5 Great Ways to Use Leftover Chicken

Chicken is one of the most versatile meats you can work with. It will take on pretty much any flavor from any sauce, broth, or gravy, and it will give you a power packed protein for any meal.

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Chicken saves pretty well for a couple days in the fridge, even longer in the freezer, so it pays to make a ton of chicken ahead of time for leftovers. But then what do you do with your leftovers?

Can You Use Leftover Chicken?

Can You Use Leftover Chicken

Yes! Of course you can use leftover chicken. If stored in an airtight container, chicken should keep well for about three days, and plenty of people will eat it even after that with no problems.

The biggest concern with chicken is that it can get tough or rubbery when overheated. Your job is to make sure that doesn’t happen!

The trick with chicken is to reheat it just enough so it’s nice and hot and ready to eat. And, really, when it comes down to it, this is probably going to be true of reheating anything.

Should You Use Leftover Chicken?

Should You Use Leftover Chicken

Now, about safety.

Should you risk it?

Yes! You should risk it.

If you cooked the chicken once, or someone else cooked it, and you ate it and everything was fine, chances are slim that you’ll have a problem reheating it.

The general guidelines say to reheat any leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, just to be safe. That temperature is considered “the safety zone,” or the point at which any potential bacteria is killed.

Of course, remember plenty of people eat cold chicken salad or chicken salad sandwiches using chicken straight out of the fridge.

A great rule of thumb is knowing that the first time you ate it, everything was just fine, that you stored it properly, and that it’s only been a few days.

Now, you know your chicken is good for leftovers, and you know how to make sure it’s safe. What to do with those leftovers?

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is one of the easiest dishes to whip up quickly and get excellent results that taste dramatically different from the first time you had it.

Chicken salad is the less traditional version of tuna salad.

Traditionally, this dish is made using mayonnaise, salt, maybe some herbs and spices, and often veggies or pickles.

For a healthier version, you can make chicken salad with either Greek yogurt or blended cottage cheese. You’ll get extra protein and even some probiotics if you go the yogurt route.

For this dish, you need either a rotisserie chicken shredded apart or chicken that has been boiled and shredded. As leftovers, it’s a great meal to make if you brought home a rotisserie chicken and only ate half or less of it.

  1. Combine your shredded chicken with either Greek yogurt or blended cottage cheese. Use as much as you like to get the chicken all sticking together, and more if you prefer.
  2. To this concoction, you can add pickles or celery for crunch, oregano for flavor, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix everything together and serve the chicken salad on pieces of toast for a sandwich or with your favorite chips or crackers as a dip.

Salad Topper

Another easy option for chicken leftovers is to throw a few ounces on top of a green salad.

It’s such a neat trick and a wonderful choice for protein that many people prepare chicken in advance specifically for this reason.

  1. Simply throw some green, leafy vegetables on a plate and top them with veggies of your choice – think shredded carrots and beets, cucumbers, avocado for healthy fat, hard boiled egg if you want to make it a Cobb salad, and maybe a bit of feta or blue cheese for fat.
  2. Dress the salad with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and minced garlic to help with digestion.
  3. Toss the chicken (heated up or cold) on top and enjoy!

The nice thing about this dish is you can make it with virtually any chicken.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Another dish you can make with any chicken (grilled, baked, shredded, rotisserie) is chicken noodle soup.

If it’s cold outside, or you’re coming down with a cold, and you’ve got some leftover chicken, this should be your go-to.

  1. Bring 8 cups of chicken broth to boil on the stove and add chopped onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and one cup of dry noodles to the broth. Allow it to cook over medium heat for about a half and hour.
  2. Add the chicken and taste the broth. You might want to add some salt.
  3. For an extra kick, you can add in a few chipotles and their juices from a can. You’ll get nice deep red tint to your soup and just a hint of smoky spice.

Chicken Tacos

Who doesn’t love chicken tacos? And they’re so easy!

  1. Shred your rotisserie chicken or chop up your chicken breast, heat up some corn tortillas, and throw the chicken in the tortilla.
  2. You can top with salsa, onions, cilantro, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, the possibilities are endless!

Chicken Sandwiches

Finally, if you’re not feeling up to tacos, you can have a sandwich, which is perhaps the easiest meal to make on earth.

  1. Take the chicken out of the fridge, slap it between two pieces of bread, and enjoy.
  2. To make this dish more interesting, you can grill the bread with butter and get it nice and toasty.
  3. While your bread is toasting, place a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add a bit of olive oil to the pan. Place the chicken in whatever form you have it directly into the pan and allow it to heat up for a few minutes. Flip the chicken over and place a slice of Swiss cheese on top. Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. While the toast is grilling and the chicken is heating up, slice a tomato and chop some lettuce.
  5. Combine your ingredients, serve the sandwich with your favorite chips, and enjoy!

What do you think? Do you have a favorite way to eat leftover chicken? Let me know in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.

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