5 Brand New Makeovers for Your Leftover Grilled Chicken

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Suppose you had a big BBQ blowout in your backyard last weekend. There was plenty of tasty food to eat, but now, you’re left with a fridge full of leftover grilled chicken. 

So, what’s your plan?

I know that if we had to choose between fresh food and leftovers, most of us would pick the fresh food without a doubt. 

But we can’t just throw away those leftovers or let them go bad, even though it might be tempting to make something new.

So, let’s find a middle ground here. How about using your leftover grilled chicken to make something new? And I’ve got just the recipes for you.

1. Creamy Leftover Grilled Chicken and Rice Soup

When life hands you lemons — or in this context, days-old grilled chicken — what should you do? Make a creamy chicken and rice soup, of course!

This is such a comfort food that’s great for any day of the week. It’s simple to make and requires no fancy ingredients. 

Just rummage through your pantry, and I’m sure you’ll find everything you need to make this recipe. 

To get started, you’ll need a tablespoon of olive oil, a stick of celery (chopped finely), two medium carrots (peeled and sliced), half an onion (chopped), three cloves of garlic, and three tablespoons of flour.

On top of those, grab four cups of chicken broth, a quarter teaspoon of Italian seasoning (or any seasoning you have), a cup of uncooked jasmine rice and heavy cream, and your leftover grilled chicken.

Put your olive oil, celery, carrots, and onions in a large pot. Let them cook for about five to seven minutes, and stir them every now and then.

After that, add your flour and garlic. The flour helps the soup take on a much thicker consistency, and the garlic gives the dish an earthy and savory aroma that’s hard to resist.

Next, carefully pour your broth in thin streams while continuously stirring. Now, add your spices, rice, and thick cream.

Turn up the heat until the soup starts boiling. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

During that time, watch it carefully and mix the soup about every three minutes. This will stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Once the timer’s up, drop your leftover chicken and cook for another seven to 10 minutes. Try a small sip and add more seasoning if necessary. 

This recipe is a complete meal in a bowl: you get your veggies, your meat, and your carbs all in one. That’s why I enjoy preparing this dish anytime during the week.

2. Grilled Leftover Chicken Caprese Pasta

Speaking of complete meals in one bowl (or on one plate), this grilled chicken Caprese pasta deserves a shoutout

It’s a creamy dish that’s filled with hearty leftover grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, and fresh mozzarella. Plus, it’s got a topping of chopped basil to boot!

To make this, you’ll need your leftover grilled chicken (cut into strips), 9 oz. of penne or rigatoni pasta, two cups of store-bought tomato sauce, half a cup of heavy cream, and a third cup of grated Romano cheese. 

Not only that. You’ll also need a clove of minced garlic, some red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes (cut in half), 12 oz. of mozzarella, and a garnish of basil leaves. 

First things first, cook your pasta according to the package directions, and if you want to make the Italians proud, you better make your pasta noodles al dente. 

Leave your pasta to do its thing.

In the meantime, heat another pan and add your tomato sauce, thick cream, Romano cheese, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted.

After the pasta is cooked all the way through, remove the water. Add your grilled leftover chicken, cherry tomatoes, and half of your mozzarella cheese to the pot.

Mix everything together, then pour the warm tomato sauce over the mixture. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to combine it all.

Now, I’m giving you two choices: (1) you can choose to eat your pasta dish right now, or (2) you can do something different with it, like grilling it.

If you choose option #2, good for you! To do this, you’ll need to transfer your pasta to a heatproof skillet and leave it on the grill for about 10 to 15 minutes on low heat.

This may be an unconventional approach, but I find that grilling your pasta makes the flavors of the Caprese bolder and more concentrated. 

Plus, there’s also that hint of smokiness that you can’t get by simply cooking on the stove. 

After you finish grilling, carefully take the skillet out of the heat, sprinkle the rest of your mozzarella, and top it off with your basil. Now, you’re ready to dig in!

3. Leftover Grilled Chicken and Fontina Panini

In my book, a meal just isn’t complete without some type of carb — whether that’s rice, pasta, or bread. 

And today, I’ve got a quick and easy recipe that’ll turn your leftover grilled chicken into a panini that’s crusty on the outside and super gooey on the inside. 

All you need are 10 minutes of your time and five ingredients to make this hearty sandwich that you can eat for brunch or dinner. 

