Anytime you find yourself with leftover chicken, consider it a blessing. You can certainly go for a second round of last night’s dinner, but the wonderful thing about this mild-mannered meat is that it’s so easy to repurpose it into an entirely different meal. It doesn’t matter what cut you have handy: Boneless or bone-in breasts and thighs are all fair game, as is whatever you have left over from a rotisserie chicken. It also doesn’t matter how you cooked it the first time around. All it takes is a little inspiration.
If you have a whole lot of leftovers, great. But even if all you’ve got is a scant cup of leftover chicken, you’ve still got a lot of options. We’ve got plenty of ideas that will help you stretch your leftover chicken into a brand-new meal. Here are more than 30 leftover chicken recipes to try tonight.
How Long Does Leftover Chicken Last?
How Should I Store Leftover Chicken?
After chicken is cooked, it should sit out at room temperature no more than two hours before being refrigerated to slow down bacteria growth. Leftover chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you think you won’t use it within three or four days, you can also freeze it to use at a later date.
1. Make a batch of chicken enchiladas.
2. Stir it into a quick Thai curry.
Skip takeout and make a homemade version of your favorite order at home in a flash. Just stir the chicken in with the veggies to warm it.
Get a recipe: Chicken Curry in a Hurry
3. Make a creamy, cheesy dip.
A warm dip can absolutely become dinner when you fill it with chicken and serve it with lots of veggies (and chips, too, of course).
Get a recipe: White Chicken Chili Skillet Dip
4. Stuff it into a baked potato.
This might be the ultimate simple-yet-satisfying dinner. Repurpose leftovers while enjoying one of those potatoes you baked during your weekend meal prep session.
Get a recipe: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
5. Mix it into chicken salad.
Whether you prefer the classic creamy version or opt for herby or tangy, you can never go wrong with chicken salad.
Get a recipe: Yogurt & Dill Chicken Salad
6. Make a chicken sandwich.
7. Round out a grain bowl.
The beauty of grain bowls is that anything goes! Pick your favorite grain, a protein (looking at you, leftover chicken), a mess of cooked and/or raw veggies, and a sauce, and you’ve got a meal.
Get a recipe: Greek Chicken Grain Bowls
8. Cook it into fried rice.
Since the chicken is already cooked, it just needs to be reheated, so wait to toss it into the wok until the last minute or two of cooking.
Get a recipe: Honey-Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry
10. Stuff it into a taco.
Leftover chicken is the start to the easiest taco Tuesday. Shred the meat and pile it into warm tortillas, or give the meat even more flavor by simmering it with some of your favorite salsa. You can also bulk up the tacos with beans or slaw.
Get a recipe: Rotisserie Chicken Tacos
12. Make it the start of a burrito or burrito bowl.
Whether you stuff all the ingredients in a tortilla or pile them in a bowl, a bit of leftover chicken is just the thing to give your burrito a little more substance.
Get a recipe: Easy Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls
13. Layer it on a tray of nachos.
Some chopped or shredded chicken instantly moves nachos firmly into dinner territory. This is a perfect opportunity to use up that last bit of leftover chicken, no matter how much you have!
Get a recipe: Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos
14. Layer it into a quesadilla.
This is my favorite reason to hang on to leftover chicken when there’s just a few bites or the tiniest of pieces remaining. Grab a couple of tortillas and some cheese, and that tiny bit of chicken is suddenly a meal.
Get a recipe: Cilantro-Lime Chicken Quesadillas
15. Simmer in a pot of soup.
17. Cook it into a casserole.
If you don’t love leftovers, a casserole is such a great solution for repurposing chicken into a totally different meal. This works well with chicken that wasn’t cooked with a marinade or sauce. Expect most casserole recipes to call for about two to three cups of cooked chicken.
Get a recipe: BBQ Chicken Casserole
18. Stir it into a pot of chili.
Whether you lean towards white chili, beef chili, or one packed with beans and lentils, there’s always a place for chicken in the pot. Since it’s already cooked, stir it into the pot in the last few minutes of cooking to prevent it from drying out.
Get a recipe: Weeknight White Chicken Chili
19. Use it to make stuffed shells.
It might not be traditional, but it certainly is delicious! Shred or cut up the leftover chicken into small pieces, mix it with the ricotta, and cook according to your favorite stuffed shell recipe.
Get a recipe: Easiest Stuffed Shells
20. Make a weeknight-friendly pot pie.
Leftover chicken (along with your cast iron and some frozen pie crust) is the key to a creamy, comforting pot pie that’s easy enough to pull off on a weeknight.
Get a recipe: Easy Skillet Chicken Pot Pie
21. Repurpose it into an extra-easy skillet dinner.
Starting with cooked leftover chicken lets any skillet dinner come together in a fraction of the time. The example below (one of my favorites!) calls for chicken sausage, but you can swap it for whatever kind of chicken you have in the fridge. Make it easier still by using frozen broccoli in place of Broccolini.
Get a recipe: Broccolini, Chicken Sausage, and Orzo Skillet
22. Bulk up a green salad into a meal.
On its own a leafy green salad isn’t always super filling, but toss in a few pieces of chicken and it’s a totally different story. Any type of chicken, regardless of how it was prepared, is fair game here.
Get a recipe: Honey Mustard Chicken Tender Salad
23. Simmer it into a rich ragù.
Turning chicken into a saucy ragù brings life to leftovers. Spoon it over pasta, rice, polenta, or gnocchi.
Get a recipe: Chicken Ragù with Bacon
24. Add it to your pasta dinner.
25. Bulk up a bowl of ramen.
Whether you’re starting with the instant stuff or making it from scratch, you won’t regret bulking up your noodle soup with some chicken.
Get inspired: 10 Quick Hacks to Upgrade Instant Ramen
26. Make some lettuce wraps.
Most recipes for lettuce wraps start with ground meat, but you can easily use leftover chicken as an alternative. Chop it into small pieces, then mix with the condiments, sauces, and add-ins in the recipe.
Get a recipe: How To Make Chicken Lettuce Wraps
27. Add it to a cold noodle salad.
28. Mix it into mac and cheese.
29. Turn it into quick-pulled Buffalo chicken.
Your slow cooker is used mainly as a warming device and to help the flavor of the shredded chicken and tangy sauce.
Get a recipe: Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken
30. Fold it into summer rolls.
Starting with leftovers makes this an easy no-cook dinner. All that’s left to do is prep the veggies and stir together the sauce.
31. Make a more filling noodle bowl.
32. Mix it into a frittata.
The beauty of frittatas is that anything goes. Any veggies, herbs, meat and cheese you have in the fridge are all fair game, and that includes chicken, too. This versatile egg dish is a great way to stretch just a tiny bit of leftover chicken into a full meal.
Get the recipe: Frittata