This cranberry chicken recipe makes an easy healthy meal for a holiday table. Tangy balsamic marinade keeps the chicken juicy, while cranberries and fresh thyme add flavor! It’s a great meal prep recipe or make ahead meal.
Thanksgiving will be here before we know it! Bring on the turkey, cranberries, and stuffing salad. Actually, this cranberry chicken dinner is not quite the traditional Thanksgiving food, but I have a story to go with that. As always.
Several months ago, I shared my orange roasted chicken recipe. Well, that recipe creation was due to the “Thanksgiving PURGE of 2014.” LOL!
Purge as in, my husband got SO SICK from turkey, like food poisoning sick, that he banned turkey from his diet indefinitely. Although, I sneak in a few turkey recipes here and there. Shhh… don’t tell him.
To be brutally honest, we aren’t big fans of roasted turkey anyway. But roasted chicken? HECK TO THE YES! Ground turkey in chili is one of my turkey exceptions —> BRING IT ON! You betcha!
Turkey lovers, don’t hate me. I have a HUGE gluten free Thanksgiving recipe round up, and turkey is included. But now, we’re gonna give those CHICKEN dishes some more love.
Ahhh…. it’s just so dangerously delicious!
Oven roasting any type of meat or poultry ensures that it comes out INCREDIBLY moist and juicy.
Super high heat and a short cooking time = delicious, juicy chicken with crispy skin
Super low heat and slow cooking is for tough muscle meats like pork shoulder and pot roast.
But let’s talk about using them in this cranberry chicken recipe. Oh heavens yes!
Cranberries are a natural sweetener, rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Not to mention, they are unique in that they have the ability to provide us with digestive support. They’re truly one of the worlds healthiest foods!
The outcome? A tart and tangy, crispy-skinned, juicy chicken dinner.
How long does it take to cook?
Well, take a peek at this video and you’ll see that it comes together SO quickly! At 375 F., it takes about 40 minutes to cook.
How to make the Cranberry Chicken recipe (1-minute video)
Just a few minor (yet uber important) details you need to know.
- Using skinless chicken:
If you want to lighten up the fat and calories in this recipe, you can absolutely use boneless skinless chicken breasts. BUT, you’ll need to reduce the roasting time.
Also, you should know that the meat won’t be nearly as juicy. Of course, it will still be delicious.
The secret to juicy chicken is to use bone-in breasts or thighs, and to keep the skin ON when roasting!
THE SKIN is where the nutrients, are it’s what makes this the chicken SUPER crispy.
Plus, the skin is a good source of heart healthy unsaturated fat. Which is good for those watching their cholesterol! Even better, it’s rich in vitamin K; a vitamin we often overlook.
- Chicken Marinade Notes
Don’t skip the 24 hour marinating time. As tempting as it may be to make the recipe come together more quickly, the balsamic marinade needs time to work its way through the chicken.
It’s one of the important keys to a moist and juicy slow roasted chicken. Nobody wants to eat dried out chicken for dinner, right?
Let’s conclude. This paleo cranberry chicken recipe:
- contains healthy unsaturated fats
- is naturally sweet – no additional sugar necessary!
- super juicy
- extra crispy
- easy to make in one pan, and
- is loaded with extra roasted cranberries to support your immune system and digestive system
Enjoy this cranberry chicken recipe as part of this gluten free and dairy free holiday meal plan too!Print
Roasted cranberry chicken is made with a delicious balsamic marinade, fresh cranberries, and thyme. This paleo one pan chicken recipe makes a perfect turkey alternative on a holiday table!
For the Marinade:
- 1/3 cup cranberries
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp gluten free tamari sauce or coconut aminos (optional)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black peppers
- 2 garlic cloves (or 1 tsp minced)
For the Cranberry Chicken
- 2.5 lbs chicken thighs or breasts, with skin on (around 4 to 6 chicken thighs or breast) See notes for lower fat option
- 3–5 sprigs fresh thyme and extra to garnish (you may used a sprinkle of dried herbs to substitute)
- 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (or previously frozen) – See notes for substitutes.
- 1 tbsp each maple syrup and balsamic vinegar mixed together to coat chicken during roasting
Prep – Clean your chicken, then place in a roasting or baking dish. Set aside.
Make the Balsamic Chicken Marinade:
- Blend all the balsamic chicken marinade ingredients listed above in a food processor or blender until liquified and smooth.
- Pour marinade over the chicken thighs, coating evenly.
- Cover and place in fridge to marinate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hrs. (overnight creates great flavor!)
- Once marinated, preheat oven to 375 F.
- Remove chicken from fridge.
- Add extra 1/3 c to 1/2 cup cranberries, 2 – 3 sprigs of thyme or a sprinkle of dried Italian herbs to the dish. Spread it out evenly on and around the chicken.
- Bake skin side down first for 25-35 minutes depending on the size of chicken thighs.
- Remove and turn skin side up. Check for doneness. Then brush each chicken skin with the maple syrup/balsamic vinegar combo.
- Add more seasoning (like dried herbs, salt, pepper) to the top if desired. NOTE: If using fresh herbs, wait to add until after you remove the chicken from the oven.
- Depending on the thickness of your chicken thighs, either bake a little longer skin side up, then broil. Or if chicken is almost done and not pink, then skip extra baking and just broil for about 3-4 minutes or until skin is crispy and chicken is cooked evenly inside. Check to make sure the internal temperature of the thickest chicken thigh reaches 165F.
- NOTE: If using boneless chicken, cooking time will vary on thickness of chicken breast. Check around 35 minutes total.
- After thoroughly cooked, remove from oven. Spoon the sauce from the pan onto each chicken thigh/breast and a pinch of black pepper or cracked pepper.
- Serve with the roasted cranberries on top and any extra fresh herbs desired.
- This is a great recipe to make ahead. Prep the marinade hours before, then just pop it in the oven the next day or later in day.
- Lower Fat option if you use skinless chicken. Preparation for skinless chicken: The cooking time will be anywhere from 20-35 minutes total. Check at 20 minutes for chicken to reach internal temperature of 165F. No broiling needed.
- Notes from readers on cranberry substitutes – you can use fresh cranberry sauce in place of the cranberries. Puree it with marinade and adjust taste as needed. Balsamic vinegar optional.
Estimated Nutrition for skin on is shown below
- Category: main, dinner
- Method: oven
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 5 oz. chicken
- Calories: 355
- Sugar: 10g
- Sodium: 390mg
- Fat: 25g
- Saturated Fat: 5g
- Carbohydrates: 12.4g
- Fiber: 1.3g
- Protein: 22.5g
Keywords: cranberry chicken, oven roasted chicken, marinated chicken recipe, one pan dinner ideas
I don’t know about you, but I’m all about adding this dish to the holiday table. If you ask me, it’s more versatile than turkey.
You’re gonna be amazed and that turkey is gonna be jealous.