Sheet Pan Spring Chicken With Preserved Lemon Recipe

Sheet pan dinners are the epitome of straightforward, wholesome cooking. Few things are as satisfying as assembling fresh ingredients on a single pan, popping it into the oven, and then seeing it transform into a glorious, full-flavored meal. And if you add in a special ingredient or an unexpected flavor, you can take these efficient, easy-to-assemble meals to new heights.

So what's our superstar ingredient for this recipe? Preserved lemon. This culinary gem has a rich history that's as appealing as its distinctive tangy-salty flavor. A staple in North African and Middle Eastern kitchens, especially in Moroccan cuisine, preserved lemons are lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices. This process completely transforms them, intensifying their tartness and adding a depth of flavor that's truly unparalleled.

In this sheet pan dinner, recipe developer Taylor Murray opts to use preserved lemon partnered with the smoky warmth of paprika to form an alluring marinade. The chicken's roasting juices trickle down and caramelize the vegetables — crisp asparagus, creamy white beans, and sweet spring onions — creating a symphony of flavors in each bite.

Gather the ingredients for sheet pan spring chicken with preserved lemon

The primary ingredient for this one-pan dinner is the chicken. The skin-on chicken legs, found in the meat section of most grocery stores, lend a juicy tenderness to the dish and crisp up beautifully when roasted. If you prefer to use chicken breast, you may freely substitute, but keep in mind that the cooking time may need to be adjusted. 

For the marinade, you'll need a combination of paprika, garlic, olive oil, and preserved lemon. Preserved lemons, typically found in international or specialty food aisles, imbue the chicken with a depth of citrusy flavor that's both tart and slightly sweet. If you can't find it, use some lemon zest instead.

For the vegetables, we opted for spring onions, known for their delicate, mildly sweet flavor, and asparagus. If you can't find these seasonal alliums, quarter a small red onion. White beans, available in any grocery store, bring a creamy, subtly nutty element to the dish, and when rinsed, they contribute to the overall texture without making the dish overly salty. Finally, you'll need half of a lemon — a sprinkle of this bright citrus overtop the whole sheet pan perfectly finishes this dish.

Marinate the chicken

Place the chicken in a medium bowl and add the paprika, garlic, preserved lemon, and olive oil. Toss to combine. Set aside.

Brown the chicken

Place a rimmed baking sheet in your oven and preheat them to 425 F at the same time. When the oven is hot, remove the baking sheet and add the chicken legs skin-side down. Roast until lightly browned, which should take about 5 minutes. "This step allows the chicken to brown on the top side, saving you the step of having to brown each side in a pan on the stove," says Murray.

Add the vegetables

Add the asparagus and spring onion to the tray and season with salt and pepper. There should be enough rendered fat and oil from the chicken to coat the vegetables, but if not you can drizzle with another teaspoon or so of olive oil. Give the tray a good shake to get everything nice and coated. Return to the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Add the beans

Now, add the beans to the tray and toss to coat. Return the tray once more to the oven and cook until the beans are just warmed through, about 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and squeeze the lemon over everything.

The crispy skin on the chicken won't last if saved for a future date, but this dinner will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Sheet Pan Spring Chicken With Preserved Lemon Recipe
5 from 24 ratings
Who doesn't love a sheet pan dinner? This sheet pan spring chicken with preserved lemon proves just how easy and how deeply flavorful these recipes can be.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Sheet pan spring chicken
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 4 small skin-on chicken legs (about 2½ pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, quartered
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch segments
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can white beans, rinsed
  • Juice of half a lemon
In a large bowl, combine paprika, chopped preserved lemon, olive oil, and chopped garlic. Add chicken legs and toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 425 F. Preheat a rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Add chicken legs to pan skin side down and roast until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Turn legs over and add onions and asparagus to pan. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Roast another 15 minutes.
  4. Add beans to pan and cook until peas are warmed through, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and drizzle tray with some lemon juice. Serve immediately.
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