Pucker-Up Lemon Sumac Chicken with Lemon Herb Board Sauce

August 11, 2015
6 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

This chicken uses several Middle Eastern spices as well as fresh lemons. It's tangy, spicy, and sweet, and has become a favorite. I received a selection of spices as a gift last year, and have had fun making my own spice blends ever since! —Leith Devine

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Leith Devine is a avid cook and traveler whose Bánh Mì Soft Tacos won our Mash-Ups Contest earlier this summer.
WHAT: Tangy sumac, spicy ras el hanout, and a bright board sauce make chicken sing.
HOW: Rub a spatchcocked chicken with a Middle Eastern-inspired spice rub and roast it on a bed of sliced lemons, garlic, and onions—then turn those aromatics into a flavorful, herb-packed sauce.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Leith Devine's spice mix makes for a truly delicious (spicy, lemony, herby) chicken (and oiling the skin before putting the spice mix on would make the skin even crispier). But the best part of her Pucker Up chicken might be the roasted lemons and garlic with fresh mint and parsley in the board sauce. You really want to eat a mouthful of it with every piece of chicken! —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 whole chicken, spatchcocked
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout (more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoons cooked chicken juices
  • 2 garlic cloves from the roasting pan, chopped
  • 4 slices cooked lemons from the roasting pan
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  1. For the chicken Have the butcher spatchcock the whole chicken, or do it yourself by cutting out the backbone, then flattening the chicken until you hear the breastbone pop. A whole chicken cooks much faster this way!
  2. Combine salt, oregano, turmeric, sumac, paprika, ras el hanout, black pepper and fresh thyme.
  3. Rub spice blend into chicken thoroughly, including under the skin.
  4. In a large baking dish, place the smashed garlic cloves, sliced onions, and the sliced lemons on the bottom. Place the chicken on top of the lemons.
  5. Bake at 350° F for approximately 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165° F. Check at the 20 minute mark and tent with foil if the skin is already browned.
  6. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven to rest and make the board sauce. Board sauce is made on a cutting board with the juices from cooking and other ingredients. The juices from the cooked chicken or meat combine with the other ingredients to make a fantastic sauce.
  7. For the board sauce On a cutting board with channels (less messy), chop the cooked lemons and garlic from the chicken dish. Mix with the parsley and mint. Remove 4 tablespoons of juices from the bottom of the cooked chicken dish and combine them with the honey. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add to the lemon-herb mixture, and place the chicken on top to complete resting.
  8. After 15 minutes of resting, carve chicken and serve with the board sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alex Gabriel
    Alex Gabriel
  • A Cook Named Matt
    A Cook Named Matt
  • Bethany Cornish Smith
    Bethany Cornish Smith
  • Sophies Foodie
    Sophies Foodie
  • QueenSashy

34 Reviews

jbfalise March 19, 2017
Just made this preserved lemons and added smoked olive oil with the herbs to coat the chicken. DELICIOUS served with Food52's lemon tahini roasted broccoli.
Leith D. March 19, 2017
I'm glad you enjoyed it! The smoked olive oil is a great idea, and I'll have to try the lemon tahini roasted broccoli. Thanks for your comment!
Alex G. April 5, 2016
I love this recipe, and will make it often. So far everyone I've made it for has asked for the recipe, and I've had to send them home with Ras al Hanout, which I made from a recipe I found online and in one case, an amount of Sumac. So delicious!
Leith D. April 5, 2016
Thank you so much! I'm so flattered.
A C. January 15, 2016
Because I have been obsessed with sumac this month, I am definitely going to throw this into my chicken brine for the birds on the rotisserie. What about a lemon~sumac marmalade to garnish the chix when served ?! oh man thanks for sparking my mind on this. I'll put it up on my instagram feed when i cook it.
Leith D. April 29, 2016
I recently made a Meyer lemon marmalade with sumac...a sweet-savory concoction. It goes well with this chicken and many other chicken dishes. Use a regular marmalade recipe, reduce the sugar a little, and add sumac.
Bethany C. September 7, 2015
I adapted your recipe a bit and posted it on my blog. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! The flavors are amazing!!
Sophies F. September 4, 2015
What a very interesting delicious looking recipe!
It looks just freaking delicious! :)
Leith D. September 4, 2015
Thanks! My family thinks it's really great.
Jennifer September 3, 2015
This sounds wonderful. What size chicken (lbs) did you use?
Leith D. September 4, 2015
I think it was around 4 lbs. There's enough spice blend for an even larger bird, or you can put some aside for next time.
QueenSashy September 2, 2015
Leith - I made the chicken last night, and it was heavenly!!! And the house smelled of spices - in a really good way :)
Leith D. September 3, 2015
Thanks, I'm glad it was so good. Enjoy!
Leith D. September 2, 2015
Thanks to everyone for their comments and support. I love being part of the Food52 community!
Caroline L. August 28, 2015
this made our office smell so amazing, leith!
Leith D. August 28, 2015
I'm so glad! Enjoy!
Tasha August 28, 2015
Thanks helpful!!
healthierkitchen August 28, 2015
Leith, this sounds really delicious!
Mickey F. August 27, 2015
I made it tonight and it was as good as it looks, a big hit. Thanks.
Leith D. August 28, 2015
I'm glad your family enjoyed it! Thank you.
creamtea August 27, 2015
Congrats on becoming a finalist--sounds delicious!
Leith D. August 29, 2015
Tasha August 27, 2015
Looks there a reasonable substitute for the ras el hanout??
creamtea August 28, 2015
Tasha, I opened up my copy of Paula Wolfert's Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco and after eyeballing her recipe for Ras el Hanout, I threw in allspice, black pepper, mace, nutmeg, cardamom, dried ginger, cinnamon, lavender, aniseed, clove and some cayenne. (that recipe also called for rosebuds, orrisroot, and galingale, which I didn't have on hand :) I whizzed it in a spicegrinder with he other spices and used dried instead of fresh thyme. Cooking now; smells heavenly.
Leith D. August 28, 2015
I searched for an easy substitute and found one on that calls for equal parts paprika, coriander, ginger and a pinch of saffron. I'd add a pinch of cayenne too. Ras el hanout is becoming easier to buy in stores and it's available online too. A little goes a long way.
EmilyC August 27, 2015
Great recipe! Congrats on being a finalist!
Leith D. August 28, 2015
drbabs August 27, 2015
Congratulations, Keith! This is on my list of things to make. So happy to be a finalist with you!
drbabs August 27, 2015
I'm so sorry. Auto correct changed your name before I caught it. Congratulations, Leith!
QueenSashy August 27, 2015
I think I will be dreaming about this chicken tonight! Congrats on the finals!
Leith D. August 25, 2015
I made it again last night, and took happycook's advice to make more board sauce. I made it in a bowl instead and then let the chicken rest on top so the juices could mix with the sauce. Yum!
Mickey F. August 25, 2015
Thank you. I hope to make it this week.
Leith D. August 24, 2015
Sorry, it's 4 slices of lemon (or more!). My error. I hope you enjoy the chicken.