Say goodbye to boring, dry baked chicken and embrace the new kid on the block – this tender, juicy, flavor-packed all star za’atar chicken! It’s just as easy to prepare, but ten times tastier. Spice up your weeknight dinner routine tonight!
See ya later boring baked chicken, there’s a new rockstar in town – All Star Za’atar Chicken. Can I get a hell yes? YES!
Za’atar has been hot on my radar for years, ever since I fell in love with the magic of middle eastern cuisine about ten years ago. Za’atar is a woodsy and tangy spice combination used to season any number of middle eastern dishes. I love it sprinkled over hummus (either classic or cauliflower hummus) or as a dry rub for salmon, but it really comes to life in in this baked chicken recipe. Chicken breasts get doubly infused with za’atar seasoning, first in the marinade, and then as a condiment.
This spice and yogurt marinated chicken is going to shake up your dinner routine in the most delicious way possible using just 5 whole food ingredients, five minutes of prep time, and a 20-minute trip through the oven. This zippy chicken is going to rock your taste buds. It’s moist. It’s tender. It’s jam-packed with flavor and super versatile. And most importantly, the recipe is 100% foolproof.
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How to Make Za’atar Chicken
Boring ol’ baked chicken gets a new lease on life using za’atar spice. It’s infused with flavor and tenderness from the inside out with a za’atar, lemon, and yogurt marinade. Then it’s baked, sliced, and slathered with spiced extra virgin olive oil – the resulting chicken is moist and jam-packed with flavor.
Yogurt is one of the best marinades for a transformative chicken experience. Buh-bye dry and drab, hello tender and tangy! Yogurt is acidic enough to break down the protein strands for a moister finish, while also adding flavor and tartness. For everything you need to know about yogurt marinades, this article from Bon Appetit has ya covered.
Greek yogurt is perfect in this recipe because of the extra tang it brings, but it’s on the thick side. Add a bit of lemon juice to thin it out, then toss in the zest of that lemon for punchy citrus flavor, and last but not least a few shakes of our all-star spice – za’atar!
Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and za’atar until throughly incorporated. Place your chicken breasts into a gallon-sized ziplock bag, pour the marinade over the chicken, then use your (clean) hands to rub the marinade evenly into the chicken.
Tuck that bad boy into the fridge for at least three hours, and up to 10. AKA – this is the perfect recipe to prep first thing in the morning for a fast and delicious dinner.
Heat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Foil can seem fussy and wasteful (because it usually is), but I’m a big advocate for it in this recipe. The marinade will run as the chicken cooks, and the sugars from the yogurt will caramelize then burn. You want to avoid as much of that business as possible, and the foil helps.
Bake for 10 minutes, then flip and bake an additional 10 minutes (give or take 5 based on breast size) until an instant read thermometer registers 160°F in the thickest part of the chicken. Remove from the oven, tent with foil or cover with an upturned casserole dish and rest for 10 minutes. When you’re ready to serve, slice the chicken against the grain to preserve tenderness – AKA, slice the chicken widthwise into short strips, not lengthwise into long ones (like the second picture above).
And now for our piece de resistance – spiced extra virgin olive oil. This is easier than it sounds! Just combine a tablespoon of za’atar with two tablespoons of evoo. Stir. Now drizzle that goodness over the chicken, and BOOM! You’ve arrived in tasty tender chicken town.
Za’atar Chicken FAQ
- Can I use chicken thighs? YEP! Just adjust your baking time accordingly (at 425°F, they should take about 18 minutes).
- Can I grill the chicken instead of baking it? YEP! You’ll get a crispier crust and more caramelized goodness. 100% endorse. Grill over a medium flame, 10 minutes per side (or so, depending on size).
- Where can I get za’atar? I make my own because I prefer fresh thyme instead of dried, and you might consider doing that too. I’ve also bought za’atar at my local co-op, Whole Foods, Mom’s Organic Market, and middle eastern grocers.
- What do I eat with this? Gosh, I’m so darn glad you asked. We had this with simple roasted cauliflower (I tossed a head of chopped cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt and started it ten minutes before the chicken), homemade muhammara, and sliced vegetables for a low carb dinner combo. You could also serve over steamed rice with a side of tomato cucumber salad or tabbouleh or go super classic and serve it with pita, classic hummus, and baba ganoush.
- Naturally gluten free and grain free
- Low carb, low sugar, high protein
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Yogurt Marinated Za'atar ChickenPrint Recipe Rate This Recipe
- Combine the greek yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of za’atar in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Place the chicken breasts into a gallon sized ziplock bag, then pour the yogurt marinade over the chicken. Massage the marinade into the chicken with your clean hands. Then press the air out, seal, and place the chicken into the fridge. Marinate at least 3 hours, and up to 24 hours.
- Heat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and place onto the foil lined baking sheet, leaving at least one inch in-between each chicken breast. Bake 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, flip the chicken, then return to the oven. Bake an additional 5-15 minutes based on the size of your chicken breast, until an instant read thermometer registers 160°F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, tent with foil or an upturned casserole dish, and rest for 10 minutes.
- Combine the remaining tablespoon of zaatar with the extra virgin olive oil. Slice the chicken against the grain, then drizzle the spiced oil over the sliced chicken breast. Serve immediately. The cooked chicken keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed container.
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