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Perfect Roasted Chicken with Za’atar and Sumac

This perfect roasted chicken with za’atar and sumac is a juicy and flavorful dish using some of my favorite Middle Eastern Spices. The earthy flavors of the za’atar and the tanginess of the sumac make this succulent chicken dish burst with delicious flavors. It is no wonder this roasted chicken is my husband’s favorite way to eat chicken! 

Not only is this one of the tastiest chicken dishes, but it is also super easy to prepare. This perfect roasted chicken with za’atar and sumac is my go-to meal on busy weeknights. My secret ingredient to making this chicken succulent and juice is to add a little extra water to the bottom of the pan. That way, there will be more of that delicious juice that I can drizzle over the chicken once it is done. This is also a no-waste recipe since the leftovers can be made into the most amazing chicken stock. 

What is the Difference Between Organic, Free-Range, and Conventional Chicken? 

Even though free-range chicken does not automatically mean it is organic, all organic chicken has to be free-range. 

Free-range chicken means that the chickens are not cooped up in small cages. Instead, they have some sort of access to outdoor space and can move around more freely. Free-range chickens need to spend more than 50% of their lives roaming. Even though these chickens can live in more open areas, their diet is not typically controlled. 

Organic chickens are also free-range, but they have to be fed synthetic, chemical-free chicken feed. They are not given any hormones or antibiotics. Organic chicken is the healthiest option since they are essentially free-range chicken with certified feed. They are also not pumped with any unnatural drugs. Organic chicken is also healthier than conventional chicken. Because they can freely roam, they have around 13% less fat than regular chicken.

Conventional chicken farms keep the chicken in small cages since they do not have any obligation to let them roam freely. This helps them keep costs down, but crowded environments are unhealthy for the chicken or us. Conventional chickens are also usually treated with antibiotics throughout their lives so that they have the antibodies to fight infection in advance. They are also fed genetically modified grains to help them grow at an unnatural rate. 

What Size Chicken Should I Buy?

It can be challenging to estimate how big of a chicken you will need when buying a whole chicken. This is because the weight of the bone contributes to the overall weight of the chicken. So a 5lbs whole chicken will really only have around 3.23 lbs in meat. The general rule when it comes to picking a whole chicken is that the weight of each chicken will be composed of approximately 65% of meat. So before buying chicken, think about how many people your chicken will feed and then decide what your serving size will be. 

How To Make Perfectly Roasted Chicken 

This roasted chicken is perfectly cooked so that the chicken skin is crispy while the meat is still juicy and tender. To make this delicious chicken, I start with a high temp and set the oven at 425 for the first 20 minutes. Then, I reduce the temperature to 375 F for about another 45 minutes depending on how big the chicken is. I also like to cover for the first hour, then uncover the chicken in the last 15 minutes. That way, the chicken can crisp up and turn that beautiful golden-brown color.

To make sure the chicken is fully cooked, I use a meat thermometer to probe the chicken. The chicken must be at an internal temperature of 165 degrees to be fully cooked. At 165 degrees, all bacteria will be killed, and the chicken is safe to eat, but I like my chicken cooked to 160F  degrees. Once your chicken reaches the temperature you want, take it out of the oven and let it sit while it is covered for 15 minutes. This will allow the chicken to continue cooking.   

Tips to Make the Best Roasted Chicken 

  • Add water to the pan to keep the chicken moist and prevent the dripping from burning. Use the resulting juice to baste the chicken every 20 minutes. 
  • Add vegetables to the roasted chicken to easily make an entire meal in one pan. I like to add small red potatoes, onion, carrots, and even cauliflower. Any vegetable that can be roasted will be perfect in this recipe. 
  • Marinating the chicken in the seasonings for a longer time will let the seasonings and flavors seep into the chicken. 
Reviews

Ingredients:

Adjust Servings
6 lbs one whole chicken
2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
2 tablespoon zaatar
2 tablespoon sumac
6 gloved garlic (chopped fine)
2 lemons juice
2 large onions (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 cup water
2 lb small red potatoes (optional that you could add around the chicken before you start cooking)

Directions

1.
The first step is to clean the chicken. Use salt and vinegar to scrub the chicken and then rinse it with cold water. You can cut off any extra fat from the cavity and pat it dry from the inside out with paper towels.
Tuck the wings under the body and tie the legs together, so the chicken does not get dry.
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2.
Put the prepared chicken into a large bowl and smother the seasonings (olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, za’atar, sumac, and garlic) all over the chicken on the inside and outside of the chicken.
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3.
Add the onion to the large bowl with the chicken and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or even overnight if you can wait. This will allow all the flavors to absorb into the chicken.
Heat the oven to 425 F.
Place the chicken into a deep oven pan. Pour the marinade all over the chicken. Add a cup of water to the bottom of the pan. Optional: add all the vegetables for flavorful roasted veggies.
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4.
Cover the chicken with foil and roast the chicken with an aluminum cover for 20 minutes. Then uncover the chicken and baste it with its juice.
Lower the oven temperature to 375 F and continue roasting for another hour or until the temperature reads 160 to 165 F.
Once the chicken is ready, take it out of the oven and sprinkle more zaatar and sumac. Then let it rest for 15 minutes.
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5.
Cookware Needed to Make Roasted Chicken with Za'atar and Sumac
A roasting pan is an excellent choice of cookware for roasting a chicken. Especially when it comes to cooking two whole chickens and adding lots of vegetables. I personally use a rimmed heavy-duty baking sheet for this recipe, but you can use whatever you have in the kitchen. Just make sure it is oven safe and deep enough to hold the chicken's juices. You can also use a large Dutch oven, Large bowl for marinating the chicken, Meat thermometer.
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6.
What Should I Eat with Roasted Chicken with Za'atar and Sumac?
Traditionally this dish is best served with a side of rice and a refreshing yogurt-cucumber salad. Soft and fluffy rice with vermicelli is perfect for absorbing the delicious juices and flavor from the chicken. The Yogurt-cucumber salad is also a cold, tangy side dish that cuts the taste of fat from the chicken. You can also serve this roasted chicken recipe with nontraditional sides such as mashed potatoes, roasted butternut squash, or asparagus.
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Notes
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