Do you have leftover chicken in the refrigerator and you need to find something to do with it? Turn it into a whole new meal with these fabulous leftover chicken recipes!
If you think leftovers have to be boring, you have been doing it wrong! You can take those chicken leftovers and repurpose them into something brand new and fabulous. Today I’ll be sharing a ton of fabulous ideas with you. Take those leftover bits of chicken and turn them into wonderful dinner salads, casseroles, soups, stews and more!
Why I love making leftover chicken on purpose
If you ask my husband, leftovers are one of my specialties. His favorite dinners are the ones where he asks me what we are having and he is answered with a shrug of the shoulders.
That usually means I went off the script and used up whatever was lying around. You may think my family would turn their noses up at that kind of craziness, but those dinners have resulted in some of our favorites.
Sharing some of those dinners with you is hard because unless you had the same strange assortment of random things, it would be hard for you to replicate. Sometimes it’s hard because I couldn’t recreate it exactly myself, even if I tried!
But some things can be easily recreated and some meals that were intended to start with all new ingredients can easily have things like leftover chicken subbed in. That can save some time and effort.
That is why I love to cook extras of proteins like chicken on purpose. If we are firing up the grill to make chicken, why not throw a few extra chicken breasts on?
It really doesn’t take any more work to make more if the grill is lit anyway and then you have chicken to use later in the week. You get a yummy dinner now and a building block for later.
The same goes with other ways of cooking chicken. The instant pot has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.
I come home and realize there is no meat defrosted for dinner. No problem, I can throw some frozen chicken breasts in have them cooked by the time I get out of the shower.
Luckily adding an extra chicken breast or two in the instant pot doesn’t make it take much longer. So again, why not throw in a few extras?
Then you can shred some for tacos tonight and use some for sandwiches tomorrow. Or throw some in a soup tonight and use the rest for a pizza or wrap tomorrow.
- 1 cup chicken broth or water
- Frozen chicken breasts
- Desired seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic, etc.
- If your chicken breasts are frozen together in a big mass, run them under cold water until you can separate them. This will allow for more even cooking.
- Place chicken breasts in instant pot and pour water or broth over them.
- Season as desired. (I like to keep it neutral at this stage so I can use the leftovers for anything and season more heavily later.)
- Place the lid on the instant pot and be sure the valve is set to sealing.
- Cook on high pressure for about 14 minutes. If your chicken breasts are abnormally large or you are cooking a large quantity, you many want to add a few minutes.
- Allow pressure cooker to naturally vent for 10 minutes, then manually release.
- Check the temperature of your chicken breasts to ensure they have all reached 165°F. If they have not, place the lid back on the instant pot, ensure it is sealed and cook them for a couple of minutes longer. Don’t worry, it will come back up to pressure quickly because everything is already hot.
- Once the chicken all tests done, let rest for 5 minutes before cutting or shredding.
- Store leftover in the refrigerator for another great meal!
Now that we have our leftover chicken planned, lets see what we can make with it!
Salad and Sandwich Recipes Begging for Leftover Chicken
Both grilled chicken and smoked chicken work really well on this fresh and fun fall dinner salad. Though really any chicken will do. There is just something special about the smoky flavor against the apples and homemade dressing.
This fruit and chicken poppy seed salad is a riff off of one of my favorite salads from Portillo’s. That is a popular Chicago area restaurant for the uninitiated. I was so sad when they took it off the menu. It reminds me of spring or summer, but would be really great any time of year.
Take those leftovers, pile them on a bagel and put some melted cheese on top to make chili lime bagels from Grumpy’s Honeybunch. The jalapenos on top will really add some kick!
Have you ever tried eating your chicken salad warm? This hot chicken salad from Simply Stacie is a fabulous way to switch up your chicken salad recipe routine!
If you like your chicken salad a little fancy, try this chicken salad with fruit. It is loaded with goodies like grapes and pineapple for an extra special taste!
