Chicken Breasts 50 Ways
Boneless chicken breasts continue to balloon in size, from what was a standard 5 to 6 ounces each to nearly 8 ounces. While the meat is lean, that extra weight adds up: A 6-ounce breast has 182 calories and 4 grams of fat; an 8-ounce breast has 243 calories and 5 grams of fat. Trim off extra meat in ½-inch-thick strips, leaving the breast slightly bigger than your palm. Use trimmings in stir-fries, or bake into crispy breaded tenders. Individually portioned breasts tend to be smaller—Perdue Perfect Portions breasts weigh in at about 5 ounces each. Here, find 50 ways to take chicken breasts to the next level.
Marinating: Tandoori-Spiced Chicken
You shouldn't let chicken breasts marinate for hours. Chicken breasts are naturally tender, so marinating simply adds flavor. You don't need the brine of marinade to break down the protein. It's best to choose bold ingredients and avoid soaking the delicate meat in acidic liquids for too long—it may become stringy and tough.
Variations: If you like chile paste, try Thai Coconut Chicken. If you like hot sauce, try Buffalo Chicken. Instead of a salt-laden store-bought buffalo sauce, we make our own. It's just as flavorful but much better for your nutritional bottom line. If you like herbs, try Herbed Chicken. This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover herbs you have, too.
Marinating: Chicken Fajitas
A marinade of dark Mexican beer (like Negra Modelo), soy sauce, and fresh lime juice gives these Chicken Fajitas a fresh kick of flavor. Dark Mexican beer is especially great in this marinade because it turns sweet and molasses-y when cooked. Chicken doesn't need a long marinade to soak up the flavors, so let the strips of chicken sit for an hour while you prepare the rest of your meal.
These healthy chicken fajitas can be prepared on the stovetop with a grill pan as directed, or outside over a charcoal or gas grill. If you've got the grill going, throw on some vegetables and a few ears of corn to complete your meal. Serve with flour tortillas, sautéed peppers and onions, and sliced jalapeño peppers.
Marinating: Hawaiian Chicken
Store-bought marinades are certainly convenient, but they're often loaded with sodium. Some have more than 900 milligrams of sodium in just two tablespoons. Smart cooks know that homemade marinades are the way to go. They're easy to whisk up and often require ingredients you already have on hand.
The pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, and ginger mixture for these marinated chicken breasts acts double duty as both a marinade and baste for the chicken. If you want extra flavor, don't toss the marinade once you're ready to cook the chicken. Instead, use it as a basting liquid as the chicken cooks. Any bacteria from the chicken in the marinade will be destroyed over the heat.
Pounding: Sautéed Chicken with Sage Browned Butter
For the time-crunched cook, pounding or slicing thick chicken breasts into thin cutlets is a smart way to reduce portion sizes and speed up cook time. Chicken cutlets cook in a flash and remain supremely tender and juicy. After cooking the chicken, use the tasty browned bits left behind in the pan as the base for a speedy sauce. For this recipe, butter, sage, shallots, and thyme make a luxurious pan sauce in under 5 minutes.
Variations: Switch up the pan sauce with Dijon mustard in these Chicken Cutlets with Creamy Dijon Sauce. Whipping cream blunts the bite of the tangy Dijon, but you'll still get plenty of kick. Soy sauce is a classic pantry staple, so if you have it on hand, try our Sweet and Sour Chicken instead. Use the heat of the pan to simmer petite cherry tomatoes and garlic for a fast and easy "hack" for fresh tomato sauce in this Chicken and Cherry Tomato Sauce.
Pounding: Chicken with Mushroom Sauce
Once chicken breasts are finished cooking, don't wash the pan. The browned bits on the bottom of your skillet are flavor gold. For this dish, a simple pan sauce of pre-sliced mushrooms, dry white wine, shallots, and fresh thyme enlivens basic sautéed chicken breasts. This is comfort food eating at its richest. Mushrooms act like a sponge and soak up all the delicious flavors. Fresh thyme adds woodsy notes to the sauce. Rosemary or oregano would be a good substitute if you have either of those on hand. Serve the chicken breasts atop mashed potatoes and spoon the pan sauce over the chicken and spuds to complete the meal.
