Most people could probably benefit from turning back the hands on the clock a good 30 minutes every day. That’s particularly true when it comes to getting sustenance. While cooking a scratch-made meal for dinner every night sounds great in theory, it might be a little bit unrealistic, seeing as how it’s difficult just to find enough time to eat. But dinner doesn’t have to be doomed to the likes of fast food or takeout. The grocery store has plenty of prepared foods to speed up the cooking process, and rotisserie chicken has to be the best.
Though most people might think to serve up the whole bird with a few sides, that same supper format gets tiring after a few weeks. Fortunately, it’s remarkably easy to transform that plain chicken into something completely different. These recipes are fast, easy, and incredibly satisfying. Armed with these dishes, you’ll never call chicken boring again.
1. Fastest-Ever Enchiladas
Traditional enchiladas are a true labor of love. You need plenty of time to make the sauce and slowly cook, cool, and shred the chicken. Ingrid Hoffmann’s fastest-ever enchiladas from Food Network make this dish so fast and easy, it’s even doable on a weeknight. Filled with plenty of spicy sauce and the chicken’s deep flavor, no one will suspect you cut any corners.
Spend a few minutes shredding up the chicken, then mix with the cheese and sour cream. Make a quick salsa with tomatoes, jalapeños, scallions, and cilantro, and then it’s time to assemble. Wrap a little bit of the chicken filling in tortillas, top with the salsa, and bake. This is a Mexican feast in a flash.
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chilies, drained
- 2 scallions, light green and white parts only, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded, and finely chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded, bones and skin discarded
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ small red onion, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Directions: Combine the tomatoes, scallions, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt and set aside, at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place shredded chicken in a large bowl. Add the sour cream, onion, and half of the grated cheese; season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
Place tortillas on work surface. Spoon about 1 cup of the chicken mixture across center of each tortilla. Roll them up and place, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish. Pour salsa over the tortillas. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 40 minutes.
Remove the foil and sprinkle the enchiladas with the remaining cup of cheese. Return the dish to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the edges of the tortillas are just beginning to crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve hot.
2. Spring Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Bring chicken soup out from the depths of winter with this spring chicken and vegetable soup from Rachael Ray. Adding spring onions, asparagus, and peas to this cold-weather favorite makes it more suitable for this time of year without sacrificing that comforting feeling.
Start by sweating the heartier veggies, then add some lemon zest and saffron broth. Once the soup is hot, stir in the chicken, remaining vegetables, and noodles, and cook until the pasta is tender. Americans might have bought 200 million cans of the Campbell’s classic in 2013, but most of them will probably want to reconsider that choice after a taste of this version.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 to 8 cups chicken stock
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1 bunch spring onions, or 2 to 3 leeks, sliced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 bundle thin asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on an angle
- 1 cup fresh shelled peas, or thawed frozen peas
- ½ rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, chicken diced or shredded
- Thin egg noodles
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley
Directions: Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Heat another soup pot with the stock and saffron threads to steep.
To the oil, add the onions, carrots, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, then add the lemon zest and stir. Add the saffron stock and bring to a simmer. Add the asparagus, peas, chicken, and noodles. Cook for about 5 minutes, until noodles are tender, then remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and herbs. Serve.
3. Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake
When it comes to Italian food, choosing between a cheesy chicken Parmesan and a saucy lasagna can be agonizing. Satisfy the craving for both with Pinch of Yum’s garlic Parmesan chicken lasagna bake. A garlicky béchamel makes it rich and some sweet peas add just a hint of freshness.
For the sauce, cook some garlic in a bit of butter before adding in the flour. Whisk in some milk and seasonings, and the sauce is ready to go. Layer it with noodles, shredded rotisserie chicken, peas, and cheese. The breadcrumb topping is completely optional, but it adds a nice crunch to an otherwise soft dish.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1½ tablespoons minced garlic
- 6 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 5 cups milk
- 10 to 15 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- 12 ounces frozen peas
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup Swiss cheese
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- Fresh herbs for topping
Directions: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add the flour, poultry seasoning, and salt. Whisk and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, 1 cup at a time, whisking after each addition, allowing to thicken slightly each time before adding the next cup. When sauce is smooth and thick, remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with about 5 broken lasagna noodles, half of the chicken, half of the peas, ¼ cup Parmesan, ⅓ cup water, and 1½ cups sauce. Repeat the layer again and top with a layer of broken noodles, ⅓ cup water, 1½ cups sauce, and ½ cup Swiss cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove foil, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the top is golden and lasagna is bubbling. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, if using. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serve.
