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Chili-Spiced Sheet-Pan Chicken

This one-pan meal spices up chicken — and it couldn't be easier to make!

January 1, 2018

We adapted elements from one of our favorite African-inspired stews into an easy-to-make sheet-pan supper that uses specialty spices that were left from other culinary adventures. The spicy rub comes off with the skin, leaving flavorful roasted chicken without too much heat.

Serves three to four people.


  • 1 large lemon, thinly sliced
  • 4 whole chicken thighs with bone and skin (about 1 and 3/4 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon Spicy Chili Rub (Recipe follows.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch thin carrots (about 1 pound), tops cropped, or large carrots thickly sliced on the bias
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon za'atar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • pomegranate molasses (optional)


Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

On one side of the pan, arrange the lemon slices and place the chicken thighs skin-side up. Brush thighs lightly with olive oil and rub with spice mixture.

Place the carrots in open part of the baking sheet. Drizzle carrots with olive oil and sprinkle with Za’atar. Toss carrots to coat and place the cinnamon stick over the middle.

Roast about 35 minutes, until the carrots are almost completely tender and the chicken thighs are crispy on top and almost cooked through. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, push the carrots to the side and add chickpeas in the center. Drizzle chickpeas with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Return pan to oven and roast another 5 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

To serve, discard cinnamon stick and plate the chicken and vegetables. Drizzle with any pan juices, and a dash of pomegranate molasses over the chickpeas.

Spicy Chili Rub

Makes about one-third cup.


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Whisk rub ingredients together and store in an airtight container. This recipe makes more than enough for the chicken, and you may also use it on the carrots instead of the za’atar.

Cook’s note: If you use extra-large chicken thighs you may need to remove carrots from the pan and roast a little longer until thoroughly cooked. Don’t have all the spices? Buy just what you need in the bulk section for pennies, or use a similar blend and the taste will still be delicious.


There are 4 comments

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This sounds like a great one pan dinner. As a vegetarian I think it could be adapted for tempeh instead of chicken and would be great with a side of soft polenta or rice and a green salad.....But there are some oddities about this recipe:1- it calls for 1/4t cumin and 1/4t chili powder, but doesn't say when/how to use them....are they rubbed on the chicken along with the spice rub?2- the spice rub says it makes 1/3 C, but only lists ~5 teaspoons worth of ingredients. Is there a misprint in the amounts?3- when it says "chili powder" should we assume that you mean pure chili powder, and not the mix often used in Mexican food?

jliu's picture

Thank you for catching that. The first three ingredients for the Chili rub should be tablespoons, not teaspoons. The recipe has been updated. As for the chili powder, you can use either the pure chili powder or the mix, whichever you prefer.

Chef's note: If you use tofu, use a light touch with the chili mix. The spice will stick to the tofu, rather than being taken off with the chicken skin.

Jliu, you didn't answer the original question about the additional seasonings mentioned in the main recipe besides the spice mixture which is noted further below.  Also, there is chili powder in the spice mixture recipe at the bottom as well as in the main recipe, so is it correct that there should be both chili powder and cumin AND the spice mixture (made up of a blend of spices, including more chili powder) or just one or the other?

"It could't be easier to make." It COULD be easier. By my count, this recipe needs 22 separate ingredients.