Whether it’s prepped ahead or truly leftover chicken, starting a recipe with cooked chicken saves BIG on time!
If getting dinner on the table on busy nights is a challenge, here is a super easy trick: start with your protein already cooked. Because that part can take just as long as the entire rest of the dinner cooking process! And making a whole new dinner out of your leftover chicken (or steak, pork, etc.) makes it feel like your NOT actually eating leftovers.
My kids are FAR from open-minded, adventurous, wide-palated eaters. So I’m going to take this opportunity to brag on my kids a bit and just say they are actually really good about leftovers. They only turn their noses up if it’s a meal they didn’t particularly love the first time around. Which is understandable – I would too, tbh.
But with a family of five, a full meal of leftovers is actually not all that realistic. I would have to make a HUGE meal in order for us all to have the exact same thing all over again in a couple nights. For this reason, leftover night in our house tends to be a mishmash of the things leftover from several previous dinners, each person having something different on their plate.
That doesn’t mean I can’t start out cooking dinner with leftover protein though. 😉 My leftover chicken just tends to not have been used in a previous meal. In other words, I cook it a day or two before I need it so it’s ready to go. And using this one little trick can really be a game changer in your meal plan!
30 Ways to Use Pre-Cooked Chicken
Wondering what to make with your leftover or pre-made chicken? Don’t worry – I’ve got you. Here are THIRTY yummy ideas that will transform your leftovers into a whole new meal.
1. 5 Ingredient Chicken Salad by Clean Eating Kitchen
This Paleo + Whole30 Chicken Salad takes just 10 minutes to prep and would be perfect to pack for a school or work lunch!
2. Cobb Chicken Salad by Sweatpea Lifestyle
Here’s a keto + low carb cobb chicken salad that’s packed with protein to satisfy big appetites. It’s easily customizable too, so each person gets exactly what they want!
3. Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup by The Delicious Spoon
Make prep for this delicious look tortilla soup even faster by measuring and chopping all your ingredients ahead and having them ready to go. And make a future dinner even easier by doubling this recipe and freezing half!
4. Garlic Lime Chicken Tacos by The Organic Kitchen
I’m a sucker for a good taco. And these garlic lime tacos are simple yet super flavorful. Bonus: you’ll have them on the table in 30 minutes or less!
5. Rotisserie Chicken Soup by The Kitchen in my Playground
This chicken soup recipe is written to use a rotisserie chicken, but you can use your own home cooked chicken in it’s place. Although, the flavor of the soup will depend on how you cooked your chicken to begin with. This soup simmers for 2 hours, so while it’s not a quick weeknight dinner it would be perfect for a cozy Sunday supper!
6. Chicken Fried Rice by Something Sweet Something Savory
If you love fried rice, you’ll want to check this recipe out. It starts with pre-cooked chicken and rice so you can get dinner ready in about 30 minutes. I think this would be a good packed lunch too if you have access to a microwave!
7. Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Chicken, Apples, and Walnuts by The Bossy Kitchen
Here’s another recipe that takes less than 30 minutes AND would be a great work-day lunch! Just be sure to note the rice should be cooked ahead of time.
8. Thick Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Gnocchi by Chef Not Required
If you like comfort food, this chicken gnocchi soup is for you. It’s thick and creamy and with a couple of clever shortcuts it’s on the table in about 35 minutes.
9. Chicken Pasta Caesar Salad by Little Sunny Kitchen
This quick and easy chicken caesar pasta salad is a great grab-and-go meal for a mid-week lunch or even a potluck.
10. Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta by The Foodie and the Fix
This creamy pesto chicken gets it’s creaminess from cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt for a lighter pasta dish you can serve in less than 30 minutes. The recipe includes 21 Day Fix and Weight Watchers Freestyle equivalents.
11. Thai Chicken Soup with Noodles by A Little and A Lot
If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, you might want to try this Thai chicken soup. And this is another one you can make in just 30 minutes!
12. Chicken Lettuce Wraps by A Little and A Lot
These lettuce chicken wraps are another exotic-tasting option you can prep and serve really quick. Like, 15 minutes quick! So it’s perfect for a busy weeknight.
