Lemon and Za’atar Roast Chicken

Written by Karen Coakley


This morning the rain turned to snow in Kerry and took us all by surprise in mid April. Just when it seemed that summer was within a hairs breath it vanished and disappeared.

Snow Capped Mountains over Kenmare Bay

As always in weather like this I turn to food and most likely Comfort Food and what is more comforting and homely than simple Roast Chicken. I know my gang love it but I’m always looking for ways to get creative and bring something a little more to my Chicken dinners.

The Island

I’ve spoken here many times about my fascination with Middle Eastern Cooking and how much I’m loving exploring the combination of fresh flavors and heady spices.


This week I wanted to experiment with Za’Atar a Middle Eastern spice mixture made from Sumac (ground sumac berries, sesame seeds, salt and oregano or Thyme), so I researched many recipes and the Za’atar recipe below is what I came up with. It yielded enough for me to coat my chicken in and a nice little jar aside.

I love the fact that this dinner is all cooked in the one pan making it extremely tasty, the chicken juices flavour the potatoes as they roast and you have pieces of Za’atar fall of the chicken giving you the most amazing flavoured potatoes.

Za'atar Chicken in Pan ready for oven
Oven Ready



  1. Preheat your oven to 180 deg. Place the Sumac, Sesame Seeds, Sea Salt, Oregano and Thyme into a Mortar and Pestle and grind to a coarse powder, grate in the Lemon Zest .
  2. Place your Chicken in the middle of a large roasting pan and coat very generously with the Za’atar seasoning mix.
  3. Arrange the chopped Potatoes, Garlic Cloves and Lemon Wedges all around the Chicken, season these with salt and pepper (don’t season the Chicken as there is enough Salt in the Za’atar.
  4. Drizzle the Chicken and Potatoes with Olive Oil and place in the heated oven to cook, basting the Chicken occasionally as the juices ooze out until the Chicken is cooked and the potatoes are golden.
  5. Should the Chicken cook faster than the Potatoes, remove it from the pan returning when Potatoes are cooked.
  6. Serve with Vegetables of your choice.

N.B I like to serve this all in the roasting pan in the center of the table for everybody to dig in.

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