Za’atar Chicken Bake

This one pan za’atar chicken bake is so delicious and super easy to whip up. The chicken is marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and Middle Eastern spices and then baked to perfection with butternut squash and onion.

If you’ve been reading EBF for a while you’ll know I’m all about quick and efficient meals, and sheet pan bakes are on the menu at least once a week over here.

Today’s recipe for za’atar chicken and butternut squash is 100% inspired from our trip to Israel. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that I had heard about before, but it wasn’t until our trip when we actually made our own za’atar seasoning blend that I became familiar and excited about experimenting with it.

A plate of Za'atar chicken and vegetables over a bed of herbed couscous. A silver fork rests on the plate.

Why You’ll Love this Sheet Pan Meal

  • Perfect for weeknights – you can prep the ingredients in advance and have dinner on the table in under 45 minutes!
  • Delicious meal in one – eat this meal as is or serve with my zesty tahini dressing, which complements the za’atar seasoning perfectly.
  • One pan to clean – is there anything better than very few dishes to clean? I’ll answer that: no!
  • Versatile – eat as is for dinner then repurpose leftovers into a salad or a bowl the next day.

What is Za’atar?

Za’atar spice blends vary, but our blend has dried za’atar leaves (which are very similar to oregano or thyme), sesame seeds, sumac, olive oil and sea salt. It’s aromatic, herby and salty with a hint of tang from the sumac. In the Middle East za’atar is used as a table condiment, like salt and pepper, so you’ll see people sprinkling it on everything from eggs and oatmeal to yogurt (or labneh) and meat. I personally love it mixed with olive oil as a dip for pita bread!

Since we’ve been home I’ve been experimenting with the za’atar and have almost used our whole jar! I’ve made a few dishes that we’ve loved, and this one pan za’atar chicken bake with butternut squash is definitely a favorite!

If you’re new to za’atar and don’t have it in your spice cabinet, no worries! You can find it at most international or natural grocery stores, or at a specialty spice shop like Penzeys. I’ve definitely seen it at my local Whole Foods.

Ingredients measured out to make za'atar chicken bake: salt, pepper, lemon, chicken, red onion, butternut squash, olive oil and za'atar.

What You Need

  • butternut squash – any squash works with this recipe but I love butternut squash. Here’s a simple tutorial for how to peel and chop butternut squash before cooking.
  • chicken breast – I recommend boneless, skinless for easy eating! Chicken thighs will also work.
  • olive oil – the oil base for the chicken marinade.
  • lemon zest and juice – part of the chicken marinade. The lemon adds a pop of flavor!
  • za’atar – a spice blend that is typically a mixture of dried sumac, sesame seeds and other spices.
  • sea salt and pepper – to season the chicken and vegetables.
  • optional for serving – this zesty tahini dressing pairs perfectly with the rest of the ingredients!
Collage of four photos: 1. Za'arar marinade in a bowl. 2. Chicken in the marinade. 3. Red onion and butternut squash cubes tossed with spices and z'atar. 4. Chicken and veggies on a sheet pan.

How to Make

Marinade chicken: Whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, za’atar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Reserve 2 Tablespoons to use on the veggies. Coat chicken in the remaining marinade and let sit for at least 30-60 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Cut veggies: When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 425ºF and then chop your red onion and butternut squash and toss in the reserved 2 Tablespoons of marinade.

Bake: Add butternut and onion mixture to a large baking sheet. Create space between the veggies and place marinated chicken on the sheet as well. Place in the preheated oven, uncovered. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until butternut squash pieces are easily pierced with a fork and chicken is cooked through.

pro tip! For added flavor let the chicken marinate overnight so it has time to soak up all of the flavors! 

How to Serve Za’atar Chicken Bake

Like I mentioned above, this is a meal in one that you can serve on its own or add zesty tahini dressing for added flavor. If you want more volume, I recommend serving with brown rice, quinoa or on a bed of greens. Drizzle on the zesty tahini dressing and enjoy!

A plate of Za'atar chicken and vegetables over a bed of herbed couscous.

How to Prep in Advance

If you want the real deal but don’t have time to make everything in one night, you can prep all of the components in advance for faster assembly. Here’s what I would prep in advance:

  • Chicken – let the chicken marinade overnight.
  • Veggies – chop your onion and butternut squash the night before and store in the fridge until ready to bake.
  • Dressing – if using, the dressing is so simple to whip up in advance!
  • Grain – if you want to serve with a grain like rice or quinoa, I recommend making a batch at the beginning of the week to use for this recipe when you’re ready to serve!

