Supercharge your meal planning money savings and reduce waste with these leftover chicken ideas. I promise you, your family won’t even realize they are eating leftovers.
I know I am an odd duck as I can eat the same thing over and over again without getting bored. I hate food waste and nothing brings me more pleasure than seeing all of my leftovers gone. But my family, not so much. They hate leftovers.
That is why I have to be sneaky. I am always on the lookout for ways to use up my leftovers by using recipes that look and taste fresh. The key really is variety.
One of the most economical meals I have on my meal plan is roast chicken. I have to admit that I do pick it up ready made from my local grocery store. Add fries, a side and dipping sauce and this meal replicates take-away at a fraction of the cost. It is also quick and easy to put together.
I usually buy two ready-made chickens on 2 for 1 days. This deal is offered on Tuesdays. So that means that I not only have leftovers from the first chicken, but a whole leftover chicken roast as well to use up during the rest of the week. Luckily, I have lots of leftover chicken recipes in my arsenal to help me do just that.
You don’t need to get a whole chicken to take advantage of these leftover chicken ideas either. I also like to buy in bulk if I find a super good offer on chicken breasts. I then schedule a chicken breast recipe for Monday or Tuesday. But instead of just preparing the chicken breast I need for that one meal, I lightly season and bake all of the chicken breasts I have in one go. I find this saves energy by only using the oven once plus saves me time when using the following recipes for leftover chicken breast as well.
How long is leftover chicken good for?
If you store your leftover chicken properly, is should be good for 3-4 days. Make sure it is in a air-sealed container and that your refrigerator is set to 40°F or below. Discard leftovers after 4 days as the taste and quality will have deteriorated plus bacteria may have begun to grow. If you notice a sour smell or a slimy texture, throw the chicken out, even if it is less than 4 days old.
Can you freeze leftover chicken?
Absolutely! Plain or fried pieces of chicken can last up to four months in the freezer. If you anticipate that you will not be able to use up all of your leftover chicken in the next 4 days after you have cooked it, seal it up and store it in the freezer for another week’s meal plan.
Go to the USDA for more food safety guidelines.
How to unthaw cooked chicken
- Unwrap and place the frozen, cooked chicken in a bowl or dish inside the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before requiring it or
- Seal it in an air tight baggie and submerge it in a tall pot full of cold tap water. Change water every 30 minutes until thawed or
- Thaw in the microwave using low or defrost setting. Approximately 6-8 minutes per pound.
No one wants to have a week of chicken recipes, nor do you want to feel pressured to use up all of your cooked chicken in 4 days. Save some chicken and refrigerate for immediate use but prepare some chicken and freeze for future weeks meal plans. Slice, cube and shred chicken and store in individual, air tight freezer baggies. That way you have them ready for recipes that require them and they unthaw quicker.
I hope you find lots of inspirational ways to use up your leftover chicken here:
20+ Leftover Chicken Easy Recipes
By far the easiest way to use up your leftover chicken is to use it for lunches the next day. Either for eat at home or to take to work/school, it is a nice, healthy meal.
Messy Chicken Sandwich
Ingredients: Shredded chicken, favourite gravy or dipping sauce for chicken, bread, peas.
- Warm chicken in microwave.
- Coat chicken with hot gravy.
- Spread between two slices of bread.
- Top with gravy and pre-heated peas.
Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese
Ingredients: Shredded chicken, buffalo sauce, cheddar cheese slices, bread, butter.
- Warm up skillet.
- In a small bowl, combine shredded chicken and buffalo sauce.
- Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread and place butter side down in hot skillet.
- Cooking about 4-5 minutes on each side. Flip when golden brown and cheese melted.
Chicken Salad Sandwich
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups cubed chicken, 1 small celery stalk chopped, 1 small onion chopped, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, pinch of salt and pepper to taste, 8 slices of bread.
- Mix all ingredients except bread in a bowl.
- Spread mixture in between slices.
Ingredients: Cubed chicken pieces, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, pitas. Optional: caramelized onions, green pepper.
- Coat chicken with mayonnaise.
- Add mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill pita and add any additional ingredients as desired.
Ingredients: Cubed chicken pieces, favourite noodle soup or chicken broth and egg noodles, cubed carrots, sliced celery stalk.
- Warm up pre-made noodle soup or broth with pre-cooked egg noodles.
- Add chicken, carrots and celery.
- Heat till hot but don’t over boil.
Chicken Caesar Salad
Ingredients: Strips chicken pieces, romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, bacon bits, croutons, caesar salad dressing.
- Chop up romaine lettuce.
- Mix lettuce, cheese, croutons, bacon bits and dressing to desired consistency.
- Top with chicken strips.
Chicken Caesar Wrap
Do real men eat salads? Well, yes they do if I wrap it in a tortilla! You can pretty much put any kind of salad in with your sliced chicken in a wrap for a nice lunch.
Ingredients: Prepared Chicken Caesar Salad, tortillas.
- Fill tortilla with salad.
- Roll and serve.
Ingredients: 2 cups shredded chicken, 2 cups grated strong cheddar cheese, diced tomato, salsa, 10 hard taco shells, shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole.
- Pre heat oven to 350°F.
- Line baking tray with aluminium foil.
- Line up taco shells upright.
- Layer in each shell in this order: chicken, salsa, tomatoes and cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes or cheese has melted.
- Remove from oven and top with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.
Ingredients: diced chicken pieces, tortillas (pack of 10), shredded strong cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa, finely chopped green pepper and onions, guacamole.
- Warm tortilla in non stick skillet.
- Add chicken, cheese, salsa, pepper and onions.
- Fold tortilla over.
- Flip and cook 2 minutes.
- Remove and serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.
Ingredients: diced chicken pieces, tortillas (pack of 10), taco seasoning, rice, refried beans, sour cream, guacamole.
- Warm chicken in skillet.
- Add taco seasoning as per package directions.
- Cook rice according to directions.
- Warm beans in microwave.
- Add rice and beans to skillet.
- Mix well.
- Warm tortilla in microwave.
- Layer filling on tortilla.
- Roll and serve with sour cream and guacamole.
Ingredients: Sliced chicken, thick sliced bread, baby spinach leaves, thick cheddar cheese slices, pre-cooked bacon, sliced tomato, ranch dressing, salted butter.
- Set the panini press to medium heat.
- Butter all bread on one side.
- Place one slice, butter side down, on the hot press.
- Top with chicken, then some ranch dressing then all the other ingredients.
- Place slice of bread, butter side up, on top.
- Shut the panini press and let cook for 7 minutes or until the bread is toasted golden brown.
Ingredients: Pita bread, Tzatziki sauce. For the marinade: Chicken strips, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. parika, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Toppings: lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced onion, Feta cheese.
- Place the chicken in a medium bowl and add all of the marinade ingredients.
- Mix well then cover with plastic wrap, and marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Warm the pita bread (in the oven or microwave).
- Add a bit of shredded lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, and chicken on top. Drizzle with a generous amount of Tzatziki and feta cheese.
- Fold the gyro in half and serve.
Chicken doesn’t always have to be centre stage. Use it as in a side dish to compliment your next dinner, BBQ or picnic.
Ingredients: 1 inch cubed chicken, cubed pineapple, large green pepper cubed, large diced red onion, favourite BBQ sauce, skewers.
- Alternate chicken, pineapple, pepper, and onions on skewer.
- Place on grill.
- Brush with sauce.
- Heat till crispy and vegetables tender.
Chicken Pasta Salad
Ingredients: Cubed chicken pieces, favourite pasta, green pepper, onion, tomato, Italian salad dressing. Optional: sunflower seeds, tart green or red apple cubes.
- Prepare pasta as directed.
- Chop up onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
- In a large bowl, mix chicken, vegetables and Italian dressing.
- Refrigerate and serve cold over bed of lettuce.
Chicken Fried Rice
Ingredients: 1 cup small cubed chicken, 1 tbsp. oil, 2 large onions diced, 3 medium carrots diced, 1 red pepper diced, 2 cups cooked and chilled rice, 3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce, 1 tbsp. maple syrup, 2 large eggs beaten, 1/2 cup frozen peas.
