Catalina Cranberry Chicken

Catalina Cranberry Chicken is an easy baked chicken with a surprising savory-sweet cranberry barbecue sauce.
Catalina Cranberry Chicken

Catalina Cranberry Chicken

by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

This recipe is a version of some chicken I first tried some years back when playing recipe tag games over at There was someone there nicknamed Silent Cricket (she wasn’t always named that- she took it on after feeling she had been bullied in the forums there). She had posted a recipe called Mrs. O’Brien’s chicken. I am always up for trying new things and the idea of cranberry sauce with Catalina dressing unnerved me, so that means I must try it. (I know! I know! odd logic! But I have tried many good things with that logic!) Turns out Silent Cricket was a missionaries wife and had got this at a church supper from the pastors wife, (hence the Mrs. O’Brien.) And actually, if you can get past the scary idea of pouring salad dressing over chicken it is really quite good. It also turns out that there are many versions of this kind of recipe going around, most of them being called Catalina chicken, or Cranberry chicken, among others. Silent Cricket’s version also used onion soup mix, which I don’t use myself as I mix up my own blends. It also used the crock pot. And you can cook this in the crock pot (I have tried it both ways) but I think the crock pot in this case leaves the sauce a bit runny. She also baked the chicken on very low (a bit of a crock pot translation in temperature), but it really doesn’t need to cook so low and so long. It bakes right up in about an hour, depending on if your chicken pieces are larger or smaller. I recommend an instant read thermometer if you don’t have one. They sell for under ten dollars and can really help you find out when chicken is done in a flash.

Silent Cricket passed away suddenly a few years back. I think of her when I make this recipe, and although we never met in person, we shared many food memories and conversations on the web. It is quite a lot of fun when like-minded foodies get together and talk about their favorite subject. And truly heart wrenching when a friend, even one never met, passes on. So I hope you enjoy my friend’s ministers’ wife’s recipe (it has really been passed around by now) even if it is kind of a stretch to call it the same recipe at this point. But it was never my idea in the first place, so credit where credit is due. I never would have thought of putting these ingredients together! 😀


Catalina Cranberry Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Catalina Cranberry Chicken

  • 3-4 pounds bone-in chicken leg quarters, separated (or thighs and drumsticks whichever combination)
  • 8 ounces jellied cranberry sauce (one small can)
  • 4 fluid ounces Kraft Bacon Catalina salad dressing (you can use regular Catalina but the bacon tastes better- you could also use Western or Russian dressing, the dark red Russian and not the type like Thousand Island)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dry minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chicken base
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.
  3. Rinse chicken, pat dry and place on foil/
  4. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour this sauce right on top of the chicken.
  5. Bake at 375ºF. for 50-65 minutes, basting with the sauce occasionally, turing over once during cooking to baste the other side, then turning back to finish with a final baste a few minutes before the chicken is done. Test with a thermometer- it should read 165ºF. in the thickest part of the thigh, and will rise about 5 more degrees as it rests outside the oven before serving.

From the kitchen of

Catalina Cranberry Chicken

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One response

  1. Such a nice tribute to Silent Cricket. I love your version of the recipe I’ve made several times over the years and will be on the hunt for bacon Catalina dressing.

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