On my Wisconsin bucket list: visit a cranberry bog, then use said cranberries to make Cranberry Chicken.

Sticky Cranberry Chicken Thighs

One of the dozens of things I didn’t know about Wisconsin when Ben coerced me to move here four years ago was that, for the past 20 years, Wisconsin has led the nation in cranberry production. Sure, the Massachusetts bogs of cranberry juice commercial fame are picturesque, but it’s plaid-clad Wisconsin that grows the largest haul.

So, in addition to the state’s fabulous selection of cheese and beer (which can be conveniently enjoyed at this public park biergarten), Wisconsin can boast cranberries too, and I’m glad.

These tart little jewels give me happy holiday tingles and provide much-needed brightness on winter evenings, when the sun sets at 4:30. Why does daylight savings time need to end again?

One Pan Cranberry Chicken

As with nearly all of my groceries, I find my cranberries at Pick ‘N Save, the state’s largest buyer of local produce. I love seeing the way the cranberries are piled proudly right at the front of the store, like a big stack of rubies. Each red gem is precious.

bowl of fresh Wisconsin cranberries

Why I Love This Chicken with Cranberry Sauce

Fresh cranberries receive the most attention at Thanksgiving in the form of cranberry sauce (please promise me you will make your own from scratch this year—I made this version with orange and honey last year. It takes less than 20 minutes and puts the can to shame!). Cranberry chicken, however, proves that fresh cranberries also deserve a spot in your weeknight dinner rotation all fall and winter long.

This one pan chicken recipe with juicy chicken thighs coated with a sticky cranberry glaze is sweet, tangy and ready in only 30 minutes. I’d call that a win!

Cranberry Chicken dinner

How to Make Cranberry Chicken

This one pan wonder begins with fresh cranberries that are cooked down with honey, shallots, and spices to form a sweet, sticky, savory glaze.

Chicken thighs are seared until golden and crispy on the outside and sweet and juicy on the inside. The sauce is slathered on the chicken, then earthy, fresh thyme is sprinkled on the sauce.

Everything happens in the same pan, and fewer dishes = better tasting food. Can we agree?

plate of cranberry chicken, fresh cranberries and rice pilaf

What to Serve with Cranberry Chicken

Sticky Cranberry Chicken Thighs. The whole meal cooks in one pan and is healthy AND delicious. Winner dinner!

Cranberry Chicken

3 from 3 votes
One Pan Cranberry Chicken. Juicy chicken with a sticky cranberry glaze. Sweet, tangy and ready in only 30 minutes!

Total: 30 mins

Servings: 2 -3 servings


For the Chicken

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the Cranberry Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 12 ounces cranberries rinsed, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme for serving


  • Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and place on a plate or tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let come to room temperature while you prepare the glaze.
  • In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high. Add the shallot and sauté until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the cranberries, water, cider vinegar, and honey. Cook until the berries soften and begin to lose their shape, 5-8 minutes. Stir often so that the berries cook on all sides and much of the liquid cooks away. Once soft, roughly smash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon so that they burst, then stir in the ginger, salt, and allspice. The mixture will be very thick.
  • Transfer the cranberry glaze to a bowl. With a paper towel, carefully wipe the skillet clean, then heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high. Once hot and shimmering, add the chicken thighs in a single layer, seasoning-side down. Let the chicken cook for 5-7 minutes undisturbed, until the first side is golden brown and does not stick to the pan. For the best browning, try not to move the chicken around in the pan as it cooks. Flip the chicken over, then cook it an additional 4-6 minutes, until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 165 degrees F. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and spoon the cranberry glaze over the top. Let rest 5 minutes, sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme, and serve with extra cranberry glaze for dipping.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. This looks fabulous! I am thinking that this might be nice instead of turkey this year for Thanksgiving. How do you think it would work in the oven,  and baked in a casserole for a party of 10?? 
    Thanks, Marcia

    1. Hi Marcia! I’ve never tried the recipe this way so it would be an experiment for you. I’d suggest finding a great recipe for baked bone-in chicken thighs (bone in = juicier; I’m worried the boneless thighs might dry out), then spoon the cranberry sauce on top of it once it’s baked. That sounds like a fun idea for Thanksgiving!

  2. This dish sounds wonderful.  One pot is always a winner (just ask my husband…), and I like the sound of your dinner.  I’d probably do just plain roasted Brussels sprouts.  It just occurred to me that this could be a great Thanksgiving dinner when there are only two people, who don’t want a lot of leftovers

        1. Hi Kimberly, I haven’t tried it, so you’d be experimenting, but I think it would be fine to go ahead and make the recipe without ginger. The flavor will be a little different, but it should still be tasty!

