Chicken is a go-to meat option for home cooks and professional chefs alike, and for good reason—it’s versatile, affordable, and delicious. But if you’ve been cooking chicken for a while and rotating the same basic recipes, things may be getting a little stale. Let’s switch things up a bit with a couple of new dishes and ways to cook chicken you may not have tried before.
Read on to discover 16 ways to cook chicken, along with recipes to help you try out each one. Whether you enjoy fried, grilled, braised, or sautéed chicken, there’s something for everyone!
1. Fried Chicken
Wondering if it’s possible to make restaurant-quality fried chicken at home? You might be surprised to hear that the fried chicken we buy at restaurants is actually broasted chicken. Broasting is a process similar to deep frying, but it uses a special pressure cooker to ensure that the inside of the chicken remains tender and juicy.
How can you achieve similar results without any specialized equipment? One option is to brine the chicken in a mixture of buttermilk and spices, which helps tenderize and flavor the meat. After a few hours, toss the chicken in a mixture of cornstarch, flour, and spices. Deep fry each piece until golden brown, then finish in the oven until the insides reach 165°F.
2. Pan Fried Chicken
While deep frying chicken requires you to fully submerge it in hot oil, pan frying needs a lot less oil. The purpose of pan frying is to create a crispy exterior and seal in the meat’s juices, so you’ll need to flip it at least once to make sure each side gets exposed to the hot oil. Pan fried chicken is often breaded or battered, though this step isn’t necessary.
To pan fry chicken breasts, pound them to achieve the same thickness throughout and help them cook more evenly. Season them and cook in a thin layer of oil for 6-8 minutes on each side. Pour a mixture of melted butter and garlic over the chicken breasts before serving.
3. Sautéed Chicken
Sautéing is similar to pan frying, but it requires a lot less oil—just enough to coat the surface of the pan. Unlike with deep frying and pan frying, the meat will be cooked using the heat of the pan, rather than the surrounding oil. Sautéing is also done at a higher temperature and cooks the meat quickly, meaning it won’t have a chance to dry out.
To sauté chicken breasts, season and lightly coat them with flour to help create a crispy exterior. Cook them in a lightly oiled pan on high heat for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and use the released juices to create an accompanying sauce.
4. Roast Chicken
Roast turkey and duck always make an appearance at the holiday table, but let’s not forget about roast chicken. Roasting a whole chicken is an inexpensive way to feed the family for a special occasion or elevate a weeknight dinner.
Roasting involves cooking meat with indirect, dry heat that circulates and surrounds the food from all sides, so it’s best to use a special roasting pan that elevates the meat onto a rack and allows air to pass underneath it.
The basics of roasting chicken are simple—just rub the bird with a mix of spices, stuff it with aromatics like garlic, rosemary, or lemons, and place it in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours. You can even roast veggies like carrots and potatoes together with the chicken and serve them on the side.
5. Baked Chicken
Baking is similar to roasting, but it’s done at a lower temperature and is usually reserved for foods that can’t hold their own shape (e.g. cake batter) and smaller cuts of meat. Baked food isn’t in direct contact with the heat on all sides—it usually sits in another container like a cake pan or a sheet pan, which also heats up and helps the cooking process.
When baking chicken, using drumsticks or thighs is almost foolproof—dark meat that’s close to the bone tends to stay nice and juicy. Bake them alongside some chopped veggies, and you’ve got yourself an easy sheet pan dinner.
6. Chicken Cacciatore
Cacciatore is Italian for “hunter”. Thus, the classic Italian dish Chicken Cacciatore is simply chicken prepared hunter-style (it’s also sometimes referred to as “Hunter’s Chicken”).
To make Chicken Cacciatore, start by browning chicken thighs in a pan. Once browned, remove them from the pan and set aside. Keep the chicken drippings in the pan and add onions, mushrooms, garlic, and a bit of flour. Deglaze the pan with a bit of dry white wine, then add tomatoes, tomato paste, bell peppers, and seasonings. Add the chicken back to the pan and let simmer until everything is cooked. Serve over spaghetti or polenta.
7. Chicken Cordon Bleu
The term Cordon Bleu is French for “blue ribbon” and is used to refer to food prepared to an exceptionally high standard by master chefs. If you’ve ever tried Chicken Cordon Bleu, you’ll know that this dish absolutely deserves the title. But don’t let this intimidate you—it’s actually quite easy to make.
To start, cut a whole chicken breast in half horizontally, so that you end with two thinner slices. Lightly pound each slice until they’re about ¼ of an inch thick. Place a slice of ham on each piece, top with a generous amount of shredded Swiss cheese, and roll everything up tightly into a log. Dip the logs in a bit of melted butter or a beaten egg and coat them with breadcrumbs. Fry or bake them in the oven and serve with a sauce of your choice.
