When life gets busy, these quick and easy dinner ideas made with chicken are the perfect go-to meals to have in your back pocket. They’re high in protein, easy to prepare, and best of all… kid-approved!
QUICK AND EASY CHICKEN RECIPES
If there’s one ingredient I’m confident in, it’s chicken! You can’t go wrong, it’s versatile to cook with, packed with protein, and kids love it; so today I want to share with you some of the most popular quick and easy chicken recipes of all time.
You’ll find recipes like Pizza Chicken and Chicken Quesadillas, as well as the more sophisticated Honey, roasted drumsticks and whole roasted chicken, each of them fuss-free and kid favorites. And yes, these are so easy you can make one of these dinner ideas tonight!
HEALTHY WAYS TO COOK CHICKEN
Thankfully, there’s no fancy bells or whistles required to make delicious chicken dishes. The most simple and healthy methods of cooking, such as grilling, baking, and slow cooking result in tender, juicy chicken. In case you aren’t 100% positive on the correct way to cook chicken, I’ve included directions for the grill, oven, and slow cooker below.
HOW TO THAW CHICKEN
Before we jump into the recipes, it’s important to quickly go over how to thaw chicken safely. The safest way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator. This takes some extra planning time though, so you can see your other safe options in the link above. To thaw chicken in the fridge allow up to 24 hours per 1-5 pounds of frozen meat. Make sure to keep the chicken in the warmest part of your fridge (don’t shove it in the back) and wait until it’s all thawed to start cooking the chicken.
HOW TO BAKE CHICKEN
If you’re looking for a hassle-free way to get an entire meal from one pan with minimal cleanup, baked chicken dinners are the way to go! Whether it’s Dijon Sheet Pan Chicken, Chicken Nuggets, or roasting an entire bird, baked chicken is #winning at kitchen duty.
However, as popular as it is, baked chicken can sometimes yield less than desirable results which means dry, rubbery chicken, that tastes like edible saw-dust. Can you tell I learned first hand?
Don’t be like me, and skip that baked chicken catastrophe by using these simple tips I picked up from trial and error.
1. CHOOSING YOUR CUT
Whether you use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or bone-in skin-on, the steps are pretty much the same. I do prefer bone-in, skin-on meat because the skin helps to lock in the moisture making the chicken more tender, but if you have kids who are religious about their plain cooked chicken breast, you do what you gotta do.
2. MARINATING CHICKEN
Don’t skip this step, marinating keeps the chicken moist and adds flavor. Ideal marinade candidates include an can be done using an olive oil based vinaigrette, teriyaki sauce, buffalo sauce, or a combination of olive oil and seasonings. Combine in a large zip bag and marinate for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
3. BAKING CHICKEN
Woah! Already? Yup, just another plus about cooking with chicken. Before you remove the chicken from the fridge, preheat the oven to 450F and grease a baking sheet or line a baking pan with parchment.
The high temp will give the chicken a nice, crispy crust and lock in those juices. If using, bone-in, skin-on chicken, make sure to place the bone-side down first. Also, you’ll have extra crispy skin and who doesn’t love that?!
Place the chicken breasts into the baking dish or pan and bake for roughly 15 to 20 minutes for boneless, skinless or 45 to 60 minutes for bone-in, skin on chicken breasts.
Another excellent tool for measuring doneness is a meat thermometer, which can be inserted into the thickest part of the chicken when you suspect it near finished. Once the internal temp is 165F, the chicken is ready.
This one step is crucial to any cooked meats but unfortunately, the most overlooked. Once you’ve removed the chicken from the oven, allow them to rest before cutting, about 5 minutes. This keeps the juices locked in and gives you the tender, juicy, delicious goodness.
HOW TO GRILL CHICKEN
Come warm weather; it’s time to pull out the charcoals and fire up the grill. Much like baking chicken, grilling also requires a few steps before the chicken is ready to be placed on the grill. But follow these steps, and you’re sure to have amazing, flavorful chicken every time you use your grill.
