30-Minute Dinner/ Chicken Recipes/ Christmas/ Dinner/ meat/ Valentine's Day

Cranberry balsamic chicken (with fresh or dried cranberries)

3 December 2019 | Last Updated: 10 March 2021

Tender chicken breast with flavorful cranberry sauce seasoned with rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Cranberry balsamic chicken is a beautiful festive dish or you can just serve it as everyday fall/winter meal, because it’s so easy and quick to make!

Cranberry balsamic chicken in a frying pan.
Cranberry balsamic chicken on a plate with cooked potatoes and red cabbage slaw.

Ingredients – what you’ll need:

Cranberry balsamic chicken ingredients
  • Chicken – instead of chicken breast, you can use boneless chicken thighs. You can also use turkey breast – works really well here.
  • Cranberries – this recipe was written with fresh cranberries in mind, you can use fresh or frozen cranberries. Since I got a couple of requests from my readers who wanted to use dried cranberries, I added instructions on how to make this dish with dried cranberries.
  • Balsamic vinegar – please use good quality balsamic vinegar. This recipe does not call for a balsamic glaze/reduction or balsamic sauce, which is reduced and sweetened balsamic vinegar. Instead of balsamic vinegar, you can use red wine vinegar and soy sauce (I haven’t tried this combo but I think it would work). Alternatively dry red wine would also work (just bear in mind that the flavor will be different, this recipe works best with balsamic vinegar).
  • Herbs – I used rosemary and I think it works best here but thyme would be a good substitute. If you have leftover rosemary you can use it to cook these dishes: Baked chicken with apples and onions, White bean soup with potatoes, garlic and rosemary, Potato and cheese pierogi the American way – homemade cheddar pierogi, Turkey roulade with butternut squash, mushroom and cranberry stuffing. If you don’t have any fresh rosemary on hand, you can omit it.
  • Broth – use chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Mustard – I used honey mustard since we’re adding honey anyway (and I love honey mustard) but you can sub for Dijon mustard.
  • Honey – it’s a sweetener and makes the sauce thicker and a little sticky. You really need to add it. Balsamic vinegar and cranberries are sour so you really need something to contrast their tartness. You can sub for light brown sugar (but add less than honey).
  • Orange juice and zest – orange and cranberries are a match made in heaven and whenever I add fresh cranberries I try to add the orange, it just works so well. Instead of orange juice I also use tangerine juice with this recipe and it was great.

How to make cranberry balsamic chicken step by step:

This is a complete recipe, scroll down for printable recipe card.

Cranberry balsamic chicken preparation steps

STEP 1: Season 4 chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste. Pound the thickest part of the breast, so that the piece of meat is almost of even thickness (it will cook more evenly). You can also cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise (with your knife blade parallel to the cutting board).
STEP 2: Heat 2 Tbsp of frying oil over high heat in a big frying pan. Once hot, add the chicken, cook without stirring for 2 minutes or until browned, then cook on the other side until browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate. The cooking time will depend on the pan type and how crowded the chicken is. It doesn’t need to be cooked through in the middle, just golden brown on both sides.

Cranberry balsamic chicken preparation steps

STEP 3: Reduce the heat to medium and add 3 finely chopped cloves garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

STEP 4: Add all the other ingredients for the sauce: 1.5 cups of cranberries (5.3oz/150g), 2 twigs rosemary, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 1/3 cup of orange juice and 1/2 ts of orange zest, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 3 Tbsp honey, and 1 ts honey mustard. Season lightly with salt and pepper (only lightly, the sauce will reduce its volume and can become too salty).

Note about the cranberries: If your chicken breasts are rather large, most of the cranberries from the sauce will fall apart before the chicken is cooked through. If you wish to have more cranberries that have just burst but have not fallen apart, add 1 cup of cranberries with all the other ingredients and the remaining 1/2 cup a couple of minutes later. If your chicken breasts are rather small/medium or you have cut them in half, it doesn’t matter, as they will cook faster and the cranberries won’t have time to completely fall apart.

Cranberry balsamic chicken preparation steps

STEP 5: Bring the sauce to a boil, then add the chicken back to the pan. Cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through (flip the chicken breast halfway through). Cooking time depends on how big (thick) the chicken breasts are and how long have you seared it. Small chicken breasts will need just a couple of minutes, bigger chicken breasts will need about 10 minutes.

How to check if your chicken breast is ready: It’s best to check the internal temperature inside the meat with a meat thermometer. It should be 165°F/74°C (insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast).

STEP 6: Transfer chicken breasts to a plate. Remove the rosemary twigs from the sauce, season the sauce with salt and pepper, if necessary. If the sauce is too sour for your liking, add more honey, if too sweet just add a little more vinegar or lemon juice. It should have a nice sweet and sour balance of flavors, but it needs to be rather on the sweet side because the cranberries are rather tart (try the sauce with the cranberries).

The sauce consistency: If your chicken is already cooked through but the sauce is not thick enough, put the chicken breasts on a plate and cook the sauce a little longer, until thickened. On the other hand – if your chicken is not cooked through yet but your sauce is already very thick and reduced try to add more hot chicken stock or water to the sauce to dilute it just a little and cook the meat until cooked through.

Serve and enjoy!

Storage: This dish reheats very well.

How to make this dish with dried cranberries:

Fresh cranberries can not be substituted with dried cranberries 1:1. Fresh cranberries are more soft and sour. Dried cranberries are more chewy and sweet (they are artificially sweetened). Substitute just 1/4 cup (for up to 1/3 cup) of dried cranberries for 1.5 cups of fresh cranberries (dried cranberries will soak up the sauce and increase their volume).

