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dairy free chicken recipes

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6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

September 14, 2022

Tips for stretching a whole chicken, plus a variety of recipes to use your leftover chicken!

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Back to school schedule rhythms

We are back into fall routines, and we all know that means needing a little more rhythm to our meal plan! Many of us are back to busy schedules, after school activities, homework…and enjoying all of the fun fall events too! This felt like a simple enough post to write, but I felt very important, since this “using a whole chicken for multiple meals” thing is something that I rely on very heavily on a weekly basis during the school year.

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

My year ’round menu staple…

Learning how to cook a whole chicken was one of the very first things I learned how to make when I started my whole foods journey. I was actually quite sick at the time. After seeing doctor after doctor, I saw a more holistically minded practitioner that turned my focus to healing through food. I made my first whole chicken and my own bone broth, and over a period of a few months, and other diet clean-ups, I saw a significant change in my health. I was sold, and the practice of making a whole chicken and broth on a weekly basis became a household staple.

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

It isn’t as intimidating as it sounds!

Little did I know that years after I got into that rhythm of making a whole chicken and broth, and I started having children, that this simple kitchen task would actually end up becoming a budget and meal planning lifesaver! Whole chickens are less per pound than chicken parts, and you can really stretch that chicken into multiple meals. Of course if you have a larger family, you may need to make more than one chicken at a time to accomplish this! Here are a few posts to get you started on your own journey to making whole chicken! Use whatever kitchen appliance you have – I have a method for just about anything!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Onto the recipes!

Whether you plan to make a whole chicken specifically to use in a recipe like these, or you plan to make a whole chicken for dinner, and use the leftovers for another meal, I think you’ll find that the possibilities are endless when it comes to utilizing the whole chicken for your weekly meal plan!

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #1 :: Chicken Noodle Soup (plus other chicken soup ideas!)

The quintessential leftover chicken recipe, and my “go-to” on many weeks, is soup. Whether that be chicken noodle soup, or something heartier like stew, it is truly a no brainer. Save the juices that you cook your whole chicken in (called meat stock), and you can literally make soup in the same pot as your whole chicken! Also! If you need some biscuit ideas to go with your soup, you can try my Grain Free Butter Biscuits, my Soft Fluffy Pumpkin Biscuits, or my Cheesy Spinach Biscuits! Here are some of our soup favs with chicken (all of these are gluten and dairy free!):

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #2 :: Chicken Fajitas

I can’t think of a way that I love using shredded chicken for more than fajitas. The texture from a whole chicken is out of this world, and I think you’ll find that the kids will love this on the meal plan rotation often! Go ahead and veggie load that fajita filling too (you can learn how to veggie load taco meat here, and use the same method!), and you can have the whole skillet as a meal to use in tortillas, shells, or on a big salad. If you need a fantastic fajita seasoning blend, you can find my recipe for fajita seasoning mix in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook! Or, if you prefer to buy, this is a good brand.

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #3 :: Chicken Fried Rice

When my girls were little, fried rice was an easy lunchtime staple that I made often while they were home with me. Now that they are bigger, they love to take this savory meal in a thermos to school, but since they are bigger, the little bit of egg in the fried rice doesn’t go as far! I started adding chicken, and it is protein packed enough for a meal for big kids too! If your kids are sensitive to eggs, you can leave them out and add more chicken. This recipe is in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings – the flavor will definitely remind you of a restaurant fried rice! So good!

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #4 :: Chicken Pesto Pasta

*The* most requested pasta dinner in my house is this! I know, I know…it’s green. But hear me out! This creamy, dreamy pasta is SO, so flavorful and comforting. The recipe for my pesto pasta is in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, but if you have a favorite pesto recipe, you can toss that with pasta and chicken and make your own! The recipe from the cookbook has some hidden veggies in with the pesto that the kids will never know are there because the sauce is so creamy, so you can truly call this a one pot dinner!

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #5 :: Chicken Salad

Whether you are super short on time, or the weather is too hot to cook, chicken salad is a fast, no-cook way to use up the leftover chicken from your weekly whole chicken! My kids love to scoop chicken salad with veggies and crackers, which makes for an easy lunchbox protein. You can make chicken salad with a simple mayo (I like this brand from Costco, or here is my Paleo Mayo, or my dairy based egg free mayo), or get fancy with yummy add-ins. There is a really delicious chicken salad pinwheel recipe in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook that the kids will love, or you can try this Mexican Chicken Salad! (PS! If you want to try another “cold” chicken sandwich idea, try my shredded BBQ chicken sandwich recipe!)

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #6 :: Chicken Stir Fry

Clean out the veggie bin at the end of the week and toss it with your leftover chicken! It can be as simple as that, or you can dress it up with some yummy stir fry sauce! Here are some recipes to get you started:

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Don’t forget the bone broth!

If you are investing in a whole chicken, you might as well squeeze the most out of it that you can! Having the bones leftover after pulling the chicken apart is like the gift that keeps on giving. My usual routine is to toss the bones/carcass into my Instant Pot or Slow Cooker as I am de-boning the chicken and make the bone broth right there. You can leave it to cook in the slow cooker over night, or pressure cook it it a couple hours using your Instant Pot (a lot of the times I end up pressure cooking after dinner, and then leave it it in the pot over night since it is so incredibly hot – it cools off by the morning and then I strain and freeze it.

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

So tell me!

What are your favorite things to do with leftover chicken? Also! I would love to hear from you if you try making a whole chicken for the first time after reading this post! Let us know how it goes!

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One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

February 4, 2022

Busy weeknights were made for dinners like this! Just one pan and a 5 minute prep for a creamy, decadent, baked chicken and broccoli dinner!

