On my Wisconsin bucket list: visit a cranberry bog, then use said cranberries to make Cranberry Chicken.
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One of the dozens of things I didn’t know about Wisconsin when Ben coerced me to move here 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, 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?
5 Star Review
“Delicious! Will DEFINITELY make this again!”— Keisha —
Why I Love This Cranberry Chicken
Fresh cranberries receive the most attention at Thanksgiving in the form of cranberry sauce. (Some free advice: skip the can and make this homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce instead).
Cranberry chicken, however, proves that fresh cranberries also deserve a spot in your weeknight dinner rotation all fall and winter long.
- Juicy chicken thighs coated with a sticky cranberry glaze are sweet, tangy, and bursting with color (and flavor)
- Forget about roasting a turkey or whole chicken for hours. This holiday-worthy recipe is ready in 30 minutes.
- PLUS, this one-pan chicken recipe offers easy preparation and clean-up.
I’d call that a win!
How to Make Cranberry Chicken
Chicken thighs seared until golden and crispy on the outside and sweet and juicy on the inside are slathered in a sweet, sticky, savory glaze made from fresh cranberries.
- Chicken Thighs. Boneless skinless thighs cook quickly and remain moist and tender when seared over high heat.
- Cranberries. These little red jewels are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber they’re one superfood I cannot get enough of during the holidays.
- Shallots. Adds some savory onion flavor and zip to the sauce.
- Honey. Cuts through the tart cranberries and balances the vinegar.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Helps break down the cranberries and adds additional acidity.
- Ginger. For some bite that compliments that tart cranberries and sweet honey.
- Allspice. A warm earthy spice that deeply flavors the cranberry glaze.
- Thyme. Finishes the dish with a savory woodsy aroma and flavor.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Sauté the shallot until fragrant, then add the cranberries, water, apple cider vinegar, and honey.
- Cook and reduce the sauce, smashing the cranberries so they burst, then stir in the ginger, salt, and allspice. Transfer the finished glaze to a bowl.
- In the same skillet, sear the chicken on both sides until fully cooked.
- Spoon the cranberry glaze over the chicken, let rest, then serve. ENJOY!
- To Store. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze. Freeze the chicken and cranberry sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
- To Reheat. Warm in the microwave, in a covered skillet over medium-low heat, or a slow cooker until heated through. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to the sauce to rehydrate it before heating.
What to Serve with Cranberry Chicken
- Rice. To make the meal complete, I served our chicken with a side of wild rice. This Crockpot Wild Rice Stuffing would be tasty.
- Vegetables. Our favorite Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, or crispy Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts are all delicious options.
- Salad. Winter Salad with Kale would be scrumptious with this chicken too.
Another title Wisconsin holds? The state with the most cranberry chicken devoured under one roof (by yours truly).
Frequently Asked Questions
I have not personally made this recipe with fresh or frozen cherries, however, readers have reported doing so with success. Feel free to experiment and report back.
I would recommend sticking with boneless chicken thighs to ensure they cook thoroughly before serving. If you choose to experiment with bone-in chicken, I would suggest finishing the chicken thighs in the oven after searing until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Yes. This recipe for cranberry chicken is entirely gluten free.
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 fresh cranberries rinsed (or frozen and thawed)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey (or more to suit your taste preferences)
- 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 it on a plate or tray. Season 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 heat. 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 heat. 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.
- TO STORE: Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze the chicken and cranberry sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
- TO REHEAT: Warm in the microwave, in a covered skillet over medium-low heat, or in a slow cooker until heated through. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to the sauce to rehydrate it before heating.
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