- Heat the oil in large skillet or wok on medium-high heat.
- Reheat the cooked chicken and turn to brown on all sides.
- Add onions and carrots and cook until the onions turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add the pepper and cook until softened.
- Stir in pre-cooked rice and cook until starting to brown.
- Stir in the soy sauce and maple syrup.
- Push the fried rice to the side of the pan to make room in the middle.
- Add the beaten eggs and cook over medium-low heat until just set.
- Cut into pieces with a spatula and stir into the rice.
- Add the peas and stir well and cook until they’re hot.
Use your stored, frozen cooked chicken for a main course.
Ingredients: Cubed chicken pieces, favourite pasta, alfredo sauce, bacon bits, cheddar cheese.
- Prepare pasta as directed.
- Warm up chicken in microwave.
- Drain pasta.
- Add sauce and chicken.
- Serve topped with bacon bits.
Ingredients: 2 cups shredded chicken, 2 cups uncooked egg noodles, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1 package (10oz) thawed frozen peas and carrots, 1 package (10oz) thawed frozen corn, 1 cup milk, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, salt and pepper, 1/2 tbsp. dried minced onion, 2 tbsp. melted butter, 1/2 tsp. melted butter, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning.
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Spray 9×13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Boil egg noodles according to package directions. Drain water.
- In large bowl combine all the other remaining ingredients.
- Add cooked noodles to mixture. Gently stir to combine all ingredients.
- Pour into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil.
- Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.
- Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Skillet Chicken Stew
Ingredients: Cubed chicken pieces, salt and pepper. Choice of sauce: Buffalo, BBQ, Teriyaki, Greek marinade, lemon pepper marinade, Jamaican jerk sauce. Optional vegetables: corn, carrots, potatoes, peas.
- Add chicken, choice of sauce and vegetables to skillet.
- Heat and stir for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve over rice.
Get ready for game day with these fabulous chicken recipes.
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Ingredients: cubed chicken pieces, ready-made pizza crust, hot sauce, cream cheese, dry ranch seasoning, Mozzarella.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Coat chicken with hot sauce.
- Spread warmed up cream cheese over pizza crust.
- Sprinkle with ranch dressing, Mozzarella and chicken.
- Top with layer of Mozzarella.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Ingredients: finely chopped chicken pieces, ready-made pizza crust, BBQ sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, finely chopped red onion.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Spread thin layer BBQ sauce over crust, not quite to edges.
- Spread cheese, then chicken and onions over pizza crust.
- Top with layer of Monterey Jack.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
Chicken Ranch Pizza
Ingredients: 1 cup shredded chicken, ready-made pizza crust, 2 cups mozzarella, Romano, Asiago and Parmesan mix, 1 cup diced tomato. Sauce: 2 tbsp. sour cream, 3 tbsp. mayo, 2 tbsp. milk, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp dill weed, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, 1 tbsp. lion juice, 1 tsp. minced garlic.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Combine sauce ingredients and mix well.
- Spread on pizza, not quite to the edges.
- Top with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture, then the chicken and tomatoes.
- Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
- Optional topping: add some crumbled bacon.
- Bake for 18-25 minutes until crust is fully cooked and cheese is melted.
Ingredients: 2 cups shredded chicken, 1 bag tortilla chips, 16 oz strong cheddar cheese, 1 can drained black beans, 1 can drained corn, 1 sweet bell pepper cubed, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, chopped cilantro.
- Preheat oven to 425˚F.
- Line a large sheet pan with foil.
- Spread whole chips (don’t use crumbs) evenly to cover sheet pan.
- Sprinkle half the cheese over the nachos.
- In small bowl, combine beans, corn, pepper and chicken.
- Spread mixture evenly over cheese layer.
- Top with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese on top is just starting to brown.
- Remove from the oven and top with your choice of guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and fresh chopped cilantro.
Hopefully this list has inspired you to get creative, reduce your food waste and helped you add some new leftover chicken recipes to your next meal plan.