Persian chicken with golden rice

Persian chicken with golden rice and tahini dressing

This Persian chicken with golden rice and tahini dressing combines marinaded chicken thighs, basmati rice, and one pot cooking for a delicious weeknight meal.

My mom is the best cook I know and she really has a way with weeknight chicken. She can defrost frozen thighs on a whim and have a flavorful, exciting meal on the table in no time.

This Persian chicken with golden rice is not a traditional Iranian recipe but it was inspired by flavors that my mom uses in her cooking. She always sautées chicken with onions (to get rid of the “chickeny” smell) and uses liberal dashes of turmeric (for color and aroma).

Persian chicken with golden rice and tahini drizzle with cilantro easy recipe

To create this Persian inspired one-pot meal, I marinaded the chicken in spices my mom always has on hand: cumin, coriander, and garlic. I seasoned the rice with sautéed onions, turmeric, and a dash of cinnamon and cayenne for heat. I finished cooking the chicken and rice in the oven for evenly cooked rice and some hands-off efficiency in the kitchen.

This recipe is simple enough to fit into your busy work week schedule. Soak the rice and marinade the chicken the night before. You can even pre measure the spices for the rice to save more time. An hour before you’re ready to eat, simply sear the chicken, combine the rice and spices and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Whip together the tahini dressing while the dish is baking. Top with cilantro for a delicious and impressive weeknight meal that your family will love.

Want more weeknight chicken recipes? Here are some of my favorites:

My favorite dutch oven:

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persian chicken and rice pilaf with tahini dressing recipe

Persian chicken with golden rice and tahini dressing

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  • Author: Sepideh Campos


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground sweet paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, boneless skinless
  • 4 cups basmati rice, soaked for at least 30 minutes in salted water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup filtered water 
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • Plain whole milk yogurt for serving (optional)

Tahini dressing

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp water Water
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt


  1. In a gallon sized zip lock freezer bag combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, paprika, coriander, cumin, and oregano. Mix the marinade together. 
  2. Add the chicken thighs to the bag and zip the top. Smoosh the chicken around to fully coat in the marinade. 
  3. Place the bag inside a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 
  4. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, place the rice in a large bowl or pot and rinse with water until the water runs clear, about 5-6 times. 
  5. Fill the bowl of washed rice with water. Let the rice soak while you brown the chicken, about 30 minutes. Drain the rice before cooking.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large dutch oven, over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. 
  7. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until browned on both sides but not fully cooked, 4-6 minutes per side. 
  8. Brown the chicken in batches if it doesn’t fit in a single layer. 
  9. Transfer the browned chicken to a large bowl. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  11. Add the onion to the now empty pan along with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook over medium heat until the onions are softened, 3-4 minutes.  
  12. Deglaze the pan with water if there are brown bits from the chicken stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  13. Add bay leaves and turmeric to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. 
  14. Add chicken broth, water, 3 teaspoons kosher salt, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and drained rice to the onions and bring to a simmer. 
  15. Nestle the chicken in rice and broth along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl with the browned chicken. 
  16. Cover the dutch oven with its lid and place in the oven until the rice is cooked and the chicken registers 165 degrees about 20-30 minutes. 
  17. While the chicken and rice are cooking, combine the ingredients for the tahini dressing in a medium bowl. 
  18. Use a whisk to combine fully. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve the runny-ness that you desire.
  19. Top the chicken and rice with cilantro, drizzle with tahini dressing and serve with yogurt. 

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