13. Chicken Caesar Salad Crostini by Venturists
The recipe calls this an appetizer, but I would totally make this Chicken Caesar Salad Crostini as a quick lunch or a dinner on a busy night. Just serve with some crudites (aka sliced veggies 😉 ) and you’ve got a super quick meal that looks a little fancy!
14. Avocado Chicken Wraps by Salt & Baker
You had me at avocado! These wraps look so delicious. You can serve them warm or cold, so this could make a great dinner or a work day lunch.
15. Chinese Chicken and Cucumber Salad by Oh Snap! Let’s Eat!
Just six ingredients and a few minutes of prep you’ve got this simple Chinese chicken and cucumber salad. This is another dish I’d love to take as a packed lunch!
16. Buffalo Chicken Casserole (Low Carb / Keto) by Two Sleevers
If you’re on a low carb or keto diet, you might love this. But honestly, it looks incredibly yummy to me and I’m neither! This buffalo chicken casserole actually looks a lot like the buffalo chicken dip I make, but a lot chunkier.
17. Creamy Broccoli Chicken Casserole (Low Carb / Keto) by Two Sleevers
Ok, so why didn’t anyone tell me you could make a broccoli chicken casserole without rice or pasta?? This looks super easy and if you feel like you do need some carbs because you’re not keto/low carb, just pop some take and bake bread in the oven to serve on the side!
18. Leftover Chicken Burgers by Neil’s Healthy Meals
I love the idea of a chicken burger! I mean, turkey burgers are great, so why not chicken?? These look super easy and easily customizable too!
19. Chicken Hummus Naan Wraps by The Rising Spoon
Make these chicken hummus naan wraps for a fancy-looking lunch or dinner that’s actually super quick and easy. They come together in just 15 minutes!
20. Shredded Chicken Burrito Bowls with Cabbage Slaw by The Roasted Root
Don’t be intimidated by the 1 hour prep/cook time for these chicken burrito bowls. It looks like that’s mostly the time needed to prep veggies and cook the rice – both of which you could do ahead of time.
21. Easy Chicken and Dumplings by Eat Move Make
Comfort food is always a good go-to! And what screams ‘comfort’ like chicken and dumplings?? This recipe uses baking mix so the dumplings are a cinch.
22. Sri Lankan Chicken Kottu Roti by The Flavor Bender
Here’s a dish for the adventurous palate. I’ve never had Sri Lankan cuisine, and this recipe looks like a good one to give it a try!
23. Chicken Stuffing Bake by My Organized Chaos
This chicken stuffing bake is a cozy, stick-to-your-ribs meal that comes together in one pot. I love a one-pot meal because I hate washing dishes. Ha!
24. Chicken Pasta with Rosa Sauce by Blackberry Babe
Don’t be intimidated by the fancy sounding name. Rosa sauce is essentially marinara with cream (or in this case, milk), which gives it a smooth, velvety flavor. And you can have this yummy chicken pasta with rosa sauce on the table in about the time it takes to cook the pasta!
25. Rotisserie Chicken Summer Rolls by Kroll’s Korner
Don’t worry if it’s fall, winter, or spring – these chicken summer rolls will still be a winner! Chock full of fresh veggies and served with tomato basil dressing, this is a great meal option if you’re low-carb or just looking to keep it light.
26. Easy Chicken Pot Pie by Retro Housewife Goes Green
This easy chicken pot pie uses up leftover chicken AND veggies – plus a quick crust made with baking mix for an extra easy twist on an old favorite.
27. Cheddar Chicken Quinoa Bake by Running to the Kitchen
This cheddar chicken quinoa bake will satisfy a craving for southwest flavors with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro (hey, you either love it or you hate it — I, for one can’t get enough cilantro!!).
28. Tropical Chicken Salad by A Cedar Spoon
Here’s a fun twist on chicken salad that would be really great in a kid’s lunchbox! (And I’d love it in my own lunchbox to, tbh.)
29. Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas by Pinch and Swirl
I tend to fall into a Taco Tuesday rut. These green chili chicken enchiladas will be the perfect thing to change up our routine and still satisfy our weekly Tex-Mex craving!
30. Easy Chicken Chili with Roasted Corn by The Effortless Chic
Chili is one of the few dinners that my entire family of five loves. So I’m always up for a twist on this favorite dinner to keep our dinner meal plan interesting! This easy chicken chili will be making an appearance!
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