This cranberry chicken recipe is baked in the oven for a festive, show-stopping dinner that takes little effort to prepare! Garlic, rosemary, and tangy fresh cranberries bring boldly aromatic and savory-sweet flavor you’ll love.

a close up of baked cranberry chicken topped with fresh cranberries, sprigs of fresh rosemary and lemon slices in a cast iron pan.
Photo Credits: Suzy Karadsheh

This cranberry chicken recipe, with its vibrant red cranberries and golden-brown chicken, boasts the wow-factor of holiday roasts like leg of lamb or whole chicken. But it comes together in under an hour and requires very little tending to. It’s a beautiful centerpiece for a holiday party, but easy enough to add to your weeknight dinner rotation.

To get the best color and flavor, I quickly sear the chicken on the stove. It may seem like an added step (and you can skip it if you’re short on time) but the crispy skin is worth the extra dish. From there, I layer in a baking dish with carrots, celery, and a bright and savory mix of garlic, lemon, rosemary, and paprika. 

Simply throw it in your oven and wait as the chicken bubbles, making a delicious sauce with the chicken’s drippings. The cranberries soak up all the flavor, becoming tender and so juicy. Make sure to spoon plenty of sauce over top, and serve with crusty bread or rosemary focaccia for dipping. 

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for Cranberry Chicken 
  2. How to Make This Cranberry Chicken Recipe 
  3. What to Serve With Cranberry Chicken
  4. You’ll Also Like: Wow-Worthy Holiday Recipes
  5. Save When You Bundle Our Best-Selling Olive Oil Collection!
  6. Baked Cranberry Chicken with Rosemary Recipe
a close up of baked cranberry chicken topped with fresh cranberries, sprigs of fresh rosemary and lemon slices.


Ingredients for Cranberry Chicken 

This cranberry chicken recipe uses easy to find ingredients and pantry staples for a festive holiday dish that doesn’t cost a fortune. Here’s what you need: 

  • Cranberries: The star ingredient that lends a festive touch, while also adding brightness. I prefer fresh for the best flavor and texture, but you can use frozen cranberries if you’d like.
  • Brown sugar: Candies the cranberries, balancing their harsh tartness. 
  • White wine vinegar: Adds a burst of acidity for a depth of flavor, both in the marinade and the candied cranberries. You can substitute with Champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar if that’s what you have on hand. 
  • Chicken: 6 pieces bone-in skin on chicken (I used 2 chicken breasts and 4 thighs)
  • Flavor-makers: Garlic, rosemary and sweet paprika bring a bold amount of sweet, savory, and aromatic flavor to the meat. Salt and black pepper enhance the flavor. 
  • Olive oil: Enriches the marinade. Use a full bodied, high quality extra virgin variety. Any of the oils from our shop would work well, but I especially love the richness and subtle peppery notes of our Greek Private Reserve with this recipe. 
  • Lemon: I use the whole fruit, with the juice adding acidity and the rind adding an aromatic, slightly bitter quality. 
  • Fresh vegetables: Onion and celery make for a nice foundational flavor for the broth and aromatics as teh chicken bakes. It’s the same concept as a classic (or Mediterranean-style) chicken soup. 
  • Broth: ½ cup of liquid in the pan evaporates into steam, tenderizing the chicken as it bakes. Chicken broth (homemade or store bought) will add a fuller flavor, but water works well too. 
Baked chicken with rosemary and cranberries in a baking dish


How to Make This Cranberry Chicken Recipe 

Perfectly sweet and tangy cranberries, piney rosemary, and a bold amount of garlic builds loads of flavor without much fuss. Here’s how you make cranberry chicken:

