Cranberry Chicken Recipe

Cranberry Chicken Recipe Recipe

I usually use lemon juice as a meat tenderizer; the acidity from the citrus is perfect for softening meat and getting it extra tender. For Thanksgiving, I wanted to try something different, so I tested a new chicken recipe by substituting cranberry juice for the lemon juice. I wanted to make sure the skin was nice and crispy, so I pan-fried the chicken first, then completed cooking in the oven.  

I still don't have a final count on the number of meat eaters attending our Thanksgiving. I know for sure we'll have many vegetarian side dishes and appetizers to please my husband Lulu, Daddy and the girls, but I'm still wondering if I'll roast an entire turkey or two chickens. This recipe will work for either bird, so I’m covered either way. And so are you!


Yields: 6 servings

4 pounds chicken legs, with the skin
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or regular salt)
4 green onions, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon all spice
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
½ cup cranberry juice
6 tablespoons soy sauce (see tips)
¼ cup pomegranate vinegar (see tips)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic , freshly minced
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly cracked


For the cranberry marinade: In a blender, combine the green onions, 1 sprig thyme, all spice, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper (if using), cranberry juice, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons butter. Mix until well distributed.

Marinating the chicken:

Clean the chicken thoroughly. Ensure that the skin is still there and gently pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Coat with buttermilk and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator. Rinse the chicken one more time and pat dry with paper towels. Cover and brush the chicken on both sides with the cranberry marinade. Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and black pepper. Let sit until it is back to room temperature (at least 30 minutes) before cooking. 

Cooking the chicken:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Pat dry the skin with paper towels one last time. 

Heat a large , oven-proof pan. Add the oil and the remaining butter. Once the butter is melted, place the chicken legs, skin side down. Let cook for 2-3 minutes until nice and ceispy, cover with a sheet of aluminum, and transfer to the hot oven.

Roast for 50 minutes. Remove the foil. Flip the chicken legs, increase the temperature to 400°F and roast for about 10-12 more minutes to dry the top.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Loosely cover with foil. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes.

A thermometer should register 165°F in the thickest part of the leg or the juice should run clear when you prick the meat with a fork.

Serve warm with cranberry sauce on the side.

Bon appétit!


You can find pomegranate molasses in any Middle-Eastern market. If not, you could use regular dark molasses.

I used Bourbon Barrel aged blue grass soy sauce.

I used Boyjian pomegranate vinegar. Otherwise, you could use any kind of fruity vinegar.

For more poultry recipes, check out the link.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on November 13, 2013.


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