Za’atar Chicken with Yogurt Sauce
Za’atar chicken is perfectly cooked chicken coated in a delicious blend of Middle Eastern flavors. Serve with a homemade yogurt sauce any night of the week.
This simple za’atar chicken is a great way to spice up your weekly dinner menu.
Tender chicken breasts are dusted with the classic Middle Eastern za’atar spice. It has an earthy, tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with our tangy homemade yogurt sauce.
And best of all? You can have this dinner ready in less than half an hour, so no need to serve the same tired leftovers tonight.
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Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need for the chicken:
- Chicken breast – The most important aspect is making sure the chicken breasts have roughly the same thickness to ensure even cooking. You can use chicken thighs if you prefer, again just make sure they are an even thickness so they cook in the same amount of time.
- Lemon – Lemon juice adds a bit of citrus flavor and freshness to the chicken. Feel free to add a little lemon zest as well if you like.
- Za’atar spice – You can find this in the spice aisle at your local grocery store or you can order it online here.
- Salt – We used Kosher salt.
- Pepper – Fresh cracked black pepper gives you the most flavor.
- Olive oil – You could use another light tasting oil if you prefer.
For the Yogurt Sauce, you’ll need:
- Greek yogurt – You can use your preferred brand, just avoid flavored varieties.
- Fresh herbs – This sauce needs chopped parsley and chives as well as minced garlic cloves.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Prep and cook the chicken. Start by lightly patting the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel and then squeezing half of the lemon over the chicken. Next, sprinkle each breast with za’atar seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and, when hot, add the olive oil. Next, place the chicken into the pan and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes per side. If the chicken browns too quickly, you can turn the heat down a bit.
Step 2: Make the yogurt sauce. As the chicken cooks, make your yogurt sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk them together and let them sit until the chicken is ready.
Step 3: Plate and serve. Once the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature of 165 degrees F) plate each piece and then top with the yogurt sauce. Serve immediately with your favorite grains or veggies.
Tip for Cooking Chicken Breast
When we cook chicken, we make sure the breasts have an even thickness. This means that:
- If we use larger breasts, we cut them in half to form roughly equally sized portions.
- If we use smaller cuts, we wrap the thicker end of the breast in plastic wrap and use a meat mallet to even out the thickness.
Za’atar seasoning is a type of Middle Eastern spice blend used for cooking. Though the recipe for the blend can vary greatly, it typically includes spices and herbs such as dried oregano, thyme, marjoram , sumac, and toasted sesame seeds.
We don’t usually make our own spice blend, but when we do we follow this recipe. For ease, we keep our favorite blend called The Spice Way Traditional Lebanese Zaatar with Hyssop in the pantry.
This spice blend has a strong herbal flavor from the thyme, oregano, and marjoram along with a little bit of tangy, lemon-like flavor from the sumac, and a nice toasted nutty flavor from the sesame seeds. Because zaatar spice recipes can vary greatly the flavor you get from it can vary as well.
What to Serve With Za’atar Chicken
Za’atar chicken makes a flavorful main dish that goes well with a variety of veggies. Some of our favorites include:
- Roasted vegetables, such as our hot honey roasted carrots
- Potatoes – roasted, mashed, or air fried
- Cauliflower – roasted, air fried, mashed, or even riced can work
- Broccoli – roasted or air fried
- Stuffed in a pita bread or flatbread to make a warm sandwich
- Over rice, turmeric quinoa, couscous, or farro
Our yogurt sauce adds a tangy flavor to just about any dish. We love to serve it with za’atar chicken because it adds a great creaminess and zip to this easy chicken dish.
If you like homemade sauces, you can check out our homemade tzatziki, which is very similar to this recipe.
How to Make it Ahead of Time
You can easily make this chicken dish ahead of time. To store in the fridge, allow the chicken to cool completely and then place in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
If freezing, allow it to cool, wrap each piece in aluminum foil, and then place in an airtight container. It will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 months. Before reheating, allow it thaw in the fridge overnight.
To reheat, pour a small amount of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Place the chicken in the skillet and heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until warmed through. You can then serve with a fresh yogurt sauce, add to a salad or a wrap, or serve with your favorite veggies.
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Za’atar Chicken with Yogurt Sauce
- 20 ounces Chicken breast, 4 portions of 5 ounces each
- 2 tablespoons Za’atar spice
- 4 tablespoons Lemon juice, divided
- 3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon Finely chopped chives
- 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper, divided
- ½ cup Plain Greek yogurt, we highly recommend full fat yogurt for a richer flavor
- 1 tablespoon Finely chopped fresh parsley
- Cut chicken into four 5 ounce portions. You want the chicken to be a uniform thickness so it cooks evenly. If you have a very thick chicken breast we suggest cutting it through the middle to create two thin portions. If the chicken is thicker on one end than the other you can also cover with plastic wrap and use a mallet to pound the chicken to an even thickness.
- Place the chicken breasts in a large bowl and add the 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Move the chicken around so it is coated in the lemon juice.
- Sprinkle za’atar spice, , half of the garlic, half of the chives, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper over the chicken, tossing the chicken to make sure it is well coated in spices.
- Let the chicken sit and marinate for 20 minutes.
- In a small bowl combine the Greek yogurt, remaining garlic, chives, salt, pepper, and all of the parsley. Stir together until well combined.
- When the chicken has finished marinating add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and heat over medium heat. When hot add the chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes per side. Chicken is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- When chicken has finished cooking, cut into slices and place on a plate. Drizzle with your yogurt sauce and serve.