This tasty Crockpot Cranberry Chicken recipe is the perfect cozy dinner. Slow-cooking chicken in cranberry sauce, orange juice, and rosemary results in tender, flavorful meat with a perfect balance of sweet and savory. Serve this cranberry chicken as a holiday season dinner or an alternative main dish for Thanksgiving. Easy for all cooking levels, it’s a great choice for a yummy meal right from your crock pot!
Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken is a great seasonal dinner recipe! The preparation is easy, with the slow cooker doing all the hard work. The chicken turns out incredibly tender and flavorful, thanks to the delicious sauce. Whether it’s a regular weeknight or a special holiday occasion, this recipe is a winner.
This recipe is great with leftover cranberry sauce, you can see all of my leftover cranberry sauce recipes here for more ideas!
Why I LOVE this recipe!
- Easy Crock Pot Recipe: Preparing a delicious meal has never been easier! With just 5 minutes of prep time, simply toss all ingredients into the crock pot, press a button, and let the slow cooker do the rest.
- The Best Cozy Flavor! The chicken is cooked to perfection; it’s so tender that it practically melts in your mouth with every bite. The blend of cranberry sauce, orange juice, and rosemary produces a unique and delicious flavor that sets this chicken recipe apart and is worth trying.
- Weeknight Wonder: This recipe is perfect for quick and easy fall and winter dinners when you want something special without spending hours in the kitchen.
- Holiday Vibes: Thinking beyond the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving? This cranberry chicken is the perfect alternative and brings that festive feel without the fuss.
This chicken with cranberry sauce recipe is as simple as promised! Just 5 minutes of prep for a set it and forget it family friendly meal.
In this section, I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use for how to make crockpot cranberry chicken recipe to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Chicken – This recipe works with boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs.
- Cranberry sauce – If you’re using canned cranberry sauce, choose whole berry cranberry sauce instead of jellied sauce. Alternatively, you can make homemade cranberry sauce with just three ingredients, or use leftovers from Thanksgiving.
- Orange juice – Pulp-free bottled orange juice works perfectly for this recipe. You could also squeeze your own orange juice for a fresher taste.
- Fresh Rosemary – Fresh rosemary adds a vibrant, aromatic flavor to Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken, adding a burst of freshness to each bite and enhancing the overall taste and aroma of the dish.
Make sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full quantities and ingredients list.
If you love this recipe as much as we do and want some quick ways to change it up for variety, these little tips will do the trick!
- Baked Cranberry Chicken – Opt for a baked twist instead of slow cooking for a quicker version of the crockpot cranberry chicken. Cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for approximately 25-30 minutes.
- Cranberry Balsamic Chicken – Take this recipe up a notch by replacing ¼ cup of orange juice with balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of brown sugar, and adding in minced garlic. The result? A rich and savory Cranberry Balsamic Chicken that’s both comforting and flavorful.
- Cranberry French Dressing Chicken – Instead of using orange juice and rosemary, you can make a tasty variation using a cup of French salad dressing and a packet of dry onion soup mix. This cozy dinner recipe is easy to prepare in a slow cooker and is a delicious twist on this crockpot cranberry chicken recipe.
Recipe Step by Step
I am going to highlight a few key steps in the recipe here, but make sure to jump down to the recipe card for comprehensive instructions on how to make crockpot cranberry chicken.
Lay the chicken breast in the slow cook and season both sides with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cranberry sauce and orange juice.
Pour the cranberry orange mixture over the chicken.
Cook for 2-2.5 hours on high or 3-3.5 hours on low. Then remove the chicken and serve with the juice. You can also shred the chicken and toss it into the juice.
- Adjust cooking time – To ensure that your chicken cooks to perfection, it’s important to avoid overcooking. The ideal cooking time will vary depending on the cut of meat you choose to use, whether it be chicken breasts or thighs. If you’re using chicken breasts, cook them for a shorter time to prevent them from becoming dry and tough.