This works primarily for boneless, skinless chicken breast, and if the chicken breasts are thick in some areas and thin in others you can fix it by pounding the chicken with a tenderizer, this will ensure even cooking and tender chicken.
Same as the baking method, choose a marinade, combine with the chicken in a zip bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
Allow the grill to reach medium heat before putting any meat on it. You can gauge the temperature by holding your hand 5 inches above the cooking grate. If you can hold it there comfortably for 6 seconds, it’s medium heat and you’re ready to start grilling.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU GRILL CHICKEN?
Place the chicken breast onto the grill, cover and allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes then flip and grill for another 5 to 7 minutes longer for boneless, skinless chicken or 10 minutes on both sides for bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts.
HOW TO COOK CHICKEN IN THE SLOW COOKER
We’ve pulled off some pretty epic chicken dinners around here with the use of a slow cooker. Chicken holds up great when slow cooked, and you can use any cut such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on thighs, or even a whole chicken.
My favorite part is when I get to make buffalo chicken or salsa chicken which require two ingredients and stretch throughout the week for tacos, quesadillas, on top of salads or drool-worthy power bowls.
HERE’S HOW THE MAGIC HAPPENS FOR EASY SLOW COOKER CHICKEN:
Combine 1 lb chicken breasts or boneless, skinless thighs with 1 cup of your choice of sauce; buffalo, salsa, BBQ, Teriyaki and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours, until the chicken is tender and shreds apart easily with a fork.
If this is new to you, your world is about to change.
Just a tip, you can also double and triple the recipe and freeze leftovers for future meals. Be sure to adjust cooking time, by an hour for each additional pound of chicken and cup of sauce.
CHICKEN BREAST DINNER IDEAS
If your family is particular about white meat, you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in nearly every recipe listed below, except for the ones that call for ground chicken.
A lot of people are finicky about which cut of meat to use in their recipes due to health concerns or preferred taste. I get it, and thankfully, like me, my family prefers dark meat for its flavor while others swear by white meat. Rest assured, there is no wrong choice when it comes to chicken; both are a healthy choice and offer ample nutrients and protein our bodies need.
HEALTHY CHICKEN DINNER IDEAS
So you’re here for healthy chicken dinner ideas, and you’re in the right place because we’ve got options. Whether you stir it into a soup for a bowl of #soulfood, make a mean grilled cheese, stuff it into a tortilla, or bake it on a sheet pan with veggies, it’s delicious, and best of all, kids love it!
Are you ready to see all the stress-free weeknight meals you can make with chicken? Here we go:
PALEO AND WHOLE30 CHICKEN DINNER IDEAS
You can thank Family Kickstart and my Grain-Free Family Meals cookbook for these ideas. After creating a successful clean eating program for families and writing an entire cookbook of grain free meals, I’ve got chicken dinner ideas that will blow your mind on the level of taste and easy to prepare.
Dutch Oven Paleo Chicken Chili
Bean-free and veggie loaded chili that’s surprisingly hearty and of course, comforting.
Sheet Pan Dinner Dijon Chicken & Potatoes
This is one of those rare beasts of a meal that can be prepped ENTIRELY ahead of time, assembled on the sheet pan, wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.
Chicken with Prunes and Sage
In less than 30 minutes you can pull off this elegant dinner and whoo the crowd or whoever the lucky diners are.
Honey Chicken Lettuce Cups
Kind of like those lettuce wraps at that famous Chinese restaurant but healthier. And you don’t have to leave your house.
Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups
Make the Asian Salad ahead of time and keep it on hand to make these wraps or the wraps for an easy, light dinner.
Classic Roasted Chicken
Don’t be fooled! This impressive roasted chicken recipe is a lot easier to pull off than it looks! Enjoy it for dinner one night and use leftovers to build wraps, burrito bowls, or tacos for lunch later in the week.