Stuffing: Pimiento Cheese Chicken
Instead of putting tangy pimento cheese spread between two pieces of bread, mix things up and stuff chicken breasts with it. The impressive-looking results of stuffed chicken breasts belie the ease of preparation. You can stuff them up to a day ahead, keep refrigerated, and then simply cook and serve.
Variations: Blue cheese is a classic stuffed chicken breast choice. When it's warmed, blue cheese turns fudgy and rich. Try it in Spinach and Blue Cheese Chicken. Goat cheese is a milder alternative to the pungent blue. It's especially tasty in Bacon and Goat Cheese Chicken. If you like feta cheese, try Mediterranean Chicken. We've partnered this salty, crumbly cheese with briny olives, fresh tomatoes, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Stuffing: Couscous-Stuffed Chicken
When it's cooked, couscous is fluffy but still chewy and firm. It's great for a simple side, an easy salad, or even stuffed in vegetables. In this Mediterranean-inspired chicken dish, create a mixture of couscous, feta cheese, kalamata olives, fresh herbs, and minced garlic. This combination would be delicious on its own, but go one more step and stuff it into chicken breasts for an easy 45-minute entrée fit for a special occasion. If you have leftover quinoa, bulgur, or farro, you can use them instead of the couscous. As a bonus, they're whole grain where couscous isn't. Serve with fresh sautéed green beans, pan-roasted broccolini, or blanched asparagus spears.
Pan Frying: Coconut Chicken Fingers
Pan-frying is an easy way to get crispy crusts on chicken breasts and tenders without unhealthy frying. You can use almost any combination of ingredients for pan-fried chicken. Keep this simple strategy in mind: Dip chicken in buttermilk to add a tangy flavor, and coat it with flour and nuts or other tasty breading ingredients. Then pan-fry it in a sensible amount of heart-healthy oil to create a crisp exterior.
Kids love the sweetness that the coconut adds to the coating of these Coconut Chicken Fingers. And, if your kids are allergic to wheat flour, note that this recipe uses rice flour instead.
Variations: If you like the woodsy flavor of pecans, try breading chicken tenders in ground pecans for this Pecan Chicken. If you have a bit of extra oatmeal but not enough for a bowl at breakfast, grind the oats and use them for Oatmeal-Crusted Chicken.
Pan Frying: Crispy Buttermilk Chicken
Marinating chicken breasts for four hours in a classic combination of buttermilk, egg, onion powder, and a hint of red pepper yields tender, flavorful results. Sauté the chicken just before baking to give it a perfectly crispy crust. This classic breaded chicken recipe creates a very versatile chicken dish. Feel free to eat straight from the pan—a simple dipping sauce is all you need—or use it as the base of something a bit more interesting, like our Chicken BLT Salad. Ground red pepper provides a hit of spice to the chicken, but if you want something a bit different, smoked paprika would be a good substitute. We really like ground chipotle peppers, too.
Grinding: Chicken Larb
Larb, the popular Thai salad of highly seasoned ground meat and herbs, offers cooks who like to go big a real opportunity to do so. In this great introductory recipe, combine skinless, boneless chicken breast halves in the food processor with pungent ingredients like garlic, spicy peppers, or curry paste. Purée them together so the flavor permeates the meat.
Variations: You can substitute ground chicken breast for ground beef in some of your favorites dishes, like these Chicken Tacos. This Chicken Meat Loaf is also a clever way to try ground chicken if you've never had it, but because chicken is so lean, you'll need to boost flavor with big flavor ingredients like yellow mustard and ketchup.
