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Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken Thighs

The chicken stays moist, and the sauce is EVERYTHING.

Once Thanksgiving passes, it can be easy to forget that cranberries and poultry are a match made in heaven, but it’s really something we should keep at the forefront of our minds all year. Because it’s not true just for turkey… cranberries and chicken are also a perfect pair! This easy slow cooker recipe makes good use of that combo and the end result is tender and moist chicken that’s coated in a wonderfully sweet and slightly tangy sauce.

We like using bone-in chicken thighs in the slow cooker because due to the higher fat content, they’re more flavorful than chicken breasts and there’s virtually no chance they’ll dry out. No one wants dry chicken.

The sauce here is simple but so flavorful. You just choose your very favorite BBQ sauce and mix it up with some cranberry sauce (whole or jellied will work) and a little bit of Dijon mustard and orange marmalade. The marmalade and Dijon give it a nice bite while the BBQ and cranberry sauces keep it sweet. A sprinkling of sesame seeds gives a delicate crunch, but they’re certainly not required.

We’ve tried to keep this recipe simple as can be, but if you’d like crispier skin or a little more color on the chicken you can add in a simple step at the beginning or end of cooking. The first option is to sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the chicken and sear it skin side down in a hot oiled skillet before putting it in the slow cooker. The second option is to place the chicken on a baking sheet after it comes out of the slow cooker and broil it on high for a few minutes until it gets some color.

You know we love our slow cooker, and we know we’re certainly not alone there. This chicken is moist, flavorful, and easy to make. It’s just the kind of go-to recipe we love, no matter what the season.

Serves 6-8

4 hours inactive, 10 minutes active

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup BBQ sauce of your choice
  • 1 can (14 oz) cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper and place chicken in bottom of slow cooker.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together BBQ sauce, cranberry sauce, orange marmalade, and mustard and pour mixture over chicken thighs.
  3. Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours.
  4. During end of cooking time, whisk together cornstarch and cold water and stir into liquid in slow cooker. Turn heat to high and let cook 20 more minutes.
  5. Garnish with sesame seeds, if using. Enjoy!

Adapted from Homemade Hooplah.

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