Easy Cranberry Chicken only requires 5 minutes of prep, a few pantry staples, and is super delicious. Weeknight dinner lifesaver!
This is one of the very first recipes I ever made all on my own. No surprise, since it’s so easy that a child could do it!
Cranberry Chicken goes way back to my teenage years when my mom used to make it. Now it’s become something I serve often for my own family, since everyone loves it so much. It’s a little sweet, a little tart, rich, and so delicious!
Cranberry Chicken Recipe
You only need 5 pantry ingredients for this one. And bonus – all you need is a mixing bowl, a casserole dish, and $15.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Canned whole cranberry sauce
- Catalina salad dressing
- Onion soup mix
- salt and pepper
- Chicken thighs
I know the ingredients might sound weird, but somehow they all really work.
Whenever I mention this dish to people who have never had it, they look at me with much skepticism. “What are the ingredients, again?” they say. I swear to them they’ll love it. They don’t believe me. And then they always come back and say they made it, loved it, and will make it again and again. I’m batting 1,000 so far.
I adore this dish as is, but there are a few variations that work.
- Dressing: You could use Russian salad dressing if you can’t find Catalina.
- Cranberry sauce: Canned whole berry and jellied cranberry sauce are interchangeable. You could also use homemade cranberry sauce if you have any leftover around holiday time.
- Jam: Apricot preserves can be used in place of the cranberry sauce.
- Chicken: Chicken breasts can be used instead of chicken thighs.
Cranberry Chicken is crazy easy to make, easy to clean up, inexpensive, and tasty. I wish every home cooked meal could be like this!
Cranberry Chicken Video
Other easy chicken recipes we love
I hope you love this delicious and easy recipe – be sure to give it a review below! Also don’t forget to follow Belly Full on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!
- 8 ounce bottle Catalina salad dressing
- 1.25 ounce (1 packet) dry onion soup mix
- 15 ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce (or homemade cranberry sauce)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs , excess fat removed
- mashed potatoes or cooked rice , for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine the Catalina dressing, onion soup mix, cranberry sauce, and red pepper flakes. Blend well. Pour into the baking dish.
- Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper and place in the baking dish, in a single layer, making sure all the chicken is coated well with the sauce.
- Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour (or until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F.)
- Serve over mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or rice.
Reader Questions and Reviews
I make this recipe about every 2 to 3 weeks. With just the 2 of us have enough for 2 meals, it freezes very well. I use a foil pan for easy clean up and also works well.
I made this for my daughter and her roommate and they loved it and I was asked to make it again today so I think I’ll be making it again next week
I absolutely love this dish. The chicken comes out so tender and soft. I’ve been making this recipe for 48 years! Everyone always wants the recipe when I serve it to guests.
I love the combination of flavors. I sliced up large chicken breast instead of thighs and eliminated the red peppers. It was really enjoyable
So easy and so good
This was great I added a few segments of mandarins orange might try a pinch more chili flakes was very good very easy this would make a great potluck dish
Has anyone tried this with a pork roast in the slow cooker?
Made this today. Was so good. Used boneless, skinless breast because that’s what I had, and light Catalina dressing. Had it with chicken flavored rice. Will definitely make again. Thanks for sharing!
We loved this. It was so easy. Will it freeze well after cooked? Any reheat hints?
Since making this I have shared the recipe with every one I know. It is delish and I make it at least once a week!
Delicious!! I’m so glad I tried it, because the ingredients sounded so weird but we all loved it – even the little ones. Thank you! Will make this a lot. SO EASY.
I was skeptical, but this was GREAT! The whole family loved it, even the little ones. Will definitely make again – thank you for such an easy dinner option!
I loved this and more importantly my husband did as well lol.
Making this for a second time by request from my family. They absolutely love it ! And I do too cause it’s very easy .
Rave reviews from everyone at my house. Will definitely keep these ingredients in the cabinets.I will make this again for sure.
Would you use the same amount of boneless , skinless chicken breast and cook for the same amount of time ? Thank you .
Same amount, yes, but start checking at 45 minutes since breasts tend to cook faster and you don’t want them dry. Once they reach an internal temp of 165 degrees F they’re done.
Big hit with the family. Highly recommend!
This recipe is too delicious, too simple, and too quick not to make.
We used to order a similar dish from a local meal prep company. My husband and I were wishing they would make it available again but I found your recipe in the meantime. Made it tonight and my VERY picky husband LOVED IT. Had 3 pieces!
