Middle Eastern-Inspired Herb and Garlic Chicken Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Middle Eastern-Inspired Herb and Garlic Chicken Recipe (1)

Total Time
40 minutes, plus marinating
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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.

Featured in: Pushing Chicken to Its Garlicky Limit

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • 6boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1¾ 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
  • teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1tablespoon sesame seeds, more for garnish (optional)
  • ¾teaspoon sumac, more for garnish (optional)
  • cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably whole milk yogurt
  • ¼teaspoon ground black pepper

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

194 calories; 12 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 2 grams sugars; 17 grams protein; 448 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Middle Eastern-Inspired Herb and Garlic Chicken Recipe (2)


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  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, 1½ teaspoons salt, and the sesame seeds 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. Step


    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. Step


    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 and sesame seeds and sumac, if using, with the yogurt alongside for dipping.



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Cooking Notes

A. Cleary

I've used dried za'atar & it's just fine. Before you marinate the chicken, mix the spices & herbs with the lemon juice & olive oil & let it sit for about 10 minutes. It seems to wake up the flavors. And use fresh parsley & thyme if you have it. It does make a difference.


I'll definitely try this, as I love anything garlicky, but is there any particular reason for using the boneless, skinless thighs as opposed to regular? Bone-in generally gives better flavor, and especially when grilling or broiling, the skin gets crisp and delicious. My vote is always for bone-in rather than boneless, with practically any meat.


Total winner! You can't go wrong with all that garlic and lemon. I jumped on this because I had a huge canister of dried za'atar that was in need of a purpose. I used 3-4 tablespoons or so. Didn't bother with fresh herbs and didn't miss them, although I'm sure they'd be great. Served it with pita bread and a salad of tomato, cucumber and goat cheese, with olive oil, lemon, oregano and parsley. I did actually use fresh parsley in the salad. Amazing weeknight dinner!


yum. this is a great variation on chicken i ate growing up. i wouldn't quite call this zaatar, since levantine thyme is a big part of it, but i can see where the herbs are inspired from that. this is definitely going to be a regular rotation. plus, we add more garlic, because really you can never have too much garlic :)


If all else fails read the directions. That said, I tossed everything together including the yogurt, all the garlic and the zest (and using 4 T za'atar). Realizing my mistake, I put in in the refrigerator and let it marinate for 24 hours, put it in a casserole dish, set the oven to 350 and cooked it for 50 minutes. It was delicious! Whew!


I made it last night using 4 tablespoons of Zaatar plus the fresh mint, parsley, and garlic. I also used bone-in thighs. It was delicious!!!!!!


When replacing fresh herbs with dried it is usually recommended to use 1/4 - 1/3 of the amount. Hope this helps


If you can't find sumac substitute paprika with some lime zest


Please advise how much zaatar to use for this recipe if not using fresh herbs. It would be very helpful to know that.


Wow! Elevated a weeknight chicken dinner to the top! Super grateful for her tip in the video on the salt ratio for chicken - 1tsp kosher salt : 1lb chicken. Used the broiler for the first time since there were too many mosquitoes outside to grill :-/ Made the yogurt sauce and also the Green Tahini Sauce recently highlighted in another article. Roasted carrots with cumin. Layered into a pita with the yummy sauces and cucumber, tomato, red onion.

Nancy Pyle

I used bone-in thighs AND the sumac. I put the marinade in a gallon plastic bag with the chicken and marinated for 45 minutes. I baked the chicken in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes on the skin side, and 12 minutes on the other side. I switched the oven to broil and broiled for 8 minutes, skin side up. It was tender and moist. I didn't fine chop the herbs. I bruised fresh herbs and massaged the whole marinade in the bag with the chicken. One of my favorite chicken recipes.


Just made this last night. Delicious! I used Zatar (from a shuk in Jerusalem) in replacement of the fresh herbs. I didn't have the yogurt to accompany but drizzled tahini over grilled chicken. Served with Israeli couscous. Husband loved the meal and so did I. It is a keeper!


Great. Turned it into a fattoush salad with chicken on top. Will include this in my regular rotation. Made with two flattened boneless, skinless breasts. Grilled them and then made four fattoush salads (romaine, cherry tomatoes, red onion, chopped mint & parsley, feta, kalamata olives, crumbled pita chips, tossed in a viniagrette) and put 1/2 breast on each salad. Put a dollop of yogurt sauce on top of chicken. Very tasty!

Elizabeth H

If you use dried Zaatar, what do you leave OUT of the recipe?


Excellent! I used about a tablespoon of za'atar from Penzy's instead of the thyme and oregano, and like some others, added the sumac directly to the yogurt, along with some extra parsley, mint, lemon juice and salt. I used regular whole milk yogurt instead of the Greek variety because I think its texture makes better dips and sauces. I prepared the sauce a few hours ahead to let the flavors blend. The sauce really made the dish. Served this with Greek salad and pita bread. Great dinner


A great side dish with this (uses some of the same herbs): https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015947-roasted-carrots-with-turmeric-and-cuminAlso, if you make pita sandwich version of chicken recipe, one of the veggies you can put in is red bell peppers, brushed with olive oil and grilled along with the chicken.

Candace F.

This is an outstanding recipe! A favorite with everyone I've made it for. Agree with comment that dried Za'tar works well -- I prefer using fresh ingredients.


Made this for friend when she came over for dinner and she loved it! Did with aside of roasted carrots from her farm with homegrown herbs, good olive oil, and honey. Easy but flavorful meal!


Check recommendation to marinate with everything thing and bake, not barbecue


Add zaatar


This chicken is incredible!


This was awesome! I’ve never broiled chicken before and I’m thrilled to know this method. Flavors were divine. Yogurt made it next level yummy.


Use about 4 cloves instead of 6


45min on med high bbq could have gone 5 min more


Up the marinade quantity. Good but flavor too mild for the amount of chicken I had.


Loved it. I only had fresh parsley so in place of the other fresh herbs I used a heaping teaspoon of za’atar, which was just right for me. I also used the sumac —it adds so much great flavor, and I’m putting it on everything from now on. World Market carries both za’atar and sumac. I used bone in skin on thighs, cooked under broiler in my big toaster oven. I needed to cook it for 24 minutes, flipped every 8 mins, and it was perfect.


Great recipe but it requires lots of fresh herbs which go bad quickly. The use of freeze-dried herbs which stay fresh for long rime

Memorable Valentine's Day Dinner!

SO delicious! Chicken was skinless boneless - 7 minutes each side under broiler was perfect. Preparing Valentine's dinner and trying new flavors (zaa'tar) together was fun and satisfying. Paired with NYT recipes for potato salad with capers and anchovies, nice honey crisp apple slices and the celery mocktails. We're continuing marinating the leftovers and expect more yumminess tomorrow night.


It’s great! My 6 year old ate it but not my 3 year old.


Use 2T Zara’s instead of fresh herbs (used 3T but seemed a bit too much)

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Middle Eastern-Inspired Herb and Garlic Chicken Recipe (2024)
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