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. Casseroles, pizza, salads …
Here are 20 easy dinner ideas incorporating rotisserie chicken. These aren’t formal recipes but rough outlines you can tweak to suit your family’s or friends’ tastes.
Most involve only a few ingredients, and almost all can be made in an hour or less.
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 over the stove, then toss with pasta, chopped chicken, chopped roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro.
4. Lemon chicken pasta with basil: Chop chicken and saute for a few minutes to warm with a little chopped garlic and mushrooms if desired. Drizzle fresh lemon juice over the chicken and toss with pasta, shredded basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
5. Enchiladas: Coat the 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 over more sauce and add more cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and the sauce is bubbly. Serve topped with chopped green onion.
6. Chicken and spinach casserole: Combine chopped chicken with fresh spinach, chopped sauteed onion and garlic, and cream of mushroom soup. Top with breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh herbs and a little melted butter and bake until the filling is bubbly.
7. Sloppy Joes: Sweat finely chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic until translucent, then add chopped chicken. Stir in equal parts marinara and barbecue sauce and spoon onto buns to serve.
8. Macaroni salad: Toss macaroni with chopped chicken, celery and red onion and toss with a dressing of mayonnaise flavored with mustard and a touch of lemon juice.
9. Empanadas: Sweat diced onion, chile or bell peppers, and mushrooms until translucent and then add diced chicken, cheese and a little chili sauce to moisten. Add filling to biscuit or pie dough cut into rounds. Seal and bake until golden brown, then serve with chile sauce on the side.
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 everything in the pot. Bring to a simmer and add chopped chicken, more diced onion and pepper. Serve with crumbled cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips and 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, salsa and toppings of choice.
12. Taquitos: Roll shredded chicken in small tortillas and deep-fry. Serve with sour cream and salsa.
13. Barbecue chicken sandwich: Combine shredded or chopped chicken with barbecue sauce. Serve, topped with coleslaw, in toasted buns.
14. 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.
15. Chili: Saute onion, bell or chile pepper and garlic. Add chopped chicken, canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and a medley of drained canned beans. Thin to desired consistency with chicken broth and simmer to marry the flavors, checking occasionally for seasoning. Serve with crumbled cheese, green onion and sour cream.
16. Lettuce cups: Chop the chicken and toss with a little cornstarch (2 tablespoons for each whole chicken). Saute chopped garlic and ginger over high heat until golden brown with a slightly nutty aroma. Add chopped shiitake mushrooms and chopped water chestnuts. Drizzle over soy sauce, rice vinegar and a touch of sugar, scraping any flavoring from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and cook until the sauce thickens. Drizzle over more soy sauce as desired and serve in lettuce cups topped with roasted peanuts and green onion.
17. Couscous: To cooked couscous, add diced olives, red onion, sauteed garbanzo beans, chopped chicken, raisins and diced dried apricot and dates. Flavor with fresh cilantro, ground cinnamon, cloves and coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.
18. Quinoa: Saute sliced shiitake mushrooms over high heat, then add garlic and drizzle over soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Add diced chicken and heat to warm. Remove from heat and add fresh spinach. Toss in a bowl with cooked quinoa and garnish with toasted nuts.
19. Chinese chicken salad: In a large bowl, combine chopped lettuce and shredded cabbage with drained canned mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, chopped chicken and sesame ginger dressing to coat. Serve garnished with almonds or fried wonton strips.
20. Barbecue chicken pizza: Saute a sliced onion until softened and golden brown. When cool enough to handle, spread over prepared pizza dough. Top with a mixture of half barbecue sauce and half marinara sauce, add chopped chicken, drizzle over more sauce and top with mozzarella and sliced red onion.