- Double the Batch – If your slow cooker allows, consider doubling the batch. Leftovers can be repurposed into wraps, sandwiches, or a salad for the next day.
- Save the Juices – Don’t let those flavorful juices go to waste! Spoon them over the chicken when serving or use them as a base for a quick and tasty gravy.
Recipe Short Cuts
If you need to make this recipe, but are extra short on time, here are a few ideas that can help make this recipe even faster!
- Adjustable Cook Times – Use the high setting on the slow cooker for a quicker cook time if you’re short on time. The flavors will still meld beautifully.
- Make-Ahead Cranberry Mixture – Mix the cranberry sauce and orange juice ahead of time and refrigerate. When ready to cook, just pour it over the chicken in the slow cooker.
Freezer Meal Instructions
Making this cranberry chicken breast recipe into a freezer meal is simple! Follow the steps below and you can store this recipe in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To freeze before cooking
- Add chicken to a freezer bag and season with salt, pepper, and minced rosemary.
- In a small bowl, mix cranberry sauce and orange juice. Pour the mixture into each bag over the chicken. Seal the bags securely.
- Thaw in the fridge overnight and then pour the bag’s contents into the slow cooker and cook as instructed.
How to Freeze Cranberry Sauce Chicken After Cooking
- Allow the chicken to cool completely and divide into meal-sized portions.
- Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze.
- Warm the thawed chicken in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.
What to Serve with Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken
Since this protein based dinner has the delicious flavors of Thanksgiving dinner, it will pair well with many of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes.
Choose one or several of these side dishes to create a wholesome, well-rounded dinner. There are both classic options and some healthy options to keep it light.
Side Dish Ideas
- Easy Homemade Mashed Potatoes
- Italian House Salad
- Sauteed Green Beans
- Dinner Rolls
- Corn Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole
- Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making this recipe, then it is your lucky day! They save and reheat well, and can make the start of another delicious dish.
To save leftovers, separate into meal sized portions and then place in an airtight container and store:
- in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
- in the freezer up to a month
Here are a few ways to repurpose those leftovers and give them a delicious makeover!
- Cranberry Chicken Wrap – Shred the leftover chicken and wrap it in a tortilla with fresh greens and a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream for a quick and tasty wrap.
- Cranberry Chicken Pasta Salad – Toss shredded chicken with cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese. Dress it with a light vinaigrette for a refreshing pasta salad.
- Cranberry Chicken Sandwich – Add sliced or shredded chicken on sliced bread with a slice of cheese, lettuce, red onions, and Dijon mustard for a cold sandwich idea.
Can you overcook chicken in a slow cooker?
Yes, overcooking chicken in a crockpot is possible. Leaving it in for too long can lead to dry and stringy meat. Stick to recommended cooking times and check for doneness to avoid overcooking.
Can I substitute dried rosemary for fresh rosemary?
While fresh rosemary provides a more vibrant flavor, you can substitute dried rosemary if that’s what you have on hand. Use a smaller quantity, as dried herbs are more concentrated.
Can I use cranberry juice instead of orange juice?
Yes, you can use cranberry juice instead of orange juice for a different flavor profile. Adjust the quantity based on your taste preferences.
Can I use bone-in chicken for Cranberry Orange Chicken?
Yes, bone-in chicken can be used, but be mindful of the cooking time. Adjust it to ensure the chicken reaches the safe internal temperature.
More EASY Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I really hope you will take a moment to grab a few more easy recipes for another busy night!
You can check out all of my easy slow cooker recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, or chicken thighs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 1.5 cups cranberry sauce, (whole berry)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Whisk together the cranberry sauce and orange juice.
- Lay the chicken breast in the slow cooker and season on both sides with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
- Pour the cranberry sauce mixture over the chicken.
- Cook for 2-2.5 hours on high, or 3-3.5 hours on low.
- Once done, serve by removing the chicken and spooning the juices over the top.ORShred the chicken and mix into the juices.