This succulent chicken is often barbecued over charcoal for extra smokiness. With the lemony flavour of sumac, it’s the marinade that makes this Lebanese dish such a crowd-pleaser.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (802 votes)


  • 1.5 kg whole chicken, butterflied (see Note)
  • toum (Lebanese garlic sauce), Lebanese pickled vegetables and chillies, and pita bread, to serve (see Note)



  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) lemon juice
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time overnight

To make marinade, combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat a barbecue or chargrill pan to medium-high. Season chicken generously with salt, then cook, turning once, for 8 minutes or until charred and golden brown.

Transfer to a lined oven tray and roast for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Carve into large pieces and serve with toum, pickles and bread.


• To butterfly a chicken: Place chicken, breast-side down, with the neck facing you. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, slice along either side of backbone and discard. Cut off neck and discard. Turn chicken over and firmly press down with your hands to pop any joints and flatten. Alternatively, ask your butcher to do this for you
• Toum (Lebanese garlic sauce) is available from select delis and Middle Eastern food shops.
• Lebanese pickled vegetables and chillies are from Middle Eastern food shops.



Photography Brett Stevens. Food preparation Leanne Kitchen and Phoebe Wood. Styling Vivien Walsh.


As seen in Feast magazine, November 2014, Issue 37.