23 No-Fail Chicken Dinner Ideas The Whole Family Will Love
When it comes to fuss-free dinners, chicken is the ultimate crowd-pleasing ingredient. The versatile, lean meat—whether you're working with boneless breasts, bone-in thighs, or even a straight-from-the-store rotisserie bird—takes to a variety of cuisines, flavors, and cooking techniques. Kids love chicken just as much as adults, it's affordable, and it's quick to prepare and serve. Here, we've rounded up some of Real Simple's best, easy-to-make chicken dinner ideas your whole family will love. We cover the classics—from Panko-Crusted Chicken Parm to No-Time Tikka Masala—plus plenty of fresh takes on delicious dinners made for entertaining, like Chicken Cheddar Sandwiches and Slow Cooker Chicken Chili.
Sheet Pan Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
One-dish dinners are a dream come true for busy cooks. You can cook everything you need for your meal—in this case, chicken leg quarters and sweet potato wedges—at the same time, and on the same dish. This saves you time, mess, and a whole lot of effort. This dish is quite simple, which is why it's so great for weeknights. You can change up the herbs (it calls for sage, but rosemary would be good, too) and switch the greens from watercress to butter lettuce or anything you have on hand.
Get the Recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
Cheesy Chicken Nachos
Making a nachos recipe at home leaves you to pile on the goodies evenly over the chips, which you'll arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. This means every chip is gloriously topped with chicken, cheese, salsa, avocado and, well, more cheese. Make it a bigger meal by adding black beans or get crazy and swap the avocado for guacamole. Best part? This dish takes 20 minutes.
Get the recipe: Cheesy Chicken Nachos
Chicken and Mozzarella
Crispy chicken cutlets get topped with seasoned crushed tomatoes, torn mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves for an easy dinner the whole family will love. Be sure to broil the cutlets on a rack so they stay crispy all over.
Get the recipe: Chicken and Mozzarella
Skillet Chicken Thighs With Balsamic Glaze and Fresh Cherry Salsa
File this cooking method under "Smartest Back-Pocket Chicken Recipes." Roasting the thighs in a hot oven means you can get evenly cooked, juicy meat and still have crispy skin on top, all without having to splatter your cooktop. While the chicken cooks, you'll make a quick, buttery balsamic glaze that balances the rich chicken and a tart cherry salsa. Speaking of the salsa, it's the kind of fresh take on a side that is as good a match for chicken as it is with white fish, steak, or even crispy tofu.
Spicy Grilled Chicken With Shaved Zucchini Salad
Are you searching for a recipe for a flavorful, healthy chicken dinner? Look no further than this simple, summery number. The Aleppo pepper-rubbed chicken packs just enough heat, and is paired with a lemony-marinated zucchini salad, all of which gets drizzled with a garlic and herb dressing. To make this recipe even more filling, add some grilled bread or pita. Shopping tip: If you can't find Aleppo pepper, which is imported from Syria, you can use regular chili flakes.
Get the recipe: Spicy Grilled Chicken With Shaved Zucchini Salad
Chicken Taco Soup
You might think soup is just too hot for a summer day, but it can be very refreshing and filling without making you fan yourself at the table. Plus, you can use cooling toppings like radishes, sour cream, avocado, and fresh corn to keep things light.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
Chicken Thighs With Chorizo, Spring Onions, and Rice Pilaf
This Spanish-inspired chicken dinner is short on time but long on flavor, thanks to a clever combination of dried chorizo and a triple dose of alliums, aka spring onions, red onions, and garlic cloves. The rice pilaf is a riff on a classic Spanish dish called fideos—essentially pan-toasted pasta, spiced with saffron and simmered in rich chicken broth. The result is so much more exciting and delicious than your average chicken and rice combo.
Get the recipe: Chicken Thighs With Chorizo, Spring Onions, and Rice Pilaf
Crispy Chicken-And-Cheddar Sandwiches with Pickle Dijon
There's a story about a famous roasted chicken recipe that has caused engagements. But, to be honest, this chicken sandwich recipe might just rival any marriage-inducing chicken. And at the very least, a sure way to someone's heart is through this chicken sandwich. Think of it as an upscale, DIY version of your favorite fast-food chicken cutlet sandwich. It's worth finely grating Cheddar from a block instead of using the store-bought kind, since it melds nicely with the crispy cutlet crust. Looking to mix it up? Try provolone instead of the cheddar, and a bitter lettuce like radicchio for the romaine.
Get the recipe: Crispy Chicken-And-Cheddar Sandwiches
Chicken Salad With Chard, Cabbage, and Pickled Onions
Want a low-maintenance chicken salad minus the mayo? Simply use your broiler to make irresistibly crispy chicken thighs then pair them with quick-pickled onions, green cabbage, and raw chard leaves (think kale that's easier to chew). It's quick, it's easy, and best of all, it's delicious.
Get the recipe: Chicken Salad With Chard, Cabbage, and Pickled Onions
Orange Chicken Stir-Fry With Rice Noodles
Once you discover how easy it is to make orange chicken at home, you might never order Chinese takeout again. The "orange" part of this orange chicken recipe comes from orange marmalade, which adds the citrus flavor as well as a welcome bitter note to balance the sweet and salty elements. Scrape the pan well when you add the sauce to the chicken so that you can take advantage of any delicious drippings. Noodles offer a fresh take on the classic recipe, but if you prefer white or brown rice, either will work.
