Pomegranate chicken is a sheet pan meal that highlights the sweet and tart flavors of winter pomegranate on crispy, oven-roasted chicken thighs. A blend of spices and a flavorful marinade transform simple chickpeas and chicken into a complete meal that pairs beautifully with fresh herbs and whole grains.
There are few better blank food canvases than chicken. A simple chicken thigh can be roasted to crisp, juicy perfection with minimal effort, making it ideal for home cooks to experiment with bold flavorings. This roasted chicken thigh dish is a sheet pan meal that delivers on big flavor, and uses a wide variety of textures to create a colorful, seasonal dinner.
Pomegranate comes into play both in it’s fresh form, sprinkled in an herb and green onion salad, and as pomegranate molasses. The sweet but tart nature of the molasses lends itself well to blending with a homemade Za’atar spice and a marinade of lemons, onion, and garlic.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- An easy marinade tenderizes the chicken thighs and infuses them with flavor.
- Sweet, spice, and sour flavors are perfectly balanced to create a nuanced, delicious meal.
- The rest of the meal can be easily prepared while the chicken and chickpeas roast.
- Adaptable to different seasons when pomegranates are no longer available.
What is Za’atar?
Simply put, Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend that uses a variety of herbs and spices to create floral, tangy flavor.
There are regional differences on what is added to a Za’atar spice but you can expect earthy, floral notes from herbs, tang or acidity from sumac, and a bit of nuttiness from toasted sesame seeds. The combination is delicious and perfect for chicken, vegetables, and much more.
You can certainly buy a Za’atar blend if you wish, but making one yourself is as easy as mixing up a few ingredients.
What if I can’t find pomegranates?
Pomegranate truly is a seasonal ingredient. When they’re available in the fall and winter I highly encourage you to use them in as many ways as you can. Roasted romanesco is delicious with tahini and pomegranates seeds for example.
If however, you’re making this in the spring or summer, finding a fresh pomegranate won’t be easy. Though grocery stores often have containers of pomegranate seeds in off seasons, they simply aren’t as flavorful as plucking the seeds straight from the fruit. Instead, substitute them with something beautiful from the season you’re cooking in.
- Spring – a nice substitute for pomegranate would be anything with a bit of kick. Spring radishes have a pleasant peppery flavor, or fresh tart cherries or currants would be a nice alternative.
- Summer – nothing beats sun ripened summer tomatoes, or go for a variety of grapes that pack that sweet and tart flavor.
Most of the other ingredients in this recipe, pomegranate molasses included, are available year-round. However, if you need to substitute the bulgur, quinoa is my best recommendation.
Whichever season you happened across this recipe, I know you’ll find the marinaded and spice-rubbed pomegranate chicken truly delicious. The combination of a pomegranate herb salad and Za’atar roasted chickpeas, served with chicken and fresh whole grains is a satisfying meal that you can happily feed to family and friends.
Pomegranate Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner
For the Za’atar spice blend:
- 2 tablespoons sumac
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme , crushed
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the pomegranate chicken:
- 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 3 large cloves garlic , crushed
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses , plus extra to drizzle
- 1 lemon , sliced
- 2 small red onions , sliced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 15. oz (400g) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cup bulgur , for serving
For the pomegranate herb salad:
- 1 pomegranate , seeded
- 1 bunch green onions , sliced
- 1 bunch fresh parsley , chopped
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves , chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and black pepper , to taste
- Prepare the za’atar spice blend by mixing all the spices together. Alternatively, you can use a store-bought za’atar.
- Add the chicken thighs, garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon, red onions, and olive oil in a bowl and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or more.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Spread the chickpeas on a paper towel and pat them dry. Discard any loose skins.Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons za’atar spice mix. Arrange in a single layer.
- Arrange the marinated chicken thighs on the same baking sheet. Rub them generously with the remaining za’atar spice mix. Also, add the marinated lemon slices and red onions.
- Roast for 40-45 minutes tossing chickpeas halfway through.
- Meanwhile,cook bulgur according to package instructions. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl. Serve the chicken with the roasted chickpeas, lemon slices, onions, cooked bulgur, and pomegranate salad.