What to Do with Leftover Chicken
What do to with those leftover chicken breasts? Those leftover chicken thighs? Shred them! Leftover cooked shredded chicken is one of the most perpetually useful things to have in your fridge.
Whether it’s from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or just extra chicken from a dinner earlier in the week, whether the chicken has been poached, grilled, roasted, baked or steamed, it’s a goldmine of future recipes and meals waiting to happen.
(Psst….anything on this list also works with leftover shredded turkey! Which many of us will have in our fridges right after Thanksgiving.)
If you’re super smart, you’ll plan ahead and make a few extra pieces whenever you cook chicken and then you’ll have this springboard for all sorts of great chicken meals later in the week. You can plan for leftover chicken breasts or thighs, or even a whole extra roast chicken.
I often buy a rotisserie chicken at the market if I’m not sure what the week’s meal plan is, because there will be a dinner one way or another. There are so many leftover chicken ideas, easy shredded chicken recipes just waiting to happen.
How to Shred Chicken
You can shred chicken while it’s still warm, once it’s cooled to room temperature, or when it’s cold from the fridge. You can use your fingers, which is the easiest way to shred chicken, or you can use two forks to pull apart the meat.
And, you can shred the chicken as roughly or as finely as you like, in pieces large or small, depending on the texture you are looking for and how you’re using it. I like smaller pieces for soups and enchiladas and burritos, and larger chunks for stews and salads.
How Long is Cooked Chicken Good For?
Leftover cooked chicken will last in the fridge will last for 3 or 5 days, depending on how fresh the chicken was when you cooked it. Keep it tightly sealed in a container or well-sealed zipper top bag.
How To Use Up Leftover Chicken
So, without further ado: here’s what can be made from shredded chicken!
36 Shredded Chicken Recipes
This divine soup is scented with chili, cumin and coriander, and topped with all kinds of deliciousness, like avocado and tortilla crisps. This is one of my favorite soups of all time. It’s bursting with flavor, and if you have leftover shredded chicken at the ready it comes together very quickly. Another soup that can easily hold its own as the main course. Serve with Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bread if you like.
The salad to keep up with the end-of-summer influx of produce. Lay down a bed of crunchy lettuce, and then create rows of whatever ingredients you’re craving, with a row of shredded chicken going right down the middle. I like leftover chicken breasts for this one. Tomatoes, chickpeas, onions, avocados, bacon….anything you’d like to see in your salad is fair game.
Pick up some mushrooms and a rotisserie chicken and have this pasta for dinner in about 30 minutes. This is the very definition of an easy weeknight dinner, with a sauce anchored by a bit of richly flavored marsala wine and a generous amount of sautéed mushrooms. And guess what—only 5 ingredients (not including the pasta and olive oil, which I hope you’ll think is fair).
The chicken taco filling is pulled together with a tomato sauce that has piquancy and depth.
Herbed mayo turns some simply shredded chicken breasts into an amazing chicken salad.
This salad is a full-on festival of color and texture and flavor — a joy to look at and a joy to eat.
If you like Caesar Salad, and you also like pasta salad this is your lucky day. This Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is the best of both worlds.
This is 100% worth saving some leftover cooked (or rotisserie!) chicken to make—so easy, super kid-friendly, and you can use bottled sauce and have them ready in minutes.
This chicken salad has a little heat and a lot of crunch.
Chunky and creamy and satisfying. This, like pretty much all salads, is a super flexible recipe.
Lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce, rice noodles all come together in one of my favorite seasonless soups.
Summery, colorful, delicious. Perfect for entertaining, packing for an office lunch, picnics, you name it.
Comfort food, but on the lighter side.
When you are making quesadillas for a crowd, baking them is the way to go. These are super cheesy and flavorful, and stuffed full of great things.
I would much rather have a few wedges of a generously filled quesadilla than multiple wedges of a skimpy quesadilla.
Chicken salad meets Spring. This pasta salad is heavy on the chicken.
These are really nicely stuffed, and filled with all the good stuff. These could definitely function as an appetizer, but also seriously qualify as a meal.
Some shredded chicken, a couple of cheeses, a generous glug of hot sauce, and you have a crowd-pleaser of a hot dip.
While I am never about cuteness in food for cuteness’ sake, in this particular case it really works.
This is the salad for people who might not think a main-course salad is really a thing. (And if you’ve ever ordered Chinese Chicken Salad on a menu, this is for you.)
A few flavorful and crunchy add-ins turn everyday chicken salad into something you would pay hard-earned cash for at a really nice deli or specialty food counter.
This is pure Italian comfort food, Chicken Parmesan translated into a pasta casserole.
This was one of the best lunches ever, just that perfect chopped salad.
The colorful, classic restaurant salad is yours to make at home, savory and sweet, with lots of crunch.
A creamy avocado spread turns a chicken sandwich into a lunch to remember (and the bacon doesn't hurt).
A perfect chopped salad, with a terrific assortment of ingredients; every forkful is a good one.
With a rotisserie chicken, a bag of shredded cheese, and some tortillas on hand, a quesadilla lunch or dinner is but minutes away.
This is so, so pretty, and can be made ahead, which is great when you have a crew of guests.
Instead of buying this at Le Something Or Other, it’s a very easy wrap to make at home!
Chunks of tender chicken, copious amounts of vegetables, all bound together with an savory sauce.
This is truly a meal of a soup, perfect for a cold weekday night or a break from holiday overindulgence.
A chicken quesadilla recipe to keep changing up.
The salad for anyone who can't get enough of that great peanutty chicken satay dressing. A serious salad meal.
Some kick, how much depends a bit on your poblanos.
Leftovers join forces to become this better-than-I-expected salad.
A chicken quesadilla recipe to keep changing up.
Chicken Recipes That Make Good Leftovers:
Also see: How to Safely Thaw Frozen Chicken.