Pulled Sumac Chicken

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Pulled Sumac Chicken: Your New Weeknight Favorite

This Pulled Sumac Chicken recipe is based on Mussakhan, which is the classic sumac chicken. Sumac is a spice native to Iran that adds a tartness similar to lemon with a mild sweetness too. It also has a unique fuschia color to it, so in addition to a tart tang, it also adds a fun color.

The marinade for this dish is very easy to prepare, and since I use chicken breasts it doesn’t marinade for very long. In fact you shouldn’t marinate this dish for more than 60 minutes or the chicken could lose its texture. And then once the marinade time is finished, you can throw this in the oven and have 20-30 minutes to prepare the rest of the meal. And the rest of the meal is really whatever you want it to be. Serve this chicken as a pita wrap, as a rice bowl, or even as part of a salad. The options are endless.

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Chicken Breast Lightens this Classic Dish

I use chicken breast for my Pulled Sumac Chicken in large part because it’s what I keep in my freezer. I always have chicken breast on hand, but I don’t always have legs or thighs. I also appreciate that chicken breast is lower in fat than the other pieces of chicken. And lower in fat means lower in calories, and fewer calories leave more room for pita bread.

Another benefit to chicken breast is that there are multiple ways to cook it depending on your needs. Roasting in the oven is my favorite way, since it caramelizes the onions while the chicken cooks. If you don’t want to use the oven, you could also use your pressure cooker or Instant Pot to cook the chicken. Just cook on high pressure for 10 minutes with just a quarter cup of water and 10 minutes of natural pressure release. You could also grill this chicken, though I recommend doing so in a cast iron skillet so that the onions don’t fall through the grates.

pulled sumac chicken served with rice salad and pita with pine nuts behind

How to Use Dark Chicken Meat for Pulled Sumac Chicken

Classic Mussakhan uses dark meat chicken pieces like chicken thighs, legs, or even whole leg quarters. Since the meat is fattier, it has a very deep flavor. And the skin crisps up in the oven, which would be fun mixed into the pulled chicken. If you’re looking to make this Pulled Sumac Chicken with dark meat, try these tips:

  • Be mindful of how much marinade to use. The marinade quantity is based on pounds of chicken, and thanks to the bones and skin, dark meat chicken pieces can quickly add up to more than 1.5lbs. So weigh your chicken and scale the marinade accordingly.
  • Roast skin side up. Make sure your skin on chicken pieces have the skin facing up so that it will crisp nicely. You can’t really control this with the legs, but for thighs you can.
  • Be prepared to roast for longer. Thanks to the added fat content, dark meat chicken pieces take longer to cook than chicken breasts, so expect to roast it at least 40 minutes, or up to an hour for particularly large pieces.
  • Cook to a higher temperature. The safety rule of thumb of 165F for chicken to be done is the same for dark meat pieces, but your thighs and legs will be even more tender if you cook it to 170F or up to 195F.
Pulled sumac chicken on a cutting board

Serve it up Bowl Style

Nothing beats a rice and chicken bowl. I like to serve Pulled Sumac Chicken over my Turmeric Yellow Basmati Rice. I add some diced tomatoes and cucumbers for a little crunch, some cilantro for added freshness, and some hummus for a sauce. Another fun option would be to serve this Halal Guys style. Keep the yellow rice and chicken, but add some lettuce, sliced tomato, and white sauce on top.

Make a Pita Wrap

Another great way to serve this dish is to make a Pulled Sumac Chicken Pita Wrap. Pick up some fresh pita bread and add your favorite wrap ingredients. I like to combine the chicken with hummus, diced tomato, diced cucumber, and some toasted pine nuts. You could also add in some lettuce for a different kind of crunch. You could even add rice to your wrap, like a burrito.

Wrapping Tip: It can be hard to get pita wraps to stay closed. For that reason I lay my pita on top of a piece of foil that’s bigger than the pita. Then, after I’ve added my ingredients and folded my pita, I wrap the foil tightly around it, closing only the bottom of the wrap so that I can eat without worrying about dripping.

pulled sumac chicken wrap with rice and hummus

Try my Other Chicken Dinner Options

Looking for other chicken dinners? Try one of these.

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Pulled Sumac Chicken

Pulled Sumac Chicken is an easy, light take on the classic Mussakhan, with sumac as the star spice.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinade time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 4
Calories 249 kcal


For the Marinade

  • 1.5 lbs Boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1.5 tbsp Dried sumac
  • ¼ cup Lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 Red onion, sliced thin

For Serving

  • Yellow rice
  • Pita bread
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Hummus
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Cucumbers, diced
  • Additional sumac


  • Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a bowl except the chicken and stir together with a fork. Add the chicken to the marinade and flip a few times to fully coat.
  • Marinade the chicken for 30-60 minutes and preheat the oven to 450F.
  • Remove chicken and onions from marinade and put on a greased rimmed baking sheet with the onions on top of the chicken breasts. Pour remaining marinade over the chicken and onions. Roast at 450F for 20 – 35 minutes or until chicken is 165F at its thickest part. Time will vary depending on how thick your chicken breasts are. To speed up cooking, take the marinating chicken out of the refrigerator 10 minutes before cooking.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and remove to a cutting board with the onions. Slice the breasts down the middle long ways, and then do 3 or 4 cross cuts on each breast. This makes it easier to shred. Use 2 forks and shred the chicken.
  • Serve as part of a pita sandwich with hummus as a sauce or over yellow rice. Use vegetables like diced onion, cucumber, or cilantro to garnish.


Calories: 249kcalCarbohydrates: 8.3gProtein: 39.6gFat: 7.4gSaturated Fat: 2.1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 116mgPotassium: 686mgFiber: 0.7gSugar: 5.6gCalcium: 24mgIron: 1mg
Keyword pulled sumac chicken, sumac, sumac chicken
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