25+ Ways to Use Leftover Chicken

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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 the mild-mannered meat is that it’s easy to repurpose it into an entirely different meal. All it takes is a little inspiration.

Whether you have a whole lot of leftovers or the littlest bit that’s hardly enough for a meal on its own, here are our favorite ideas for using up leftover chicken.

1. 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.

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2. Mix it into chicken salad.

Whether you prefer the classic creamy version or opt for herby or tangy, you can never going wrong with transforming leftover chicken into chicken salad.

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3. Make a chicken sandwich.

Sandwiches are a quick and easy way to repurpose leftover breasts or thighs into a nearly effortless dinner.

4. 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.

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5. Cook it into fried rice.

When you don’t quite have enough meat for it to be a meal on its own, this is a cheap and easy way to turn leftovers into dinner for the whole family.

6. Add it to a stir-fry.

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.

7. Stuff it into a taco.

Leftover chicken is the start of the easiest taco Tuesday ever. Give the meat more flavor by shredding or cutting it into pieces and simmering it with some of your favorite salsa. You can also bulk up the tacos with beans or slaw.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

8. 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.

9. 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!

Get a recipe: Grilled Nacho Platters

10. 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.

11. Simmer in a pot of soup.

The easiest chicken soup starts with a rotisserie bird from the grocery store or, in this case, whatever leftovers you have handy!

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12. Top a pizza with it.

Chicken on pizza is always a good idea — especially when BBQ sauce or pesto are involved.

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13. 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

14. 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.

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15. 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

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. Stuff it into a baked potato.

This might be the ultimate simple yet satisfying dinner. Repurpose those leftovers while enjoying one of those potatoes you baked during your weekend meal prep session.

19. 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

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

20. Add it to your pasta dinner.

Chicken and pasta are great on their own, but when combined they’re a force to be reckoned with.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. Add it to a cold noodle salad.

This is one of the easiest ways to repurpose those leftovers when you don’t want to turn on the oven.

24. Mix it into mac and cheese.

When this comfort food is in the meal plan mix, stirring in some leftover chicken is a quick way to bring a little more protein to the table.

25. Turn it into quick-pulled BBQ chicken.

Shredding leftover chicken and mixing it with your favorite BBQ sauce is the easiest way to curb your craving for a pulled chicken sandwich.

26. 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.