Here’s an easy weeknight dinner that’s packed with flavor worthy of a gourmet restaurant. We’re talking about our Middle Eastern-inspired pomegranate roasted chicken thighs. Even better, it uses one roasting pan from beginning to end, making cleanup a breeze.
Why Chicken Thighs?
While chicken breasts may be the most popular, “low fat” cut of the chicken, the tastiest part is the dark meat – the thighs and the legs. While these cuts have a higher fat content, they have a juicy texture and rich flavor.
This recipe calls for bone in or boneless chicken thighs with skin on. This helps to keep the chicken super moist and flavorful when it is baked. Pomegranate molasses and Za’atar add tanginess and when combined with roasted veggies, you’re going to enjoy an exotic meal that’s tantalizes the eyes as well as the taste buds.
This pomegranate chicken is great to serve with all kinds of potato and veggie sides or with a nice hearty salad.
What is Pomegranate Molasses?
Pomegranate molasses is a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. It's a thick syrup made from reduced pomegranate juice and typically used in drinks, salad dressings, dessert toppings, baked goods, stews, or marinades for meat.
Za’atar is a blend of such savory spices as oregano, marjoram, cumin, and sumac. You can get it in a Middle Eastern grocery store and it’s recently started showing up regularly in supermarkets.
Why We Love These Ingredients
Pomegranates are low in calories and fat and antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also abundant in punicalagins, powerful antioxidant compounds that deliver powerful support for blood sugar, cholesterol, heart health, digestion, energy, and pain-free joints.
Plus, pomegranates are super for gut health! Pomegranate arils provide as much as 15% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) of fiber for adults. The fiber in pomegranates is insoluble fiber, which helps keep things moving through our digestive tracts. It also supports stable blood sugar levels and helps you feel full and satisfied at mealtimes.
Lemons contain a substantial amount of Vitamin C – over half the amount you need in your daily diet. They naturally contain antibacterial and antifungal compounds which can protect against bacteria and infections.
What’s more, lemons are filled with gut-friendly pectin. The pectin fiber in lemons expands once it is ingested, making you feel sooner and longer -- which is why lemon water is often touted as an effective tool in weight management.
Chicken thighs may be higher in fat than chicken breasts or turkey. But they also contain higher amounts of iron and zinc, which are important for healthy immune function. They also contain more protein and B vitamins, like thiamine, niacin, and B12, all of which help regulate the body’s metabolism.
Pro Tips to Get You Started
If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, you can substitute with pomegranate-flavored balsamic vinegar. Another option is plain balsamic vinegar with ½ tsp of sugar and ½ tsp cranberry juice concentrate.
While this recipe uses thighs, you can also substitute drumsticks or even chicken breasts. Chicken breasts will have a shorter cooking time of 20 to 25 minutes. Fully cooked chicken will register at 165F on an instant-read thermometer.
Patting the chicken dry before adding it to the marinade removes excess moisture and allows the chicken to take on more flavor. It will also help to get the skin nice and crispy. Marinate for at least 30 minutes before baking but remember, when it comes to marinades, the longer the better.
When ready to cook, place the chicken in an ovenproof dish and bake until golden brown. You can also marinade the chicken right in the baking dish for easier clean up.
Once the chicken is baked, put it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes to crisp up the skin. Let the chicken rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.
This pomegranate roasted chicken thighs are best served as soon as they are ready so that they are perfectly juicy. However, the cooked chicken will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Pomegranate Roasted Chicken Thighs
Chicken tossed in a Mediterranean marinade and oven baked for an easy, midweek meal.
PREP TIME 15mins
COOK TIME 45 mins
- 6 chicken thighs bone-in with skin
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses [available in Mediterranean food aisle of local supermarket].
- 1 tsp zaatar [Middle Eastern spice]
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 shallot cut into ¼” slices
- 1 lemon cut into ¼” slices
- pomegranate seeds and fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Dry the chicken with a paper towel and place on a 9 x 12 oven-safe rimmed baking dish.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, zaatar, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour the sauce on top of the chicken and use your hands to evenly coat. Place the sliced shallots and sliced lemons around the chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and looks sticky and caramelized.
- Turn on broiler. Broil for 3-5 minutes for a golden-brown color.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley.