Recipe

5 Days of Dinner From One Rotisserie Chicken

If you're on a budget and short on time, eating well during the week while keeping it exciting can be a challenge. Take out is often unhealthy and adds up fast, and shopping and cooking a full dinner every night takes up too much time. The solution? Compromise. Buy a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store (they are comparably priced to a raw whole chicken) and remix it throughout the week.

Of course there are myriad meals you can make with simple rotisserie chickens, but the beauty of the chicken is that all five of these recipes use just one. So here's how to stretch that bird to make use of every part of it, and have something delicious to look forward to every night.

Tip: get your shopping done on Sunday for the week. Most of the ingredients below can stay in your fridge and pantry for a long time so these are easy repeat recipes! Also, all of the following recipes make for great leftovers for lunch. And don’t throw out any of the chicken bones. We'll be using them on Day 5!

Day 1: Chicken pesto pasta

Pesto pasta is a classic, and especially delightful in the summer months when basil is in season. Make the meal more substantial with the addition of chicken. This dish can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 super-generous portions

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup rotisserie chicken cubed (about 1 breast)
  • 1/2 box penne rigate, mezzi rigatoni, or fusilli
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup pesto* (store-bought or this homemade recipe)
  • ¼cup fresh mozzarella cubed (about ½ ball)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Small handful of basil, torn
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
DIRECTIONS:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt aggressively until it tastes like the sea.
2. Add pasta and cook as directed, until al dente.
3. Save about 1 cup of pasta water aside and strain pasta.
4. Using the same pot, mix pesto, tomatoes, and ⅓ cup of pasta water. Add pasta and chicken, and toss together over a low heat so that the sauce becomes creamy. (If it's dry, add more pasta water.)
5. Remove pot from the heat. Mix in mozzarella. Top with torn basil leaves and Parmesan cheese and serve.

Day 2: Chicken enchiladas

It's hard to deny the cheesy, delightful gooeyness of an enchilada. You could put practically anything inside these and they'd be delicious. And using pre-cooked chicken means they'll come together in no time. 

Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • ¼ rotisserie chicken, shredded (recommended 1 leg and thigh)
  • 3-4 tortillas, corn or flour (flour tend to be easier to roll)
  • 1 tablespoon canned chiles, diced small (add more or less depending on your spice preference)
  • 1 ½ cups green enchilada sauce
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Dash of chili powder (or cayenne and cumin mixed)
  • 1 cup of Mexican-blend shredded cheese (more is obviously better)
  • Small handful of cilantro to garnish
  • Big dollops of sour cream to garnish
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add canola oil and sauté sliced onion. When the onions start to brown, add salt and chili powder. Make sure to move the onions around so they don't burn. Once evenly golden, transfer to a mixing bowl.
3. Mix the shredded chicken, sautéed onion, diced green chiles, and
⅓ cup of enchilada sauce together well. Taste and add salt if needed.
4. In a medium baking dish, pour a thin layer of the enchilada sauce, and spread so it coats the dish.
5. Fill each tortilla with the chicken mixture. Roll and tuck into the baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over enchiladas. Top with shredded cheese.
6. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve and top with sour cream and cilantro.

Day 3: Chicken salad

Chicken salad is the obvious choice for a leftover rotiss chick. Add diced crisp apple, dried cranberries, and a pop of tarragon to stretch it further and add wonderful layers of flavor and some texture. Fun fact: apples can last in your fridge for six to eight weeks and dried cranberries even longer in your pantry, which means you can throw this together anytime. (The recipe also works well with canned tuna fish.)

Total Time: 6-8 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • ¼ rotisserie chicken, preferably breast, cubed
  • 1-2 big spoonfuls of mayo
  • 1 cup diced green apple
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 sprigs of tarragon, picked and torn if available
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lettuce or bread to serve
DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix everything together and serve on toast or over greens.

Day 4: BBQ chicken Sliders

BBQ sauce is a not-so-secret weapon in the kitchen, as it makes pretty much anything you add it to delicious. Dark meat works best here to mimic tender "pulled chicken." Bread-and-butter pickles and coleslaw are a classic pairing we advocate, however, pickled, raw, or caramelized onions work well here too, as well as cheddar or the cheese of your preference.

Total Time: 5-6 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • ¼ rotisserie chicken, shredded (preferably dark meat)
  • ¼ cup BBQ sauce (or more if you like it really saucy)
  • 2 potato buns
  • 2 spoonfuls coleslaw
  • Bread-and-butter crinkle-cut pickles, 2-3 per sandwich
DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix chicken and BBQ sauce in a bowl.
2. On the roll, layer bread-and-butter pickles, BBQ chicken, then coleslaw.

Day 5: Chicken ramen soup  

At this point, you are down to the bare bones of this bird. It’s time to pick every last ounce of meat off of it and extract all the flavor from the bones. Don't be scared by the total time of this dish -- stock-making is a very passive task. While we suggest browning the vegetables first to give your broth a more roasted flavor, you can also just throw them in raw with the bones and water, and simmer. You'll still have a tasty stock. Also note, the finished soup has Asian flavors, but you can eliminate the sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger, and sub in salt to taste for just a regular ole bowl of chicken noodle soup if that's your preference.

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: 2 servings (plus extra stock)

INGREDIENTS:
Chicken stock:
  • All the chicken bones & carcass
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 carrots, large dice
  • 4 ribs of celery, large dice
  • 1 small onion, large dice
  • 1 bulb of garlic, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon peppercorns

Soup:
  • 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken or whatever is left on the bones
  • 1 packet ramen noodles, DO NOT USE THE FLAVORINGS
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • Chili flakes for heat
  • 1 ½ cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 cups of rotisserie chicken stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce* (soy sauce levels can be adjusted based on salt preference)
  • ⅓ cup of scallions, sliced thinly
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
Stock:
1. In a large stock pot under medium-high heat, add canola oil and brown carrots, celery, and onion. When the vegetables start to brown, about 4-6 minutes, add garlic. Continue to sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
2. Add chicken bones and salt, stir, and then add COLD water to cover about 3-4 quarts. Bring to a simmer. Skim for any impurities, add peppercorns, and allow to cook uncovered for at least 90 minutes to 2 hours. Do not stir.
3. After 90 minutes, remove from heat. Strain through a fine sieve. Reserve 5 cups of stock. Cool and either refrigerate or freeze the rest.

Soup:
1. In medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, add canola oil, sesame oil, and chili flakes. Add shiitakes and sauté until they just begin to brown, about 1-2 minutes.
2. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add chicken, scallions, soy sauce, and ginger. Enjoy!

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Julianne Feder is a contributing writer for Thrillist. She’s eaten a Costco rotisserie chicken in the checkout line before… Follow her @TheGastroNerd or watch her to get more nerdy food insights and find out how make the most out of your meals.