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Roasted Cranberry Chicken

This Roasted Cranberry Chicken recipe has crispy, tender chicken thighs with a sweet cranberry-orange balsamic sauce that is to die for. It’s simple yet impressive to serve!

A cast iron skillet with cranberry chicken thighs just out of the oven

Oh, be still my heart, dear cranberries. Why they’re popular just once a year is beyond me. I do everything I can to get my fill while I can still find them fresh.

When fresh cranberries are paired with orange and balsamic? It’s a wonderful thing when just a few ingredients combine to make such a major flavor impact.

Anytime I can cook a sauce with chicken – or any other kind of protein – at the same time and let the flavors all infuse together, I do it. This Cranberry Chicken recipe is the ultimate example of that. There’s some roasted garlic thrown in the mix, too, which adds great flavor but with the added benefit of being able to spread it on a slice of fresh bread when it’s dinnertime.

A closeup of cranberry chicken thighs with some halved roasted garlic, orange slices, and sprigs of thyme

Can chicken breasts be used in this Cranberry Chicken recipe?

I use chicken thighs in this recipe for a few reasons. One, they’re small enough so you can fit more pieces into a skillet. Two, chicken thighs are my favorite so they’re my go-to when creating a new recipe. And third, they don’t dry out as easily as chicken breasts in the oven.

Having said that, you can absolutely use breasts instead of chicken thighs if that’s what you prefer. Or use a whole cut-up chicken for a mix of both. If it can fit in your skillet, you’re good to go.

A cast iron skillet with cranberry chicken thighs just out of the oven with a balsamic cranberry orange sauce and fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs

Can frozen cranberries be used instead of fresh?

The short answer is YES, you can use frozen cranberries in this recipe instead of fresh if that’s what you have on hand. That said, I’ve tried it with frozen just so I could answer this question and it doesn’t work quite as well as fresh. Oh, it will still be good, but the flavor is just a bit better with fresh.

You also may have to simmer the sauce a minute or two longer since there’s more liquid to evaporate. But hey, use what you’ve got! Just please, make this Cranberry Chicken recipe, no matter what kind you use.

If you make these Cranberry Chicken Thighs and happen to share it on social media, be sure to tag me so I don’t miss it! I’m @thewickednoodle on all social channels. Snap a pic if you can, I’d love to see your creation!

A closeup of cranberry chicken thighs with some halved roasted garlic, orange slices, and sprigs of thyme

Roasted Cranberry Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 38 minutes
Total Time: 48 minutes


  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (reserve a few for garnish, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 large orange, zested then sliced
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs


  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and rub the exposed garlic cloves all over the top and bottom of each thigh. Season with the salt and pepper.
  3. Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When it's shimmering, add chicken skin-side down. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the skin is nicely browned. Remove the chicken and set it aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter and, when it's melted, add the cranberries, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and the zest from the orange. Simmer for about 7-8 minutes until it starts to thicken, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the skillet to get up any browned bits left from frying the chicken.
  5. Place the chicken thighs skin-side up in the skillet and place the herbs, garlic halves and orange slices between the chicken, nestling some underneath if necessary.
  6. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through and it reaches an internal temp of 165F.
  7. Serve with some crusty bread for spreading the roasted garlic and sopping up the delicious sauce.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 712Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 348mgSodium: 1091mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 62g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Still looking for more cranberry recipes? Here you go!

Kristy Bernardo
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