Cranberry Lemon Roast Chicken

Chicken covered with cranberry lemon sauce before cooking

A good reliable roast chicken recipe is a good one to have. One that takes just a bit of prep, then let it sit in the oven and do it’s thing. A friend of mine told me she’d be interested in this recipe because she never roasts chicken; she’s always afraid it won’t be cooked.

completely roasted chicken
I placed mine in the casserole upside so we had to flip it and cook a bit longer to get that brown skin!

For me, a simple roast chicken is a quick dinner or a reliable lunch on a weekend. I used to shop at Wegman’s and loved their $5 roasting chickens. But recently, I went to my regular local grocery store and discovered they had $3 small roasting chickens. Just about 5 pounds. I bought one to throw in the freezer, and pulled it out on Thursday to start thawing. I should have done that Wednesday because there was still a bit of ice on the inside, but it came out so good! I hope you try this recipe. Just adjust marinade ingredients for a larger bird. It’s also great for skinless chicken breasts, but you’d have to adjust the timing.

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 2 TB white vinegar
  • 2 TB cranberry pear balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TB honey
  • 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp honey mustard
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 10 fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour for the sauce

Place all ingredients in a mini-food processor, and puree on high until well-mixed. The cranberries may take a few seconds on low to start so they get cut up, or you can chop them a bit with a knife, then add them. Note this recipe is also good as a salad dressing, on a nice fall salad with toasted walnuts, roasted beets, and greens with a bit of goat cheese!

marinade in the mini-food processor
This marinade doubles as a salad dressing.

Prepping the chicken:

  • Thaw one whole, small roasting chicken (5 lbs.). Mine took 3+ days to thaw from frozen solid. When I see them on sale at the store I try to grab a couple to put in the freezer. This is a the perfect recipe fora single small (5 lb) bird, but you may want to double if you’re doing multiple chicken breasts, or a larger bird.
  • Remove the giblets and set aside for anothe recipe. I usually boil mine up and freeze the broth and meat for soup another day.
  • Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry.
  • Place the whole chicken in a gallon-sized zip lock bag and pour the marinade over the bird. Shake around and refrigerate for 30 – 60 minutes, flipping and shaking the chicken again at the halfway mark.
whole chicken with marinade in the zip lock bag
a half-hour or more marinating works great!

Instructions for the Cranberry Lemon Roast Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  • Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray (mine was too small. You don’t want the sauce to be too deep or the chicken just boils in it)
  • Carefully remove the chicken from it’s marinating bag and place into the dish, breast side up.
  • If you’ve gone light on the salt as I did, you might want to add another shake or two
  • Pour the marinade carefully into a deep bowl.
  • Whisk the marinade together with a small can of cranberry sauce (jelly or whole cranberries) and 2 TB lemon zest until well combined
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken
Chicken covered with cranberry lemon sauce before cooking
It looks so delicious and the smell of the sauce is amazing.
  • Cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes
  • Remove the chicken from the oven, remove the foil, then bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when a thermometer is inserted into the densest part of the bird.
  • Once done, remove the chicken from the pan and cover while you make the sauce

Cranberry lemon sauce– It’s a pretty easy task. Pour the juices from the baking dish into a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in a couple tablespoons of flour until well blended. Continue to whisk, adding another spoonful of flour every few minutes until the gravy has reached the consistency you want. If you like creamier sauce, you can add a bit of milk, but with the chicken juices, cranberry sauce, and lemon zest, this makes for a fruity, citrus sauce that goes so well with poultry!

8 oz. can of jellied cranberry sauce
Just a teeny 8 oz. can

That’s it! Once you get that marinade mixed it’s just a matter of getting the chicken ready. Then you pop it in the oven and you’re pretty much there.

I hope you enjoy it! I served mine with Cranberry Walnut Naan. Watch for that recipe as well!


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