I make this with pork chops. I’ll try chicken the next time.
Thank you !
I saw a review for making this with pork chops very interesting. How long should I bake my chops for
Making this tomorrow. If using apricot preserves, how much?
You’d be replacing a 15 ounce can of cranberry sauce. Although apricot jam will be sweeter, so if don’t want it that sweet, cut it back to maybe 10 ounces.
Can you use bone in skin chicken thighs?
This was so easy and delicious! Family loved it, thank you!
Can you use thighs with bone and skin?
That would be fine, but they’ll likely take an additional 5-10 minutes to cook. Make sure you check them with a thermometer.
Can you use stuffing instead of mashed potatoes?
You mean as a side dish for serving? Sure!
I made this tonight for supper and easy is right! It came together quickly and was delicious. I served mine with cooked rice. This will most definitely be put in my regular rotation for weeknight dinners.
Awesome and easy. Loved it !!
My family loved this. We served it over mashed sweet potatoes.
The best in the north ,south, east, & west
Found this recipe on my facebook feed and it sounded interesting and different. My husband and I both loved it! Good fall/winter comfort food.
It sounded a bit iffy, but my husband and 5 of our 7 kids who were home just devoured this. We all loved it, and I will definitely make it again. I served it over jasmine rice with a side of steamed veggies. The combo would make for a nice layered bowl.
Do you think this would work with pork tenderloin? Would you leave it whole or cut it into slices before baking?
Hi Cindy – I haven’t ever used this sauce mixture with pork, but I can’t see why not? Try it! I would leave the tenderloin whole.
I have a pork tenderloin recipe with sage and brown sugar that comes out wonderfully so I dont’see why you couldn’t use this recipe…which by the way I made tonight and it was a HUGE success…ABSOLUTELY delicious!!
I do the same thing to pork, but without the catalina dressing and it is amazing!
One other question , I’m sorry . Do you think adding sliced or diced fresh onion would over power the taste of this recipe in the cooking of it ? Thank you !
Hey Dave, no worries. I think it would be awesome, but I love onions! You obviously do, as well. So I think it’ll be delish. Try it!
Would it effect the taste if the pepper flakes were left out of the recipe ?
The red pepper flakes do add a little flavor and give balance to the sweetness of dressing and cranberries, but you’ll be totally fine to leave them out.
What can I use instead of onion soup mix . Family member is allergic to onions.
So sorry to hear that Carroll! We suffer from some food allergies, too. Unfortunately, the onion soup mix is a key component to this dish. You can try and just omit it, but it just won’t be the same.
try a little bit of beef bouillon powder, garlic powder, celery seed and a little bit of finely chopped celery, black pepper (this will all be to taste)
This looks and sounds delicious. Going to make it tonight. Serving with Jasmine Rice. At the request of my husband, I’m using Apricot Preserves. Next time I will use Cranberry.
Been doing cranberry/salad dressing marinade for years. Chicken, pork, ribs, ham nice and moist and what I like easy
This looks amazing…I’m wondering if this could this be converted for the Instant Pot?
I’m making it in the instapot tonight. I used chicken breast.
How would you prepare it in the instant pot? I’m new to the instant pot phenomenon haha.
If you use apricot preserves how much.
Hi Jim – 1 1/2 cups is about the equivalent to a can of cranberry sauce.
Have you ever made this in a crock pot by chance? I have all the ingredients because I’ve been dying to try this but I was really hoping to cook it in the crock pot.
Hi Sara – I haven’t. I personally wouldn’t want the chicken to break down that much and I think a low of slow cooker recipes lose flavor. But you can certainly try it that way!
OMG this was phenomenal! Husband was skeptical as he isn’t a fan of cranberry sauce but he won’t stop talking about this! So good and will be in our menu rotation for a long time!
is there any sub for onion soup mix? we don’t eat onions
No, sorry! It’s a key ingredient for this dish and there isn’t a comparable substitute.
I have used the equivalent amount of chicken bouillon and added onions when out of dried onion soup. Worked great. So non-onion lovers, just use dry bouillon as a substitute.
Hey there Laurie! I’m glad that worked out. But the dried onion soup mix contains dried onion flakes, dried parsley flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, black pepper, paprika, and celery seed, which all add distinct awesome flavor. So just using chicken bouillon might be delicious, but still won’t deliver optimal results for this recipe IMHO.
