Middle Eastern Herb and Garlic Chicken

Middle Eastern Herb and Garlic Chicken

This recipe was inspired by the Middle Eastern dried seasoning mix called za’atar, a combination of herbs (usually thyme, oregano and marjoram), sesame seeds and sumac, often spiked with salt. Here, fresh herbs are substituted for the dried, which, along with fresh parsley and mint and plenty of lemon and garlic, are used to marinated boneless chicken thighs. If you can’t find sumac, just leave it out. It does add a nice tang and vibrant color, but the dish will work without it. Optimum marinating time here is 8 hours. But feel free to leave it for as little as 15 minutes or as long as 24 hours. If you would rather use white meat, substitute boneless skinless breasts but reduce the cooking time by a few minutes.


  • 6boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 6garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 2tablespoons minced fresh parsley, more for serving
  • 2tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 1tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1tablespoon minced fresh oregano or marjoram
  • 1tablespoon sesame seeds, optional, more for garnish
  • 1 ½teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ¾teaspoon sumac, optional, more for garnish
  • ⅔cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably whole milk
  • ¼teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine chicken with all but 1 teaspoon of the grated garlic (save that teaspoon for the yogurt sauce), the zest and juice of 1 lemon, oil, parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and sumac, if using. Cover and marinate for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature; you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat grill or broiler. If grilling, cook chicken over high heat until charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes. Flip pieces and continue grilling until just cooked through, another 4 to 7 minutes. If broiling, arrange a rack 3 to 4 inches from flame. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spread chicken out in a single layer. Broil chicken, turning halfway through cooking, until well colored and charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes per side. Be careful that it doesn’t burn.
  3. While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserved grated garlic and lemon zest and season to taste with salt. Serve the chicken drizzled with olive oil, remaining lemon juice to taste, black pepper, parsley, sesame seeds and sumac, with the yogurt for dipping.


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