Cranberry Chicken is a fantastic meal if you’re in need of a mouth-watering dish to spice things up at dinner time. Coated in a sweet and savory glaze and made in under 30 minutes, this flavorful dinner option will be on the table in the blink of an eye. With just 4 simple ingredients, your friends and family will be shocked and begging for more after one bite.
Reasons You’ll Love This Recipe
Flavor Packed – The ingredients in this chicken recipe pack a huge punch!
So Easy – You only need 4 simple, budget-friendly ingredients and 30 minutes of your day to make this recipe. Does it really get much easier than that?
Air Fryer– Air fryers just make life better, and really work wonders on this chicken.
Oven Option – Fear not, if you don’t have an air fryer you can still make this wonderful chicken recipe in the oven!
Go Side Dish Crazy – Cranberry chicken goes perfectly with many different side dishes. Pair it with any kind of starch like white or brown rice, any kind of potatoes, or pasta. This also works with lots of veggies or even chopped up on a salad.
It’s always the ingredients you least expect that make an amazing meal; like cranberry sauce! Who would’ve thought adding that to a chicken marinade would make the best dish you’ve had in awhile. Seriously your dinner guests are going to love this, and more so you’re going to love how crazy easy this chicken is to make.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Let’s discuss how to make this Cranberry Chicken recipe, as well as the ingredients that are needed. Please take note that below you will find discussion, expert tips, and answers to frequently asked questions about this recipe to help you recreate it in your kitchen. If you *just* want the recipe itself, scroll down. The full printable recipe itself, with exact measurements and instructions, is found at the bottom of this page.
- Salad Dressing – You can either use Catalina or Russian salad dressing for the marinade. If you can’t find either of those, you can use french dressing and add a teaspoon of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
- Chicken Thighs – Make sure to get boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. You can use breasts instead, I just find thighs to be a little more flavorful and juicy. If you choose to use breasts, the cook time will need to be increased. You’ll know when the chicken is ready to serve when the internal temperature reaches 165°.
- Canned Cranberry Sauce – For this recipe you will need the whole berry canned cranberry sauce, not the jelly kind. If you have leftover homemade cranberry sauce you can use that as well. For the homemade sauce you will need a cup and a ½. You could also potentially substitute cranberry preserves for cranberry sauce, but just know it may come out sweeter than normal.
- Dry Onion Soup Mix – You just need the mix, don’t add any liquid to it.
How To Make Cranberry Chicken
- Start by pouring the can of cranberry sauce, Catalina dressing and soup mix into a large mixing bowl. Stir them together until combined.
- Spoon a cup of the marinade out of the bowl and set it to the side to save for later.
- To the bowl with the marinade in it, add all of the raw chicken thighs and toss them around to coat the chicken evenly. (Throw away the remaining marinade in the bowl that was touching the raw chicken)
- Prep your air fryer and air fryer basket to your liking. You can line the bottom of the basket with silicone or parchment paper for an easier cleanup but you don’t have to. Once it’s prepped, add your chicken thighs to the basket but don’t overlap them. You may have to cook them in batches depending on your air fryer size.
- Set the air fryer temperature to 400° and cook the chicken for 10 minutes. Then, remove the basket from the air fryer and flip the chicken over to the other side. Feel free to brush on some of that reserved marinade on top. Cook for 10 more minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°.
- While the chicken cooks, heat the cup of reserved marinade on the stovetop or in the microwave until warm. Once the chicken is done, pull it out from the air fryer and check to make sure it’s cooked all the way. Serve it with the warm reserved glaze.
Recipe Tips and Advice
Storage – Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days. You may also freeze them for about 3 months.
Fantastic Flavor – If you want the chicken to soak up a little bit more of the flavor in the glaze, you can let it sit in the marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. Your chicken will be bursting with flavor!
Equipment – For this recipe, you’ll need a large mixing bowl, an air fryer and something to line the air fryer with (if desired). If you choose to use the oven method, you’ll need a baking tray and something to grease it or line it with. This is the AIR FRYER that I use.
Bake it til you make iT – Oven Option
When making cranberry chicken in the oven, you’ll prepare the chicken the exact same as you would if you were going to air fry them. Preheat the oven to 350° and bake the chicken on a greased baking tray for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165°.
Using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts will make the world of a difference when it comes to juicy chicken. Also, investing in a meat thermometer and checking the internal temperature of the chicken to make sure it is at 165° right before you take it out.
No, while the redness of the marinade may look spicy, it is not at all. If you’d like it to be spicy, you can add a few teaspoons of red pepper flakes to the marinade for an extra kick.
What To Serve With Cranberry Chicken
Cranberry Chicken makes for a great meal that you can pair with tons of side dishes. Serve the chicken with starches like brown or white rice, mashed potatoes, potato wedges, cheesy potatoes, corn, and veggies like brussel sprouts, green beans, and carrots. This would also taste lovely chopped up on top of a salad.
More Chicken Recipes To Try
- Air Fryer
- 8 ounces Catalina Salad Dressing
- 1 packet dry onion soup mix
- 15 ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce
- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Mix 1 cup Catalina dressing, 1 packet of dry onion soup mix, 1 can of cranberry sauce, in a large bowl. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture for later.
- Add the chicken thighs to the bowl with the sauce and coat evenly.
- Place the chicken thighs into the air fryer basket in an even layer without overlapping. You can use a parchment or silicone liner if you don’t want to clean your air fryer basket later. (*OVEN BAKED OPTION INSTRUCTIONS ARE GIVEN BELOW)
- Cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then flip each of the thighs. Baste each one with more sauce and cook for another 10 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
- While those finish cooking, you can heat the reserved sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop and serve it with the thighs as extra sauce.
Nutrition information is estimated as a courtesy. If using for medical purposes, please verify information using your own nutritional calculator. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Pam S says
This is very basic and easy but also very delicious. Came together easily and I was able to use up leftover cranberry sauce I had made for the holidays. I love the airfryer option as it turned out so tender and perfectly done! Great weeknight meal that I will make again.
I’ve been making this for about 20 years with chicken breasts. It was in an elementary school PTA cookbook and sounded so bizarre I had to try it. It is delicious. The sauce is so good with noodles or rice. Yum!