside. The potatoes should be soft.
The addition of that water to the baking dish will create a luscious sauce that I love to mop up, so definitely serve this za'atar chicken with some bread. I also suggest a light salad like this simple arabic chopped salad or a malfouf salad. Leftovers, if there are any, are perfect for chicken sandwiches the next day.
For more chicken recipes, check out:
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Roasted Za'atar Chicken & Potatoes
For the Chicken & Marinade:
- 8 Chicken drumsticks, skin on (aprox. 1.2kg) or 6-8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 10 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 tablespoons za'atar seasoning
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup honey (90g)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the Potatoes
- 3 large potatoes, cut into ½ inch chunks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup water
- Start by preheating your oven to 425F.
- Peel the potatoes and chop into large cubes, roughly 1 inch in size (into eighths). Place them in a 9x13 inch baking dish and sprinkle with the salt.
- Pat the chicken drumsticks with a paper towel to ensure they are dry. Place them directly on top of the potatoes.
- Mix the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined, then pour it on top of the chicken and potatoes. Mix everything well using your hands until the chicken and potatoes are coated in the marinade.
- Pour ½ cup of water on the bottom of the baking dish.
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until the drumsticks are golden brown and cooked through. If needed, broil for a few minutes to get more colour on the chicken. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then garnish with parsley and serve.