Classic Musakhan Recipe For A Taste Of Palestine 

 Last Update April 24, 2024

By Jenny Zhang

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Musakhan, pronounced moo-sah-khan, is a traditional Palestinian dish that has also gained popularity in other neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. It captures the essence of Middle Eastern cuisine by harmonizing warm spices, tender chicken, caramelized onions, and sumac-infused flatbread. The outcome is a burst of flavors that will leave your taste buds yearning for another bite.

Below, I will take you step by step through making Musakhan, from preparing the ingredients to the final assembly.

Easy And Simple Musakhan Recipe

Prep Time
20 minutes

Cook Time
45 minutes

Rest Time
0 minutes

Total Time
65 minutes

  • Cooking Method: Stir Frying
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Servings: 4 People 
  • Calories: 500
  • Courses: Main Dish
  • Best Season: Any


  • 4-5 chicken thighs or a combination of chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 4 large onions Peeled And Finely Chopped
  • 1 Small Lemon
  • 2 tablespoons ground sumac
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon ground Cardamom
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4-6 pieces of flatbread (such as taboon or markook)
  • 1/4 Cup Pine nuts


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken pieces, 1/4 cup of olive oil, lemon juice, ground sumac, ground allspice, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom salt, and pepper. Thoroughly combine the ingredients, ensuring the chicken is evenly coated. Let it marinate for approximately 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

3. Option 1: Add a little more olive oil, if needed, in the same skillet, and sear the marinated chicken pieces on both sides until they develop a golden-brown color. This step helps lock in the flavors before roasting them in the oven. When your chicken is done, leave the chicken juices as they can be used to flavor the onions. 

4. Option 2 (Traditional way): Arrange the marinated chicken pieces on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Roast them in the oven for approximately 35-45 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and achieves a golden brown color. Remove from the oven and set aside.

5. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook onions over medium heat until they transform into a luscious golden brown color, ensuring to stir occasionally for even caramelization. This process may take around 15-20 minutes. Set aside the caramelized onions. If you cooked the chicken in the same skillet previously, pour in all chicken juices to help add a depth of flavor.

6. Toast pine nuts in the oven with olive oil for about 2-3 minutes.

7. To assemble, place the flatbread pieces on a large baking pan or parchment lined baking tray. Evenly distribute the caramelized onion mixture over the surface of the flatbread. Arrange the roasted chicken pieces on top of the cooked onions. Once the chicken and onion mixture is situated, sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top.

8. Position the baking pan beneath the broiler and allow it to cook for approximately 2-4 minutes or until the edges of the bread begin to turn golden brown.

9. Once musakhan is cooked to perfection, you can add any garnishes, and it is ready to be served. Musakhan is typically served family-style, allowing everyone to tear off pieces of the flatbread and chicken to enjoy together. Serve immediately and enjoy!


Tips & Notes

Marinate the chicken: Give the chicken enough time to marinate in the spice mixture, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat and enhance its taste. Ideally, marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, or more intensely, marinate it overnight in the refrigerator.

Caramelize the onions well: Take your time when caramelizing the onions. Slowly cooking them over low to medium heat until golden brown will develop their natural sweetness and enhance the dish's overall flavor. Stir occasionally to prevent them from burning.

Keep an eye on the chicken: When cooking it in the skillet before baking, brown it on all sides without overcooking it. The chicken will finish cooking in the oven, so it's essential to achieve a nice golden crust while retaining juiciness.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 4



% Daily Value*

Total Fat 26.2g


Saturated Fat 5.1g


Cholesterol 72mg


Sodium 264mg


Total Carbohydrate 35.9g


Dietary Fiber 5.7g


Total Sugars 6g

Protein 26.8g

Vitamin D 0mcg


Calcium 132mg


Iron 3mg


Potassium 411mg


*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

What Is Musakhan

Musakhan, often called Musakhan sumac chicken, is a dish traditionally made during the olive oil pressing season, so fresh olive oil can be used to make this dish. Musakhan is essentially a roasted chicken dish with a flavorful topping of caramelized onions, toasted pine nuts, and sumac.

To prepare the dish, chicken pieces are commonly marinated in a flavorful blend of spices, including sumac, cumin, turmeric, and other traditional regional spices. The chicken is then roasted until tender and juicy. The whole dish is served on taboon bread or markook, a traditional Palestinian bread very similar to Greek pita bread

Ingredients And Substitutions


Musakhan traditionally uses chicken skin as the main protein. You can choose to use a whole chicken cut into pieces or specific parts like chicken thighs or drumsticks. The chicken provides a juicy and tender element to the dish.