Grinding: Greek-Style Chicken
Ground chicken is a lighter, leaner alternative to ground beef. We especially like combining it with herbs and spices and forming patties as a quick healthier option if you're looking for a lighter hamburger-style meal. You can serve chicken patties in the place of a hamburger or chicken breast in classic sandwiches. Make smaller patties, and you can use them as sliders, which are perfect for little eaters. Or skip the bread entirely and pair these Greek chicken patties with a creamy Tzatziki-style sauce and serve with sliced tomatoes, lettuce leaves, and sliced feta cheese for a quick weeknight-friendly meal.
Grinding: Chicken Burgers
Give beef a rest and try chicken for burgers instead. Simply combine chicken breasts, capers, shallots, salt, and pepper in a food processor, shape into patties, and cook in a grill pan. If you need to speed up your weeknight cooking, make these patties in advance. Line a cookie sheet with freezer paper, arrange uncooked patties in a single layer on the pan, and freeze until firm. Wrap each frozen burger in freezer paper or aluminum, and store until you need them. Like beef burgers, take out as many as you need, thaw in the fridge overnight or while you're at work, and you'll be able to have a simple sandwich in just minutes when you get home.
Comfort Food: Weeknight Lemon Chicken Skillet Dinner
It doesn't get much easier, or more satisfying: a complete chicken dinner in one pan in half an hour. Lemon brightens this cozy winter meal, but the classic flavors are sure to elicit cries for a second helping any time of the year. This one-pan chicken dish is a whole meal in one skillet, but serve with a simple side salad to sneak in another serving of veggies. We call for tender haricots verts because they're quick cooking; traditional green beans likely won't be tender enough after the brief cooking time at the end. If that's all you have on hand, steam them first, and then add them to the pan for the final step.
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Comfort Food: Buffalo Chicken Panini
Spice up sandwich night with this recipe for a hearty and healthy chicken-filled panini. If you're a fan of spicy chicken wings, you're in luck. We make a homemade "wing sauce" with hot sauce, butter, and vinegar. After the chicken breast halves are cooked, they get tossed in the sauce for ultimate flavor impact. We didn't skip the all-important dipping sauce either. Cool down from the kick of the wing sauce with a sour cream-blue cheese spread on the sandwich. When all the pieces are complete, construct the sandwich, and then put it right back on the grill pan to make a simple panini. Cold bread just won't do.
Comfort Food: Chicken Chili Mac and Cheese
Make a throwback favorite the whole family will love. This old-school mac-and-cheese recipe gets a fresh upgrade when made with delicious chicken-based chili. The kick of spice from chili powder, fire-roasted tomatoes, and diced green chiles will wake up and shake up your idea of classic macaroni and cheese. It's a welcomed change for healthy cooks looking for a bit of comfort food without blowing their calorie budget. Instead of piling on the cheese and melting it, we create a simple flour-milk-cheese mixture that is ultra creamy without being ultra heavy on the fat, sodium, and calories.
Comfort Food: Easy Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and dumplings are notoriously time-consuming, but the end result is very much worth the effort. However, if you're a time-crunched cook who craves the comforting pleasures of this classic dish, this recipe is for you. In just under 45 minutes, you can turn the quintessential ingredients for chicken and dumplings—celery, carrots, onion, garlic, chicken, and herbs—into a weeknight dinner favorite. Pillowy dumplings flecked with fragrant fresh herbs cook drop-style in the stock mixture. This recipe is also a great way to use up leftover chicken or Thanksgiving turkey if you have it.
Comfort Food: Chicken Mushroom Potpie
This homey and healthy chicken potpie boasts a creamy, savory sauce you'll want to lick from the pan. It's a flavor experience that often relies on several hours of slow cooking, but we've sped it up with a few shortcuts that still deliver on flavor satisfaction. For example, refrigerated pie crust dough is used in place of homemade dough. Potpie is a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey, and that'll shave a few minutes off your cook time, too. Just skip step 2, add chicken to a warmed Dutch oven, and start the recipe at step 3. Thickening the sauce in the pan before the pie goes into the oven results in a luscious sauce that's begging for a swipe with crusty bread.
Asian: Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Chicken lettuce wraps are an adventurous way to introduce new flavors and cuisines to your table of eaters. They're a lot like tacos—handheld and highly customizable—and often very fast to prepare. For this Korean-inspired version, we let chicken marinate in big-flavor ingredients—gochujang, sesame oil, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Think of gochujang as Korean steak sauce, adding savory depth to the chicken. You can find it at many supermarkets, or substitute equal parts Sriracha and white/yellow miso (soybean paste). The marinated chicken only needs a quick sauté before you pair it with crunchy refreshing toppings like cucumber and green onions and a crisp Bibb lettuce leaf.
Asian: Almond Butter Chicken Satay
Restaurant chicken satay just can't compete with our lighter and more flavorful version. Light coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, fresh ginger, and curry powder combine for a potent and highly flavorful marinade for the chicken pieces. The real magic is with the almond butter dipping sauce though. It's luxuriously creamy with a kick of garlicky heat from the Sriracha. Munch on cucumber slices to cool of your palate between dips in the sauce. To speed up prep time, add the chicken to the marinade and make the dipping sauce before you leave for work in the morning. You'll only need to skewer the chicken and grill when you get home.
Asian: Grilled Chicken and Soba Noodles with Miso Vinaigrette
Miso is a thick, fermented soybean paste. It comes in several versions; the most common, shiro miso, is also the mildest and sweetest. You may see it called yellow or white miso at the supermarket. If you're feeling adventurous, opt for "red miso." It's the darkest miso and has a strong, smoky flavor. Small bits of Japanese miso add worlds of flavor to every type of dish, from soups to stir-fries. In this grilled chicken dish, the miso vinaigrette doubles as a sauce for the noodles and a glaze before the chicken hits the grill. The noodle mixture and the chicken can be made a couple of days ahead, and the cooked dish makes great leftovers.
Asian: Chicken and Rice Noodle Stir-Fry with Ginger and Basil
This superfast stir-fry is overflowing with traditional Asian spices and comes together in under 20 minutes. If you don't have or can't find oyster sauce, clam juice or fish sauce will work in its place. Rice noodles are more firm and don't turn mushy after being sautéed in the pan, but feel free to use fine udon noodles instead. Or spoon the chicken mixture over a bed of brown rice. That will be equally savory and likely save you one ingredient at the supermarket. If you like heat, top your stir-fry with a bit more sambal oelek, a hot sauce made with red chiles, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar.
Asian: Lemon Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl
Craving a rice bowl from your favorite Chinese restaurant but can't spare the calories? This citrus-infused chicken teriyaki bowl tastes like takeout but comes in under 450 calories, and it's ready in less than an hour! You've got chicken, broccolini, and rice. It's a full meal in one bowl. What more could you ask for?! Green beans and asparagus are smart substitutes for the broccolini if you can't find it. Top with a little Sriracha or sambal oelek for a flavor-filled kick of heat. If you'll have leftovers, save the remaining soy sauce mixture and drizzle it on just before you eat the warmed dish.
Italian: Roasted Garlic Chicken Alfredo
Calling all garlic lovers! Classic chicken alfredo gets a tasty twist when mixed with homemade roasted garlic. Roasting a whole garlic head requires about an hour of your time, but the flavor results are significant. We've cut the cheese entirely because the roasted garlic creates a luscious sauce when combined with a quick butter-flour roux. This lighter alfredo recipe is certainly company worthy, but you can speed up the cook time for weeknights by roasting the garlic and squeezing the pulp from the head on the weekend. Serve with a simple side salad, or if the oven is still hot after you cooked the garlic, roast a few vegetables for an easy-as-could-be side.