Get all of the good stuff your body needs in a gorgeous package with a Mediterranean chicken salad. I would personally leave the olives off mine, with all of the other goodies on top they wouldn’t be missed at all! Head over to the Rising Spoon to find out all about it.
For a more traditional spin, try cranberry pecan chicken salad. The recipe from Life Currents would be great piled on bread for a sandwich, as a filling for a wrap or piled on some leaf lettuce as well.
Cozy Casseroles, Skillet Suppers and More Using Leftover Chicken
Grandma’s chicken and broccoli casserole is one of our favorite ways to use leftover chicken or turkey. We have used both and enjoy it either way. It is a great way to take that leftover chopped or shredded meat and turn it into a whole new comfort food kind of meal.
Our friends and family go absolutely bonkers over this creamy chicken pot pie. If you have leftover chicken, you can have it whipped up in almost no time. Then you can relax as it bakes and enjoy the compliments as you sit down to eat.
It seems like chicken tetrazzini is a classic way to use leftover poultry. In my mind things usually become classics for a reason. That reason is usually because they are good! Get the recipe from Meg’s Everyday Indulgence and find out for yourself!
Chicken marsala is so good with that yummy sauce and those mushrooms. 4 Sons R Us has taken that and turned it into an easy weeknight marsala chicken and rice casserole. Start with the chicken you already have for even more time savings!
If you want a comfort food skillet supper, chicken pot pie with biscuits is a contender. The recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen looks super cozy and can be on the table in under an hour.
Pasta lovers are going to go crazy for creamy chicken spaghetti. The recipe from The Unlikely Baker is sure to be a hit with the whole family!
If you are in the mood for a French twist on your leftovers, try chicken and mushroom crepes. They are baked in a lemon rosemary béchamel sauce that is out of this world!
Soups and Stews Using Leftover Chicken
The flavors in shortcut chicken stew are absolutely amazing. The chicken and vegetables are taken to a whole new level with a bit of white wine. It adds so much flavor you’ll be wondering why you haven’t done that all along.
Creamy white chicken chili is another great use for leftover chicken. It is so delicious and perfect for game day or take the edge off a particularly cold one. It is one of our favorites and even acceptable for my “soup is not dinner” husband.
Somebody who devotes their whole site to soup is my kind of people this time of year. This cold fighting chicken cous cous soup looks like it is full of the good stuff. Get the recipe from Soup Addict and save it for your next sick day.
Chicken soup is definitely good for the soul and the yummy recipe from The Kitchen is My Playground is designed to start with leftover or rotisserie chicken. If you are a noodle or rice fan, either could easily be added in as well!
Creamy tortellini soup from Blackberry Babe looks like spoonful of heaven. Sometimes a bowl of yummy goodness is just what the doctor ordered. If there is cheese filled past involved, even better!
If you are looking to give your soup a little more kick, healthy chicken taco soup may be the way to go. If you load it up with toppings like Girl Heart Food, you are really going to be in for a treat!
Tacos, Nachos and More Using Leftover Chicken
Nobody will care if your chicken started as leftovers if you are serving up these garlic lime chicken tacos from The Organic Kitchen. The only thing they will care about is if you made enough!
Maybe you are in the mood for enchiladas instead of tacos. No problem! Panning the Globe has you covered with chicken enchilada verdes.
If red chicken enchiladas are more your thing, my sister-in-law has a great recipe. I normally make the filling in a slow cooker, but you could very easily start with leftover shredded chicken and build from there!
Buffalo chicken nachos are the absolute perfect game day treat. They are spicy, cheesy, crunchy and absolutely delicious. Start with leftover chicken, soak it in sauce and build up the goodness for a yummy homegate snack!
If bbq is more your style than buffalo, no worries! BBQ chicken nachos are absolutely amazing too. Get a quick and easy recipe from Chicken Scratch NY and you’ll be in nacho heaven in no time.
I don’t know about you, but quesadillas could easily become a weekly part of our menu plan. If they all looked as good as the cheesy chicken quesadillas from The House of Nash, they could probably become a daily part of our diet!
Still looking for ideas, check out my tips for cooking dinner for busy families.