A whole chicken can be a great option as you can cut it into pieces and offer a mix of white and dark meat, resulting in a flavorful combination of juicy and tender meat. You can portion the chicken into pieces, such as legs, thighs, wings, and breasts.

Chicken legs or drumsticks are another option for Musakhan, especially if you enjoy chicken with a slightly firmer texture. They contain a generous amount of meat and can become wonderfully flavorful when carefully marinated and roasted.

However, if you prefer to reduce the fat content or for personal dietary reasons, you can choose to use skinless chicken pieces or chicken breast for Musakhan. The dish will still be delicious and flavorful, although you may miss out on the crispy texture and added richness that the chicken skin provides.


Chopped onions play a significant role in Musakhan, providing a sweet and caramelized flavor. Yellow or sweet onions are preferable because of their natural sweetness.


Lemon juice will add a touch of tangy flavor to the chicken.


Sumac is a crucial spice in Palestinian cuisine, known for its tangy and slightly acidic flavor, and it adds a distinct taste to Musakhan. Ground sumac is used in the marinade for the chicken, as well as a garnish.

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, including Musakhan. It is used for marinating chicken and sautéing onions. Look for good quality olive oil for the best flavor.


Adding thyme to Musakhan can be a delightful flavor enhancement that adds a fresh and herbaceous note. Thyme is a versatile herb commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, known for its earthy and slightly floral flavor.

When incorporated into Musakhan, thyme can complement the other spices and ingredients, bringing a vibrant and aromatic element. It adds a layer of complexity and freshness that pairs well with the roasted chicken and caramelized onions.


Cardamom, known for its strong aroma, is a highly aromatic spice commonly used in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Scandinavian culinary traditions. It has a distinct flavor profile with citrusy, minty, and slightly sweet notes. 

When added to Musakhan, cardamom can contribute a fragrant and exotic element, elevate the overall aroma, and introduce a delicate complexity to the flavors. Combining cardamom with other spices like sumac, cumin, and cinnamon can create a unique and harmonious blend of flavors. If cardamom is not available, you can use other spices as a cardamom substitute.


In Musakhan, a small pinch of ground cinnamon enhances the overall flavor profile of the dish. The cinnamon adds warmth and depth, complementing the other spices like sumac and allspice. It does not overpower the dish but rather provides a gentle background note that blends harmoniously with the savory elements.


Allspice is a warm and aromatic spice commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and it adds depth and richness to the flavor profile of Musakhan. When ground, it releases aromatic notes that evoke a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If allspice is not available, you can use a DIY spice mix as an allspice substitute.

Thin Flat Bread

Flatbread is an integral part of Musakhan, as it serves as a base for the dish. Traditional Palestinian bread, such as taboon or markook is commonly used. These breads have a thin and soft texture, making them ideal for absorbing the delectable flavors of the chicken and onions. If you can't find specific Palestinian bread, substitute it with other thin flatbreads like pita bread, lavash, Greek pita bread, or naan.

Pine nuts

Lightly toasted pine nuts can be sprinkled on top of Musakhan before serving. They contribute a crispy texture and a subtly nutty flavor that harmonizes beautifully with the dish.

How To Make Musakhan Rolls

Another way to make Musakhan is to turn them into rolls like Taquitos. To make the rolls, here is the step-by-step guide:

Prepare The Musakhan Filling

Start by making the Musakhan filling, which consists of roasted chicken, caramelized onions, and toasted pine nuts. For detailed instructions on filling preparation, refer to the Musakhan recipe provided earlier.

Warm The Flatbread

Place the flatbread on a clean surface or a plate. To make it more pliable, you can lightly warm it by heating it in a dry skillet for a few seconds on each side or microwave it for a few seconds.

Assemble The Rolls

Take a flatbread and place it flat on a clean surface. Spoon a portion of the Musakhan filling onto the lower half of the flatbread. Spread it evenly, leaving some space around the edges.

Roll It Up

Beginning at the bottom, roll the flatbread tightly over the filling, making sure to fold in the sides as you proceed. Continue rolling until you reach the top, creating a secure and compact roll.

Repeat The Process

Repeat the process with the remaining flatbread and Musakhan filling, making as many rolls as desired.

Brush With Oil Or Butter

Brush the top of each Musakhan roll with a little olive oil or melted butter. This step helps to add flavor and keep the rolls moist.

Heat And Crisp

Place the Musakhan rolls on a baking sheet and lightly brush the bottom with oil or butter. Place them in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for 10-15 minutes or until the rolls are heated and the edges are lightly crisp.

Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.