Simple Slow Cooker Orange Cranberry Chicken Recipe

Orange Cranberry Chicken is a simple, flavourful recipe that blends tart cranberries with sweet oranges and chicken. The best part is that this cranberry chicken recipe is so simple to make with less than 10 ingredients, and in a slow cooker which makes it a perfect dinner any night of the week.

Three boneless chicken breasts on a white platter covered with the cranberry and orange sauce

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This flavorful cranberry chicken dish was inspired by an old family recipe. The original recipe was made with canned cranberry sauce and orange juice concentrate. I swapped those out for fresher ingredients to make it even more delicious.

The canned sauce is replaced with fresh juicy cranberries and orange concentrate with fresh orange juice with a touch of naturally sweet maple syrup. It’s such a simple recipe to make, serve it with a simple salad and a side of brown rice for a delicious healthy dinner.

Why you will love this recipe

  • It’s a healthy chicken recipe made with fresh oranges and cranberries which are full of health benefits, and is filled with delicious flavor.
  • It’s so easy to put together. Dump the ingredients into your slow cooker and let it cook.
All of the ingredients for the cranberry orange chicken displayed
Cranberry Chicken Ingredients

This is a brief summary of the ingredients needed to make this Orange Cranberry Chicken recipe and a convenient shopping list from my Instacart affiliate link. For a printable recipe card with exact measurements and detailed instructions, scroll down to the recipe card section.

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Ingredients

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper
  • Fresh Cranberries or Frozen Cranberries
  • Fresh Orange Juice
  • Fresh Oranges
  • Garlic
  • Maple Syrup or Honey
  • Tamari Sauce or Soy Sauce
  • Freshly Grated Ginger
  • Whole Wheat Flour or Arrowroot (optional to thicken the sauce)

Prepare the Ingredients: Chop the garlic, grate the ginger, rough chop the cranberries, squeeze the orange juice, peel the orange, and rough chop the sections. Measure the syrup, and tamari sauce.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Chicken breasts cooking in a skillet

STEP 1: Once the oil in the skillet is hot, add the chicken breasts and cook on each side until they turn golden brown. If the skillet is too hot, reduce the heat to medium heat.

three chicken breasts in a slow cooker

Step 2. Place the browned chicken breasts into a slow cooker.

chicken in a slow cooker with orange slices on top

STEP 3. Top the chicken breasts with chunks of fresh oranges.

chicken in slow cooker topped with cranberries, oranges

Step 4. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 4 hours.

two pieces of chicken in sauce on a plate with orange slices

Pineapple – Add 3/4 cup of chopped pineapple for a blend of cranberry, orange and pineapple chicken or use up to 1 1 /2 cups of chopped pineapple instead of orange.

Gluten-Free – This recipe is naturally gluten-free if you use tamari sauce or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. You will also need to use arrowroot to thicken the sauce, not flour.

Spicy – Add a spicy kick with a teaspoon or two of red pepper flakes or a diced jalapeno pepper.

Change up the meat – Instead of chicken, try using pork chops or pork tenderloin.

Cranberry sauce – If you have leftover cranberry sauce, you can easily use that in place of cranberries. Here is my recipe for homemade cranberry orange sauce.

Cranberry chicken tastes great sprinkled with orange zest and cranberries served over mashed potatoes, or your favorite whole grain with a side of roasted brussels sprouts, green beans or a spinach salad.

Storing and Using Leftovers

Store leftover cranberry chicken in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days. Alternatively, you can freeze leftover cranberry chicken in an airtight freezer container or a reusable plastic bag like this stasher bag for up to three months.

Defrost leftovers in the refrigerator overnight or place the sealed container of frozen chicken in a bowl or pan of cold water. Reheat leftover chicken on top of the stove, in the oven or microwave.

Use the leftover cranberry orange chicken to make quesadillas with goat cheese or roll it up in a wrap. This also tastes great leftover with rice or your favorite whole grain.

cranberry chicken on a platter with 2 forks
I am short on time, can I makde this recipe in the oven?

Yes, you can! You will reduce cooking time by a few hours when you make this recipe in the oven. Simply brown the chicken in an ovenproof skillet or dutch oven medium high heat. Once the chicken breasts turn golden brown, add the remaining ingredients, cover the skillet and cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees f.

Can I use pancake syrup in place of maple syrup?

It is not recommended. Pancake syrup is more processed and made with high fructose corn syrup. It might add a sweeter flavor to this recipe.

What is the best type of orange to use to make this recipe?

Any variety of orange will work in this recipe. I like to use clementines because they have no seeds. You can also use naval oranges, blood oranges or valencia oranges.

Tips

  • If prefer a thicker suace, whisk together a slurry of 1 tablespoon of flour or arrowroot powder with 3 tablespoons of water and gradually stir it into the sauce in the slow cooker.
  • Add orange zest just before serving for a burst of flavor.

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cranberry chicken on a plate with a fork

Slow Cooked Cranberry Chicken Breasts

Cranberry chicken is slow cooked to perfection in a savory and slightly sweet sauce
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Click on serving size to scale this recipe

Course: Dinner Recipes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry orange chicken
Servings: 4
Calories: 211kcal
Author: Anne

Equipment

Scale this Recipe 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken breasts boneless, skinless
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ginger fresh
  • 1 teaspoon tamari sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon flour mixed with 1 tablespoon water optional

Instructions

  • Prepare: chop the cranberries and oranges, squeeze the orange juice, crush the garlic, grate the ginger. Measure the syrup and tamari sauce.
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil in the skillet is hot, add the chicken breasts and cook on each side for few minutes until they become golden brown.
  • Place the browned chicken pieces into the slow cooker.
  • Top the chicken with the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours.

Notes

Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite whole grain with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans or a salad.
Substitutions:
Boneless chicken breasts can be substituted with chicken thighs.
Fresh cranberries can be substituted with frozen cranberries.
Tamari sauce can be replaced with an equal amount of soy sauce or coconut aminos.
Maple syrup can be substituted with honey.
For a gluten-free version, make a slurry of arrowroot and water. Mix together 1 teaspoon of arrowroot with 1 tablespoon of water. Add the mixture at the very end of the cooking process to thicken the sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1boneless chicken breast | Calories: 211kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 217mg | Potassium: 539mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 138IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used

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9 Comments

  1. I love the orange cranberry twist on this chicken dish! So perfect and festive for Fall and I bet it makes your house smell amazing too.

  2. We made this for dinner last night and it was absolutely delicious! The orange and cranberry flavors really came through. Such a great flavor combo!

  3. I made this fall inspired chicken for our sunday meal and it was amazing. I browned the chicken and threw the rest of the ingredients and in the crockpot and let the magic happen. I loved the sweetness from the orange/honey and the tartness from the cranberries. The fresh ginger was really a special touch, thanks for a great recipe.

  4. Such a lovely, easy and super delicious chicken recipe. I absolutely love how the meat looks. SO tender and so juicy. Full of flavor. I can’t wait to make this!