Sheet-Pan Za’atar Chicken With Carrot & Avocado Salad

June 10, 2021
29 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Megan Hedgpeth.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This colorful salad is pretty much springtime on a sheet pan. I created it as a way to combine one of my favorite quick-cooking proteins—boneless chicken thighs—with one of my favorite flavor duos, roasted carrots and avocado. A few streamlining tricks make it especially quick and easy: First, the carrots are cut into thin coins so they’ll cook at the same rate as the chicken thighs and sliced red onion. Second, everything is tossed in a single marinade—a simple, boldly flavored mix of za’atar, honey, olive oil, and lemon zest—before going into the hot oven. Last, in the 20 or so minutes it takes for the ingredients on the pan to roast, you can prep the fresh ingredients that get added right before serving: a small bunch of watercress, avocado, and crumbled feta mixed with crushed pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil (one of my favorite ways to make soft cheeses a more texturally cohesive part of salads).

A few tips: If you want to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, give them a 10-minute jump-start (skin-side down) in the oven before adding the carrots and onions. Or swap pork chops for the chicken, or slabs of tofu or halloumi for a vegetarian version. Arugula, spinach, and other spring greens can be substituted for the watercress, and chevre stands in nicely for the feta. And a note about the za’atar: Reach for your favorite jarred variety (I like Penzey’s brand), or feel free to make your own blend. Recipes vary, but common ingredients are white sesame seeds, dried thyme, and sumac. (If you’re looking for other ways to use a stash of za’atar, this list of ideas is a good starting point!) —EmilyC

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick on the diagonal
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice reserved
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled or thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped/crushed into irregular pieces with a knife
  • 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
  • 1 cup watercress, arugula, or spinach
  • 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a parchment-lined sheet pan in the oven while it heats.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, carrots, onions, za’atar, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, pepper, honey, and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Toss well with hands to evenly coat the chicken and vegetables in the olive oil and seasonings. (This step can be done 6 to 8 hours in advance; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.)
  3. Working quickly, empty the contents of the bowl on the hot sheet pan, then arrange the ingredients in a single, even layer. (Careful, the pan will be hot!)
  4. Roast for 12 minutes, then flip the chicken and stir the carrots. Roast for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest piece). Remove from oven.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the feta, pistachios, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Set aside.
  6. Heat the broiler with an oven rack about 4 to 5 inches from the heating element. Broil the chicken and carrots for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they’re starting to brown and crisp around the edges.
  7. Immediately out of the oven, squeeze the juice from half the lemon, and sprinkle the sumac (if using) over the entire dish.
  8. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then toss in the watercress, feta and pistachios, and avocado. Serve warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nantucket Cook
    Nantucket Cook
  • Kate Monson
    Kate Monson
  • Kim Fifer
    Kim Fifer
  • Ruth
  • Kiana Jardin
    Kiana Jardin

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

46 Reviews

Bobbie P. September 19, 2023
Oh my goodness!!! This was delicious!! I had to substitute a little: chicken breast, spring greens, crumbled cotija instead of feta, and sweet potatoes instead of onions (medical reason) but it tasted perfect!! So glad I stumbled onto this!
Aubrey M. July 19, 2023
I love this recipe as a starting point. Sometimes, when we plan a side of rice or naan or bread, I keep the salad light. Other times, I have added more greens, little cucumbers, and other veggies to make it a salad-based meal. It is so adaptable and delicious!
mochai April 10, 2023
Loved it! Super simple and a great choice when you have guests and don't want to spend the entire evening at the pots and pans. Easy to double or triple. I swapped the carrots for cauliflower (one of my guests does not like cooked carrots) and it was great. (I half cooked the cauliflower in the microwave before I put it on top of the chicken). Just lovely!
normacastelo January 23, 2023
It had a strong interesting flavor, I'll cut zatar and add lemon juice at the end
Nantucket C. April 13, 2022
Oh my gosh this was so delish!! Making it for the second time tonight and my family cannot wait to dig in! I'm skipping the avocado as there were none ripe at the store, and adding in sourdough croutons from my last loaf. Thank you for sharing such a perfect, and perfectly easy, dish!
Kate M. February 14, 2022
Have made this several times, it's easy and delicious. One of the few recipes my youngest doesn't complain about the veggies. Also super adaptable, added red bell pepper and mushrooms that needed to be used tonight and used goat cheese instead of feta because I was out of feta.
EmilyC February 14, 2022
Wonderful to hear! Thanks for your note, Kate.
Tamera January 3, 2022
Great recipe and so easy to make. Not usually a cooked carrot fan but with the za’tar spices, feta cheese and lemon juice there is a good contrast of sweet carrots and salty and citrusy flavors. I will put this in a regular rotation! Good for you too.
EmilyC February 11, 2022
Sorry I missed your comment, Tamera. So glad you liked this -- thank you!
Joanna January 18, 2021
Absolutely spectacular. Avocados weren’t ripe but still good without; also subbed out hot honey. This will be going into regular rotation. Try it!!
EmilyC January 19, 2021
Oh I love the hot honey idea! So glad you made and liked this, Joanna. Thanks for your note!
Kim F. September 23, 2020
The Sheet Pan Za'atar recipe was absolutely wonderful! I had to take pause and think "Did this just come from My kitchen?!" I like that the recipe can be divided into two phases and does to have to be made all at once. It was so flavorful! I used goat's cheese and baby bib lettuce with a little watercress. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!
EmilyC September 23, 2020
Wonderful, so glad you tried and liked this, Kim! Thanks so much for circling back.
Ruth September 5, 2020
We just finished this meal. It is an absolute delight. We spent half our time over dinner talking about the flavour combinations.