I also added 2 Tbsp honey instead of 3 Tbsp, since dried cranberries are already more sweet than fresh, and added 1 ts of lemon juice. I also added a little bit more broth and cooked the sauce a little longer (before adding the chicken back to the pan) to soften chewy cranberries (if we’re cooking the sauce longer, we need to add more broth or the sauce will be too thick). I like to thicken this sauce with a flour slurry made with 2 ts of flour mixed with 1.5 Tbsp of water.

What to serve it with:

I liked it most with cooked potatoes and Red cabbage apple slaw with pomegranate and walnuts (pictured).

It would also go well with cooked green beans, cooked brussel sprouts or brussel sprout slaw.

Cranberry balsamic chicken on a plate with cooked potatoes and red cabbage slaw.

Cranberry balsamic chicken

Tender chicken breast with flavorful cranberry sauce seasoned with rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Cranberry balsamic chicken is a beautiful festive dish or you can just serve it as everyday fall/winter meal.
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cranberry balsamic chicken
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 378kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons frying oil
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1.5 cups (150g) fresh cranberries* see notes for instructions on how to make the sauce with dried cranberries
  • 2 twigs rosemary
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup orange juice from 1 small orange / ½ large orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon honey mustard or Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare the chicken: Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste. Pound the thickest part of the breast, so that the whole breast is of almost even thickness (it will cook more evenly). You can also cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise (with your knife blade parallel to the cutting board) – it will cook faster this way.
  • Sear the chicken: Heat the oil over high heat in a big frying pan. Once hot, add the chicken pieces, cook without stirring for 2 minutes or until browned, then cook on the other side until browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate. The cooking time will depend on the pan type and how crowded the chicken is. It doesn't need to be cooked through in the middle, just golden brown on both sides.
  • Make the sauce: Reduce the heat to medium and add finely chopped garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add all the other ingredients for the sauce: cranberries, rosemary, chicken broth, orange juice and zest, vinegar, honey, mustard. Season lightly with salt and pepper (only lightly, the sauce will reduce its volume and can become too salty).
  • Bring to a boil, then add the chicken pieces back to the pan. Cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through (flip the chicken breast halfway through). Cooking time depends on how big (thick) the chicken breasts are and how long have you seared them. Small chicken breasts (or cut in half lengthwise breasts) will need just a couple of minutes, bigger chicken breasts will need about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken breasts to plates. Remove the rosemary twigs from the sauce, season the sauce with salt and pepper, if necessary. If the sauce is too sour for your liking, add more honey, if too sweet just add a little more vinegar or lemon juice. It should have a nice sweet and sour balance of flavors, but it needs to be rather on the sweet side because the cranberries are rather tart (you need to try the sauce with the cranberries).
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • How to make it with dried cranberries: add 1/4 cup of dried cranberries (for up to 1/3 cup) instead of fresh cranberries, 2 Tbsp of honey (instead of 3 Tbsp), 1 ts of lemon juice, 1 cup broth (instead of 1/2 cup). Cook the sauce (without the chicken) for 5-10 minutes or until thickened,  bring to a boil, then add the chicken back to the pan and cook until cooked through. You can thicken the sauce with flour slurry (add 2 ts of flour mixed with 2 Tbsp of cold water to the sauce and bring to a boil),
  • How to check if your chicken breast is ready: It’s best to check the temperature inside the meat with a meat thermometer. It should be 165°F/74°C (insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast).
  • The sauce consistency: If your chicken is already cooked through but the sauce is not thick enough, put the chicken breasts on a plate and cook the sauce a little longer, until thickened. On the other hand – if your chicken is not cooked through yet but your sauce is already very thick and reduced try to add more broth/water to the sauce to dilute it just a little and cook the meat until cooked through. The chicken will cook much quicker if you cut the breasts in half lengthwise (with your knife blade parallel to the cutting board).
  • Cranberries: If your chicken breasts are rather large, most cranberries from the sauce will fall apart before the chicken is cooked through. If you wish to have more cranberries that have just burst but have not fallen apart, add 1 cup of cranberries with all the other ingredients and the remaining 1/2 cup a couple of minutes later. If your chicken breasts are rather small/medium or cut in half, it doesn’t matter, as they will cook faster and the cranberries won’t have time to completely fall apart.
  • What to serve it with: I like it with cooked potatoes and this red cabbage and apple slaw with pomegranate and walnuts.
  • Calories = 1 serving of the chicken and sauce (1/4 of the recipe). This does not include potatoes and slaw that are on photos. This is only an estimate!
  • Ingredients substitutions:
    Chicken – instead of chicken breast, you can use chicken thighs or turkey breasts.
    Cranberries – you can use fresh or frozen cranberries, you can also use dried cranberries (instructions are above).
    Balsamic vinegar – please use good quality balsamic vinegar. This recipe does not call for a balsamic glaze/reduction or balsamic sauce, which is reduced and sweetened balsamic vinegar. Instead of balsamic vinegar, you can use red wine vinegar and soy sauce (I haven’t tried this combo but I think it would work). Alternatively dry red wine would also work (just bear in mind that the flavor will be different, this recipe works best with balsamic vinegar).
    Herbs – I used rosemary and I think it works best here but thyme would be a good substitute. If you don’t have it on hand you can omit it.
    Broth – use chicken or vegetable broth.
    Mustard – you can sub for Dijon mustard.
    Honey – you can sub for light brown sugar (add less).
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine international
Keyword chicken with cranberry sauce, cranberry balsamic chicken, cranberry chicken, cranberry chicken breast recipes

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

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