The ingredients are one loaf of ciabatta bread (cut in half), three tablespoons of pesto sauce, two sliced plum tomatoes, a cup of your shredded leftover grilled chicken, and two slices of fontina cheese.

When your ingredients are all laid out, just do these three things:

First up, layer pesto sauce on one side of the bread. After that, pile on the rest of your ingredients before you close your sandwich.

Second of all, warm up your panini by placing it on the grill and pressing it down with a spatula. After a minute or two, flip your sandwich over and do the same to the other side. 

Third (and most importantly), eat it!

If you don’t have the appetite to finish the whole panini, you can get a knife and slice the bread diagonally. Have half of the sandwich at lunch and keep the other half for dinner. 

Fast, simple, and absolutely hassle-free. That’s what this recipe is all about. And bonus points: it’s pretty healthy, too!

4. Leftover Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Tropical Flavors

Since we’re talking about healthy recipes, it would be a missed opportunity not to mention these tropical chicken lettuce wraps.

Much like the previous recipe, it’s pretty quick to make — only 15 minutes — and you don’t need any special tools or ingredients. 

So, if you’re ready to get started, grab one and a half cups of your shredded leftover grilled chicken, half a cup of diced fresh mangoes, and a quarter cup of sliced green onion and red bell pepper.

You’ll also need a quarter cup of chopped macadamia nuts and cilantro lime salad dressing, and around six to eight butter lettuce leaves. 

Just to give you a heads-up, this dish is conventionally served cold, so you wouldn’t need to preheat up your grill or stove. 

Once your ingredients are ready, place your shredded chicken, mango, green onion, bell pepper, and macadamia nuts in a bowl. Then, drizzle your salad dressing over them and mix well.

Everyone has a different version of this salad dressing, but this is how I like to prepare mine:

I just blend two cups of fresh cilantro, a garlic clove, a quarter cup of lime juice, two teaspoons of maple syrup (or honey), a pinch of sea salt and coriander, plus half a cup of olive oil in the food processor.

If I’m in the mood for a creamy sauce, I add the flesh of one whole avocado and half a cup of whole milk Greek yogurt to the mix. 

Now, let’s go back to the lettuce wrap recipe… 

After tossing your chicken mixture with your homemade dressing, spoon a healthy serving of this tangy, fruity deliciousness into each of your lettuce leaves, and you’re done!

I like to prepare this on a hot summer’s day. It’s cool, zesty, and incredibly refreshing. And for the best results, I make sure to chill all my ingredients before making this dish.

5. Leftover Grilled Chicken Chili 

On the flip side, if you’re craving something steaming hot and incredibly well-seasoned, this leftover grilled chicken chili recipe is for you. 

This hearty, tasty, and filling dish only takes 45 minutes, which is perfect if you don’t have hours to spare. 

To begin, grab the ingredients for your spices. These include half a teaspoon of kosher salt and black pepper, a teaspoon of ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, and a dash of cayenne pepper.

For your chili, grab two tablespoons of olive oil, one diced onion, two minced garlic cloves, a can of green chilies, four cups of chicken broth, half a cup of heavy cream, and five cups of your leftover grilled chicken.

For your garnishes, you’ll need a quarter cup of chopped cilantro, one seeded jalapeño, half a cup of shredded cheese (preferably the Mexican blend), and half a cup of sour cream. 

Now, let’s put them all together!

First, mix all of your spices, then set it aside. 

Next, heat your olive oil in a deep heatproof skillet before adding your onions and kosher salt. Stir the mixture regularly until the onions become soft.

After about five minutes, add your garlic, green chilies, and your prepared spice mix. Keep stirring for 30 more seconds. 

By that time, you can pour in your chicken broth. Bring everything to a boil, then gradually reduce the heat to simmer for about another 10 minutes. 

Once 10 minutes is up, stir in your heavy cream and shredded leftover grilled chicken. Keep simmering for five more minutes before adding your garnish. 

This dish just hits the spot for me. It packs a lot of flavor and it has just the right amount of spice to make my tummy happy. 

Although many people save this dish for a fall or winter’s night, I like to make this chicken chili recipe anytime I’m craving something with a little bit of heat. And lately, that’s been nearly every two weeks. 

This Is the Leftover Grilled Chicken Remix

As you can see, there’s so much you can do with your leftover grilled chicken. From soups to pasta to salads, you have a world of recipes to choose from.

These are just five of the recipes I’ve tried, but I’ve already added a couple of new recipes to my list that I can’t wait to try in the future.

I’ll keep you posted!

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