Roasted chicken with dates and lemons is a no-fuss recipe that’s slightly sweet and tangy. Made with naturally sweet dates and caramelized lemons it’s a great dish for a weeknight meal or for entertaining.
You might not think you need another roasted chicken recipe, but trust me you’ll want to add this to your rotation. It’s a simple recipe that takes just a little prep to start with and then the flavors magically come together in the oven for an awesome dish.
I adapted this recipe from Alison Roman’s new cookbook, Nothing Fancy that I got for Christmas. I have her previous book, Dining In and love every recipe that I’ve tried from it so it’s no surprise that this one is also fantastic. You will also see her recipes in the NY Times.
Most chicken recipes with dates are Moroccan inspired dishes with Moroccan spices like ginger, cinnamon, coriander and cumin. However, this recipe for chicken with dates is completely different, the only seasoning is thyme and salt and pepper. The chicken is infused with the juices of the cooked dates and caramelized lemon slices along with some shallots.
Braising the chicken thighs first keeps them crispy even after they’re baked. You really need the skin to get all the luscious chicken flavor, so don’t use skinless chicken thighs.
How do you make chicken with dates and lemons
Step 1: Place chicken thighs with the skin and bone, skin side down in a hot Dutch oven or skillet with a lid. Let them brown for about 5 minutes then gently turn them over. Scooch them to the side of the pan so that there is room in the pan to caramelize the lemons and shallots.
Step 2: Add lemon slices and halved shallots to the hot Dutch oven and let them sizzle and cook until browned.
Step 3: Spread out the chicken thighs and add dates, a little water and sprinkle with red pepper flakes or black pepper, cover and bake covered for 20 minutes.
Step 4: Remove the lid and sprinkle with olive oil and bake for an additional 15 minutes uncovered. A meat thermometer should read 175º.
This is a dish I’ve made a million times since Christmas. I’ve made it for weeknight dinners and doubled the recipe so that I could take a batch to a friend recovering from surgery. Most recently my running group wanted to get together for dinner and couldn’t get a reservation anywhere last minute so we chose someone’s house and I made this.
I just browned 12 chicken thighs in two batches and then added them all to my Dutch oven. I cooked them in the oven for the first 20 minutes and then took it to my friends house and just cooked it for the additional the 15 minutes before we were ready to eat. Everyone loved it and I put it all together in no time. It was great with some homemade dinner rolls on the side.
What type of dates should you use for this chicken recipe
For this braised chicken with dates recipe, I recommend using Medjol dates which can be found in the produce section of most groceries.
What is a Medjol date
Medjol dates are a large rich date with a soft and chewy texture. They are grown on palm trees in Arizona, California and Florida and originated in Moroccan. Naturally sweetened dates are not dried so it’s best to store them in the refrigerator or freezer. Want to learn more about this amazing fruit, Eating Bird Food has an interesting post.
Alison Roman suggested sprinkling Urfa pepper instead of red pepper flakes or black pepper to the top of the chicken thighs. I wasn’t familiar with this pepper so did some research and thought it would be worth experimenting with it. I really enjoy the subtle flavors of it, it’s not as spicy as some peppers but has more depth of flavor. I first made these with red pepper flakes before I tried Urfa pepper, both ways were delicious.
What is Urfa pepper
Urfa pepper is from Turkey and comes in irregular sized flakes that you can sprinkle on anything you would add black pepper to. If you just smell the jar, it has a slightly sweet chocolate aroma.
When added to food it’s not as spicy as red pepper flakes but adds more heat than traditional black pepper. I couldn’t find it in my grocery stores, so ordered this Urfa Pepper on Amazon and I love it. If you want more information before adding a new spice to your crowded spice cabinet, Food and Wine has a great article about it.
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What can you serve with lemon chicken with dates
- A slightly sweet diner roll
- Simple asparagus and mushrooms
- A healthy broccoli salad
- A dense chocolate cake
That was the menu for our spur of the moment dinner party that everyone loved.
Love DATES, here are some more recipe ideas
- Healthy and nutritious energy balls
- Dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon are a fabulous appetizer
- Try grilling dates for a sweet caramelized treat
If you like lemon and chicken, you might like these recipes
- Lemon chicken picatta
- Roasted chicken with lemon and potatoes
- Garlic and lemon chicken
- Pasta with chicken and lemon
Chicken with Dates
- 6-8 chicken thighs with bone and skin
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1 lemon cut into slices
- 2 shallots halved lengthwise
- 6 medjol dates pitted
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon urfa chili or 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- flaky sea salt
- Preheat oven to 425º.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Salt and pepper chicken and place skin side down in Dutch oven. Cook without moving for about 5 minutes until the skin is brown. Add lemon slices, and shallot, moving the chicken so that they come in contact with the bottom of the pot. Let it cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add dates, thyme and water. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with Urfa chili or red pepper flakes and place the lid on the Dutch oven. Cook for about 20 minutes until almost cooked through.
- Remove the lid and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken. Continue to cook uncovered until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.