Grilled Chicken or Game Hen with Za’atar

BBQ Chicken on Grill

BBQ Chicken on Grill

By Cat, July 2015 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I’d never heard of za’atar until I saw this recipe in the July 2015 issue of the Spry Living supplement in my local Daily Inter Lake newspaper. I love Middle Eastern foods, which is what attracted me to this recipe.

The recipe introduction by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson says, “The antioxidants in za’atar, a popular Middle Eastern spice blend, may increase feelings of well-being.”

See also: 1. Poultry, Fowl Menu; 2. Za’atar Herb & Spice Blend

Grilled Chicken with Za’atar

This recipe is adapted from one in July 2015 issue of the Spry Living supplement in my local Daily Inter Lake newspaper, originally from the cookbook, The Healthy Mind Cookbook, by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson. (1)

Their recipe for the za’atar herb and spice blend makes more than needed for the chicken, but keeps for months; store and sprinkle on veggies, dips, fish or eggs. And, of course, on chicken as in this recipe.

The chicken recipe serves 4; I’ve reduced it to serve 2, using 2 half-breasts, brined.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • ½ Tbsp za’atar herb & spice blend
  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch each freshly grated lemon zest, unrefined sea salt (skip salt if you brine the chicken), and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 skinless & boneless chicken breast halves, from an Organic or chicken raised by a farmer you know and trust; or 1 game hen, butterflied
  • Equipment:
  • small bowl
  • parchment and meat pounder (if you intend to pound chicken breasts)
  • grill with cover (or device you can use as a cover)


  1. Prep: Brine chicken 30 – 60 minutes or game hen 2 hours. Add some oregano to the brine, if desired.
  2. Prepare za’atar if you have none on hand. Whisk in the olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper until well-blended.
  3. Optional: Pound chicken breasts, one at a time, between several layers of parchment paper, until meat is about ¼” thick.
  4. Place chicken/hen in a pan without overlapping, and spread theza’atar mixture evenly over all. Cover and refrigerate 15 – 30 minutes.
  5. Heat on oiled grill to medium-high heat, or allow coals to burn to white ash..
  6. If you pounded the chicken, cook about 2 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.
  7. If you didn’t pound the chicken, places over direct heat in a covered grill 8 – 10 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked, no longer pink inside, and a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees, turning midway through to cook evenly.
  8. If using butterflied game hen (or for large chicken breasts), set skin-side down on grill over hot zone. Cover and cook until nicely browned and easily releases from the grates, 5 – 10 minutes. Watch carefully; if a flare-up occurs, move the chicken away from the flames until they die down. You can also squirt the flames with a little water to quench them.
  9. Flip (skin-side up) and move it to the cooler zone of the grill. Brush bird with some of the honey glaze, cover, and cook, brushing with the glaze every 5 minutes, until thickest part of thigh registers 165° – 170°F, about 30 minutes or more. Check on the fire occasionally – you may need to add fresh charcoal as the fire dies down.
  10. Serve, garnished with parsley.


  1. July 2015 issue of the Spry Living supplement in my local Daily Inter Lake newspaper, originally from the cookbook, The Healthy Mind Cookbook, by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson, © 2015 by Rebecca Katz, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC..

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