LOW-CARB AND KETO CHICKEN RECIPES
Think eating low-carb is just for adults, think again! Many of the chicken recipes in the Family Kickstart turned out to become some of the most popular dishes with the kids throughout the entire program. Once you make these meals, you’ll taste and see how these real food recipes came to be favorites for hundreds of families.
You can also grab a free sample of the Family KickStart Program here, to try out some of the recipes for yourself!
Pepperoni Pizza Chicken
I know you have #healthgoals and this chicken recipe has your back. Load it up like your favorite pizza and enjoy.
Garlic Butter Chicken and Spaghetti Squash
This chicken dish is a few steps above the kid favorite, chicken and buttered noodles.
Greek Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups
Super fresh and full of the Mediterranean flavors we love! Serve it with the Creamy Hummus dressing or Tzatziki sauce; there’s no wrong way.
Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
When you’re doing low carb and need a buffalo chicken fix, this is the one! Bonus points if you make the Homemade Ranch.
Salsa Chicken Burrito Bowls
One of our favorite Mexican takeout options gets an EPIC and healthy makeover! Top it with guacamole, sour cream, and cheese for the full experience.
Southern Chicken Salad Recipe
Everyone needs a classic chicken salad recipe in their back pocket, and THIS IS THE ONE YOU WANT! Hearty and much healthier than the store-bought versions.
Healthy Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya
A classic New Orleans recipe gets a low carb makeover with cauliflower rice. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching carbs or not, you will want this keto jambalaya at least once a week!
Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
A healthier version of cheesy, prosciutto wrapped chicken, baked not fried for a delicious grain-free dinner.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Chicken
Hummus is great as a dip and spread, but it also creates an incredible sauce for this baked chicken.
CHICKEN TACO RECIPES
You knew this was coming. It’s the one food group we ( I ) can’t live without and these recipes are the bomb.com!
Jerk Chicken Tacos
This delicious.mouth-watering taco is made with Jamaican jerk chicken and topped with pineapple and creamy cilantro drizzle.
Homemade Chicken Fajitas
That one dish you order every time you go to the local Tex Mex joint makes an easy weeknight dinner! Set out the ingredients in a self-serve style so everyone can build their fajitas.
Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Chicken Tacos
These cook up super fast in the skillet, and the Sweet & Spicy sriracha sauce is everything!
SHREDDED CHICKEN TACO RECIPES
Shredded Chicken tacos: you know them, you love them, and you need more of these recipes in your life. No need for you to search for ideas, I’ve got them all here.
Chicken Enchilada Tacos
These are mega delicious and use a rotisserie chicken, so you get that enchilada chicken fix in a pinch!
Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
Tangy, smoky goodness brought to you in a slow cooker. I’m begging you to make these chicken tacos and agree with me that they’re the best you’ve EVER HAD!
Buffalo Chicken Tacos
Buffalo sauce, chicken, Ranch dressing, and bleu cheese crumbles tucked in a tortilla. Name a better combo; I’ll wait.
KID-APPROVED CHICKEN DINNER RECIPES
When you need a healthy, go-to dinner that kids won’t turn down, these recipes are your best friend. These recreated takeout meals offer a well-balanced and quick fix dinner for busy weeknights.
Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
Imagine a cheesy quesadilla but loaded with buffalo chicken and drizzled with Ranch.
Honey Chicken Drumsticks
Tender, moist baked drumsticks with a crispy, sweet coating, this one will be a keeper with the whole family.
Rosemary, Chicken, Avocado and Hummus Melts
This recipe is perfect when you need a solid ASAP. Use leftover roasted or grilled chicken from a previous dinner or store-bought rotisserie chicken, whichever makes your life easier.
Roasted Chicken Flatbread Bar
Self-serve food bars are a fun way to entertain or make family dinner more fun. Prep all the ingredients ahead of time that way come dinnertime all you need to do is assemble.
