I’m trying to get creative with some of the leftover holiday food in my refrigerator. I don't want to waste the money I spent on the food, and the environmental impact of wasted food is high. The other night, we tried our hand at making our own queso dip that wasn’t half bad and saved half a container of sour cream and a block of cheddar cheese (both from a party two weeks ago) from going unused.


Yesterday, I decided I needed to use the cranberry sauce that was still in the refrigerator. I recalled running across recipes for chicken and cranberry sauce in the slow cooker from time to time, so I set out to find one that was workable for me.


Dinners For a Year had one that was simple enough, so I gave it a shot with one big change. Instead of using a package of onion soup mix, I found a homemade substitute for it on allrecipes.com and went with that instead. There are less mystery ingredients that way, but after looking at the beef bouillon ingredients, I realized there were still mystery ingredients. I think I need to find better bouillon for next future use.


Along with the cranberry chicken, I served leftover mashed potatoes from our New Year’s Eve dinner (never as good the second time, but didn’t want them to go to waste), and green beans. I was pleased to find that the sauce was delicious, and the meal went over well with the family.



  • One whole chicken, cut apart, or about 3 pounds of your choice of chicken parts
  • 1 can of cranberry sauce (jellied or whole berry), or the equivalent of homemade cranberry sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 recipe for onion soup mix substitute (or onion soup mix)
  • cornstarch, for thickening the sauce if you want to
  1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  2. Mix together cranberry sauce, brown sugar, and onion soup mix – pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on low for 3-6 hours depending, or until chicken is done (reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer). If you use boneless chicken breasts, the cooking time will be on the lower end. If you use whole chicken pieces with the bones in, the cooking time will be longer.
  4. When chicken is done, if you’d like to thicken the sauce left in the slow cooker, transfer the sauce to a saucepan and thicken it with some cornstarch. Serve sauce over chicken. 
My notes
  • I used boneless, skinless chicken breast, but they turned out a bit dry. Next time I will use chicken thighs or cut up an entire chicken.
  • I used jellied cranberry sauce so my sauce turned out pretty smooth (I also strained it before putting it in the saucepan). If you use whole berry your sauce won’t be as smooth unless you choose to put it in a blender.
How are you using up the leftover food from the holidays before it goes to waste?


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken
Leftover cranberry sauce and homemade onion soup mix flavor chicken cooked in the slow cooker.