Za’atar Chicken Legs

This recipe for za'atar chicken legs is easy and delivers a lot of flavor, making it perfect for both weeknight and weekend meals.

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What is Za’atar Seasoning?

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend made from toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme (za’atar actually means thyme in Arabic), dried marjoram and/or oregano and sumac (a spice with a tangy lemon flavor). Those are just guidelines for the ingredients, however, since very cook or brand of za’atar will have their own special recipe. I’m a big fan of Middle Eastern food and all its flavors and za’atar features prominently in the cuisine.

Some people use za’tar to spice up olive oil or yogurt for an easy bread dip. It also works well to spice up a salad dressing, but I think it really shines when used on roasted meats, which brings me to this recipe for Za’atar Chicken Legs made in your air fryer.

Marinated za'atar chicken legs in an air fryer basket.

This recipe is so easy to prepare and delivers so much flavor that it’s great for a weeknight meal as well as for a weekend dinner party. The cooking time will vary slightly depending on the size of chicken legs that you buy, so keep that in mind. If the chicken legs are really huge, do add a few minutes to the cooking time and check for doneness with an instant read thermometer.

Cooked za'atar chicken legs in an air fryer basket.

Once the chicken legs have finished air-frying in roughly 30 minutes, serve with some basmati rice, some pita bread or naan and a green vegetable or salad. The cucumber salad with visalia onion dressingwould be a perfect accompaniment.

Za'atar chicken legs on a white platter with bread.

Za’atar Chicken Legs

  • Prep Time: 5 m
  • Cook Time: 35 m
  • Marinating Time: 4 h
  • Total Time: 40 m
  • Servings:


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • tablespoons Za’atar divided
  • 4 chicken legs bone-in, thigh and drumstick
  • 1 red onion large, cut in large chunks
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme


  1. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, cinnamon, salt, black pepper and 2 tablespoons of the Za’atar spice in a glass dish or zipper sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken leg quarters, red onions and sprigs of thyme. Coat all sides of the chicken and rub the marinade into and under the skin. Refrigerate for 4 hours or up to overnight.

  2. Preheat the air fryer to 380°F.
  3. Place the onions on the bottom of the air fryer basket. Place the chicken legs, skin side down, on top of the onions and air-fry at 380°F for 15 minutes.
  4. Flip the chicken legs over and sprinkle the reserved Za’atar spice over the chicken. Air-fry at 380°F for an additional 15 to 18 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F on an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg.
  5. Remove the chicken legs and let them rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve the chicken legs with the roasted red onions, a green vegetable or side salad and some basmati rice.
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Comments (11)Post a Reply

  1. Congrats BJC on the new website. I like how clear & easy to read it is.
    Can I cook these legs on a sheet pan? Don’t have an air fryer.
    It would be great in you included multiple cooking techniques for your recipes like you do in your One Pot Comfort book.

    1. Hi PattiAnn. Thanks for your nice comments. Yes – you can cook these chicken legs on a sheet pan. I would say 375ºF – 400ºF for about 25 to 30 minutes. I’ll do my best to offer cooking method options on my recipes going forward – it just takes a little more time because I need to test the recipe both ways. So glad you like what I’ve done in One Pot Comfort. 🙂

    1. Hi Jennifer. I found mine in a grocery store, but I know that there are several different za’atar blends on Etsy. Check it out!

  2. Hi Meredith, I don’t have thighs right now but do have 2 bone in, skin-on breasts. How long would I do them in the air fryer? Thanks!

    Love the new website BTW!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is one of my family’s favorite! Don’t skip the red onion, it makes the dish extra tasty, plus charred onions are the best! I found za’atar seasoning at international market, and middle eastern market will have them too.

  4. 5 stars
    We love this! It’s always good to have a good air fryer recipe. By the way, the instructions say “sprigs of time.” You might want to correct that.

    1. Ha! Thanks for that, Peggy. Darn spell correct! I’ve fixed the typo and glad you enjoyed the recipe.

  5. Hands down my favorite chicken recipe ever! Made them for my visiting 80 year old mother and she went crazy for it. Now I have to make it every time she visits or when I visit her. Happy to do it. As I said, it’s my favorite. Can’t get enough of it. I tried the same recipe with bone-in lamb chops and it was outstanding! I think I’d even try this recipe with hot dogs, it’s that good.

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