Break out the cast iron and the whiskey for this fun and festive chicken recipe. These cranberry chicken thighs are a perfect dish to serve as your meal tonight and they’re super simple too!
These easy cast iron chicken thighs start on the stove and end in the oven making them perfectly cooked and well flavored. This dish uses simple ingredients and basic household spices to pull together a fancy feeling feast of a meal. You’re going to love the deep and rich flavor in the fresh cranberry sauce pairing wonderfully with the golden, crispy-skinned chicken thighs.
What are cranberry chicken thighs?
It’s an easy dinner recipe that is absolutely perfect for fall and winter. Made with basic ingredients, it turns out tasting like the holidays on a plate. We use whiskey, chicken broth, fresh thyme, and fresh cranberries to create a rich flavored glaze for chicken thighs and bake them all up in the oven until they’re cooked to perfection.
Serve this recipe up for Christmas dinner (or Christmas Eve) for a perfect winter dinner idea or serve it anytime November-January because cranberry season has a pretty great range, meaning more opportunities to add this dinner to the menu plan.
- Garlic powder
- Ground sage
- Olive oil
- Chicken thighs
- Chicken broth
- Fresh cranberries
- Fresh thyme
For the exact measurements and amounts, please see the recipe card below.
How to make cranberry chicken thighs
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground sage, and paprika. Sprinkle over the tops of the chicken thighs.
- Heat a 12-inch sized cast iron skillet over the stove on medium heat.
- Add in your oil and butter.
- Place the chicken thighs skin side down onto the pan. Cook until the chicken is golden brown.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set them aside on a plate.
- Add the whiskey to the pan and stir, scraping off the brown bits on the bottom of the pan as you go.
- Once the whiskey has almost evaporated, add in the chicken broth and cranberries, stirring briefly to combine.
- Nestle the chicken thighs into the cranberries.
- Place a sprig of fresh thyme on top.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the chicken thighs have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Chicken. If desired, you can use chicken quarters or drumsticks instead of thighs. The cooking time and amount of chicken that you can fit into the pan will vary, so adjust accordingly.
- Whiskey. If you do not want to use whiskey you can simply add in water or more chicken broth in its place. The flavor of this dish will be a bit different but should still turn out tasty.
- Cranberries. Using frozen cranberries may result in a runnier sauce and extended cooking time but they can be used if you do not have fresh cranberries on hand.
- Thyme. If you do not have fresh thyme on hand, fresh rosemary would also work wonderfully with the flavors in this dish. You can use a sprig of fresh rosemary instead of thyme to keep that wonderful fresh herb flavor and aroma.
The leftovers from this dish can be safely stored for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Just make sure to reheat before eating.
If you would like to make this meal’s leftovers last longer so that you enjoy them in the future you may do so. Take the dish and place it into an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before placing into a baking dish and cooking until warmed through and the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
While we do use whiskey in the glaze of this sauce, most if not all of the actual alcohol in the sauce will cook out before it ever hits your lips, making this a family-friendly recipe that even the kids can enjoy. The flavor from the whiskey is what we want to be left behind because it helps to add another layer of depth and flavor that works wonderfully with everything else that we have going on.
What to serve with cranberry chicken?
This recipe would pair well with any number of side dishes. Some great suggestions include white rice, cooked wild rice, couscous, or stuffing. Even serving this fresh cranberry chicken alongside some mashed potatoes and gravy would be a great idea.
A good rule of thumb is to think about warm and comforting side dishes that you normally enjoy in fall or winter because those flavors are usually what work best with the tangy-sweet flavors of cranberries.
Cranberry Chicken Thighs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 6-8 chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup whiskey
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups cranberries fresh
- 3 sprigs thyme
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground sage, and paprika. Sprinkle over the chicken thighs.
- Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and butter to the pan.
- Place the chicken thighs skin-side down in the pan. Brown the chicken until golden brown.
- Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Add the whiskey and use it to scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.
- Once it's almost evaporated, add the chicken broth and cranberries. Stir briefly.
- Add the cranberries. Nestle the chicken, browed side up, into the cranberries.
- Place the thyme sprig on top.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken thighs internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
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