Za’atar Chicken Bake
Published Nov 24, 2021, Updated Mar 18, 2022
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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.
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.
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!
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!
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
- Vegetarian Sheet Pan Dinner
- Sheet Pan Chicken Sausage and Roasted Veggies
- Lemon Garlic Chicken Sheet Pan Meal
- Asian Chicken Sheet Pan Meal
- One-Pan Roasted Chicken
- Sriracha Cauliflower Sheet Pan Meal
- Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
- One Pan Tempeh Butternut Squash Bake
One Pan Za’atar Chicken Bake
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small, bite-size pieces (about 3-4 cups)
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- zest of one lemon
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons za’atar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- zesty tahini dressing, for serving
- 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.
- 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.
- Toss butternut and red onion in the reserved 2 Tablespoons of marinade.
- 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.
- Serve immediately. Drizzle chicken and veggies with tahini dressing, if using.
- Vegan option: Feel free to swap tofu for the chicken to make a vegetarian/vegan version of this recipe!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.