This easy recipe for cranberry chicken is made in one pan on the stovetop. Fresh cranberries bring a bit of sweet-tart flavor, with plenty of fresh herbs and garlic to make this simple dinner your new cool weather favorite.
Like my cranberry chutney, this recipe uses fresh cranberries. I love the flavor they bring to this weeknight dinner. Cook them down into a thick, luscious sauce that is the perfect complement to chicken.
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Cranberry chicken recipe
Over the holidays, I bought a few bags of fresh cranberries with the intention of making all kinds of cranberry recipes. Long story short, it didn’t happen.
I needed a way to use them up (because food waste is a no no), so this cranberry chicken recipe was the solution.
This recipes uses common ingredients that you most likely already have in the fridge, with the exception of fresh herbs, but you could also use their dry counterparts.
I used two small onions, plus a shallot that I had leftover from my Thai chicken salad. Use whatever you have.
One word on the fresh cranberries – look for firm, plump cranberries. Pick through them, and toss anything that is mushy, brown, wrinkled or shows signs of mold. You do not want to add those to the pan.
How to make cranberry chicken
Making this recipe is super simple, I’ll walk you through it step by step.
Step 1: Brown the chicken breasts, then set aside. We are not cooking them all the way through, just giving one side a bit of color.
Step 2: Soften onions slightly, then add cranberries, garlic, mustard, brown sugar, stock, salt and pepper to taste, and if using dried herbs, this is the time to add them. If you’re using fresh herbs, we’ll add them later.
This is what the mixture will look like when it starts out.
After 10 – 15 minutes of simmering, the cranberries will burst, and the mixture will be slightly thickened and cooked down.
What a difference a few minutes makes! Now that our cranberries have cooked down, you get to decide how thick you want the sauce for the chicken. At this stage it will have some body, but still has plenty of liquid.
If that’s how you like it, proceed with the next step. If you want the sauce thicker, uncover the pot, increase the heat slightly and let it simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes to cook out the liquid.
Keep an eye on it, because the water will evaporate quickly and you don’t want it to burn.
Step 3: Add chicken breasts to the pot with the cranberry mixture. If you’re using fresh herbs, this is the time to add them. You could chop them up and add to the pot, or if you’re lazy like me, just toss them in.
If you like a strong rosemary flavor, you can add the rosemary sprigs in with the cranberries. They are pretty hearty, and can take the heat, but the thyme is better if you add it with the chicken.
Cover the pot and simmer until chicken breasts are cooked through. Save some extra herbs for garnish, if you like, and you’re ready to serve!
This easy dinner is perfect for weeknight cooking, and it’s a great way to rescue leftover veggies and herbs from the fridge.
What to serve with it
Here are a few of our favorite sides and salads to serve with this chicken recipe.
- Roasted honeynut squash
- Baked fingerling potatoes
- Sautéed broccolini
- Warm bulgur wheat salad with chickpeas
- Mediterranean quinoa salad
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- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you could also use thighs)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (or two small onions or shallots)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, picked over
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 tbsp. whole grain mustard
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary ( or 1 tsp. dried)
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium pot, or deep pan, brown one side of the chicken breasts in half of the olive oil over medium high heat (place into pan and do not touch it for 4 - 5 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.
- Do not wipe out pan. Add remaining olive oil to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add onions and cook for 3 - 4 minutes, just to let them begin to soften.
- Add cranberries, brown sugar, garlic, chicken stock, whole grain mustard, the zest of 1 lemon (reserve the zested lemon for later), salt and pepper. If you are using dry herbs, add them to the pot as well.
- Stir well to combine, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to medium / medium-low. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes, until cranberries have burst and cooked down a bit. If you want the sauce thicker, remove cover from pot, increase heat slightly and let mixture simmer while stirring frequently. Cook for another 5 - 10 minutes until desired consistency.
- Return chicken to pan. Add fresh herbs and cover. Cook on medium low heat for 8 - 12 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.
- Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the cranberry chicken, if desired. *I like to char my lemon halves before I do this - place them cut side down in a HOT pan and don't touch them for 3 - 4 minutes. Remove from pan when they are deep brown and caramelized.
Frozen cranberries may be substituted for fresh, but they will release more liquid and make the sauce a bit thinner. You'll have to cook it out a bit longer to reduce and thicken.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 419Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 275mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 3gSugar: 15gProtein: 39g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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