One Pan Tahini Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes
This easy One Pan Tahini Chicken with brussels sprouts and potatoes is full of Middle Eastern flavors and a creamy lemon tahini sauce – and it’s dairy free, soy free, gluten free, and Whole 30 complaint, too!
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It’s time for recipe number two in our Quarantahini Week — and this time we’re going savory.
One pot meals are the best. Fewer dishes to wash. Generally fairly easy to cook. Often, perfect make ahead meal prep dinners.
This one pan tahini chicken checks off all those boxes.
As the name suggests, this is entirely made in one pan — or one cast iron skillet, if you have one available.
While we’ll be taking things in and out of the cast iron skillet, we only use one. Just one dish to wash! Music to my ears.
This takes a little more time than some of my other quick weeknight dinners, because we’ll sear the chicken to get crispy chicken skin. It doesn’t add that much time, and it’s hands off time.
A big resounding yes to meal prep. This can be made days ahead of time and reheated before eating.
All cooked in a delicious tahini and lemon sauce.
So grab your jar of tahini, and let’s get started!
Cooking in Cast Iron
This one pan tahini chicken uses my favorite technique for cooking chicken thighs: a cast iron skillet.
(No cast iron? No problem. You can make this in a saute pan or a deep frying pan as well!)
I love cast iron because it gets the skin so, so crispy — without frying in a lot of oil.
What makes chicken skin crispy? What causes that beautiful dark golden hue and delicious flavor? It’s time for my favorite subject… kitchen chemistry!
When chicken is exposed to high heat, any residual surface moisture evaporates, crisping the skin. Once water evaporates, the skin begins to turn golden brown and crispy as it undergoes the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a series of chemical reactions resulting from heat exposure, affecting proteins and sugars in food.
In other words, when we apply lots of heat (from the cast iron pan) to a dry chicken skin surface, the naturally occurring proteins and sugars in the chicken skin undergo multiple chemical reactions resulting in all the complex flavors we love.
(Fun fact: the potatoes and brussels sprouts in the one pan tahini chicken ALSO undergo the Maillard reaction — it’s why we saute the potatoes separately in the pan and leave the brussels sprouts cut side down while roasting.)
Easy Tahini Sauce
While the crispy chicken is delicious, the tahini sauce is truly the star of this show.
Everything is seared in the pan separately, with no sauce first. (Because we need dry heat for the Maillard reaction!).
We’ll then bake everything in the oven to start to cook it through, and finish roasting the potatoes and cooking the Brussels sprouts.
Then, for the last 10-15 minutes, we crank up the heat and pour in our tahini sauce.
The sauce is simple: just good quality tahini (Soom Foods makes my favorite!), chicken broth, and lemon juice, whisked together.
Because of the high heat, the sauce will start to bubble and reduce, resulting in a thick, creamy, delicious coating on the chicken, potatoes, and vegetables.
But because there’s no actual cream — just the tahini — this remains dairy free, soy free, nut free, Whole30 compliant, and of course, gluten free.
Even if you don’t like crispy chicken skin, I still recommend buying bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Peel the skin off before you eat it if necessary, but bone-in, skin-on chicken has much more flavor.
I also recognize, however, that during a quarantine (you know, it is Quarantahini Week, after all!) you have to work with what you have on hand.
So if you only have boneless, skinless chicken thighs, reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes.
To swap for chicken breasts, I recommend using bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, as the bone and skin helps to protect the meat from drying out.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts should also have the cooking time reduced by around 10 minutes, until the a thermometer registers as 165 ºF.
To help prevent boneless, skinless chicken breasts from drying out, I always recommend brining first, then drying well before searing.
Tips and Tricks for the Best One Pan Tahini Chicken
- Use good quality tahini for the sauce; it should be smooth and creamy, not dry and crumbly. Soom Foods makes my all time favorite tahini.
- For crispy chicken skin, make sure to dry the outside of the chicken first. Blot each piece with a paper towel before adding to the cast iron skillet.
- Preheat the pan (cast iron or otherwise) before adding the chicken. Quick, high heat will help evaporate any remaining moisture.
- Once the chicken is in the skillet, leave it in place for 5 minutes. Don’t push the chicken around or lift it to see if it’s done; the skin will stick to the skillet and tear.
- Arrange the brussels sprouts cut-side down in the pan. As the pan heats in the oven, the bottom of the brussels sprouts will brown and crisp.
- Don’t like za’atar? Can’t find it? Sprinkle on dried thyme, oregano, sumac, and sesame seeds — or use your favorite poultry-style spice blend.
More Tahini Recipes
- Grilled Tahini Chicken
- Flourless Chocolate Tahini Cake
- Brownies with Salted Tahini Buttercream
- Chocolate Chip Tahini Brownies
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup tahini
- juice from 2 lemons (~4 tablespoons)
For the Chicken and Vegetables:
- 4 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (2.25-2.5 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon za'atar seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces small potatoes, cut into halves or quarters
- 1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups (~ 1/2 pound) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- chopped parsley and oregano, for garnish
- Whisk together the chicken broth, tahini, and lemon juice until well combined and the mixture is smooth. Set aside
- Preheat oven to 425 °F and preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and cover with za'atar on both sides. Add 2 tablespoons of oilve oil to the hot pan and cook the chicken, skin side down, for 5 minutes, until the skin is crispy and lightly golden in color. Flip and cook on the underside for an additional 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
- Add the cut potatoes to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, until skin starts to wrinkle and darken in spots. Add the red pepper and garlic cloves and saute for an additional minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down against the surface of the pan, arranging around the potatoes. Place the chicken thighs back into the skillet on top of the vegetables, skin side up.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts start to darken slightly in color. Pour in the tahini sauce around the vegetables and chicken. The vegetables will be mostly submerged in the sauce; it will look like too much sauce has been poured into the pan.
- Increase the oven temperature to 500 °F and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the tahini sauce is bubbling and thick, the chicken skin is a dark golden color, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the chicken registers 165 °F.
- Garnish the skillet with chopped parsley and oregano and additional lemon wedges, if desired.
- Use good quality tahini, like Soom Foods, for the sauce. It should be smooth and creamy, not dry and crumbly.
- For crispy chicken skin, pat each piece of chicken with a paper towel before seasoning; chicken should be as dry as possible.
- Za'atar can be substituted with a mixture of dried thyme, oregano, sumac, and sesame seeds, or use your favorite poultry-style spice blend.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 chicken thigh and 1/4th of vegetables and potatoes
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 531Total Fat: 33.9gCarbohydrates: 27.8gProtein: 31.9g