Wisconsin cherries make an unexpectedly delightful addition to marinades for chicken thighs, infusing the meat with a balance of sweetness and tartness that elevates the overall flavor profile.

Fresh or frozen Wisconsin cherries are blended into a puree that creates the the base for the marinade. Their natural sugars caramelize beautifully during cooking, adding a rich, glossy finish to the chicken. The acidity in cherries also helps to tenderize the meat, ensuring juicy, flavorful chicken that is far from ordinary.

To create a cherry marinade, start by blending pitted cherries with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, soy sauce and a touch of maple syrup. This combination develops a complex flavor that also provides a beautiful color that makes the dish visually appealing.

Adding herbs like thyme or rosemary enhances the aromatic quality of the marinade, making each bite a burst of equally savory and fruity notes. Allow the chicken thighs to soak in this marinade for at least a few hours, preferably overnight, to fully absorb the flavors.

Cooking the marinated chicken thighs can be done through grilling, baking, or pan-searing, each method offering a slightly different texture and taste. Grilling adds a smoky flavor that complements the cherries’ sweetness, while baking keeps the meat tender and juicy. Pan-searing creates a crispy exterior, locking in the juices.

No matter the cooking method, the cherry marinade ensures the chicken thighs are not only delicious but also uniquely memorable, perfect for a summer barbecue or a cozy family dinner. This dish showcases how versatile and dynamic Wisconsin cherries can be, transforming simple chicken thighs into a gourmet experience.

A grilled chicken thigh topped with a cherry glaze.

Grilled Wisconsin Cherry-Glazed Chicken Thighs

This main course highlights the sweet and tangy flavors of Wisconsin cherries,infusing the chicken thighs with a delicious glaze that's perfect for summer grilling.
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Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 379 kcal


  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs


  • 1.5 cups Wisconsin cherries fresh or frozen, pureed in a blender or food processor.
  • 1.5 tsp garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh thyme or rosemary optional, for added flavor


  • In a bowl, combine the pureed cherries, minced garlic, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, pepper and optional herbs. Mix well to create the marinade.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a resealable plastic bag or shallow dish and pour the marinade over them, ensuring they are evenly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the chicken.
  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  • Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, shaking off any excess, and reserve the marinade for later use.
  • Place the chicken thighs on the preheated grill, skin side down, and cook for 5-6 minutes per side, or until they develop grill marks and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C).
  • While the chicken is grilling, transfer the reserved marinade to a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until it thickens into a glaze, stirring occasionally.
  • During the last few minutes of grilling, brush the chicken thighs with the cherry glaze, turning them occasionally to coat evenly.
  • Once the chicken thighs are cooked through and glazed to perfection, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
  • Serve the grilled cherry-glazed chicken thighs hot, garnished with additional fresh cherries or herbs if desired.


Note: Maple syrup may also be substituted with honey.


Calories: 379kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 25gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 448mgPotassium: 403mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 135IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg
Keyword balsamic vinegar, cherry, chicken, chicken thigh, soy sauce
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