How to Store Leftovers

This dish stores well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can reheat on the stovetop, in the oven or in the microwave if you’re in a pinch!

More Middle Eastern Recipes to Try

The Most Popular One Pan Meals

One Pan Za’atar Chicken Bake

4 from 33 votes
This one pan za'atar chicken bake is so delicious and super easy to whip up. The chicken is marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and Middle Eastern spices and then baked to perfection with butternut squash and onion.
A plate of Za'atar chicken and vegetables over a bed of herbed couscous. A silver fork rests on the plate.
Print RecipePin Recipe
Prep Time 20minutes
Cook Time 35minutes
Resting Time 1hour
Total Time 1hour55minutes
Servings 3

Ingredients

  • 1butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small, bite-size pieces (about 3-4 cups)
  • 1red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1lbboneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3Tablespoonsolive oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2Tablespoonslemon juice
  • 2Tablespoonsza’atar
  • ½teaspoonsea salt
  • ¼teaspoonpepper
  • zesty tahini dressing, for serving

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, za’atar, salt and pepper in a small bowl to make the marinade. Reserve 2 Tablespoons to use on the veggies.
    Spices and oil in a glass bowl. A whisk is resting next to the bowl as well as two lemon halves that have been juiced.
  • Coat chicken in the remaining marinade and let sit for at least 30-60 minutes and up to 24 hours; letting the chicken marinate longer will impart more flavor. 
    A shallow glass dish with chicken breasts soaking in marinade.
  • Toss butternut and red onion in the reserved 2 Tablespoons of marinade.
    A glass bowl filled with red onion and butternut squash sprinkled with spices.
  • Add butternut and onion mixture to a large baking sheet (for easy cleanup, line sheet with parchment or a silicone liner). Create space between the veggies and place marinated chicken on the sheet as well. Place in the preheated oven, uncovered. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until butternut squash pieces are easily pierced with a fork and chicken is cooked through.
    A sheet pan with seasoned chicken breasts and vegetables, ready to be roasted.
  • Serve immediately. Drizzle chicken and veggies with tahini dressing, if using.

Video

Notes

  • Vegan option: Feel free to swap tofu for the chicken to make a vegetarian/vegan version of this recipe!

Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 494kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 49gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 12gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 1054mgPotassium: 501mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6g
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: za’atar chicken
Web Story: https://atrivialmindatwork.com/web-stories/zaatar-chicken-bake/

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    14 comments
    1. Laurinda Ogburn
      December 6, 2021 AT 11:36 am

      5 stars
      Made this last week as a trial run for a dinner party and I can’t stop eating it! It is so delicious! I added and doubled the veggies and made garlic couscous. We were out of tahini but had a bit of hummus left so tried that out for the sauce. The dish is still excellent without it but the sauce really pulls the components together. Looking forward to many more repeat cooks.

      Reply
      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 7, 2021 AT 10:49 am

        Woo!! Pumped to hear this recipe was a hit, Laurinda. Thanks for making it and coming back to leave a review. I really appreciate it!

        Reply
    2. Leah C
      November 30, 2021 AT 7:05 pm

      5 stars
      Their za’atar chicken recipe is DELISH and took minutes to prep!! My kids can’t get enough too! Wow thanks for the great healthy recipes, this is definitely a new favorite (and so glad your Israel trip inspired it!)
      🙂 happy mother

      Reply
      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 1, 2021 AT 11:37 am

        Woo!! So pumped to hear this recipe was a hit, Leah. Thanks for the review. It means so much to me!

        Reply
    3. SHLOMO
      November 25, 2020 AT 9:09 am

      5 stars
      hi Brit. there is no such thing as za’atar leaves. za’atar in english is thyme….so just wanted you to know the difference.

      you can also take za’atar and mix it with thick, unrefined olive oil, then spread it on your pita for an amazing, rich, flavourful snack. BE CAREFUL! za’atar is absolutely addictive once you start putting it on foods you love.

      Reply
    4. Lisa
      April 21, 2019 AT 12:44 pm

      5 stars
      I haven’t heard or tried several of the ingredients in this recipe before. The picture looked so appealing I had to try it! My husband & I really liked it! Thanks for getting me out of my comfort zone! I did refrigerate the leftover dressing, any idea how long you think it would last?

      Reply
    5. Tina
      March 26, 2019 AT 1:22 pm

      This is my new favorite dinner recipe! I have not used Za’atar before and my entire family enjoys it, even my 3 year old. Thank you!

      Reply
Parchment paper lined with protein balls.

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