After a long day, who hasn’t stumbled into the grocery store without the faintest idea of what to put on the table, when suddenly the tempting whiff of a freshly roasted chicken puts everything into perspective?
And although a rotisserie chicken is great served on its own, it lends itself to so many dinner options.
Here are 24 easy dinner ideas incorporating rotisserie chicken. No matter your skill level in the kitchen, there’s something here for everyone.
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1 Quesadillas: Soften chopped onion and bell pepper or mushrooms on the stove, then combine with chopped chicken and cheese in a folded tortilla and toast on a griddle or large skillet until the cheese melts.
2 Chopped salad: Toss chopped chicken, apple, red onion, raisins and almonds in a bowl. Toss with a dressing made of mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt flavored with a touch of wine or cider vinegar, mustard and fresh chopped herbs.
3 Thai pasta with peanut sauce: Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, chopped garlic and a dash of hot sauce in a saucepan with enough coconut milk or water to thin. Warm, then toss with pasta, chopped chicken, roasted peanuts and cilantro.
4 Lemon chicken pasta with basil: Chop chicken and saute to warm with a little chopped garlic and mushrooms if desired. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and toss with pasta, shredded basil and freshly grated Parmesan.
5 Enchiladas: Coat bottom of a baking dish with red or green enchilada sauce. Roll shredded chicken, cheese, sauteed onion and peppers into tortillas and place in the dish. Ladle with more sauce and top with cheese. Bake until bubbly. Top with chopped green onion.
6 Chicken and spinach casserole: Combine chopped chicken with fresh spinach, sauteed onion and garlic, and bechamel (butter and flour cooked to form a roux, with milk added to make a thick sauce) or cream of mushroom soup. Top with breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese, chopped herbs and a little melted butter and bake until bubbly.
7 Sloppy Joes: Sweat finely chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic until translucent, then add chopped chicken to warm. Stir in equal parts marinara and barbecue sauce and serve on buns.
8 Macaroni salad: Toss macaroni with chopped chicken, celery and red onion and toss with a dressing of mayonnaise flavored with mustard and lemon juice.
9 Empanadas: Sweat diced onion, chile or bell peppers, and mushrooms until translucent and then add diced chicken, cheese and a little chile sauce. Add filling to biscuit or pie dough cut into rounds. Seal and bake until golden brown, then serve with chile sauce.
10 Chicken tortilla soup: Saute chopped onion and bell pepper until lightly golden, then add a container of fresh salsa and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add several fresh corn tortillas torn into pieces, and then use an immersion blender to puree in the pot. Bring to a simmer and add chopped or shredded chicken, more diced onion and pepper. Serve with crumbled fresh cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips, diced onion and cilantro.
11 Shredded chicken tacos: Sweat sliced onion with chopped chile pepper and tomatoes, then add shredded chicken and enough chicken broth to moisten. Serve in warm tortillas with shredded lettuce or cabbage, salsa and toppings of choice.
12 Burritos: In a large, warmed tortilla, combine shredded chicken with black beans, rice, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo. Roll and top with chile sauce and more cheese before serving.
13 Taquitos: Roll shredded chicken in small tortillas and deep-fry. Serve with sour cream and salsa.
14 Barbecue chicken sandwich: Combine shredded or chopped chicken with barbecue sauce. Serve, topped with coleslaw, in toasted buns.
15 Savory turnovers or hand pies: Sweat chopped onion, carrot and celery in a saute pan. Add peas, potatoes and chopped chicken and enough broth to cover. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, then swirl in goat cheese or bread crumbs to thicken the broth. Spoon into puff pastry or pie dough, seal and bake until golden.
16 Chili: Saute onion, bell or chile pepper and garlic. Add chopped chicken, canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and drained canned beans. Thin with chicken broth and simmer. Serve with crumbled cheese, green onion and sour cream.
17 Lettuce cups: Chop chicken and toss with a little cornstarch (2 tablespoons for a whole chicken’s worth). Saute chopped garlic and ginger over high heat until golden brown. Add chopped shiitakes and water chestnuts. Drizzle with soy sauce, rice vinegar and a touch of sugar. Add chicken and cook until the sauce is thickened. Drizzle with more soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and serve in lettuce cups topped with chopped roasted peanuts and green onion.
18 Couscous: To cooked couscous or quinoa, add diced olives, red onion, sauteed garbanzo beans, chopped chicken, raisins and diced dried apricot and dates. Flavor with cilantro, ground cinnamon, cloves and coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.
19 Pita sandwich: Spread hummus inside a halved pita round and top with shredded chicken. Top with plain yogurt flavored with chopped fresh cucumber, cumin, garlic, fresh mint and lime juice.
20 Chinese chicken salad: Combine chopped lettuce and shredded cabbage with drained canned mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, chopped chicken and sesame ginger dressing. Garnish with slivered almonds or fried wonton strips, chopped cilantro and green onion.