Do You Za’atar? Za’atar Chicken Legs

Apr 10, 2024

Za’atar, pronounced ZAH-tahr, is a pungent, strongly aromatic class of herbs native to the Middle East.   The plants have soft, dark green leaves and are a perennial in horticultural zone 8.  Although is not commonly grown here in the New England states, seeds for za’atar can be purchased from Territorial Seed Company, where their catalog states the herb can be hardy in zone 5.

This ancient herb is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine, and is known as the “king of herbs.”  Prized for their fragrant savory-oregano-thyme aroma, za’atar is also a component of a spice blend known with the same name. The spice blend za’atar is a mixture of sumac, sesame seeds, and various za’atar herbs.

Imported za’atar blends are available now in many specialty health food stores and coops, and also by mail.  It is part of a Middle Eastern breakfast dish of hot flat bread dipped in olive oil, and then sprinkled with the mixture.  Za’atar is equally delicious when sprinkled on a pizza, used in salads, tossed with kabobs or other grilled meats.

The recipe for Za’atar Chicken (or Rabbit) Legs is an easy and flavorful preparation.  The meat, generously coated with za’atar, is first browned on both sides, and then finished by braising in stock until tender enough to literally fall off the bone.  We enjoyed our Za’atar Rabbit for supper on a bed of couscous with seasonal veggies, and the extra pieces were quite tasty when packed in the lunchbox.

Za’atar is a versatile and handy condiment addition to the spice pantry.  When mixed with soft butter, za’atar can be tucked under the skin of a chicken before roasting.  To perk up grilled or roasted vegetables, mix za’atar with olive oil and season with abandon.  Za’atar can be sprinkled on yogurt, made into savory cheese balls, and livens up a simple, boiled egg.

There is so much joy in discovering a new food or taste sensation.  Once you have tasted the unique flavor of za’atar, you too will become a fan, and do za’atar.


Cheryl Wixson
Servings 4
Calories 303 kcal


  • 4 legs chicken or rabbit bone intact
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Maine sea salt and fresh pepper
  • 3 tablespoons or more Za’atar spice blend
  • 2 cups chicken or rabbit stock


  • Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pat the chicken or rabbit legs dry with a paper towel.
  • Season the meat on both sides with Maine sea salt and fresh pepper. Generously sprinkle the Za’atar spice blend on both sides of the meat.
  • In an ovenproof casserole dish or fry pan on top of the stove, heat the oil over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken or rabbit legs and brown the meat on both sides. For best results, don’t crowd the meat when cooking.
  • Once browned, remove the pan from the heat and add the stock. The liquid should just barely cover the top of the meat.
  • Cover the pan, and braise the meat in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Depending upon the meat and the size, this could take 15 – 45 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and serve.

Cheryl's Notes

Nutritional analysis per serving (varies with size of meat, approximate): 303 calories, 38 grams protein, 0 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams fat, 252 mg. sodium, less than 1 gram fiber.


Calories: 303kcalProtein: 38gFat: 15gSodium: 252mgFiber: 1g

Get Cheryl’s next newsletter

See Previous Newsletters