Get the recipe: Orange Chicken Stir-Fry With Rice Noodles
Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Burgers With Carrot Slaw
Burgers are great, but sometimes it's nice to mix up what's between the bun. Here the answer is excitingly original: hoisin-glazed chicken burgers. Simple chicken patties get tons of flavor here, thanks to a finishing glaze of delicious hoisin sauce. Topped with a lime-infused carrot slaw, which has a generous serving of cilantro and mint, too, this burger is not only tasty, but fresh and hearty. If you make the carrot topping ahead, make sure to drain off any extra liquid before topping the patties to avoid making the buns soggy.
Get the recipe: Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Burgers With Carrot Slaw
Crunchy Chicken Salad With Oregano Vinaigrette
What pairs perfectly with a crispy chicken cutlet? A fresh, green salad that's dressed in a lemony vinaigrette and showered with cheese. The vinaigrette in this simple recipe might just become a house favorite—the shallots become lightly pickled in the vinegar, and fresh oregano lends sophisticated flair to an everyday dressing. The salad can be adjusted based on the season—try tomatoes and arugula in the summer and roasted squash and kale in the fall. Bitter greens work particularly well, as they balance the rich, fried cutlet.
Get the recipe: Crunchy Chicken Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette
Chicken With Salsa, Olives, and Lime
A saucy, delicious chicken dinner that comes together in 20 minutes? Where do we sign up? Braising chicken breasts in a flavorful mixture of pico de gallo (aka fresh salsa), salty green olives, and tart capers ensures tender, not rubbery, meat. Add homemade garlic bread or warm tortillas to elevate an everyday dinner. Using store-bought pico de gallo saves time—instead of chopping onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, and herbs, it's all ready to go in a convenient package.
Get the recipe: Chicken With Salsa, Olives, and Lime
Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs With Salsa Verde
Fresh salsa verde is the kitchen staple you need to be using to get dinner on the table faster. This five-ingredient easy recipe is a great place to get started. Searing the chicken thighs in hot oil makes for a golden-brown crust that gives the whole dish a major flavor boost.
Get the recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs With Salsa Verde
Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole Chili Recipe
The flavors of irresistible mole snuck their way into this mouthwatering slow-cooker chicken chili recipe. Mole, a rich Mexican sauce usually containing raisins and chocolate, makes everything better. Leftovers love to play with tacos and enchiladas, so this is basically the chili that keeps on giving.
Get the Recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole Chili
Chicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches
A piadina is an Italian sandwich typically made on flatbread, but here, hot, crispy pizza dough stands in for flatbread, creating a delicious new classic. Tucked inside these piadinas is fresh mozzarella, baby arugula, and pesto-tossed rotisserie chicken. The pesto here is homemade, but if you're tight on prep time, store bought will work well, too.
Get the recipe: Chicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches
Quick Chicken Tikka Masala
Recreate the beloved delivery staple, chicken tikka masala right at home. Make the quick curry paste in a food processor and you're basically there. This is a great starting point for any home cook.
Get the recipe: Quick Chicken Tikka Masala
Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Learn how to fry chicken cutlets with our easy method. The results are stellar every time with a crunchy golden crust and juicy interior. Use the cutlets as inspiration for a range of other recipes (Salads! Sandwiches! Chicken parm!) or serve with a squeeze of lemon.
Get the recipe: Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Slow-Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken
This method for slow-roasting chicken takes the guesswork out of what can be an intimidating task, that is, roasting a 3 ½ lb piece of meat. Cooking the chicken for 2 ½ to 3 hours at a relatively lower temperature (300°F) yields a meltingly tender, rotisserie-like finish. You may never fast-roast again.
Get the Recipe: Slow-Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken
If you have never tried chicken adobo, then it's time to make friends with this Filipino chicken dinner. This version takes its cues from the classic, which combines vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. Plus, there's pineapple and orange juice mixed into the sauce to give it a sweet-and-sour vibe. Poured over rice, fresh pineapple and cilantro perfectly complement the rich and saucy chicken.
Get the recipe: Chicken Adobo
Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs With Fennel and Shallots
Let your oven do most of the cooking here. The fennel and peppers caramelize slightly since they cook on a different sheet pan than the chicken thighs, resulting in tons of flavor to match the crispy skin on the thighs.
Get the recipe: Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs With Fennel and Shallots
Baby Kale and Chicken Caesar
This delicious kale salad is healthy, yes, but it's satisfying enough to star as your main dish. Simply toss greens with rotisserie chicken, shredded brussels sprouts, parmesan cheese, homemade croutons, and caesar dressing for a dinner that takes 25 minutes flat.
Get the recipe: Baby Kale and Chicken Caesar
Greek Chicken and Potatoes
This sheet pan dinner practically cooks itself. Cook the potatoes as you marinade your chicken, then add it to the pan with a layer of heart-healthy broccolini. It's as delicious as it is forgiving.
Get the recipe: Greek Chicken and Potatoes