Santa Fe Chicken Salad
It’s the homemade take on a popular salad at our local Tex Mex joint. It’s high in protein and that Jalapeño Ranch gives us all the feels.
Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
For kids, everything tastes better on a skewer or toothpick. Try making these buffalo chicken meatballs and serving a few on the dinner plate with toothpicks. So fun!
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN NUGGETS
A list of kid-favorite chicken recipes wouldn’t be complete without chicken nuggets! Homemade chicken nuggets are much tastier and healthy than the drive-thru/frozen options without being labor intense. There are a couple of steps, but it’s well worth especially if you double the recipe and freeze for later.
1. Cut the chicken
Make sure to use boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into nugget size pieces, usually 1 1/2 inches.
Dip the chicken pieces into a dredge of flour and seasonings, making sure each surface is coated. Shake off access then…
3. Dip the Chicken Pieces in Egg
Whisk an egg in a shallow dish, and dip each chicken piece making sure each is evenly coated.
4. Bread the Nuggets
Finally, coat the chicken in breadcrumbs and place onto a baking sheet. You can use Italian breadcrumbs or Panko, which give you extra crisp.
5. Bake or fry
If baking, place the sheet pan of nuggets in a 425F oven and bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
If frying, heat a cup of oil to 375 in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the chicken nuggets to the pan (working in batches if needed) and brown on each side, about 8 minutes total. Remove from the pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Devour immediately.
Tips for the best homemade chicken nuggets:
- Double or triple the recipe, so you have batches to keep in the freezer for future meals.
- Freeze the extra uncooked nuggets in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
- Bake as directed, and you’ll be surprised at just how much more fresh and convenient it is compared to the store-bought option!
My kids favorite chicken nuggets recipes:
Classic Chicken Nuggets
These chicken nuggets are magic. You make them, and they disappear. This recipe is made with no mystery ingredients, only real, fresh ingredients so you can feel good about serving these for a quick meal.
Copy Cat Chick fil A Nuggets
If your family adores the drive-thru joint as much as mine, this recipe is a dream come true, AND it’s grain-free.
Parmesan Chicken Tenders
If you need a break from the nuggets, try these chicken tenders, made with cheese and panko crumbs, they’re as easy to make as the nuggets but feel a little more sophisticated on the plate.
CHICKEN SOUP RECIPES
This post would not be complete without a few chicken soup recipes! Winter, spring, summer, or fall, these are perfect for any time of year.
A tip: use shredded meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, it saves on time and adds great flavor.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Don’t get me started on the soul-warming powers of hot chicken noodle soup. Just know that it’s delicious and cures all your winter blues.
Easy Homemade Pho
This homemade take on traditional pho is a delicious swap from the classic chicken soup. Serve it with all the traditional Pho condiments and Sriracha sauce, of course.
HEALTHY ASIAN CHICKEN RECIPE IDEAS
Chinese take out; it’s a hate-love relationship, but these recipes are something you can feel good about serving. No MSG’s or energy crashes, only satisfied tummies, and good feelings.
I’ve never seen anyone turn away a dish of this crispy, tender chicken with a savory sweet sauce.
Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
One skillet, fresh ingredients and you’ve got yourself one fantastic meal in less than 20 minutes. Tip: use a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies, cuts the cooking time in half.
CHICKEN PASTA DINNER IDEAS
Next, to the previous list of Kid Approved Chicken Dinners, this list is next in line. I still have yet to see anyone turn away a plate of Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta.
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan
Who doesn’t love Chicken Parmesan? This American-Italian classic is made super easy thanks to the slow cooker, serve over pasta or zucchini noodles for a low carb version.
Skillet Chicken Pot Pie
Tender pieces of chicken, and veggies in a creamy white gravy, it’s the best part of chicken pot pie over pasta.
Salsa Verde Chicken Pasta
You remember those Salsa Verde Tacos we discussed? Well, we took the leftover salsa verde chicken and turned it into this creamy, cheesy, pasta. You can thank me later.
Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta
The ultimate comfort food that also can feed an army. Pasta, alfredo sauce, chicken, ham, bacon, and cheese, the gangs all there!
Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo
This gives you that creamy chicken pasta fix, quick! If your family isn’t a fan of broccoli swap it with sliced mushrooms, peas, carrots… you get the picture.
Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta
Made in a skillet this creamy pasta is colorful and bursting with flavor. Calling for the simplest of ingredients, this filling chicken pasta dish is sure to become an instant family favoerite.
CHICKEN FREEZER MEALS
Another reason to love chicken dinner recipes, they most often freeze super well! Aside from the soup and salad recipes most every one of these recipes are good for freezing, here’s the complete list:
- Salsa Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken
- Sheet Pan Dijon Chicken & Potatoes
- Pizza Chicken
- Garlic Butter Chicken – minus the spaghetti squash
- Honey Chicken Lettuce Cups- The chicken mixture, not the lettuce!
- Chicken Cordon Bleu
- All the tacos- Minus the tortilla and toppings, obviously.
- Honey Chicken Drumsticks
- Chicken Nuggets
- Easy Chicken and Vegetable Teriyaki Bowls
- Chicken Teriyaki
- Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry
- Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan
- Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo
MAKE-AHEAD CHICKEN RECIPES
This is the 21st century, we’re busy moms and making a meal from scratch each night, every night? Wrong! All wrong!
During the early years of motherhood, while my kids and business were both young, make-ahead meals were total life-savers. Who am I kidding, I still use make-ahead meals today! If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life doesn’t slow down just because kids get bigger. Meal planning is a total life saver and it’s how I get these yummy chicken dinners on my family’s table all through the week.
You can start by choosing recipes with ingredients that can be prepped ahead like chopped veggies, or marinated meat, that way you can knock those steps out ahead of time.
Each of the recipes I’ve shared with you has some element that can be prepped ahead of time, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
Sheet Pan Dijon Chicken & Potatoes
Coat the chicken in the dijon sauce, chop the veggies and arrange everything on to the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Combine the sauce and chicken in the slow cooker. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Works the same as the Buffalo chicken, combine the sauce and chicken, cook, eat, and repeat.
Chicken and Vegetable Teriyaki Bowls
The longer the meat marinates in Teriyaki sauce, the better it tastes, so prepare it the night before and chop the veggies that go along with it. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow night.
Southern Chicken Salad Recipe
Make this salad ahead and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Use it on salads, in wraps, or sandwiches.
Roasted Chicken Flatbread Bar
Prep the toppings in small airtight containers, shred the rotisserie chicken meat and refrigerate until ready to assemble this self-serve dinner.
So that’s the ultimate list of healthy, UN-BORING chicken dinner ideas. I don’t know what’s on your menu tonight, but after this, it better be chicken! If you have a favorite dish and didn’t see it on here, let me know, what are some of your top chicken dinner recipes?
Skillet Chicken Alfredo
Easy chicken and broccoli alfredo skillet meal from the fridge to the table in less than 30 minutes that your family will love.
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- 8 ounces rotini pasta
- 12 ounces broccoli florets, chopped
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin diagonal slices
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup whole milk, or more, as needed
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. In the final 3 minutes of cooking, add broccoli to the pasta and cook the remaining time. Drain pasta.
- In a large 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add chicken to skillet and begin to cook, flipping them over once, until they are cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
- Melt butter in the skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in heavy cream, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add in 1/3 cup Parmesan until well combined, about 1 minute. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed.
- Stir in pasta, broccoli and chicken. Serve and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 440
- Sugar: 4.7g
- Sodium: 405.3mg
- Fat: 18.2g
- Saturated Fat: 7.8g
- Trans Fat: 0.1g
- Carbohydrates: 40.4g
- Fiber: 2.9g
- Protein: 28.6g
- Cholesterol: 86.2g