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Simple Apricot Chicken (Semi-Homemade)

Sticky, sweet, tangy deliciousness. This semi-homemade apricot chicken is a step up from that old recipe with onion soup, jam and Catalina dressing.

I wanted to try a homemade version (well, except for the jam) to cut back on the fat, sugar and salt. This version only has a few more ingredients and uses fresh onions.

glazed apricot chicken on plate

It’s impossible to find the original apricot chicken recipe as it’s been been posted so many times on the internet by various authors.

I confess that the original version is pretty darn tasty and very simple to make. See notes in recipe card if you’re craving it. 

Why make this semi-homemade version

  • You can better control the salt, sugar and fat. Bottled dressings typically contain high fat and sugar. And the onion soup mix has a ton of salt.
  • It still has minimal ingredients, although admittedly a few more than the original. Essentially, we’re recreating the Catalina salad dressing and onion soup blend.
  • The recipe makes enough sticky apricot sauce to soak into whatever you’re serving with the chicken.

BUT.. does the homemade version still have that sweet, tangy, fruity, onion-y taste? Definitely!

This tried and true easy apricot chicken is perfect for your next holiday dinner or just a simple family meal. I often serve it as one of my Rosh Hashanah recipes because it is so popular with kids. In fact, our whole family loves it.

Ingredients – Tailored To Your Taste

chicken pieces, ketchup, onion, red wine vinegar, apricot jam, sugar, worcestershire sauce
Oops. Ignore the olive oil – we didn’t use it!

Chicken: I tend to use a whole chicken cut up to satisfy all tastes, but feel free to use whatever parts you prefer. Skin-on chicken thighs are my favorite. If you only have a whole chicken on hand, here’s a video on how to cut up a whole chicken.

Apricot jam: is a key component. Good substitutes are apricot preserves, peach jam or preserves or orange marmalade. I haven’t tried it, but someone suggested using cranberry sauce instead of jam. If you’re feeling energetic, try our easy homemade peach jam or peach marmalade without pectin.

Red wine vinegar: This adds a bit of tartness to balance the sweet jam. You can substitute it with white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Variations: Taste the apricot sauce blend and adjust it to your liking. Here are a few tweaks you can try:

  • A teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard or soy sauce,
  • A pinch or garlic powder,
  • Add some chopped dried apricots
  • Add some heat with 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Garnish with fresh chopped chives, parsley or thyme.

Step by step instructions

ingredients except chicken in mixing bowl
Add all sauce ingredients to a large bowl and mix to combine well.
chicken and sauce in mixing bowl
Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly.
chicken with sauce on baking sheet
Lay chicken in single layer on a lined baking pan or pyrex dish.
baked apricot chicken on baking sheet
Bake about 30-45 minutes depending on thickness of chicken pieces.
apricot chicken with a bit of char from broiler in the pan
If desired, spoon the sticky sauce over the chicken and broil a few minutes to brown it.
apricot chicken breast on plate with bok choy and rice

Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between jam and preserves?

Preserves tend to be thicker than jam because they use larger pieces of fruit instead of mashed fruit. They both have the same nutritional value and can be used interchangeably in the apricot chicken recipe.

How much salt does a package of onion soup mix contain?

Onion soup mix is high in sodium, containing almost 600 mg sodium in one tablespoon. The salt content in the old version made with dry onion soup would be about 4 times our semi-homemade version.

Can I make a lower calorie version of apricot chicken?

Yes. Use sugar-free jam, skip any extra sugar and use skinless chicken.

Shortcut

  • Revert to the old 4-ingredient recipe: Mix a 10 oz bottle of Catalina dressing (or Russian dressing or French dressing) with 1 cup of apricot jam (237 ml) and a package of dry onion soup mix. Pour over chicken and bake at 350F/177C for 40-45 minutes.

Make Ahead

  • Don’t mix the sauce with the chicken then freeze as the sauce will become watery.
  • You can prep the recipe a few hours ahead then bake it when needed.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Side dish suggestions

Try serving the chicken with rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.

I also love to pair it with microwave green beans, roasted bok choy or easy creamed spinach.

For a side salad, I would go with a citrus salad with greens or a broccoli and cauliflower salad with avocado dressing.

finished apricot chicken pieces on plate

Other saucy chicken recipes

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glazed apricot chicken on plate
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Apricot Chicken (Easy Semi-Homemade)

Sticky, sweet, tangy deliciousness. This semi-homemade apricot chicken is a step up from that old recipe with onion soup, jam and Catalina dressing.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 3.5 pounds chicken bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, trimmed of extra fat, Note 1
  • Garnish: chopped parsley

Apricot Glaze Recipe

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup apricot jam or preserves (peach or marmalade ok too)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, Note 2
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced (1 clove) or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon each, salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onions about 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (this will help sauce stay on chicken)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar (optional)

Instructions

  • HEAT OVEN to 375F/191C. Line a roasting pan with sides, sheet pan or 9 x 13 inch ( 23 x 33 cm) pyrex baking dish with aluminum foil sprayed with oil or a double layer of parchment paper. Don't use a pan that is too large or the sauce will burn onto to the pan.
  • MAKE SAUCE/GLAZE: In a large mixing bowl, add all sauce ingredients and mix to combine well. Taste and adjust if needed e.g. more salt, sugar, vinegar, etc. Add chicken and toss to coat evenly. Note 3.
  • BAKE CHICKEN: Use a pan with sides that will fit the chicken comfortably, but that is not too big. Line it with foil and spray with oil. Place chicken and sauce in the pan in a single layer, skin side up. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Cooking time will depend on size of chicken. Instant thermometer should read about 160F/71C. Remove chicken and spoon sauce on top if some has slipped off.
    If desired, broil the chicken about 8 inches/20 cm from heat source for about 4 minutes to brown it on top. Watch that it doesn't burn.
  • SERVE: Transfer to a serving platter, spooning extra sauce on top (or in a separate small bowl to pass around). Garnish with chopped parsley.

Notes

  1. Chicken options: You can use a whole chicken cut up or any chicken parts you like. I prefer skin on, bone-in chicken but you can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs if you reduce the cooking time. 
  2. Red wine vinegar substitute: If you don’t have any, use white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  3. Sauce Variations: Taste the apricot sauce mixture and adjust it to your liking. Here are a few tweaks you can try:
    • A teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard or soy sauce,
    • A pinch or garlic powder,
    • Add some chopped dried apricots
    • Add some heat with 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Lower calorie version: use sugar free jam.
  4. Make Ahead:
    • Don’t mix the sauce with the chicken then freeze as the sauce will become watery.
    • You can prep the recipe a few hours ahead then bake it when needed.
    • The baked chicken will keep warm for an hour in a warm 200F oven, covered with foil.
    • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Or freeze it for up to 3 months.
  5. Craving the old shortcut recipe? Mix a 10 oz bottle of Catalina, Russian or French salad dressing with 1 cup/237ml apricot preserves and a package of dry onion soup mix. Pour over chicken and bake at 350F/177C for an hour. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 607kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 733mg | Potassium: 561mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg
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4 Comments

    1. Hi Debbie, It shouldn’t be a problem to use boneless chicken. Try 400F for 18-22 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. Then broil for a few minutes. Hope that helps.

    1. I haven’t used the recipe on only wings, but if you don’t mind the skin not being crispy, they should still taste great. I suggest broiling them in the last 5-6 minutes to brown them up. Let us know how the wings work out if you try them.