Sumac-Rubbed Drumsticks with Marinated Onions

This richly-spiced chicken dish from Suzy Karadsheh's cookbook, "The Mediterranean Dish", is a can't-miss main.

Photo: “The Mediterranean Dish” Copyright © 2022 by Suzy Karadsheh. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Caitlin Bensel. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

During the olive oil season, my Palestinian friends prepare a celebratory chicken dish called musakhan, whereby chicken pieces, generously seasoned with sumac and spices, are slow-roasted until tender, then served with silky, caramelized onions atop a bed of olive oil–drenched flatbread. It is as comforting and bold as it sounds.

These rosy-hued drumsticks are sort of an abbreviated barbecue version of this dish. The marinated onions are essential, so don’t skip them. Macerating the onion in vinegar tames its sharpness and softens it a bit, while holding on to just enough of its pleasant crunch. Allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge for several hours to turn up the flavor volume even more, but if you’re short on time, even 30 minutes will be sufficient. I serve the bread on the side.

Sumac-Rubbed Drumsticks with Marinated Onions



  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • 4 or 5 large garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • 3 pounds chicken drumsticks
  • Kosher salt


  1. In the bowl of a small food processor fitted with the multi purpose blade, combine the red onion, garlic, sumac, Aleppo pepper, allspice, coriander, black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, and turmeric. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Blend until everything is well combined and in a thick marinade.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and season well with salt all over, making sure to season under the chicken’s skin. Put the chicken in a large zippered plastic bag and pour in the marinade and then seal the bag. Massage the bag to make sure the marinade is well distributed, and all the chicken is covered in marinade. Place the sealed bag on a plate and refrigerate anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, turning the bag midway through the marinating time.
  3. When ready, preheat a gas grill for two-zone grilling, with the direct heat set at 400°F.
  4. Arrange the chicken over the indirect heat on the grill (the chicken should not be in direct contact with the flame). Close the grill and cook, turning every 7 to 8 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes total. Remove from the heat and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes or so.
  5. When ready to serve, arrange half the marinated onions on a platter. Arrange the chicken drumsticks on top, then finish with the remaining marinated onions.

The Mediterranean Dish” Copyright © 2022 by Suzy Karadsheh. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Caitlin Bensel. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.