Sheet Pan Chicken with Lemon and Olives

By / Food / January 18th, 2023 / 1

By Bonnie Stern and Anna Rupert

Serves 6

Sheet pan dinners have become extremely popular and I think they’re great. The idea for this recipe came from one of my favorite dishes, Moroccan chicken tagine with lemon and olives.

I started making this dish on a baking sheet because my tagine (the cooking pot) only has enough room for 3 or 4 servings but also because I love the way it looks when I serve it right on the sheet pan. I like to make it with chicken legs (thighs, or thighs and drumsticks), which have always been a chef favorite, as they have more flavor than chicken breasts and stay juicy and delicious even if overcooked. If you do use chicken breasts, use bone-in and skin-on to help them stay juicy, and be careful not to overcook them (use an instant-read thermometer and cook to 165°F). Serve with rice, couscous, or freekeh.

How to make preserved lemon peel:

Preserved lemons are a fantastic ingredient on their own. You can buy them, or make them yourself:

Put about 1/2 inch of kosher salt at the bottom of a large preserving jar. The goal is to fill the jar with as many lemons as you can. Wash the lemons well, and cut each one into quarters, but keep the quarters attached at the bottom of the lemon. Fill the center of each lemon with salt and squish them down into the jar very firmly, pouring more kosher salt on top as you layer the lemons in. You can add spices or sugar, but I usually make mine plain. Keep pressing down so that you are wedging in as many lemons as possible and then pour lemon juice to cover just to the top of the lemons. Cover tightly and refrigerate for a few weeks before using, turning the jar over every few days to circulate the liquid. The peels of preserved lemons are often called for in recipes and are even easier to use when transformed into a preserved lemon paste, which is easily incorporated into soup, salad dressing, marinades, risotto, and pasta dishes.

INGREDIENTS for sheet Pan Chicken

  • 3 lb chicken pieces (12 chicken thighs or 6 whole legs)
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 1 head garlic,halved horizontally
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed, halved, and cut into thick wedges
  • 1 lemon,thinly sliced (or 2 if you don’t have preserved lemons)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley + more for serving
  • 1/2 cup large green olives, pitted by gently smashing or tearing apart
  • 1/4 cup sliced preserved lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric


  1. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, along with the onions, garlic, fennel, lemons, cilantro, olives, preserved lemon peel, olive oil, honey, salt, coriander, cumin, paprika, and turmeric. Toss well to mix. Marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours if you have time, or cook right away.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or in a large baking dish or shallow Dutch oven, skin side up. Spoon the fennel-lemon mixture over and around the chicken. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Uncover and roast for another 30 minutes. If the chicken hasn’t browned yet, increase the oven temperature to 425°F and cook for 10 minutes longer or until the chicken and vegetables are nicely browned.
  4. Serve topped with the cooked lemon slices and olives, and the fresh cilantro.

BONNIE STERN is the founder of the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking in Toronto, which she opened and operated from 1973 to 2011. She has studied and taught cooking around the world, hosted three national cooking shows, and for 17 years, wrote a weekly column for the National Post. She has conducted popular workshops for the James Beard Foundation in New York City and leads culinary tours to various delicious destinations. Bonnie is also the creator of a groundbreaking book club in which authors are invited to discuss their work during thematic dinners. She has authored 12 bestselling cookbooks, including Bonnie Stern’s Essentials of Home Cooking, which won a coveted International Association of Culinary Professionals award. Bonnie is the recipient of many awards, including the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Gold Award, the Premier’s Award, and, in 2021, Bonnie was inducted into the Taste Canada Hall of Fame.

In addition to being Bonnie’s daughter and sous-chef, ANNA RUPERT is a speech-language pathologist, health and social care manager, researcher, and consultant in Toronto. Anna holds master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology and International Health Policy from the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics, respectively. Anna’s research and consulting has focused on the inclusion of rehabilitation services (like speech pathology) in global health systems, health system funding and planning, and the relationship between early childhood mental health, childhood trauma, and communication development. Clearly, she has multiple interests! Anna has been cooking with Bonnie since she was able to sit unsupported on the kitchen counter and hold a wooden spoon (there is photo evidence). This is her first book.

Excerpted from Don’t Worry, Just Cook by Bonnie Stern and Anna Rupert, published by Appetite by Random House, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. Copyright © 2022 Bonnie Stern Cooking Schools Ltd. and Anna Rupert. Food photography by Tyler Anderson. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. 


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