Try the dry vegetable soup it should work
I made this last night for my mom and her friends…OMG, it was soooo delicious! It was so easy, I was almost embarrassed to accept their compliments! Served it with jasmine rice, and broccoli.
I’m going to try it with pork chops next!
I am in the process of making this dish. When do you put the dressing mixture into the dish? Before you bake it or after. It doesn’t state it clearly on the recipe
I wasn’t really sure about the mixture of flavors but this was delicious. My husband is already asking my to make it again.
Yep…everyone questions it. And then ends up loving it. Ha! Glad you did, too.
I want to do this but don’t know what u mean by Catalina dressing..please elaborate.
It’s a salad dressing made by KRAFT sold in most grocery stores.
About to make it for the 2nd time. CRAZY delish!! The chicken melts in your mouth, and the taste, WOW!!! I spooned some onto 1/2 spag squash!! HEAVENLY!!! Freezes well.
Made this last night and boyfriend told me I had to comment and tell you how awesome it is! Thanks for an easy, inexpensive weeknight dinner.
So glad to hear it! Yay!
Hi Amy, just discovered your site and I’m hooked? This chicken recipe sounds amazing..question tho…..my family does not eat dark meat thighs. Have you ever tried this with chicken breasts…boneless or bone in? Wondering if it might come out too dry…hmmm. What’s you opinion? Thanks!
Hi Rita, welcome! I have made it with thighs and also with breasts…and so have many other readers (if you read through previous comments), with success. It is not as moist as the thighs, but it’s not dry. Depending on the thickness of the breasts, though, it might need to be cooked slightly longer than an hour. You’ll just need to check it. Hope you like it!
I saw this recipe made in a crock pot. The only thing different was the omission of the salad dressing. After the 6-8 hrs. on low, the chicken was like shoe leather. Will try your oven version.
Oh, what a bummer :( There must not have been enough sauce to keep it moist? Hope this one works out for you! I make it all the time and the thighs are always moist.
I absolutely love chicken with fruit sauces, and cranberries are my favorite around this time of year. If only Billy felt the same…. I will find a way!
I love rediscovering meals from blog posts of yore…it’s like you’re eating them for the first time all over again!
I love updates to mom’s dishes! This looks simple to pull together and like it would feed a crowd (aka. totally welcome at my house!)
This was its usual success at a recent pot luck. I do like your added touch of the red pepper flakes and will try next time I make it.
I also noticed that in the original recipe, the chicken wasn’t seasoned. How is that possible? Just by sprinkling some salt and pepper on them, and adding the pepper flakes, made a big difference.
Mmmmm…now, this is a recipe that needs to be actioned. I always need a new chicken recipe! This looks delish, Amy!
Thanks, Lauren! It’s too easy and inexpensive not to!
At your recommendation from the original post, I made this for the first time years ago. I now have to double the recipe every time I make it, because all three of my children eat 2-3 thighs apiece. When they ask, “What’s for dinner?” and we respond, “cranberry chicken,” the cheers can be heard ’round the world. Thanks for a great, go to recipe, Amy!
That’s awesome! I usually double it too :D
Your mom gave me this recipe. I’ve made it several times both with thighs and breasts. It’s great to make for a group. Because of the funky ingredients I don’t think I would have tried it without a recommendation from someone I trust, and it’s delicious!
Yep, I’ve had many people snicker when they hear the ingredients. It’s definitely ones of those that you have to taste to believe. And once you do, you’re hooked.
Thanks for the recipe I am eager to try this. Was there enough sauce, I am thing maybe i should add a little more cranberry sauce.
Great question! You know, this could stand to have a little more sauce actually, especially if you serve it over rice or potatoes so they can soak it up. But I wouldn’t just add extra cranberries…definitely double all the ingredients (excluding the chicken), so you get the right flavor balance.
Oooo…I have some homemade HoneyFrench dressing…I need to try this! P~
This seriously sounds and looks so good to me! Love the change up on just regular ole chicken…I get so bored of it! I love cranberries so much. I will definitely be trying this one!
Yay! Who doesn’t love a simple/tasty chicken dish? This can obviously be made all year round, but I seem to remember it more in the Fall…probably because the stores stock their endcaps with canned cranberries!
This was one of easiest dishes I have tried and was absolutely delicious!!! It will be a common dish in my house from now on!!! Thank you so much for posting it!!!