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Just because I’m a food blogger and cookbook author…

…doesn’t mean that every meal is fancy. Does that surprise you? I know that sometimes when I talk to people, I feel like they are surprised that I don’t make fancy dinners every night. Behind this screen is a super real momma, with a super real 3-school-aged-kid schedule, and a super real budget. So while I do love to blog fun, new recipes to get everyone excited about eating real food, I have to remind myself sometimes to pull back to my “roots” and just blog some of my real, everyday food as well. Because *that* my dear friends is how we do real food everyday. You’ll burn out from it if you don’t have some of these really easy dinners up your sleeve!

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli
My super real 3 kids that keep me busy! 😉

All real food on a budget is the name of the game!

Because the real food part really does matter. Sure, we’ll do some out to dinners occasionally, or even some store bought packed snacks, but for the most part, I try to follow that whole 80/20 thing, and in my house its more like 90/10, because my experience has been that real food is actually more affordable than going out to eat, buying packaged and processed food, and even more affordable than boxed “healthy” dinners.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

5 Minute Prep? Yes please!

YES, I absolutely think it is important that we *slow* down and enjoy cooking in our family kitchens again. I’m a huge advocate of the family dinner table, and going back to showing kids how to cook, where their food comes from, and the beauty of preparing food for our families. But that doesn’t always have to mean an all day slow cooked roast, or a fussy prepped lasagna. It can simply be chicken prepped with some yummy seasonings, and drenched a cream sauce that was whisked up in minutes!

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

The Method :: The Chicken & Broccoli

To start your dinner prep, you’ll rinse and pat dry your chicken breasts and prep them right in the pan you will be cooking in. Coat the chicken in some olive oil, and season to your liking. I left some seasoning instructions, but truthfully, this is one that I don’t measure – I’m talking grab the seasoning jars, and just sprinkle along as I go! Once the chicken is seasoned, you’ll spread the broccoli around the pan, and get the sauce made.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

The Method :: The Dairy Free Cream Sauce

This is as easy as it gets! Measure it all up in your liquid measuring cup, give it a whisk, and pour it over the chicken. You can play around with the amount to your taste, and if you want more sauce, just make more! If I serve this meal with pasta, I tend to lean more toward the 2 cups of coconut milk so that my pasta has plenty of sauce to soak in.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

The Method :: Baking the Chicken

Once the sauce is in the pan, you’re ready to bake. And that means you’re hands free for 25 minutes! You can either help kids with homework, boil the pasta for the chicken meal, or you can sit with a book for a few minutes! If you plan to serve your chicken with baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, just be sure you get those in the oven about 10-15 minutes before the chicken so they have enough time to get soft – I like to cut them in half or quarters to be sure they roast fast enough.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

Serving suggestions!

Serving this meal over your pasta of choice works so well and feels so decadent! A lot of the times, I serve over a baked potato or sweet potato, which can bake at the same temperature as the chicken. Depending on the size of your potatoes, and how you cut them, you’ll need to put the potatoes in before the chicken, I usually bake small sweet potato halves, so I put them in about 15-20 minutes before the chicken goes in, OR I bake them on a prep day and just warm them up when the chicken is cooking.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

Let’s talk real life

Because I want you to actually make this! Earlier this week, I shared to my Instagram how I prepped this chicken dinner before I left to pick kids up from school. The beauty of a recipe like this is that it can be prepped a day or so in advanced, and put in the fridge until you need it. I prepped the pans for this dinner, left to get the kids, and came home to pop it in the oven. You can also bake this meal off, and eat lunch off from it all week long, dear momma. THIS is how we can get real food into real life mommas, my friends!

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

Creamy Baked Chicken & Broccoli

Ingredients

For the Chicken & Broccoli ::

For the Dairy Free Cheesy Cream Sauce ::

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Put the chicken into a 9×13 baking dish, and coat with the olive oil. Sprinkle the seasonings evenly over the top – no I don’t typically mix the seasonings separately, and I don’t usually even measure. This is just sprinkle and go on a busy day for me 😊
  • Place the broccoli florets around the chicken in the pan, nesteling it down on the sides of the chicken and around the pan.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, measure out your coconut milk, and then add in the rest of the Cream Sauce ingredients. Whisk the cream sauce to combine right there in the liquid measuring cup, and then pour the sauce over the chicken and broccoli
  • Bake the chicken, uncovered, for 25 – 30 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken. Chicken is supposed to have an internal temperature of 165 degrees, so I tend to take it out around 160 degrees, and let it continue cooking to the 165 while it rests. No I don’t tend to take the temperature, but you can!
  • Once the chicken is done baking, let the pan rest about 5 minutes or so before cutting so the juices have a chance to redistribute back into the chicken.
  • Serve your creamy baked chicken & broccoli over your choice of pasta, baked potato, or sweet potato! See the Notes section for tips on baking the potatoes at the same time as the chicken.

Notes

  • You can swap the coconut milk for whole milk or cream if you can have the dairy. I’m not sure how almond milk would taste, but it should still make a good cream sauce if you prefer that.
  • You can swap the chicken breast for chicken thighs if that is what you have, or you prefer that taste – you’ll just want to pull the cook time down to about 15-20 minutes since those are smaller.
  • You can swap the tapioca starch for arrowroot starch, potato starch, or corn starch. If you leave the starch out, you will not get a creamy sauce – it will be runny.
  • Serving suggestions! Serving this meal over your pasta of choice works so well and feels so decadent! A lot of the times, I serve over a baked potato or sweet potato, which can bake at the same temperature as the chicken. Depending on the size of your potatoes, and how you cut them, you’ll need to put the potatoes in before the chicken, I usually bake potato halves, so I put them in about 15-20 minutes before the chicken goes in, OR I bake them on a prep day and just warm them up when the chicken is cooking.
One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

More real food recipes you might like ::