5 Quick Dinners You Can Make with a Roasted Chicken

Oct 28, 2016

A whole, pre-roasted chicken from the deli has become the go-to for many busy families in search of a quick meal, but there are plenty of ways to transform one into something a little more interesting than just a deli chicken. When you’re finished with it, don’t forget to turn the bones into stock: cover with water, add veggie scraps (onion skins, carrot tops, celery leaves, parsley) if you have them along with a big pinch of salt and bring to a low simmer for about half an hour. Cool slightly and strain, reserving any meat that has fallen off the bones for a chunky chicken soup or base for another meal down the road.

Chicken Kale Caesar Salad

Wash a small bunch of kale and shake the leaves dry; pull the leaves off the stems and tear or slice them into a wide bowl. Toss with store-bought Caesar dressing, or whisk together: 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, and a good grinding of black pepper. Toss to coat the kale and top with shredded chicken, croutons, crumbled bacon and more Parmesan cheese.

A bowl of Caesar salad made with kale and croutons and shredded pieces of chicken.

Chicken Quesadillas

Making a quesadilla is just like making a grilled cheese sandwich, only with a flour tortilla instead of bread. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil if you like (this will make it extra crispy, but you could also make them in a dry skillet without them sticking) and place a flour tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle half the tortilla with shredded cheese, chopped roasted chicken, and anything else you like - chopped green onions, peppers, olives, cilantro - ensuring there’s a bit of grated cheese on the bottom and top to glue the quesadilla together. Fold over to enclose the filling and cook until crispy on the bottom. Flip with tongs - flipping it over the folded edge keeps it contained - and cook until golden and crisp on the other side. Transfer to a cutting board to cut into wedges, and serve with salsa.

A platter of chicken quesadillas next to a bowl of salsa.

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Chicken in the Gold

An old recipe made famous by the Flying N restaurant in Nanton, Alberta — and before that, in an ad for French’s mustard in the Ladies’ Home Journal in the '50s — chicken in the gold is made by cutting a roasted chicken in half lengthwise, laying the halves cut side down in a baking dish and brushing with equal parts honey and mustard, stirred together with a pinch of curry powder. Bake in a 350°F oven until heated through — this is a great way to fancy up a deli chicken while you reheat it!

A chicken sitting on a bed of roasted potatoes.

Chicken Fried Rice

Plan for leftover rice and you have the fixings for a quick meal — cold grains stay separate, so they don’t clump together when you dump them into a hot pan with a drizzle of oil (canola and/or sesame) and stir to heat through with chopped roasted chicken. Push the mixture aside and crack a couple eggs into the pan; scramble them and then stir back into the rice mixture. Stir in some frozen peas, which will heat through in the rice mixture, and season with soy sauce. If you like, add some chopped green onion or cilantro.

A plate of chicken-fried rice.

Chicken à la King

Invented in the 1880s, Chicken à la King was a staple of mid-20th-century dinner parties. It’s simple to make, and a great use of leftover shredded chicken as well as any veg you have in the fridge. To make it, heat a few tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and sauté any fresh veggies you'd like — sliced mushrooms or Brussels sprouts or a chopped pepper or carrot — for a few minutes, or until they soften. Add a couple cups of chopped or shredded chicken and sprinkle over 2 Tbsp. flour. Stir to coat, then pour in 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 cup cream; bring to a simmer, seasoning with salt, pepper and thyme, and stir in a handful of frozen peas, leftover steamed or roasted veggies or some torn spinach, letting them warm through. Serve on toast, buttered noodles or biscuits.

Chicken a la King served on toasted bread.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.


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