We will eat it again - something to look forward to in the challenging winter ahead. Thank you!
Julie September 5, 2020
My family and I have commented that this will be a wonderful dish to share as we come off the delightful summer gatherings. Minnesota winters are usually challenging, but this year as we try to keep our friends, family, and ourselves safe, it will be more so. This will be a comforting, delicious dinner!
EmilyC September 6, 2020
Ruth -- so happy to hear that this was a hit! Agree that it's a great one for the months ahead. Thanks so much for you note!
EmilyC September 6, 2020
Thanks Julie -- glad to know that this has found its way into your fall/winter plans!
Kiana J. September 3, 2020
One of my absolute favorite dishes! I saw this recipe and loved all of the ingredients involved immediately but wondered how well they would mesh together. This flavor combination is fantastic! The fresh salad on top with a squeeze of lemon really brightens up the hearty chicken and roasted veggies. I experimented with adding sweet potato to the carrot and onion roasted veg section and it was delicious! I might even try cauliflower next time as well. The more the merrier! A perfect summer/fall treat! Thank you for this recipe and looking forward to more! :)
Beth W. July 27, 2020
What a spectacular fresh, easy summer dinner! I added a little bit more lemon and served tossed with some multicolor quinoa to soak up the delicious juices that were in the sheet pan. Also used the suggested substitute of baby arugula that was absolutely perfect! This goes into the winner dinner quiver!
EmilyC July 27, 2020
So glad, Beth! Thanks for your feedback!
Shelly B. July 11, 2020
Wow! Super easy and delicious. A definite repeat recipe. Loved the pistachio and feta. I'd probably leave off the avocado (I guess avocado goes good with just about everything). Next time, I'm making more. Everyone enjoyed it so much I needed more! I served it with a side of quinoa for those who need more carbs (hubby).
EmilyC July 15, 2020
Wonderful, so glad you tried and liked this, Shelly! Thanks for the note!
Jaxmccaff May 23, 2020
Made this tonight and loved it. Subbed in goat cheese for feta, arugula as the green and chicken breast for the thighs and it was absolutely delicious. Will make this again!
EmilyC May 24, 2020
So happy you liked this! Thanks for trying it!
Nicole L. May 13, 2020
Just made this tonight with a few pandemic adaptations. I couldn't get boned and skinned chicken thighs, but I did have a cornish hen. I cut it into pieces and it worked just fine. In fact, I really liked the little wings after some time under the broiler. I also have some preserved lemon on hand and chopped some of that until it was a pulp and added it to all the cooking ingredients. I did reduce the salt by 1 tsp as a result. Didn't have watercress so I used baby arugula. No pistachios, so cashews instead. Had to do without the avocado which was a shame. Next time... Will definitely make this again.
EmilyC May 14, 2020
Nicole: Love that you made this work with what you had on hand! Thanks so much for trying it and circling back!
Sandy May 11, 2020
This was delicious and beautiful—it would impress guests, for sure! Partway through the broiling time, I realized the chicken was done but the carrots were still crunchy, so I removed the chicken to a platter and returned the veggies to the 425-degree oven, this time with convection. Five minutes later they were perfect. I scaled back the salt but then found the finished dish in need of salt, so I’d advise using the whole 2 tsp. Finally, my husband requests that I toss in more feta next time—good call.
EmilyC May 11, 2020
Thanks so much for your comment, Sandy. So glad you tried and liked this dish!
NXL April 24, 2020
Great recipe. Definitely going on our favorites list.
EmilyC April 25, 2020
Wonderful — thanks for your note!
Diane Z. April 16, 2020
Fantastic! Adding to the rotation.
My changes were chicken breast cut small. And 1/4 Of it was made with tofu For the vegetarian. Fantastic!
EmilyC April 16, 2020
Love the idea of doing a portion of this with tofu! Thanks Diane for trying this and your note.
[email protected] April 14, 2020
So good!! doubled the recipe and added cauliflower and red potatoes… I used arugula and shreded carrots and my avocados weren’t ripe so I didn’t add - family of 5 we ate it all… :)
EmilyC April 15, 2020
Great additions -- and glad this doubled well to feed your entire family! Thanks for your note!
Emily April 9, 2020
Zomg this was so good. I didn't have any red onion so I left it out, and next time I think I would cut back on the oil (probably due to the lack of onions), but it was really stellar. Thank you!
EmilyC April 10, 2020
Thanks so much Emily for trying it and circling back!