  3. Oh my gosh, look at the color of that beautiful sauce on the chicken!! I had no idea that Wisconsin produces the most cranberries! Whenever I think of cranberries, I always think about those big, fashion-forward overalls that farmers wear to harvest the berries!

  4. Cranberries are so tart, and there is vinegar in the sauce, which seems like it will make the sauce VERY tart, with only 1 tablespoon of honey added.  I’m kind of afraid to try this recipe. Is the sauce really delicious without more sweetener added?

    1. Hi Kathie! I do tend to prefer things on the tart side, but the great thing about this sauce is, it’s completely customizable. You can just taste it after you add the tablespoon of honey, and if you feel more is needed, just add a tablespoon or two more.

  5. I stumbled upon your website while on Pinterest.  Everything I have tried has been fantastic.  I am excited to try this recipe with cranberries because we have an organic cranberry marsh in northern wisconsin!  I am always looking for new recipes.

    1. Lindsey, WELCOME! I’m so happy to have you here and glad you’ve liked the recipes you’ve tried so far. That makes my day :)  I hope you love this cranberry chicken too!

  6. Erin, thanks to you, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  We had the cranberry chicken, your vanilla bean sweet potato casserole and a chard and persimmon salad from another blog.  This is a dinner I could definitely do again, although I will have to put a bit more honey in the cranberries because they were too tart for my husband’s tastes.  Not for mine, though.  Hope you and Ben have had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    1. Susan, I can’t say enough how honored I feel to have my recipes as a part of your Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you had a wonderful evening, and a very happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

  7. Delicious! I did not make any modifications to this recipe, except that I had to cook my chicken thighs a bit longer. I served this with Uncle Ben’s wild rice and a side of butter-sautéed Brussels Sprouts. Will DEFINITELY make this again!4 stars

    1. Hooray, Keisha! I’m so glad to hear this recipe was a winner for you! Thanks for taking the time to leave this awesome review and for sharing what you served it with!

  8. Do you have nutrition facts available for this recipe? It looks delicious and relatively low-carb, but I have gestational diabetes and am still figuring out how to count everything I eat. :-/

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Great question, Rebekah! Nutritional info is something that I’ve started adding to all of my new recipes, effective January 2016 (you’ll see it in the recipe box at the bottom). Unfortunately, it’s pretty time consuming, so I’m unable to go back and add it to past recipes. If you’d like the nutritional info for this recipe (or really any other recipe or food), you can actually calculate it yourself for free at myfitnesspal.com (this is how I calculate the new recipes on my blog). I’m sorry I can’t give you the information for this specific one, but I hope that My Fitness Pal will be a helpful resource for you.

  9. Way too tart! I made the glaze exactly as written in recipe and ended up having to add more honey and a couple spoonfuls of brown sugar to make it edible. Would like to try it again but would start with one tablespoon of vinegar and go from there.2 stars

    1. Hi Matthew, I’m sorry to hear the recipe was too tart for your taste. Tartness preferences definitely vary by person as you can see from the comments from others who have enjoyed the recipe, but I’m glad you were able to add more honey and brown sugar to customize the recipe to your preferred sweetness level.

  10. Made this exactly as the recipe described and was much too tart and we love tart tastes. I thought there might have been a typo on the vinegar and honey ratio but my husband doublechecked. We had to add some sugar to balance it out and then was delicious.3 stars

    1. Lisa, I’m glad you enjoyed it once you adjusted to your preferred level of tartness! Thanks so much for taking the time to give it a try.

    1. I’d recommend sticking to boneless to make sure they cook all the way through. You could try experimenting with starting on the stove then finishing the chicken in the oven, but for the safest option, use boneless (this is the only way I’ve tested the recipe). If you do try it, I hope you love it!

    1. Hi Robyn, I have not tried the recipe this way, but you could experiment with it. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  11. I’m eager to try this recipe but none of my local stores carry cranberries – neither fresh nor frozen! What do you think about subbing in cherries?

    1. Hi Nicole! I’ve never tried this recipe with cherries, so it would be a complete experiment. If you decide to play around with it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

      1. Gave it a shot and it turned out well! Since cherries are a bit sweeter I think I’ve circumvented the overly-tart potential.