Crispy-Skinned Zaatar Drumsticks

It’s raining, and I’m dreaming of barbecues. The electric ones that line the river on our walk into the city. The gas grill on the family farm. The mini Weber on the balcony across from ours.

On days like today, stuck inside when Spring forgets to show up, I am compelled to cook my myself warm. After sneering at the clouds above, I reached for the item that to me, personifies warm summer cooking: chicken drumsticks.

I whipped up a quick marinade of zaatar (dried thyme, sesame seeds and sumac) and olive oil. For a bit of zing, I swirled in a drop of pomegranate molasses, the sweet-tart reduction of pomegranate juice. The result was tender meat encased in a toasty, salty-sweet skin. A delectable marriage of East and West, and a viable substitute for a day in the sun.

Pomegranate molasses can be purchased at Middle Eastern stores. If you can’t find it in your area, add a squeeze of lemon to the marinade to brighten up the zaatar’s earthy flavors.

What’s your rainy day meal?

Serves 2

4 chicken drumsticks, skins on (preferably free range)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup zaatar spice blend (equal parts sesame seeds and dried thyme)
1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper
Place the drumsticks in a large snap-lock bag. Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 
Mix the olive oil, zaatar and pomegranate molasses in a small bowl, then pour over the drumsticks in the bag. Roll the drumsticks around so they are fully covered in the marinade. Seal the bag and set aside for at least 30 minutes to marinate.
Preheat oven to 180C / 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place in the oven to heat up.
Place the drumsticks on the pre-heated baking sheet, shaking off any excess marinade. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the skins are crisp and golden, and the chicken is cooked through.
Audio pairing: Bertie Blackman, “Boy”
  • Rosa May

    Mouthwatering! This spice blend is so tasty.



    • Yasmeen

      I love it too. Happy to use it any chance I get :)

  • Caramel et Fleur de Sel

    Zaatar is my all-time favorite spice. This sounds so delicious!

    • Yasmeen

      Thank you! Do you have a favorite way to eat it?

      • Caramel et Fleur de Sel

        I love to mix it with olive oil and dip pita bread in it. I learned that from Lebanese restaurants in the area. SOOO good!

  • leaf

    Love the look of that crispy crust! And in Chinese culture we regard sesame seeds as a warming ingredient, so you’re definitely on the right track there!

    • Yasmeen

      Fabulous. Love learning about cultural symbols, particularly if they pertain to food! Thanks much, Leaf.

  • Christina

    I have been seeing zaatar a lot lately! I need to pick some up…

    • Yasmeen

      Definitely do – it’s a staple in the Middle Eastern diet so you can use it a million ways. If you can’t find it, you can mix equal parts of dried thyme and sesame seeds. And, if your store carries sumac (a tart, deep red-colored spice), a dash of that thrown in does wonders.

  • msihua

    This sounds so good! I had some zatar vegetables once at MoMo and that was yummy!

  • Jennifer

    These look fantastic Yasmeen. I know my husband would adore them. The use of pomegranate molasses is brilliant.

  • Luv’n Spoonfuls

    I love zaatar and pomegranate molasses, but I never dreamed of putting them together! What a great marinade idea…can’t wait to try it this weekend!

  • Winston

    Delicious!! I’ve never had chicken that tasted anything like this before. The marinade is so new and interesting to me I love it. And with the pomegranate molasses too. How did you even come up with the combo? Awesome stuff. Love me my drumsticks woot. And totally digging today’s audio pairing =]

  • Bryan

    These chicken drums look gorgeous! I must say they looked like deep fried chicken, but so nice that they’re oven baked instead. Looking at the recipe ingredients, I can’t imagine how it’d taste, but think it’ll be very yummy!

  • Kiran @

    Mouthwatering! I need to get my hands on zaatar now :)

  • Daisy

    I really need to try this recipe :) It seems so easy and perfect for a work night ~ I’ve never heard of Zaatar hehe thanks for sharing!