If there is a more convenient (and versatile!) convenience food than rotisserie chicken, I have yet to find it.
Even the most run-of-the-mill supermarkets have them, not to mention price clubs and specialty markets. You can also find pre-cooked birds at many butcher shops, and depending on the butcher, these might even be free-range or organic chickens.
One Meal…or Five Meals!
If you are planning to eat the chicken as is, you can bring one home, serve it up while it’s hot alongside a salad, and call it a day.
But stashing one of these chickens in the fridge means that all kind of future meals are in the cards. Use them as an ingredient for a quick weeknight dinner (see below!), or you can simply cut up the chicken and bring it cold to a picnic, or tuck some pieces into a lunchbox.
While sometimes rotisserie chickens have seasonings added—you might see teriyaki or Italian roast chickens, for instance—usually they are seasoned very simply, which make them easy to incorporate into other recipes. If you think you will want to use all or part of the chicken as a building block in a recipe, make sure to get a plain version.
Shred or dice or slice the meat, and use it as a springboard to make any of the ideas below!
(And by the way, any of the ideas below also work with a chicken you roast yourself!)
1. Chicken Salad
Diced chicken tossed with a bit of mayonnaise, some salt and pepper, and perhaps a bit of minced onion makes a very respectable chicken salad.
You could also add in some chopped fresh herbs and other seasonings, since the simplicity of the mayo-coated chicken takes well to all kinds of add-ins.
Or try one of these versions of chicken salad for a deeper chicken salad experience:
- Tarragon Chicken Salad
- Curried Chicken Salad with Mango
- Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad (from my site The Mom 100)
2. Easy Pasta Dishes
Adding some shredded or cubed chicken to almost any pasta dish is a great way to add substance and protein. This works whether the pasta is made on the stovetop or baked, and it’s a great way to stretch those last two thighs or a breast into something that will feed a family.
Try one of these recipes:
- Rotisserie Chicken Stroganoff
- Easy Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Chicken and Mushroom Marsala Rotelle (from my site The Mom 100)
3. Chicken Enchiladas
A full rotisserie chicken can make a generous pan of enchiladas. Don’t hesitate to mix the white and dark meat—once it is sauced and rolled and meets up with cheese and spices, the two kinds of meat blend together seamlessly.
If you don’t have a full chicken left, mixing the leftover meat with some beans is a great way to stretch what’s left of your chicken.
Try these recipes:
- Red Chili Chicken Enchiladas
- Turkey Black Bean Enchiladas (swap in chicken!)
- Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas (from my site The Mom 100)
4. Quick Quesadillas
A cheese quesadilla is a great snack, but a chicken quesadilla feels like a meal. Shred the chicken pretty finely so it incorporates easily into the quesadillas and doesn’t fall out when you are cooking or eating them.
Try one of these recipes:
- Apple Chicken Quesadillas
5 Weeknight Chicken Soups
Soup is another great way to use an entire chicken, or even just some of it! Use it to make any chicken-centric soup recipe, or to enhance a vegetable-based soup.
One of my favorite ways to make a quick chicken broth is to remove all of the meat from a rotisserie chicken, then simmer the skin, bones, and any leftover bits and pieces in a mixture of half chicken broth and half water to cover.
Simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, strain out all of the solids, and you have a lovely broth, which makes a great base for all kinds of soups. Taste before adding salt—the skins of rotisserie chickens can be salty.
Use the chicken meat — and broth! — in one of these recipes:
- Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup
- Weeknight Chicken Ramen