Our Grilled Za'atar Chicken Platter is tender, juicy, and tasty thanks to a the combination of Syrian Za'atar, garlic, and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Our Syrian Za'atar adds sour, citrus, and herb flavors to this dish and blends beautifully with the grilled lemon and garlic in this recipe.
A traditional layered dish of the Middle East this recipe is served on a large platter and starts with layers of yogurt and Za'atar Sauce, our take on labneh or yogurt cheese. Next comes the chicken, onion, garlic, and bell peppers. It is finished off with the juices from grilled lemon. Add a bread such as pita to sop up all the delicious yogurt and sauce, and you have an enjoyable meal perfect for sharing. Bread makes the perfect substitute for utensils best served as a communal dish, but it will taste just as good if you divvy it out onto individual plates and use your forks!
Chicken: We like bone-in skin-on chicken thighs as they stand up well to grilling. More tender then breasts or drumsticks, the skin will crisp and the dark meat will stay juicy. Sear over higher heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Then move to cooler side of the grill, and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the meat reaches 165° Fahrenheit. If you do not have a meat thermometer, poke the largest thigh with a knife. If the juices from the thigh are clear and not pink or red, then the chicken is completely cooked. If the juices are not clear, continue cooking until they are.
Garlic: Roasted garlic is creamy, sweet, and oh such a beautiful addition to this dish! If you haven't roasted garlic before, you are in for a treat. Roasting transforms garlic from crunchy and stringent to soft and caramelized! This recipe calls for 2 bulbs, but feel free to add a few more to the grill for future meals. You need to add the garlic to the part of your grill with the lowest heat in a foil packet. It needs about 45 minutes to roast to perfection, so add it to your grill first thing. When serving, make sure everyone gets a least a few cloves, so each bit of chicken can include a bit of garlic.
Onions: White or yellow onions will work in this recipe. Avoid sweet onions as they tend to burn easily on a grill due to their high sugar content. Peel onions and half or quarter them before grilling. Place in a foil packet with lemons and grill while your chicken grills.
Lemon: Grilled lemon takes on a whole new flavor profile. The heat from the grill intensifies the oils in the lemon peel and allows the lemon to release every last drop of juice. Cut your lemon in half or quarters and grill in a foil packet with the onion. When serving your chicken, squeeze the juice of a few quarters over your dish. Add the remaining lemon quarters to your platter, so your guests can add more lemon as they desire.
Bell Peppers: This recipe calls for bell peppers, but any type of pepper, such as cubanelles, poblanos, or anaheims will work. Choose your favorite color of pepper keeping in mind that red, yellow, orange, and purple bell peppers are the sweetest. The grill will add a smokiness to their flavor profile while also bringing out their natural sweetness.
Yogurt: We use whole milk Greek yogurt for this recipe. Greek Yogurt is naturally thick which is what the chicken needs as its base.
Olive Oil: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is used liberally throughout this recipe. It adds a lovely richness to every layer of the dish. We love our Arbequina Oil for this dish as its peppery finish pairs well with the sourness of our Za'atar seasoning.
Za'atar: Za'atar, also spelled Zatar, Zaatar, and Za’tar, is a cherished spice blend across the Middle Eastern world. Not to be confused with hyssop or the wild oregano plant which is also called Za’atar, this blend is a cultural icon. Many households have their own secret recipes that are passed down generation to generation. This recipe uses our Syrian Za'atar spice which features sesame seeds, sumac, coriander, cumin, lemon zest, and anise seed.
Roasted Garlic Salt: We've upped the roasted garlic flavor with Roasted Garlic Sea Salt. Our Roasted Garlic Sea Salt fuses real roasted garlic with all-natural sea salt resulting in an intensely aromatic and flavorful seasoning. Add to the yogurt base for an extra boost of garlic flavor.
Lemon & Orange Peel: Dehydrated lemon peel and dehydrated orange peel mixed with extra-virgin olive oil and za'atar creates a rich lush sauce that is layered onto the yogurt before adding the grilled chicken and peppers.
Salt: This recipes calls for freshly ground Alaea Red Hawaiian Sea Salt. From the island of Kauai, its beautiful color, full flavor, and especially hard crystals make this a salt especially suited for hearty, juicy, or saucy dishes. The naturally occurring clay in this salt also make this an ideal choice for roasting meats as it helps seal in moisture.
Pepper: Tellicherry Peppercorns are the highest grade of black peppercorns available. Their complex pepper flavor is considered the king of pepper and adds a wonderful contrast to the rich flavors found in the chicken and Arbequina Olive Oil.
Grilled Za'atar Chicken Platter Directions
Preheat grill to 450° F.
Remove excess outer garlic skin and cut each garlic bulb in half horizontally. Place on a piece of foil. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoons of olive oil. Grind a generous amount of salt and pepper over garlic. Wrap foil around garlic to enclose it. Place on coolest part of grill.
In a medium mixing bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add quartered onions and lemons. Mix to coat. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Place on a piece of foil and enclose in foil packet. Place on medium part of grill.
Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Add all but 1 tablespoon of remaining olive oil to the same medium mixing bowl, you used for the onions and lemons. Mix to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Sear chicken on grill over high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Then move to cooler side of the grill, and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the meat reaches 165° Fahrenheit.
As chicken and vegetables grill, add garlic salt to the yogurt. Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir mixture well. Spread across the bottom of your serving platter. Set aside.
In a small bowl, add Za'atar, lemon peel, and orange peel and stir together. As you remove the garlic, onion, and lemon from the grill, add any juices from their foil packages to the Za'atar mixture. This should make about 1/3 cup of sauce. If not, add extra olive oil as needed. Add a grind or two of salt, and stir.
Remove chicken as it is cooked. Set it aside to rest covering with foil to keep warm.
As chicken rest, grill peppers. Cut each pepper in half. Brush with just a bit of olive oil. Place skin side down on the grill. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until skin is charred black. Remove from grill, and skin should slide off the peppers. Cut into bite size pieces.
To the small bowl of Za'atar sauce, add any juices which have accumulated as the chicken rested. Stir. Pour over the yogurt layer on the serving platter.
Arrange chicken on top of the yogurt and Za'atar sauce. Place the onions, garlic, lemon, and pepper around the chicken.
Enjoy with lots of napkins and your favorite bread!