My recipe for baked vinegar chicken with oranges makes for a wonderful and hearty weeknight dinner! Full of complex sweet and sour flavors, it’s made with tender chicken legs, tart cherries, oranges, and a handful of earthy seasonings.
Baked chicken is one of those classic dishes that we all know and love. It comes as no surprise — it’s so easy to make! And while I love a traditional roast chicken recipe, I’m always eager to switch things up. Recipes like this baked Greek yogurt chicken, baked sesame chicken, and roasted coconut milk chicken are just a few unique ways to make chicken — poultry is just so versatile and can be paired with such a variety of different ingredients.
Today’s dish is another riff on baked chicken: Middle Eastern-inspired vinegar chicken with orange and dried cherries. It is full of sweet and sour ingredients, plus a handful of my favorite warm and earthy spices like turmeric and cinnamon.
This recipe only requires about 10 minutes of prep work. Once it’s in the oven, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy as the savory aromas fill your kitchen. Serve it over some salad greens or with your favorite side dish.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Chicken – Opt for skin-on and bone-in chicken. You can use legs (thigh and drumstick) or a mix of thighs, drumsticks, and wings. The choice is yours!
- Orange – You’ll only need one orange to achieve the subtle orange flavors in this vinegar chicken recipe. Add it to the roasting pan as it bakes.
- Dried Cherries – The other sweet component for this sweet and sour-flavored dish. I like using dried cherries — they’ll plump up a little as they bake.
- Onion – The flavor base for the sauce that you’ll pour over the chicken before baking it.
- Garlic – Another important aromatic for your sauce.
- White Vinegar – Where the slightly sour and tart flavor comes from — vinegar is, of course, a key ingredient for vinegar chicken.
- Vegetable Oil – Use it to pan-cook the chicken.
- Kosher Salt – To season the chicken before you pre-cook it.
- Ground Turmeric – Peppery, earthy, and a little bit sweet, turmeric adds flavor and color to the mix.
- Red Pepper Flakes – To add a bit of heat! If you don’t like spicy foods you can feel free to skip them.
- Cinnamon – Woody and spicy with soft notes of citrus, cinnamon pairs wonderfully with the other flavors in this dish.
HOW TO MAKE VINEGAR CHICKEN WITH ORANGES
- Prep for Cooking. Preheat your oven to 350°F before you get started. As it heats, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt.
- Brown the Chicken. Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, skin side down until it becomes golden brown, about 7 minutes. Flip and continue to cook it for another 3 minutes. Then, transfer the chicken with the skin side up to a 9×13-inch baking dish. You can leave any excess fat in the pan to sauté the onions and garlic.
- Make the Sauce. Place the skillet back over medium heat, and then add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion turns golden brown, it should take 6-8 minutes. Stir in the dried tart cherries, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon, and allow it to cook until fragrant. After about 30 seconds, pour in the vinegar and 1 cup of water. Season a bit with salt and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Bake the Vinegar Chicken. Pour the sauce on and around the chicken pieces, then nestle in the orange halves with the cut side up around the chicken. Place the pan in the oven and bake (uncovered) until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is cooked through — use a food-safe thermometer to check that the internal temp is at least 165°F. It should take between 20-35 minutes, depending on the cut of chicken you use.
- Garnish & Serve. Remove the chicken from the pan and garnish with the sauce. Squeeze the orange halves on top and enjoy!
What Does Vinegar Do to Chicken When Cooking?
The white vinegar in this baked vinegar chicken recipe will tenderize the meat slightly as it cooks. It also works to hold on to excess moisture, giving you tender and juicy results!
Is it Better to Bake Chicken at 350 Degrees F or 400 Degrees F?
You can bake chicken anywhere between 325°F and 420°F. I personally prefer a lower and slower cooking method — I find that when I bake at 350°F, it comes out perfectly juicy and tender every time. Just remember that it must have an internal temperature of 165°F for it to be safe to eat.
What is the Secret to Juicy Chicken?
Some chefs suggest allowing the chicken to brine in a mixture of salt and water before baking. You can use that technique if you’d like, but I also find that searing the chicken before roasting it also helps hold onto all those yummy juices. I don’t think that using a brine is really necessary for this particular dish.
Vinegar Chicken with Orange and Cherries
- 3 lb skin-on bone-in chicken legs (thigh and drumstick) or a mix of thighs and drumsticks or wings
- Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- ⅓ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 orange halved
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then season all over with salt. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook chicken, skin side down, until golden brown , 7 minutes. Flip and cook another 3 minutes. Transfer chicken skin side up to a 9×13" baking dish, leaving any fat in the pan.
- Return skillet to medium heat and add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onion is golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Stir in dried tart cherries (or barberries), turmeric, red pepper flakes, cinnamon and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in vinegar and 1 cup water, season lightly with salt, and bring to a simmer.
- Pour sauce on and around chicken pieces, then nestle orange halves, cut side up, around chicken.
- Transfer pan to oven and bake, uncovered, until sauce is reduced and chicken is cooked through (165°F internal temp), 30–35 minutes (or 20–25 minutes for separated thighs, drumsticks and wings).
- Serve with sauce over chicken pieces, then squeeze juice from orange halves on top.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.