Italian: Chicken with Artichoke Pan Sauce
Robust Italian flavors—piney rosemary, peppery pancetta, zingy lemon—make homey chicken breasts sing in this classic Italian chicken dish. If you want to save time at dinner, marinate the chicken breasts before you leave for work. Frozen artichoke hearts are much easier and more time friendly than breaking down whole artichokes, but if you have the fresh variety and want to use them in this dish, feel free. They'll be a bit more firm than the frozen artichokes. Serve these juicy chicken breasts with whole-wheat orzo or fettuccine to sop up the rich sauce.
Italian: Charred Lemon Chicken Piccata
This one-pan chicken dish will wow guests, but it's also fast enough to make your weeknight rotation. Lightly charring the lemon slices intensifies their flavor and creates a gorgeous look. Be sure to include any of the sweet, tangy liquid the lemons give off in the bowl; it adds incredible depth to the sauce. The lemon rind can be bitter for some people. One option is to gently shave off a few strips of the rind to reduce how much you eat in a bite. You can also look for Meyer lemons which have a sweeter flavor that's closer to that of an orange than a traditional lemon.
Italian: Grilled Rosemary Chicken with Farro Risotto
Chicken and rice is a classic weeknight staple. Whole grains like quinoa, bulgur, and farro are healthier alternatives to regular white rice. In this dish, nutty farro retains a pleasant chewiness as it absorbs the flavorful stock. Porcini mushrooms and Parmesan cheese are two big sources of satisfying umami. If you have any leftover kale after you use it in this dish, make a simple kale salad side. Let it sit so the leaves soften while the chicken cooks. We like how the marinade really only needs 30 minutes to flavor the chicken, but if you want to speed up prep, you can marinate the chicken overnight in a zip-top plastic bag.
Italian: Sausage and Provolone Stuffed Chicken
Stuffed chicken may very well be the entertaining cook's best friend. It appears complicated and fussy, but really it's very simple to execute. Your guests will never know that you didn't need to use complicated string to hold your chicken together; toothpicks are suited for the job. In this classic stuffed chicken recipe, turkey sausage doesn't overpower the chicken, and we really like it with the combination of fennel seeds and mild provolone cheese. Finish off this simple-yet-fancy stuffed chicken dish with a side of sautéed Broccolini for a complete, healthy dinner. Guests will appreciate how flavorful it is; you'll appreciate that it's done in under 45 minutes.
Mexican: Shredded Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa
Fast, zingy Mexican flavors run bold in these quick shredded chicken tacos. Don't be fooled by the fruity salsa. The jalapeño packs a real punch of heat. It's easy to cut back though. We call for a tablespoon, so reduce it if you don't like the spicy salsa to leave your tongue tingling. Removing all the seeds before you mince the pepper will help reduce the kick, too.
Look for crema, the Mexican version of sour cream, in Mexican markets or the international aisle of most supermarkets. If you can't find it, you could thin regular sour cream with 1/2 teaspoon lime juice.
Mexican: Cumin-Rubbed Chicken with Guacamole Sauce
This fast chicken dinner, which is ready in just 30 minutes, is a great way to use ingredients you might have in your fridge and pantry. Fresh avocado, cilantro, onion, and lime juice—often left after a taco night—come together to create this irresistible, Mexican-inspired spicy chicken dish. Because you'll mash up the avocado into a guacamole sauce, this is a good use for overripe avocados. They're often too mushy for anything other than guac or an avocado spread, so put them to good use here. Serve the chicken over seasoned brown rice or on a bed of fluffy quinoa.
Mexican: Chicken with Chorizo and Tomato Salsa
Mexican pork chorizo is a smoky sausage that boosts the flavor of lean chicken breast. In this fast Mexican-inspired chicken dish, we add chorizo, quickly seared, to a fresh tomato salsa for a little extra heat. Chicken breast halves cook in the chorizo drippings for even more flavor. If you can't find chorizo, look for spicy turkey sausage instead. Queso fresco is a crumbly salty Mexican cheese that doesn't melt easily. If you want stringy melted cheese instead, opt for Monterey Jack. Shred it on top of the chicken before serving.
