Roast Chicken with Clarified Butter, Za’atar and Pomegranate Molasses


Until sometime last year, I had never used pomegranate molasses in my kitchen. For some reason it sounded too ‘strange’ to me, and it takes me a while to warm up to using an unfamiliar ingredient. Brenda introduced me to it initially, and when we interviewed Bethany of Dirty Kitchen Secrets and Cherine of Chicho’s Kitchen for MidEATS, they both chose to feature recipes with pomegranate molasses; so I figured there must be some magic to  pairing pomegranate molasses with meats. So for Thanksgiving last year, I decided to serve my orange-infused, herbed roast turkey with a pomegranate molasses-cranberry dressing (inspired by Tony’s Facebook recipe), and the result was phenomenal (and yes, the recipe for the slow-cooked turkey is long over-due but I promise I’ll post it sometime!) After tasting the turkey — which was delicious — I knew I had to make pomegranate molasses a staple in my fridge.

This recipe for roast chicken with clarified butter, za’atar and pomegranate molasses is one of the easiest you’ll ever try. If you’ve been following my posts on MidEATS for any length of time, you’ll notice that I have an undeniable love affair with samna baladi (Arabic for farmer’s ghee or clarified butter) … it simply takes every dish up a couple of notches, quite effortlessly! Za’atar, which is a Middle Eastern spice blend of wild thyme, ground sumac and toasted sesame seeds, pairs beautifully with chicken as is; when you also add the tangy-sweet taste of pomegranate molasses to the mix, you get a winning combination. In the future, I hope to mix my own za’atar blend, but I am quite pleased with the flavor of the brand I’m using now — Canaan Fair Trade is a company that helps Palestinian farmers make a fair wage and use traditional, organic farming methods. Their olive oils are also exquisite!


According to Canaan’s website, the thyme is wild-harvested and collected from the hills near Jenin, a certified organic sustainable activity. It is then dried and blended with roasted sesame seeds, ground sumac, and a touch of salt by women-owned cooperatives. It’s a wonderful feeling not only to savor the clean taste of the za’atar, but also to know that the purchase is helping keep hardworking Palestinian farmers employed.


The best thing about this recipe is the fact that it’s so super simple to put together. You literally need just 5 minutes to spice the chicken before it roasts, and voila – dinner is ready! I personally like to boil the chicken first, because I’m a stock-o-holic (I use stock or broth for a lot of my cooking, so I like to make it fresh at least once or twice a week to have a constant supply on hand). But you can certainly just roast the chicken without boiling first; just remember to cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165 F.


I haven’t been able to find ready-bottled organic pomegranate molasses (huge business opportunity if you ask me!), so I settled for the Cortas brand available in most grocery stores and online. I can’t say I trust that the ingredients used are pure, but it’s the best I could find. Of course, I can also make my own pomegranate molasses at home from scratch (yes, totally planning on it when I can find some pomegranates in the grocery store!). I don’t really want to use bottled pomegranate juice to make this at home, because it will probably only be marginally better than the molasses I can already buy. Anyway, if anyone has figured out a way to easily make pomegranate molasses and store it for long periods of time, comment here or email me! Pretty please.

Roast Chicken with Clarified Butter, Za’atar and Pomegranate Molasses

by Heba

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes + 20 minutes for ro

Keywords: roast boil entree chicken gluten-free low-carb nut-free soy-free chicken pomegranate molasses za’atar Middle Eastern fall spring summer winter

Ingredients (5-6)

To boil the chicken:

    • 1 whole organic chicken (preferably also pastured from a local farmer)
    • enough filtered water to cover the chicken (I like to use a lot because I use the stock for different dishes throughout the week)
    • 1 yellow onion, quartered
    • 2-3 crushed bay leaves
    • 3-4 cardamom pods, crushed to release flavor
    • 1 tablespoon unrefined salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1-2 mastic crystals (optional, but adds a nice background flavor)

For the za’atar-pomegranate molasses glaze:

    • 3 tablespoons grass-fed ghee, divided
    • 4 tablespoons za’atar, divided (you can certainly mix your own, but I used Canaan Fair Trade za’atar, and it was phenomenal)
    • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (again, you can easily make your own if you have access to fresh pomegranates/pomegranate juice, but I used the Cortas brand this time)
    • 1 teaspoon unrefined salt, divided
    • dash freshly ground black pepper


(1) Rinse and salt chicken: First rinse chicken thoroughly under running water, and apply salt generously to skin and rub in. Leave for 10 minutes and then rinse off the salt.

