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Za’atar Grilled Chicken Drumsticks + Lemon Yogurt Sauce

The perfect summer dinner! These super garlicky za’atar grilled chicken drumsticks slathered in tangy lemon yogurt sauce will have folks begging for the recipe.

Za'atar Grilled Drumsticks laid out on parchment with lemon yogurt drizzle.

Drumsticks! We switched things up.

These za’atar grilled chicken drumsticks are exceptional. It’s rare that we stray from our usual chicken breasts, and when we do, it’s all about those tender thighs. But in an effort to try something different, we went with drumsticks this week and we’re thrilled that we did. They’re rubbed in a marinade of garlicky goodness with za’atar and fresh herbs, then seared on the grill to a nice golden crunch.

And then there’s the Lemon Yogurt Sauce.

Small jar of lemon yogurt sauce sprinkled with cracked pepper and paprika.

The chicken is a flavor bomb on its own, but the addition of this tangy lemony yogurt sauce makes this meal a total DREAM. And it’s so easy to whip together. This entire dinner is, really.

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Garlic (a lot of it; like, six cloves.)
  • Lemons
  • Za’atar
  • Fresh parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Smoked (or regular) paprika
  • Fresh mint (optional)

Chicken drumsticks spread out on wooden cutting board with lemon yogurt drizzle.

This recipe is heavily inspired by Melissa Clark’s Za’atar Chicken recipe in her cookbook Dinner: Changing the Game. This is hands down my favorite cookbook and we’ve been ignoring all of other cookbooks since adding it to our shelves. (Oops.) If we could only keep one cookbook with us for the rest of our lives, it would be this one.

What is Za’atar?

Za’atar is the hardest spice to keep good stock of because it’s just too good. Really, it’s everything: herbaceous, warm, bright, and earthy. It’s a staple in my hummus recipe and it takes plain ol’ chicken to a whole new level.

The Middle Eastern spice varies depending on where you are in the Middle East—everyone has their own flare!— but it’s generally a blend of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds. It offers big flavor without being overwhelming, and once you start using it, you won’t want to stop.

The best way to get your hands on quality za’atar is to hit up your local Middle Eastern market. You might find some at the supermarket, but I can’t promise you that popular American spice brands are dishing out the best stuff. Good za’atar will be very aromatic; once it loses its aroma, it’s no longer good. And it doesn’t last very long, so buy it in smaller batches. Maybe. (Like previously stated, it’s hard to keep stock because it’s so good, so take your best guess.)

Za'atar Grilled Drumsticks laid out on parchment with lemon yogurt drizzle.

Ways to serve this chicken.

We love serving it over a bed of Israeli couscous and roasted veggies—it’s a perfect match! But these lip-smacking drumsticks would also pair extremely well with tabbouleh, couscous salad, basmati rice, and warm naan. You could also use this Simple Mint Greek Yogurt Sauce in place of the lemon yogurt sauce provided here.

Vertical shot of grilled za'atar chicken drumsticks.

Plate of couscous and veggies topped with za'atar grilled chicken.

Let us know what you think!

If you plan on making this recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag us on Insta! @killing__thyme.

Za'atar Grilled Chicken Drumsticks + Lemon Yogurt Sauce

The perfect summer dinner! These super garlicky za'atar grilled chicken drumsticks slathered in tangy lemon yogurt sauce will have folks begging for the recipe.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Keyword Chicken, Drumsticks, za'atar
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating time. 2 hours
Servings 4 people
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken drumsticks (about 5-6)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, grated The best way to grate garlic is with a microplane, but you can used a cheese grate if that's your only option. Just use the side with the smallest holes.
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 TBSP za'atar
  • 3 TBSP freshly chopped parsley
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly chopped parsley and mint, for garnish (optional)

Lemon Yogurt Sauce.

  • 2/3 cups plain Greek yogurt, preferably full fat
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • A few cracks of fresh black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions

Za'atar Chicken.

  • Place the chicken drumsticks into a large mixing bowl. Add the six cloves of minced garlic, the zest and juice of one lemon, za'atar, parsley, salt, and extra virgin olive oil to the bowl. With bare clean hands, rub the mixtures over the chicken drumsticks until evenly coated. Cover, and place in the fridge for at least two hours, or up to eight.
  • When it's go time, preheat the grill to to about 425º F. Lightly brush the grates with a bit of olive oil. Place the chicken drumsticks onto the grates and grill them for about 20 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165º F, rotate them on the grill every 5 minutes.
  • Once the drumsticks are nicely crisped and ready to eat, remove them from the grill and set them on a plate. Let them stand for five minutes before eating. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and/or mint, and serve with the lemon yogurt sauce.

Lemon Yogurt Sauce.

  • Stir all of the ingredients for the lemon yogurt sauce into a medium-sized bowl until well blended. Serve with the chicken.

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