4. Chicken Spinach Frittata With Feta and Tomatoes
Make breakfast for dinner more substantial by adding some shredded chicken to an easy egg dish. Oregon Cottage’s chicken spinach frittata with feta and tomatoes makes getting a complete meal on the table remarkably easy without sacrificing any flavor. Packed with protein and fiber, it’s also a healthy way to end the day.
If you’re new to frittatas, they’re kind of like a giant omelet that can feed a crowd. It’s also one of the easiest egg methods out there. Cook the onion, garlic, and asparagus in a large skillet, then add the chicken and spinach. Pour in the eggs and feta, then cook on the stove for a bit before finishing the frittata under the broiler. A little extra cheese and some halved tomatoes complete the look.
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- ¼ pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
- 3 cups chopped fresh spinach, or defrosted frozen spinach
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
- 6 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried basil, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Halved grape tomatoes
- Chopped chives
- Chopped parsley
Directions: Heat oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet with an oven-safe handle over medium heat. Add onion and cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and asparagus, and cook until vegetables are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add cooked chicken and spinach, stir. Cover and let warm to wilt greens.
In a 4-cup measure, mix together eggs, milk, and seasonings. Stir in ¼ cup of the feta. Pour eggs over the chicken and mushroom mixture. Without stirring, cover, and let eggs set around edges. Turn broiler to high and let preheat.
Using a heatproof spatula, lift the edges of frittata, and tilt the pan so the liquid egg in the middle runs to the edges. Continue all the way around the edge, until most of the egg is cooked. Place pan under broiler. Let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until all egg is cooked and top is browned.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Top with garnishes, if using, and serve.
5. Risotto With Chicken and Arugula
Usually relegated to the land of side dishes, risotto becomes a hearty meal with a little bit of help from some rotisserie chicken. This risotto with chicken and arugula from Real Simple has all the creamy goodness of a standard risotto plus some spicy kick from a bit of arugula. Simply sweat the onion, mix in rice to coat, and then start adding in the broth a little bit at a time. Finish the rice with the chicken, greens, and some cheese.
Don’t be surprised about the lack of cream in this dish. While dairy is used for body in many different sauces and stews, risotto gets its luxurious texture thanks to regular stirring that releases the rice’s starch. It’s a little bit of a workout, so that probably deserves a larger portion.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 rotisserie chicken, white meat only, shredded
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and black pepper
Directions: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed.
Add broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring occasionally, waiting until liquid is absorbed before adding more. Process should take a total of about 30 minutes.
Just before removing risotto from stove, stir in arugula and chicken. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve.
6. Herbed Chicken Salad Sandwiches
When warm weather leaves you wanting to stay far away from the stove, these herbed chicken salad sandwiches from Cooking Light make a cool meal that’s still substantial. Start by mixing up a dressing with yogurt, mayo, tarragon, and lemon juice. Fold in the chicken and onion, then build the sandwiches. Don’t limit yourself to just topping with greens, either. Tomatoes, pickles, and cucumber all make great additions. This sandwich is perfect for a crazy weeknight or lunch for tomorrow, but it also makes a pretty awesome picnic meal.
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
- ¼ cup minced sweet onion
- 8 slices rye bread
- 4 red leaf lettuce leaves
- 1 cup microgreens or arugula
Directions: Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in chicken and onion. Top each of 4 bread slices with 1 lettuce leaf, about ½ cup chicken salad, ¼ cup microgreens, and remaining bread slices. Serve.
7. 30-Minute Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Having a weekly pizza night takes the guesswork out of what to do for dinner, but getting another pepperoni pie from a delivery joint starts to sap the fun out of it. For a completely different take, try this 30-minute barbecue chicken pizza from Just a Taste. The short ingredient list means this pizza is just about as easy as it gets.
Feel free to make homemade pizza dough if you’d like, but store-bought is perfectly fine. Roll out the dough and then spread on a thin layer of barbecue sauce. Top with the cheese, chicken, and red onion before a quick trip to a hot oven. A final sprinkle of cilantro adds a hint of freshness and a bright pop of color.
- 1 pound pizza dough
- Cornmeal, for dusting baking sheet
- ½ cup store-bought barbecue sauce, divided
- 1 cup diced rotisserie chicken meat
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onions
- Chopped cilantro
Directions: Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface, until it’s about 12 inches wide and ¼-inch thick. Invert a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal. Transfer dough to the baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, toss together diced chicken with half of the barbecue sauce. Spread remaining sauce over dough, leaving ½-inch border around the edges.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of sauce, then scatter chicken on top of sauce. Top with red onion slices. Bake pizza for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the crust is golden brown and cooked through. Remove pizza from the oven to a cutting board. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, slice, and serve.