This easy baked cranberry chicken recipe is your ticket to a comforting and festive show-stopping dinner that takes little effort to prepare! You’ll love the bold flavors from fresh minced garlic, rosemary, citrus, and tangy-sweet fresh cranberries all in one pan.
Baked cranberry chicken with a Mediterranean twist
You can’t go wrong with a comforting baked chicken dinner, especially when seasoned with piney rosemary. But if you’re looking to kick things up a few notches and give your chicken a bit of a festive personality, add cranberries!
This baked cranberry chicken brings the wow factor with such little effort!
The flavor stars in this chicken recipe are decidedly Mediterranean: garlic, rosemary, and citrus – complemented by fresh cranberries. Once baked, the cranberries soften to a luscious, tangy-sweet topping for the chicken. The perfect pop of color and flavor!
This baked chicken dish is fairly simple to put together. It starts with seasoning the chicken and macerating the cranberries in a mixture of brown sugar and white wine vinegar. (This helps break the cranberries down by softening the skin and accentuating some of their natural sweetness). Then everything is baked together until
Here’s what you need to make this holiday-worthy baked chicken:
Fresh cranberries: The star ingredient that lends a festive touch, while also adding brightness and flavor.Bone-in, skin-on chicken: I used two chicken breasts and four thighs, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.Extra virgin olive oil: Use a little to brown the chicken, and the rest to marinate the chicken, vegetables, and lemon halves.Fresh garlic: There’s nothing like fresh garlic rubbed onto chicken! I like to rub it both on and under the skin for maximum flavor.Seasoning: Sweet paprika and fresh rosemaryLemon: Lemon adds that citrusy yumminess that always goes so well in a chicken dish. Once you use the juice, hold on to the used lemon halves!Yellow onion and celeryWhite wine vinegarBrown sugar: Brown sugar and white wine vinegar work together to cut the tartness of fresh cranberries, and to bring out some of their sweetness.Chicken broth or water
How to prepare fresh cranberries for this recipe
Fresh cranberries are ideal for this baked chicken recipe. And luckily for us, they are typically available at grocery stores in the fall and through December for all sorts of holiday cooking. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare cranberries for cooking:
Select good cranberries: Choose cranberries that look plump and have a rich, dark color to them. They should also be firm to the touch. Throw out any berries that look shriveled or rotten with brown spots. (By the way, quality fresh cranberries will keep well in the fridge in a tight zip-top bag for up to 2 months.)Rinse and dry: Be sure to give the cranberries a good rinse in water to clean them off. Remove any stems that might be still attached. Pat them dry with a kitchen towel before using in this recipe. Macerate the cranberries: To cut the tartness of fresh cranberries, macerate them. Macerating is a technique that is similar to marinating. It refers to soaking fruits in a liquid and sugar mixture to help break down the fruit a bit. In this case, you’ll use brown sugar and a little white wine vinegar. This will help to soften the tough skin of fresh cranberries, as well as draw out some of their natural sweetness. Let them sit for about 10 minutes.
How to make cranberry chicken: step-by-step
Making this simple, wholesome one pan chicken dinner requires little prep. Here is the step-by-step guide for how to make it (Printer-friendly version is below.)
Prepare the cranberries: Combine the berries with brown sugar and vinegar and allow them to sit for about 10 minutes while you prepare the chicken. This helps to break down their tough skins.
Season and marinate the chicken. I like to rub the fresh minced garlic underneath the chicken skin, which gives the meat so much more flavor. Rub the salt, pepper, rosemary, and paprika all over the chicken, again applying some underneath the skin. (You can use fresh rosemary here or a smaller amount of dry rosemary.)
Prepare a large bowl or deep dish with extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and lemon juice. Add the seasoned chicken along with celery and onions. Let it marinate.
Brown the chicken. Before baking, brown the chicken pieces in a skillet with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Giving the chicken a bit of a crust before baking will help to seal in juices and keep the pieces nice and moist.
Bake the chicken. Arrange the chicken with the celery, onions, and lemon halves in a large baking dish. Add about ½ cup chicken broth (or water) and top with the sugared cranberries.
Bake in a 425 degrees F heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until internal temperature of the chicken registers 165 degrees F.
What to serve with it
If you’re using this cranberry chicken as the centerpiece for a special dinner, there are many sides and salads that can go along with it. I’ll share a few favorites:
Additional recipe FAQs
At 425 degrees F, bone-in chicken will take about 30 to 35 minutes. Check after 25 minutes or so, using a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken to check its temperature. Cooked chicken will have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
You absolutely can. One of our readers, Christopher, tried it with boneless chicken and it worked out well for him. I recommend chicken thighs in this case. Start by browning the chicken for a couple minutes or so on each side, and then baking for around 25 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. If you’re not sure that your cranberries will cook down well enough in this amount of time, you can go ahead and bake them for a few additional minutes before adding to the chicken.
If you can’t find fresh cranberries, frozen cranberries will also work in this baked cranberry chicken recipe. To prepare them, thaw them out ahead of time and be sure to drain them very well. You will not need to use white wine vinegar with frozen cranberries, but you do still need toss them in some brown sugar before using in this recipe.
More baked chicken recipes you might like
Browse all Mediterranean recipes
Visit Our Shop
Baked Cranberry Chicken with Rosemary
To use boneless chicken instead, I recommend chicken thighs. Begin by browning them for a couple minutes on each side. Adjust baking time; boneless thighs will take about 25 minutes to bake in the oven
Frozen cranberries option: If you can’t find fresh cranberries, frozen cranberries will also work in this baked cranberry chicken recipe. To prepare them, thaw them out ahead of time and be sure to drain them very well. You will not need to use white wine vinegar with frozen cranberries, but do still toss them in some brown sugar before using in this recipe.
Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils and spices.
* This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2019, and has been recently updated with new information for readers’ benefit.