10 Easy Leftover Chicken Recipes to Make When You're In a Rush

Think twice before you toss that leftover chicken!

Chicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches

There's a reason why chicken is a weeknight dinner staple for so many households; it's filling, crowd-pleasing, and versatile—a blank canvas for you to play up your favorite flavors. Moreover, it's uncomplicated to cook, whether you're roasting a whole bird, grilling thighs, or pan-frying breasts.

Whenever you prepare chicken, and however you choose to do so, we recommend making some extra to carry you through the next few days. Alternatively, take a shortcut and buy something pre-cooked, like a rotisserie chicken! If you're pressed for time but you still need to pull something together for dinner, having cooked chicken in the fridge is a lifesaver. These 10 recipes will inspire you to transform your leftover chicken into comforting, fuss-free meals.

01 of 10

Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken-noodle-soup-0219big tout
Jennifer Causey

If you're feeling under the weather, nothing beats a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup. You could buy the canned stuff, but the homemade version is easy to make and so much better. To make this recipe even simpler than it already is, skip step one and use your go-to store-bought chicken broth. Once your noodles are cooked, toss in some leftover shredded chicken and heat through. Done!

02 of 10

Cheesy Chicken Nachos

Homemade nachos recipes - Cheesy Chicken Nachos
Greg DuPree

Nachos scream "party," but who said they can't be a Tuesday night dinner? Load up tortilla chips with cheese and leftover chicken, bake for about 10 minutes until melty, then top things off with fresh ingredients like salsa, radishes, jalapeño, and cilantro. The leftover chicken makes the nachos substantial and satiating enough to call it a full meal.

03 of 10

Chicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches

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 recipeChicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches . Caitlin Bensel

Mozzarella, arugula, and pesto-tossed chicken make a sandwich filling fit for dinner. Simplify this recipe by buying pre-made pesto and flatbreads, and all you'll need to do is assemble your sandwiches and serve them up.

04 of 10

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Quick Dinner Ideas: Chicken Curry in a Hurry
John Kernick

Lean on leftover chicken to make a quick, flavorful curry faster than it'd take to get delivery. Plain yogurt gives the dish a creamy texture and subtle tang, and fresh cilantro brightens everything up.

RELATED: 4 Easy Chicken and Rice Meals You Can Make in an Instant Pot

05 of 10

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
Jennifer Causey

Slow cookers are the secret weapon of the over-scheduled! In the morning, throw in a handful of ingredients and let the magic happen. Feel free to use leftover chicken for this make-ahead meal; just wait until right before serving to add it in, and let the hot broth heat it up. Packed with veggies and seasoned to perfection, this soup will satisfy your craving for Mexican food while taking only minutes of your time.

06 of 10

Crispy Chicken-and-Cheddar Sandwich

Crispy Chicken-And-Cheddar Sandwich 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 recipeCrispy Chicken-And-Cheddar Sandwiches . Jennifer Causey

Who among us can say no to a crispy chicken cutlet? Next time you fry up some Milanese, give your future self a gift and make extra. We suggest tucking your leftover cutlet into a hoagie roll with sharp white Cheddar, pickle relish, Dijon, and mayonnaise—the gourmet version of a fast food classic.

07 of 10

Baby Kale and Chicken Caesar

Baby Kale and Chicken Caesar Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

This salad recipe is full of smart hacks, like opting for mayonnaise instead of egg yolks to keep the dressing trouble-free, and upping the protein with leftover chicken. The kale absorbs the punchy anchovies, garlic, Dijon, and lemon, which makes each bite savory and delicious.

08 of 10

Chicken and Chard Dumpling Soup

Chicken and Chard Dumpling Soup Recipe
Greg DuPree

This soup is a riff on your classic chicken soup, and works just as well with regular gnocchi as it does with cauliflower gnocchi! If you have leftover chicken on hand, save some time and skip the poaching step. Ideal for a chilly evening, this comforting soup will warm you right up.

09 of 10

Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie

Chicken and Vegetable Potpie
Use low-fat milk, olive oil, and double the vegetables to give this rustic, down-home comfort food a healthy revamp. To save time on prep without sacrificing the crisp golden-brown exterior, use store-bought piecrust. Just unroll it, lay it over the oven-safe dish, vent, and bake. Get the recipe:Chicken and Vegetable Potpie. Roland Bello

Does pot pie sound like a laborious project to you? If you use leftover chicken and store-bought pie crust, it doesn't have to be! In this recipe, we unashamedly use shortcuts, resulting in a golden pie full of bubbling, creamy chicken and vegetables in about an hour, start to finish.

10 of 10

Instant Pot Chicken Pho

Instant Pot Chicken Pho
Antonis Achilleos

There's something so healing about a big bowl of pho, which is hot, aromatic, and bright. Grab your Instant Pot to speed up the process and ignore the chicken-cooking section, adding leftover chicken right at the end instead. For serving, top the soup with the fresh ingredients of your choice! We love adding bean sprouts, cilantro, and serrano chiles, but the world is your oyster.

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