  • Make the sugared cranberries. In a small bowl, combine 2 cups of cranberries, ⅓ cup of brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. Set aside to soften.fresh cranberries in a white bowl.
  • Season the chicken. Pat the chicken pieces dry, then rub on both sides with 6-8 minced garlic cloves, 1 ½ tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried), 1 teaspoon paprika, and a good pinch or two of salt and pepper. Lift the skin and push the seasoning underneath the skin.
  • Make the marinade. To a large bowl or deep dish, add ⅓ cup olive oil, 3 chopped celery stalks, 1 chopped onion, and 2 tablespoons of the white wine vinegar. Slice a lemon in half and squeeze in the juice, then add both of the juiced lemon halves. 
  • Marinate the chicken. Add the chicken and use your hands to work everything together. Set aside to marinate just for 15 minutes or so.raw chicken pieces mixed with lemon halves, onions, celery and liquid from the marinade in a large white bowl.
  • Get ready to cook. While your chicken marinates, preheat your oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken.
  • Sear the chicken. When your oven is hot and the chicken has marinated for at least 15 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until the skin releases from the pan and turns golden brown, about 7 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Do this in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, adding the seared chicken to the prepared baking dish as you go. browned pieces of chicken in a skillet.
  • Layer. To the baking dish with the chicken, add the onions, celery, lemon halves and any liquid from the marinade. Pour in the chicken broth or water, then top with the sugared cranberries.Cranberry chicken in a pan ready for baking
  • Bake and enjoy. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot.Finished baked cranberry chicken in pan, serving spatula to the side


What to Serve With Cranberry Chicken

If you're using this cranberry chicken as the centerpiece for a special dinner, kick off the party with blood orange cocktails with vodka and rosemary.

From there, try classic holiday sides with a fun Mediterranean Dish-twist! I would stick to savory dishes to complement the sweet and tart notes of the chicken. Shaved brussels sprouts salad, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and stuffed onions with fragrant rice and pine nuts all come to mind.  

And, whether you’re outfitting a weeknight dinner or holiday party, you’ll want some crusty bread, rice, or rosemary focaccia to take advantage of the delicious pan sauce. 

You’ll Also Like: Wow-Worthy Holiday Recipes

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4.91 from 203 votes

Baked Cranberry Chicken with Rosemary

The Mediterranean Dish
a close up of baked cranberry chicken topped with fresh cranberries, sprigs of fresh rosemary and lemon slices in a cast iron pan.
This easy baked cranberry chicken recipe with rosemary is the perfect festive dinner! Bold flavors from fresh garlic, rosemary, citrus, and tangy-sweet cranberries come together to create a show-stopping dish. If you like, you can marinate the chicken in the seasoning and citrus for a couple hours in the fridge or just do as in the recipe and allow it to sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
Prep – 15 minutes
Cook – 45 minutes
Total – 1 hour
Cuisine:
Mediterranean
Serves – 6 people
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
  • 6 bone-in skin on chicken pieces (I used 2 chicken breasts and 4 thighs, about 2 ¼ pounds in total)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary), plus rosemary sprigs for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for searing the chicken
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup chicken broth or water

Instructions
 

  • Make the sugared cranberries. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. Set aside to soften while you prepare the chicken.
  • Season the chicken. Pat the chicken pieces dry, then rub on both sides with the garlic, rosemary, paprika, and a good pinch or two of salt and pepper. Make sure to lift the skin and push the seasoning underneath the skin.
  • Marinate the chicken. To a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken, add the olive oil, celery, onions, and remaining 2 tablespoons of the white wine vinegar. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice, then add both of the juiced lemon halves. Add the chicken and use your hands to work everything together. Set aside to marinate just for 15 minutes or so.
  • Get ready to cook. While your chicken marinates, preheat your oven to 425°F.
  • Sear the chicken. When your oven is hot and the chicken has marinated for at least 15 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until the skin releases from the pan and turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, adding the seared chicken to the baking dish as you go.
  • Bake. Top the chicken with the sugared cranberries and any accumulated juices, then pour in the broth or water. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Serve. Garnish with a few rosemary sprigs, if you’d like, to dress it up a little before serving. Serve hot, spooning the juices and vegetables over top.

Video

Notes

  • To use boneless, skinless chicken: I recommend chicken thighs. Begin by browning them for a couple minutes on each side. Adjust baking time; boneless thighs will take about 25 minutes to bake in the oven
  • Frozen cranberries option: I love the flavor of fresh cranberries, but feel free to use frozen if you have them on hand.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 145.2kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 1.4gFat: 12.4gSaturated Fat: 1.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8.9gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 0.7mgSodium: 10.9mgPotassium: 128.6mgFiber: 2.6gSugar: 2.7gVitamin A: 212.4IUVitamin C: 16.4mgCalcium: 21.2mgIron: 0.5mg
Tried this recipe?

* This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2019, and has been recently updated with new information for readers' benefit.

