A simple and tasty chicken dish, with all flavours of Christmas. Crispy chicken thighs smothered in a cranberry "gravy" with bursts of fresh cranberries and thyme. Cranberry Chicken is a meal that will impress over the festive season, with very little effort.
Minimal ingredients go in to making this cranberry chicken, but it produces maximum flavour. Ready in just 30 minutes, it's perfect for when you want something impressive on the table, but you don't want to make anything too complicated.
A perfect balance of sweet and tart flavours, this will liven up a boring chicken dinner.
Why you will love it
- A delicious festive meal - Nothing quite screams Christmas like cranberries!
- A great way to use up leftover cranberries - If you have bought some cranberries to make your own sauce and you don't know what to do with them, this is a good way to reduce waste.
- Lives up boring chicken - We love chicken, as it is so versatile, but it can get a little boring cooking it the same ways. This cranberry gravy really livens it up.
- Leftovers are great on a salad or in a sandwich - Make extra so you can make a salad with this chicken on it the next day.
- Chicken - We used skin on and bone in chicken thighs for this cranberry chicken, as we find that it has the mot flavour. The chicken stays really juicy and the skin gets nice and crispy. You could swap for skinless though if you prefer.
- Cranberry sauce - This is the base of the cranberry "gravy". Quality it key here, and you want to use the best quality cranberry sauce you can find. Don't worry about chunky vs smooth, as it is all going to get blended up anyway.
- Balsamic vinegar - This not only adds lots of flavour to the cranberry "gravy", but the sweetness of the balsamic really balances of the tartness of the cranberries. Again, quality is key here as you can really taste the difference between a cheap balsamic and a more expensive one. The cheap ones tend to be really runny too.
- Maple syrup - This also adds some sweetness to the sauce. Use pure maple syrup, rather than the fake kind.
- Stock - This is what makes the gravy part. We went with a good quality chicken stock, but you could always make your own.
- Garlic - This adds lots of flavour, without adding lots of calories.
- Thyme - Fresh thyme is the way to go and not only does it add lots of flavour, but it makes the finished dish look beautiful.
- Fresh cranberries - You can never have too many cranberries, right? This is cranberry chicken after all. As well as the cranberry sauce, we added fresh cranberries not only for presentation, but for little bursts of flavour.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make Cranberry Chicken - step by step
Prep: Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.
One: Heat the oil in a large frying and add the chicken, skin side down and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the chicken thighs over and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Three: Put the cranberry sauce, balsamic, maple syrup, garlic, stock and salt and pepper into a blender and blend until smooth.
Four: Pour half the sauce in to an ovenproof dish.
Five: Add the chicken to the dish.
Six: Top with the rest of the sauce, the fresh cranberries and thyme.
Seven: Put into the oven for 25-30 minutes.
We love an opportunity to add some vegetables to a dish, and you have a couple of options with this cranberry chicken. Once you have crisped up the chicken and added it to the oven dish, you could fry up some shallots, mushrooms and spinach and put it under the chicken in the dish.
What to serve with Cranberry Chicken
You have lots of options when it comes to how to serve Cranberry Chicken. We served it with our BEST Ever Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Slow Cooker Green Beans. However, here are some other options for delicious side dishes that go perfectly with this chicken:
- Roasted Lemon Asparagus
- Garlic Spring Greens
- Roasted Tenderstem Broccoli
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Baked Carrot Fries
- Vegetable Mash
- Roasted Garlic and Herb Mushrooms
- Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad
- Air Fryer Fries
- Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
- Baked Polenta Fries
- Garlic Potato Wedges
Chicken is a great source of lean protein (even more so if you use chicken breasts) there are loads of health benefits of cranberries. They are a good source of vitamin C, E and K1 as well as fibre.
This dish cooks in the oven for around 25 minutes, but the exact cooking time will depend on your oven. It will be cooked when the juices run clear, but that is a bit hard to tell with the cranberry sauce. The best way to ensure that it is cooked through is to use a meat thermometer. Chicken is cooked when it has an internal temperature of 75°C/167°F.
Yes, you can use any cranberry sauce you like, as this recipe really is quite forgiving.
No, if you can't find any fresh cranberries (if you are making this out of season), then you can leave them out. They are just thrown in to the dish before cooking to add a little extra burst of flavour.
Yes, you can swap the chicken thighs for breast in this recipe, although cooking times will vary. Chicken breast does tend to dry out a little more, but with all the sauce that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Yes, this recipe works really well in the slow cooker. We would still recommend crisping the chicken up in a frying pan first, but then you can add everything to the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
Yes, you can make part of this in advance by making up the sauce and then keeping it in the fridge (for up to 2 days) until you are ready to make the dish.
You can keep leftovers in the fridge in an air tight container for 2 days.
Leftovers are amazing in a sandwich or salad. If you are making a sandwich with it, then take all the meat off the bone and then load it in between your favourite bread, with some slices of brie, a handful of rocket lettuce (arugula) and some more cranberry sauce. When if comes to salad, then a bed of spinach and watercress works well and then load it up with the chicken taken off the bone, some crumbled goats cheese and some fresh cranberries and a sprinkle of pine nuts.
• You can use a chunky cranberry sauce with whole cranberries, or smooth one. It doesn't really matter because it is all going to be blended anyway.
• Add some extra flavour with some grated orange zest added at the same time as the cranberry sauce.
• We used chicken stock for this dish, however you could use vegetable stock instead. If you are making this for younger kids, then use a reduced salt stock.
• You could swap the thyme for fresh rosemary instead.
• Test the cranberry sauce before you add it to the dish. If it is still a little too tart for you, you could add some more maple syrup and blend it up again.
• Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your chicken is cooked fully throughout.
• You could skip the first steps of frying the chicken and just do it all in the oven. You wouldn't get as crispy skin and cooking times would vary.
More cranberry recipes
- 6 chicken thighs - (about 150g/5oz each)
- 180 g cranberry sauce
- 150 g fresh cranberries
- 2 garlic cloves
- 10 g fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 80 ml balsamic vinegar
- 100 ml chicken stock
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.
- Heat the oil in a large frying and add the chicken, skin side down and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the chicken thighs over and cook for a further 2 minutes.2 tablespoon olive oil, 6 chicken thighs
- Put the cranberry sauce, balsamic, maple syrup, garlic, stock and salt and pepper in to a blender and blend until smooth.180 g cranberry sauce, 2 garlic cloves, 80 ml balsamic vinegar, 100 ml chicken stock, 2 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- Pour half the sauce in to an ovenproof dish.
- Add the chicken to the dish.
- Top with the rest of the sauce, the fresh cranberries and thyme.150 g fresh cranberries, 10 g fresh thyme
- Put into the oven for 25-30 minutes.
- You can use a chunky cranberry sauce with whole cranberries, or smooth one. It doesn't really matter because it is all going to be blended anyway.
- Add some extra flavour with some grated orange zest added at the same time as the cranberry sauce.
- We used chicken stock for this dish, however you could use vegetable stock instead. If you are making this for younger kids, then use a reduced salt stock.
- You could swap the thyme for fresh rosemary instead.
- Test the cranberry sauce before you add it to the dish. If it is still a little too tart for you, you could add some more maple syrup and blend it up again.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your chicken is cooked fully throughout.
- You could skip the first steps of frying the chicken and just do it all in the oven. You wouldn't get as crispy skin and cooking times would vary.