When it comes to planning a holiday meal, chicken is one of the most versatile main courses you can put on your table. This type of protein is lean and mild in flavor, but it also pairs well with a wide range of flavors, allowing you to add spices, glazes and other seasonings to deliver whatever kind of dining experience you’re aiming for this holiday season.

Mississippi families can find locally grown chickens at nearby family farms, as well as your local food co-op. Eager to discover new ways to put chicken at the center of your holiday meal this year? Here are four recipes that will make a big impression.

1. One-Pan Cranberry Balsamic Roasted Chicken

This simple recipe features a marinade made by blending together the following:

  • 1/3 c. cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp gluten-free tamari sauce
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic

“Once blended, pour this marinade over a whole chicken, cut up and laid on a sheet pan, or on a pan of chicken thighs, drumsticks, or other chicken parts,” says Jon Kalahar, Communications Coordinator for Farm Families of Mississippi. “Marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours, then cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-35 minutes, or until internal temperatures reach 165 degrees. You can also save some of the marinade and pour it over the top halfway through cooking for an extra-thick glaze.”1

2. Apple-Glazed Holiday Chicken

Eager to feature a whole chicken as an eye-popping holiday entree? Give this chicken a beautiful apple glaze to enhance its golden color and give everyone a perfect blend of sweet and savory.

Take a whole chicken (between six and eight pounds) and thoroughly clean out its cavity, if not already done. Pat the chicken dry and rub with a thick layer of salted butter, inside and out. Add a consistent layer of salt-free seasoning inside and out, then tie the chicken legs together with butcher string.

Fill the chicken’s cavity with one whole apple, then cook for 50-60 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit. After 35-40 minutes, remove the chicken and brush repeatedly with 12 oz apple juice, allowing the run-off juice to collect in the pan—it will add to the chicken’s flavor as it cooks. Remove when internal temp reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.2

3. Rosemary’s Christmas Chicken

This festive dish features a thick sauce made from 2 cups cranberries a 1/3 cup brown sugar. You can also marinate your whole, divided chicken with a citric mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and fresh rosemary.

Layout chicken on a baking sheet and cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, spoon the cranberry mix on the pan around the chicken, and return it to the oven for 10 minutes. Serve this dish with fresh rosemary sprigs as a garnish.

4. Garlic Butter Baked Chicken Thighs

Stir together a garlic-butter sauce that includes one stick of unsalted, softened butter, 5 garlic cloves, zest from one lemon, and 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once these have been mixed in a bowl, pour this sauce over a 9 x 13 pan of chicken thighs (three pounds, preferably bone-in).3

“Cook at 425 degrees for 35 minutes, or until internal temp hits 165 degrees,” says Jon Kalahar, Communications Coordinator for Farm Families of Mississippi. “Place slices or wedges of lemon in the pan for added flavor and moisture. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.”

As you plan out your dinner table this holiday season, don’t overlook the versatile, flavorful and eye-pleasing ways locally farmed chicken can impress everyone you invite over to your home.