24 Ways to Cook a Spring Chicken

Recipes from The Kitchn

With the arrival of spring this week, we're looking to lighten up our meals and reach for the fresh produce that is slowly returning to farmers markets and grocery stores. When lighter chicken options are on the menu, it's easier to break out of the routine of soups, stews, and hearty pastas. With that in mind, here are the 24 chicken dishes that will be in rotation in our kitchens all spring.

1. Chicken in Coconut Milk with Lemongrass

This updated take on the classic chicken in milk recipe has a fresh spring flavor, thanks to the lemongrass. Simply serve it over rice and your favorite wilted greens.

2. Slow-Cooker White Chicken Chili

Even as the temperatures start to rise, we're still in love with our slow cookers. And this white chicken chili is the perfect transitional meal.

3. Quick-Braised Chicken, Beans, and Greens

You can make this dish with the straggling winter greens that are still in markets, or swap in lighter spring greens in their place.

4. Lemon-Garlic Chicken

You can make this dish in the slow cooker or your oven. Either way, we recommend you make it immediately while there's still an abundance of citrus.

5. Pita Pockets with Crunchy Romaine, Roasted Beets, Chicken & Manchego Cheese

This satisfying chicken pita pocket sandwich is easy enough to make for lunch, and hearty enough to enjoy for dinner. Basically, it's a winner for any meal.

6. Sesame Chicken Celery Root Salad

Skip the noodles you'll normally find in a sesame chicken salad, and rely on shreds of celery root (or celeriac) instead. Not only does it give the recipe a nice crunch, but it also adds a whole new depth of flavor.

7. Yogurt & Dill Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is one of spring's best foods. The cool, creamy texture and range of possible flavors makes for a delicious yet often overlooked lunch. Make a batch of this and you'll be set for lunch for several days.

8. How To Make Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The fresh, crisp lettuce of these wraps is key, which is why we love them for spring and summer cooking. Of course the hoisin and soy-based sauce isn't too shabby either.

9. Lemon-Thyme Chicken Thighs

If you're still of the mindset that boneless, skinless chicken breasts are best, try this chicken thigh recipe immediately. We bet you'll be changing your tune.

10. Lemon Braised Chicken & Beans with Mint Pesto

The combination of lemon and mint gives this recipe a decidedly springlike flavor, while the hearty braised beans makes it still feel like comfort food.

11. Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles with Pan-Seared Chicken

We recommend that you make a double batch of the peanut sauce that goes with this cold noodle salad. You'll definitely want it for leftovers and for slathering on pretty much everything.

12. Italian Chicken Salad Sandwiches

This chicken salad is for the mayonnaise haters. Instead of a creamy chicken salad, this version is mixed together with a vinaigrette that has Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar.

13. Braised Chicken Thighs with Bell Peppers and Onions

This is the kind of recipe that you can make all spring and into the summer. Serve it over rice, quinoa, or whatever other grain you happen to have on hand.

14. Nigel Slater's Five-Spice Chicken & Pea Shoot Salad

This simple stir-fry dish makes a perfect weeknight meal, and you can add in any kind of greens you have on hand. To make it a full meal, serve over rice or noodles.

15. Chicken Pesto Tart

Frozen puff pastry, homemade pesto, and pre-cooked chicken make this tart an easy weeknight meal to assemble and bake while you unwind from your day.

16. Yogurt-Marinated Chicken and Creamy Greek Sauce

Lemon juice, oregano, cucumber, and garlic give this Greek chicken dish its stellar flavor. Serve it layered between the folds of a pillowy pita for the best lunch you'll have this week.

17. Creamy Braised Chicken with Pappardelle

Even with the creamy sauce this recipe still is a spring favorite, thanks to the lemon and garlic. You can also mix in a few lighter fresh herbs at the end to make it feel even more springy.

18. Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Blistered Tomatoes & Basil

As soon as we see decent cherry tomatoes in the grocery store, we rush to make this recipe. It's a lighter take on Italian, and we can't get enough of it.

19. Roasted Red Pepper, Chicken & Mozzarella Sandwich

Use leftover chicken from last night's dinner to put together this Italian-inspired sandwich. Wrap it in aluminum foil and pop it in the toaster oven until everything is melty and delicious.

20. Grilled Chicken Legs with Dijon & White Wine Glaze

Take advantage of the warming days of spring and break out the to make a batch of this mustardy glazed chicken. No grill? No problem. Use a grill pan instead.

21. Greek Chicken Pasta with Olives and Feta

The olives and feta in this chicken and pasta dish give it a nice level of salt, and the oregano and lemon in the vinaigrette give it a brightness that says spring.

22. Chicken and Green Bean Stir-Fry

If you want to make the most of an abundance of produce without spending a ton of time in the kitchen, this stir-fry is the way to go. You can customize it to what you have on hand and come up with your own favorite combination.

23. Mexican Chicken Soup

Any soup that's served with a few slices of avocado is a winner in our book. We love the level of spice in this light broth-based soup as well.

24. Slow-Cooker Chicken in Milk

Perhaps one of the most beloved chicken dishes on The Kitchn, this recipe comes by way of Jamie Oliver and delivers the most tender and succulent chicken the slow cooker can produce. If you aren't already a fan, it's time to give it a try and join the legions who love it.

(Image credits: Emma Christensen; Sara Kate Gillingham; Melissa Ryan; Kathryn Hill; Katie Webster; Faith Durand; Nick Evans; Maria Siriano; Kelli Foster; Nealey Dozier; Kimberley Hasselbrink; Sarah E Crowder)