(2) Add to pot with ingredients: I use my stainless steal strainer pot because it is deep, but you can use any pot that would fit the chicken and water without splashing everywhere while it’s boiling. Add filtered water, chicken, onion, mastic crystals, bay leaves, cardamom, salt and pepper.

(3) Cook the chicken: Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes or so. During the first 20 minutes of cooking, remove foamy scum that rises to the top and discard. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the inside of the chicken has cooked and the internal temperature is over 165F.

(4) Preheat the oven and prepare chicken: Preheat the oven to 375F on the broil setting. Meanwhile, take out the chicken from the broth and set on a baking pan. On one side of the chicken, evenly drizzle 1.5 tablespoons of clarified butter and 1.5 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses to cover as much of the exposed side as possible and evenly sprinkle 2 tablespoons of za’atar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper.

(5) Roast in the oven: I prefer to roast the coated side first before flipping to add the glaze, so that it roasts evenly and the spices stay put when I flip the chicken. Roast one side for 2-3 minutes (watch so it doesn’t burn!), then take out of the oven to glaze the other side. Flip the chicken, and repeat the same step as above with the same ingredients and measurements for the glaze. Place back in the oven to roast for a couple of minutes until golden brown. I like to spoon some of the melted clarified butter that has settled on the bottom on top of the chicken before serving hot, next to roasted vegetables or a creamy soup! Enjoy.

How delicious does that look on a scale from 1 – 10 … be honest!

This post has been shared on the following blog carnivals: Allergy-Free WednesdaysFreaky FridayFight Back Friday and Friday Food Flicks.



  1. I sort of flew with this when you first posted it. It had that surprising satisfaction of sweet and savory. Just the tiniest hint of sweet. I can’t believe I’ve had all these ingredients in my kitchen for years and they never collided before. Thank you so much. This weekend I’ll follow your recipe above. I’m sure it will be delightful. Thank you.

    • Hi Kathleen! So glad you made this and enjoyed it 🙂 I get excited every time a certain ingredient combo works well, and it becomes a kind of staple in my kitchen. This was a sure hit, and hopefully I’ll be making it often. Let me know what you think of the final recipe, and if you end up making any tweaks, what ends up working for you. I love learning from others!

  2. That looks so good Heba, and really would like to make it! But I have a question for you about the taste ; is it really sweet? I know I’m such an Egyptian lol..I used to not like mixing savory and sweet together, but now I don’t mind a tiny bit or a hint of sweet taste with the savory dishes! But what I like about your recipe, plus using Za’aatr, which my husband loves a lot, you’re using pomegranate, which is really good for you and was looking for ways to use it more in our diet!

    • Thank you Ghada! I know what you mean about mixing sweet and savory … I’m not a huge fan unless it’s very complementary and subtle. In this case, it truly is. Just take it easy with the pomegranate molasses though – no need to add a whole lot. The thing about the pomegranate molasses too is that it’s sour, so it gives more of a tangy taste than a really sweet one. I think you’ll like it! As for the health factor, pomegranates are much healthier if eaten raw and fresh! I’m on the look out for a good brand of pomegranate molasses until I can find fresh pomegranates at the store so I can make my own 🙂

  3. When we lived in Egypt my husband would travel up to Rafah periodically. He would come back loaded down with olive oil, herbs and spices, and other goodies from Gaza. Everything was delicious….so rich and fragrant. Thank you for the link to Canaan Fair Trade and for the other links you’ve posted for specialty ingredients like for the samneh – I live in Eastern Europe and it’s hard to find things. Can’t wait to give this recipe a try and bring back good memories!

    • Hi Tamar! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I can totally identify with you about the fresh foods growing up. I grew up in Bahrain and Egypt, so my parents always bought fresh ingredients that were popular in the region. The dates and the seafood in Bahrain were to die for, and the fresh vegetables and meats in Egypt tasted amazing. I highly recommend Canaan Fair Trade’s olive oils and za’atar blend btw – they’re some of the best that I’ve had! The grass-fed ghee is a staple in my household too – I never go without it. I hope you get to try some of these products, or ones that are similarly delicious and fresh. Let me know what you think of this recipe if you try it! Thanks.

  4. Made this last week -yum yum yummy! Thanks for the recipe.

    My grandfather in Lebanon, who was pretty good with herbal/natural remedies, apparently used to recommend that people take or use some pomegranate molassas for mouth issues (sores, etc.). Not sure if you heard anything like that before, but I thought it was interesting. I guess a little bit could be incorporated into herbal tea, even… not to mention rubbing some right on the problem area.

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