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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4.91 from 203 votes (90 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Viv says:

    Hi Suzy. I am excited to try out this recipe. But can I substitute the vinegar for anything else for the chicken and cranberries? Lemon juice only? Thanks.

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Viv. I have used Chardonnay wine in place of the vinegar and it worked very well, so you may want to go that direction. Hope the recipe works out for you!

  2. Leticia Cervantes says:

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday for a girlfriends' Christmas dinner party, it was fabulous! Everyone liked it and I had a couple of recipe requests. I made it in the morning and reheated it for dinner time -- it reheated very well. My only comment is that it takes a lot longer than 15 minutes prep time as it is indicated at the top of the recipe but it's worth the time. I will definitely make it again!

    1. Suzy says:

      Thanks, Leticia. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Deborah says:

    Can I use boneless breast instead?

    1. Suzy says:

      Sure! You'll cook them at the same temperature, but remember that boneless chicken breasts will cook faster, so just keep a close eye on them. The exact timing will depend on your oven. I like to use a meat thermometer and cook until they reach and internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

  4. Kate says:

    What do you think about preparing and baking this a day ahead then reheating and serving to guests the following night? Having 10-13 for dinner party and won’t be able to prep, bake and spend time with guests.

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Kate. I think that should work. After you prepare the day before, cover it well and store in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge a few minutes before reheating in the oven at 325 degrees F. I'd add a very little bit of liquid to the baking dish and cover with foil. Uncover and very briefly broil if you feel the skin has lost its crispiness. Another great option would be to prep everything the day before, but waiting to actually bake until just before serving. Hope you have a lovely party!

  5. Connie says:

    If I can’t eat cranberries , would cherries be a good substitute?

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Connie. I have never tried that personally, but I think it would be okay. The key will be to use fresh cherries. Taste them ahead of time to judge the tartness. You may not need to use quite as much brown sugar.

  6. Diana says:

    5 stars
    My fiance and I made this the other night. It was AMAZING! One of our favorite dinners we ever cooked together.

    1. Suzy says:

      Yay! So glad you both enjoyed it, Diana!

  7. Cristen says:

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight. i was a little skeptical, afraid I was to close to Thanksgiving... it was absolutely amazing and not Thanksgivingy at all!! Definitely will be on our menu again soon!

    1. Suzy says:

      Love to hear it! Thanks, Cristen!

  8. lisa says:

    Can you substitute red wine vinegar for white wine vinegar?

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Lisa. I'm not sure that's the best substitute here, as I've never tried it that way. I have used Chardonnay wine in place of the vinegar and it worked very well, so you may want to go that direction.

  9. JH says:

    5 stars
    Stunningly, shockingly great and one of my favorite discoveries from this site so far (and that's really saying something). It did take a little more time to come together than suggested but absolutely worth the effort and then some. If I had more nerve, I'd serve this instead of the Dread Turkey. Total gratitude for this one, Suzy!

    1. Suzy says:

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Maria Mahmood says:

    Can I replace the white vinegar with balsamic vinegar?

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Maria. I don't recommend that with this recipe.

  11. Colleen Campbell says:

    5 stars
    Delicious

    1. Suzy says:

      Thanks, Colleen!

  12. Stephanie says:

    Suzy, Can you marinate the chicken over night?

    1. Suzy says:

      You can!

  13. Tracey says:

    5 stars
    Suzy, I made this tonight, talk about a delicious chicken dish! The flavors are wonderful. I used
    boneless chicken breast and it was tender. Thank you, for another fabulous recipe.

  14. KNS says:

    4 stars
    Delicious flavors that are even better the next day! I gave it four stars only ranking it against other chicken recipes I've had from this site. What I loved most: I had a hunch to serve this over toasted Naan bread, and it elevated the whole experience to the next level!

  15. Shelly Bain says:

    5 stars
    We thoroughly enjoyed this meal. It was beautiful too. We really liked the fresh cranberries and the pop of tartness they give.
    Thanks for sharing ☺️

    1. Suzy says:

      Glad to hear it! Thanks, Shelly!

  16. Debby So Cal says:

    5 stars
    I just cooked this for a guest dinner. It looked so lovely I served it in the pan I cooked it in.
    I did find that in a convection oven the done in meat cooked in 45 min.
    We plan to do again.
    Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Suzy says:

      My pleasure, Debby! So glad you enjoyed it!