This Easy Cranberry Baked Chicken Thighs recipe is a family favorite! Bone-in chicken thighs, oven baked with a delicious cranberry orange glaze. This healthy, hearty meal will sure to be a favorite with your family. It also is a nice holiday meal to share with a group!
EASY CRANBERRY BAKED CHICKEN THIGHS
I don’t think you can ever have enough good chicken recipes in your repertoire, and this is a simple recipe for baked chicken thighs in the oven.
It is the best way to make chicken thighs in my opinion.
I personally love the crispy skin on the chicken thighs but also the tender chicken thighs.
I love the dark meat and the flavor that it creates.
No need to stand and watch the broiler, instead simply glaze the chicken thighs, and bake in the oven.
These crispy baked chicken thighs taste great, crisp on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside.
They work with a whole range of side dishes to make a great tasting family dinner.
WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN MY EASY BAKED CHICKEN THIGHS?
CHICKEN THIGHS: I have opted for bone-in, skin on chicken thighs as both the bone and skin really do add extra flavor into the dish and create a more tender piece of chicken.
Boneless chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken thighs also work great.
You can use any joint of chicken: chicken drumsticks, chicken legs or chicken breasts. Just be sure to adjust the cooking times accordingly.
CRANBERRY JUICE: The cranberry juice is used to make the glaze for this dish, it also has a lovely amount of acidity which works well with the chicken.
FRESH CRANBERRIES: I think that fresh cranberries have a great sharpness but if you can’t find fresh cranberries you could always substitute with dried.
ORANGE: The orange pairs beautifully with the cranberries and adds wonderful depth of flavor and acidity to the cranberry sauce.
ROSEMARY: This adds a fresh herbal flavor. If you can’t find rosemary, thyme is a great substitute.
BUTTER: The butter is melted in the pan and used to sauté the chicken before it goes into the oven.
Butter imparts great flavor into the dish, but if you prefer you can substitute with olive oil.
BROWN SUGAR: When I make a sweet sauce I like to add brown sugar as it has a great molasses flavor.
OLIVE OIL: Olive oil is my go-to but you can use your favorite oil.
SEASONING: My crispy oven baked chicken thighs are seasoned with garlic salt, onion powder, paprika and black pepper.
These spices taste great in the dish, but don’t in any way over power the other flavors. If there is a seasoning you don’t like, then leave it out or substitute it with something else.
HOW TO MAKE CRANBERRY BAKED CHICKEN THIGHS?
Preheat the oven to 350° F, pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season the chicken thighs with garlic salt and black pepper.
Cut the orange in half, take one of the halves and slice it into quarter inch slices. Leave the other half whole and set aside.
Using a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan melt two tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.
Once the butter has melted, and the pan is hot, place the chicken thighs in the pan skin side down.
Brown the chicken until the skin is golden then remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add the fresh cranberries and sprigs of Rosemary to the hot pan. Sauté for 1-2 minutes then add in the cranberry juice.
Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to get up all the bits from frying the chicken.
Zest the second half of the orange into the cranberry mixture, then squeeze the juice from that half of the orange into the mixture as well.
Add in the brown sugar, garlic salt, onion powder and paprika. Stir well and simmer on medium/low for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Carefully spoon out about half a cup of the cranberry pan sauce and set aside.
Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up this time. Spoon over some of the reserved cranberry sauce on top of the chicken.
Place the chicken back in the oven. After 15 minutes baste the chicken with the reserved cranberry sauce from the pan.
Cook for another 25 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature with a meat thermometer of 165 degrees F.
Remove from the oven and serve.
Serve with rosemary, thyme and the orange quarters.
TIPS FOR MAKING EASY BAKED CHICKEN THIGHS
- SEASON: Take time to properly season the chicken thighs before you start as this will make a huge difference in the flavor of the finished dish.
- DEGLAZE: Deglaze the pan with the cranberry juice, you don’t want any of the flavor from the pan to be lost.
- CAST IRON: Use a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan when making this dish. You want a pan that will not only retain heat, but that you can transfer easily to the oven. This ensures that you don’t lose any of those flavorsome pan juices. If you don’t have an oven safe skillet you can use a baking dish.
- DRY THE CHICKEN: Dry the chicken with some paper towels before searing. This removes all excess moisture and ensures a lovely crispy crust on the outside.
- BROIL: For extra color and a crispy skin on the chicken after the cooking time is up, place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes. Watch carefully so you don’t burn the skin.
- REST: Once cooked, allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed back into the joint resulting in tender, juicy meat.
- FEED A CROWD: Feeding a crowd? No problem, this recipe can be easily doubled up to cater for larger numbers.
WHY COOK CHICKEN WITH THE BONE IN?
I have opted for bone in chicken thighs with the skin on as they taste great and stay moist and juicy.
When you cook chicken with the bone in, all the flavor from the bone seeps out into the chicken meat, resulting in chicken which has a richer depth of flavor.
I also choose skin on thighs, as crispy chicken skin is a joy to eat and full of flavor. Just make sure you take time to get the skin nice and crispy.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER CHICKEN?
If you have any leftover chicken thighs, then allow them to cool completely and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
The chicken can be shredded and is great added to salads, soups, pasta sauces and makes a superior chicken sandwich!
SERVING SUGGESTION – WHAT TO PAIR WITH CRISPY BAKED CHICKEN THIGHS?
SALAD: Salads are always a great pairing with chicken. I really like this Mediterranean Bean Salad, Lemon Arugula Salad with Pine Nuts, Summer Orzo Pasta Salad, Kale Salad with Cranberries, or this Easy Lebanese Salad.
MORE GREAT TASTING, EASY CHICKEN RECIPES:
If you love this recipe then why not try some of my other great tasting chicken dishes:
- 4 bone in skin on chicken thighs
- 1 cup cranberry juice
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 orange, sliced into a half and the other half sliced into quarters
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Black Pepper
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
- Season tops and bottoms of the chicken thighs with garlic salt and black pepper
- Cut the orange in half, take one of the halves and slice it into quarter inch slices. Leave the other half whole, you will use it later.
- In the bottom of a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan melt two tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and the pan is hot, place the chicken thighs in the hot pan skin side down. Brown the chicken in the pan until the skin is golden then remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the fresh cranberries and spriggs of rosemary to the hot pan, saute for 1-2 minutes then add in the cranberry juice, scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to get up all of the bits from frying the chicken.
- Zest the second half of the orange into the cranberry mixture, then squeezed the juice from that half of the orange into the mixture as well.
- Add in the brown sugar, garlic salt, onion powder, and paprika stir well and let simmer on medium low for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, carefully spoon out about half a cup of the cranberry pan sauce and set aside.
- Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up this time.
- Spoon some of the reserved cranberry pan sauce over the top of the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the oven.
- After 15 minutes baste the chicken with the remaining reserved cranberry pan sauce.
- Cook for another 25 minutes, remove from oven. Garnish with the fresh orange quarters, fresh thyme, extra cranberry sauce and rosemary.
- Serve warm!
if you would like extra color/crisp after the cooking time is up, place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes watching careful as to not burn.