8. Chicken Casserole
A casserole is any dish where ingredients are layered in a deep pan and baked in the oven. Rather than serving the chicken and the sides separately, you’ll bake everything in one dish, letting the flavors and textures meld together.
The ingredient combinations are endless, but this particular recipe combines chicken with corn, kale, bell peppers, bacon, garlic, onion, and cheddar cheese to create the ultimate nutrient-packed casserole. You’ll need to pre-cook the chicken (or use leftovers), as well as some of the other ingredients, but this can be done a few days in advance. On the night you want to serve the casserole, simply throw everything into a casserole dish and let your oven do the rest.
9. Chicken Stir Fry
If you’re short on time, stir frying can let you enjoy a healthy balanced meal in under 30 minutes. Stir frying involves quickly frying ingredients over high heat in a small amount of oil, while stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
To make a chicken stir fry, start by dicing up chicken breasts or boneless thighs. Brown the chicken in a skillet for a few minutes and remove to a plate. Next, sauté vegetables like carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and ginger. Add the chicken back in and toss everything together with a stir fry sauce, made with chicken broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and rice vinegar and thickened with arrowroot starch. Serve over rice and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
10. Air Fried Chicken
Wish you could have the irresistibly crispy texture of fried chicken, but skip all that oil? Enter the air fryer. This mini oven works by circulating hot air, so you can enjoy foods that taste like they’ve been fried, but actually require only a tablespoon of oil. The best part, it can cook chicken in about half the time that traditional ovens take.
To make air fried chicken, preheat your air fryer according to your model’s instructions. Season your chicken—you can use chicken breasts, drumsticks, thighs, or even a whole chicken—and place it in the air fryer. Your cooking time will depend on the cuts of meat you use, but be sure to check the air fryer often—it cooks much faster than you’d expect!
11. Stewed Chicken
Stewing is a slow cooking method, usually reserved for tougher cuts of meat, since it does a great job of tenderizing them. Of course, that’s not a concern with chicken, but chicken thighs still make a delicious stew that will warm you up on cold goomy days.
To make a chicken stew, start by browning chicken pieces in a bit of oil in a large pot, then set it aside. Next, sauté some onions, celery, garlic, and carrots—these will add aroma and flavor to the stew. Add the chicken back in, along with potatoes, spices, and enough broth to completely submerge all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and let the stew simmer for at least 30 minutes.
12. Braised Chicken
Braising is similar to stewing—you’ll also start by browning the meat and then slow cook it in a broth. The key difference is that braising is done in a small amount of liquid—the broth will only partially cover the meat—whereas stewing requires the meat to be completely submerged. Braising is also usually done with larger pieces of meat, such as whole chicken thighs, rather than the 1-inch pieces you’d typically find in a stew. Finally, braising is often finished in the oven, while stewing is done entirely on the stovetop.
To make braised chicken, start by browning whole chicken thighs on both sides in an oven-safe pan. Add sautéed garlic, chicken broth, lemon juice, and spices and braise in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
13. Fricassée Chicken
Fricassée chicken is a braised chicken dish made with a creamy white mushroom sauce. First, brown chicken thighs or drumsticks on both sides, then remove from the pan. Next, sauté onions, mushrooms, garlic, and spices in the oil left over from the chicken. Stir in a bit of flour, then add white wine and chicken broth. Add the chicken back into the sauce and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Lastly, stir in some heavy cream, cook for another few minutes, and serve over pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes.
14. Grilled Chicken
If you’ve got access to a grill, grilling chicken is one of the quickest ways to get dinner on the table—plus, it gives chicken an irresistible smoky flavor.
Grilled chicken thighs or drumsticks require no special instructions. Grilling chicken breasts, however, calls for a few extra steps that will prevent the meat from developing a dry, rubbery texture. Be sure to pound the chicken breasts to a thickness of about ½ an inch—this will ensure that the meat cooks evenly. Prepare the chicken in advance by brining it or marinating it in a mixture of spices and lemon zest. When you’re ready to cook, place the chicken on the grill for just 2-3 minutes on each side and enjoy!
15. Chicken à la King
Chicken à la King is a quick dinner that can be ready in under 30 minutes. It starts with sautéed mushrooms, celery, onions, bell peppers, and carrots. Once the veggies are softened, stir in a bit of flour, chicken broth, and milk to create a simple white sauce. Add diced chicken breast or chicken leftovers and simmer until the meat is cooked. When everything is just about ready, add some green peas, let them cook for a minute, and serve the dish over rice, toast, or pasta.
16. Breaded Chicken
There are lots of ways to prepare breaded chicken cutlets, and each yields a slightly different result. If you’re looking to avoid using too much oil, baking them in the oven can be a great option.
Start by mixing together mayonnaise, crushed garlic, and spices. Coat each chicken breast with this mixture, then dip them in a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. Place the chicken on a sheet pan and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes on one side and 6 minutes on the other. The result is a batch of tender, juicy chicken cutlets inside a deliciously cheesy, crunchy crust.
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