Mexican: Poblano, Chicken, and Mushroom Quesadillas
The quesadilla is a time-crunched cook's go-to. They're fast, easy, and almost effortless. They are also really handy for using up ingredients you might have on hand. Combine a protein, cheese, and some veggies for many different combinations. In this lightener chicken quesadilla recipe, a gentle poach keeps the chicken breast moist and tender, so it's easy to pull apart before you arrange your quesadilla. Poblano peppers have a warm bite to them. If you're brave, sprinkle in a teaspoon or two of minced jalapeño before cooking the quesadilla. The lime in the yogurt mixture will intensify over time—combine just before serving.
Mexican: Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas with Jicama Slaw
Make your next family dinner a fiesta! These spicy tostadas are safe to serve to even the pickiest of eaters. If you've got young ones who can't handle the heat, leave the spice rub off their chicken breasts before cooking. Split the bean mixture before adding the adobo sauce, too. It's flavorful but may be too warm for sensitive palates. One serving of this fast Mexican dinner is a hearty two tostadas, and the serving of jicama slaw on each tostada is gracious; serve with a side of grilled corn or a tomato-avocado stacked salad.
Middle Eastern: Lemony Chicken Kebabs with Tomato-Parsley Salad
Here's a six-ingredient Middle Eastern-inspired dish that delivers big taste with minimal fuss. (Salt, pepper, and olive oil are freebies since you're pantry is well stocked.) The two-hour marinating time infuses the chicken cubes with rich flavors of earthy oregano and zingy lemon, but if you're pressed for time, cut the marinating back to 15 minutes—lemon flavor will still come through. The tomato-parsley salad couldn't be any easier to prepare, and when it comes to delicious simple flavors, this one ranks high. Make sure you wash your parsley before adding it to the tomatoes. Tiny flecks of sand hide out in the leafy herb.
Middle Eastern: Chicken with Preserved Lemon
Whole lemons preserved in a salty brine are a flavor powerhouse. Look for preserved lemons at specialty stores, or order online from rakuten.com. They work wonders in dishes that can use a tangy, salty punch: Try chopping a little into a grain salad, or mix into a simple pasta dish with parsley, garlic, and grated cheese. If you can't get preserved lemons, season 1/3 cup chopped whole seeded lemon (Meyer lemon would be best) with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Cook lemon mixture in 2 teaspoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until lemon rinds are very tender.
Middle Eastern: Grilled Chicken Pitas with Sesame Drizzle
Tahini is the stuff of life in Israel, like olive oil in Italy or butter in France. It's nutty and rich, with a slightly bitter finish and an unctuous mouthfeel akin to peanut butter. Look for tahini that's well blended (little to no separation). You'll find jars or cans of it on the international aisle of the supermarket. Refrigerate after opening, and stir well before you measure. Be patient. It may take a few minutes of stirring. If you can't find any tahini, substitute peanut butter. It's sweeter than tahini, but it will work in a pinch.
Middle Eastern: Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Explore many Middle Eastern possibilities in this easy chicken dinner. We're combining feta, a salty, tangy cheese, with baby spinach for a bonus serving of greens built in the stuffed chicken breast. Try using mozzarella or provolone cheese for a more mild, kid-friendly dish. One chicken breast comes in at just over 300 calories. That leaves room for a side of whole-grain quinoa or farro. If you have leftover spinach, use it for a simple side salad. If you don't want to bother stuffing the chicken cutlets, turn these ingredients into a simple salad with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Middle Eastern: Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Chicken with Sweet Onions
Take a weeknight culinary adventure to North Africa with this Moroccan-inspired chicken recipe. Sweet onions are the ideal ingredient to contrast the strong spices used to season the chicken breasts. The bold spices are so potent you only need to marinate the chicken breasts for 10 minutes before cooking. You can eat this light chicken dish as is for a low-calorie dinner—one serving is only 308 calories—or pair it with roasted vegetables and a side of whole grains to make a full plate. Brown rice would be great if you have it on hand. Try stirring in a spoonful of tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, for a punch of flavor.