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This freezer-friendly Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken recipe is healthy and simple, with a blow-your-mind-delicious balsamic marinade.
By Alyssa Nitz, Contributing Author
I was first introduced to this tasty, Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken recipe just a couple weeks after having my son, Jacob. After receiving some yummy but heavy pasta and casserole meals, which I gobbled gratefully, my mom made me this dish, and it was a like a breath of fresh air.
Sitting in the balsamic marinade in the refrigerator all day, the chicken will turn out incredibly tender and flavorful. Let me tell you, this marinade is everything. It’s tangy because of the balsamic and dried cranberries, and little bit sweet because of the maple syrup. My husband may or may not have caught me eating a spoonful of it out of the dish once. Just sayin’. He has no proof.
Added bonus, since this dish is best when prepared ahead of time, you get to simply toss your dish in the oven at dinner time. If you’re in the same parenting phase as I am, not having to be in the kitchen too long before dinner is a real game-changer. Not that I don’t love having my little people within a three feet proximity as me crying for crackers while I cook. It’s just not exactly relaxing.
Start by grabbing a baking dish, or gallon size freezer bag if you’re planning on freezing, and whisk together your olive oil, balsamic, maple syrup, garlic, thyme, oregano, and salt and pepper.
Then you throw in some dried cranberries. Those cranberries will break down in the balsamic vinegar and flavor the whole marinade.
Add the chicken breasts and Brussels sprouts to the marinade, rolling everything around, and giving your chicken and sprouts a nice little marinade bath. Tuck it all in nicely, cover it, and let it hang out in the fridge for at least a few hours.
After the marinade has worked its magic, pop this beauty in the oven and go sit on the couch and watch Ellen. You’ve done your job.
And hello dinner.
The meal was such a hit that it became a regular in our dinner lineup. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is as easy to prepare as it is tasty. This dish checks all the boxes of being nutritious and simple, with a sauce so delicious you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful…but who would do that?!
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- 3/4 cup olive oil or avocado oil
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste*
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste*
- 3–4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 cups (or more to your preference) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
- 1 cup dried cranberries
*Original recipe called for 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, but updated on 4/14/22 after retesting.
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Make It Now:
- Whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Add chicken, Brussels sprouts, and cranberries to the marinade, and mix until everything is evenly coated. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
- Cover dish and store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Bake uncovered at 375°F for 30 minutes (or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F or no longer has any pink inside). Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
Freeze For Later: Complete recipe through Step 2. Pour all ingredients into a gallon-sized freezer bag or container with lid. Seal and freeze.
Prepare from Frozen: Thaw for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. Cook according to the instructions in Step 4.
About the Author
Alyssa is a former English teacher turned stay-at-home mama. She married her high school sweetheart and still thinks he’s dreamy. She likes to write about, talk about, make, and most importantly eat delicious, nourishing food.