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These Pan-Roasted Chicken Halves are crispy on the outside, juicy and tender in the middle and absolutely loaded with flavour. Served with a fresh herb salad, garlicky tahini sauce and some sumac onions, it’s as impressive as it is easy to make. It also happens to be Paleo-friendly and can be easily modified to be Whole30 by substituting ghee instead of the butter.

Pan-Roasted Chicken, Herb Salad, Tahini & Sumac Onions Primal Gourmet Whole30 Recipe Paleo

This recipe is largely inspired by a recent dinner we had at Le Bab in Bucharest. On the menu was an insanely delicious grilled coquelet that I wanted to remake. The challenge is that I’m in Romania and staying in a small apartment so I don’t have access to my grill back home.

Instead, I decided to pan-roast the chicken halves by developing a deep, crispy crust on the skin over the stove before finishing it in the oven to make sure it cooked all the way through without burning.

I kept the flavours of the herb salad but decided to make it a bit more hearty by adding a base of tender greens so that it could be served as a side dish rather than garnish. Mâche is very common here in Romania so that’s what I used.

Instead of the butter chicken sauce, which requires time and several ingredients, I decided to serve the chicken with a quick-and-easy tahini sauce. It perfectly complimented the mediterranean flavours in the herb salad and Middle Eastern ones in the sumac onions.

Probably the hardest part of this recipe was trying to source sumac in Brasov, Romania. I think I checked 4 different stores and talked to 12 different people before finally finding it.

Pan-Roasted Chicken, Herb Salad, Tahini & Sumac Onions Primal Gourmet Whole30 Recipe Paleo

What You Need for the Pan-Roasted Chicken Halves

  • Chicken: This recipe works with any variety of chicken, but for best results, I recommend sourcing a young bird (AKA coquelet or poussin) so that it can fit comfortably in the pan without overcrowding it. Young chickens also tend to be much more tender than larger, more mature ones, so the flavour will be better.

    You can also substitute chicken thighs, chicken drumsticks, or bone-in chicken breasts if you don’t want to cook two chicken halves. Other options include Cornish hen or duck breast.
  • Spices: I like to keep things fairly simple with a combination of smoked paprika, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, but feel free to experiment with your favourite spice rub. Just keep in mind that the spices you use should compliment the flavours in the herb salad, tahini and sumac onions. It’s also important not to cook the chicken over too high of a heat so that the spices don’t scorch in the pan. If you do accidentally burn the spices, try to scrape as much as possible off of the bird and pan before adding in the butter.
  • Butter, Fresh Thyme and Garlic: After you develop a deep crust on the skin side of the chicken, flip it over and baste it with some melted butter, fresh thyme and garlic. It adds an amazing flavour and aroma to the dish. And be sure not to discard the rendered juices in the pan after the bird is done roasting. It makes for an incredible sauce to spoon over the chicken.

Skip the Caesar. Try an Herb Salad.

Herb salads are incredibly refreshing, easy to prepare and make for an amazing accompaniment to these pan-roasted chicken halves or even my Braised Cabbage if you want something more vegetable-forward. You can experiment with different fresh herbs depending on what you have on hand. If you want to make the salad a bit more hearty, try adding a tender, leafy green. But the goal is for the herbs to account for at least half of the salad.

This recipe calls for a base of mâche (aka lamb’s lettuce), which is tender, slightly sweet and beautifully bright green in colour. You can substitute watercress for a slightly more bitter flavour if mâche is hard to find in your area.

I also added some thinly sliced radishes to the herb salad for a pop of colour and crunch. Some radishes are more bitter than others so give it a taste before adding it to your salad to see if it’s something you’ll like.

Whole30 Paleo Fresh Herb Salad with Radish Primal Gourmet Recipe

Make the Sumac Onions

It couldn’t be easier then tossing together some thinly sliced onions, a bit of sumac and a squeeze of lemon. The result is a tangy, citrusy, acidic condiment that will brighten up any roast or grilled meat.

If you’ve never tried sumac, it has a slightly acidic, sour, lemony flavour. It can be found at most Middle Eastern markets. If you’re in Romania, check your local Kaufland or Auchan!

Pan-Roasted Chicken, Herb Salad, Tahini & Sumac Onions Primal Gourmet Whole30 Recipe Paleo

Tahini, quick-and-easy

I honestly can’t think of an easier, more delicious sauce to make than tahini and it works so, so good with this pan-roasted chicken. It has 4 ingredients, not counting water, and could not be more forgiving.

If you add too much sesame seed paste, just add more water. If you add too much water, just add more sesame seed paste. Once you find the right consistency, taste it for seasoning and adjust with garlic, lemon juice and salt as desired. Keep it in a sealed jar and it will last at least a week in the fridge.

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Pan-Roasted Chicken Halves, Herb Salad, Tahini & Sumac Onions

These Pan-Roasted Chicken Halves are crispy on the outside, juicy and tender in the middle and absolutely loaded with flavour.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


For the Pan-Roasted Chicken:

  • 1 small chicken, around 2 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 3 tablespoons grass-fed butter, substitute ghee for Whole30 and Paleo
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, skins on and lightly smashed

For the Herb Salad:

  • 7 ounces mâche, AKA lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, valerianella, substitute watercress
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, roughly torn
  • 1 cup dill leaves, roughly torn
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives, roughly chopped
  • 12 fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 large radishes, thinly sliced into discs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper

For the Sumac Onions:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice ¼ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sumac

For the Tahini Sauce:

  • ½ cup 100% pure toasted sesame seed paste, AKA tahini
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup ice cold water, plus more or less as needed


For the Pan-Roasted Chicken:

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Using a sharp knife or pair of kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken’s backbone to separate it from the carcass. Place the chicken breast-side down and make an incision in the middle of the breast plate. Using your knife, press down and slice through the back of the breast bone and meat to cut the chicken in half. Tuck the tip of each wing behind each breast.
  • In a bowl, combine the smoked paprika, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Generously season both sides of the chicken and massage to coat.
  • Preheat an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the avocado oil and heat until shimmering. Add the chicken halves and backbone skin-side down first. Cover loosely with a piece of parchment paper and top with a heavy pan to weigh it down. Cook, undisturbed, until the skin is golden brown and crispy, around 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and add the butter, thyme and garlic to the pan. Using a large spoon, baste the chicken with the melted butter for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook the chicken until the thickest part of the breast registers 160F, around 12 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Herb Salad:

  • In a large bowl, combine the mâche, parsley, dill, chives, mint, radish, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss everything to combine and serve with the pan-roasted chicken.

For the Sumac Onions:

  • In a bowl, combine the onion, lemon juice and sumac. Toss to coat and gently squeeze the onions until slightly tender. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Tahini Sauce:

  • In a bowl, combine the sesame seed paste, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Whisk until combined and a paste forms. While continuously whisking, slowly pour in the water a little bit at a time until the sauce is smooth and can coats the back of a spoon. If your tahini sauce is too thick, add a bit more water. If it’s too runny, add a bit more sesame seed paste. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt or garlic as needed. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.


Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below!

About the Author

Hi, i’m Ronny! In 2013, after a lifetime of struggling with my weight and body issues, I rehabilitated my relationship with food, lost over 40 pounds and completely changed my life.

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