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8 Lunches to Make With Leftover Roast Chicken

March 25, 2014

As a defiant response to Sad Desk Lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too.

Today: Roast chicken is an end unto itself -- but it's also a means to your next lunch.

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Roast chicken is an end unto itself. In fact, it is many: a nourishing dinner, that crispy skin, and the smell that permeates your house, for starters. Roasting chicken causes marriage proposals and genius breakthroughs.

But it can also be a means -- to homemade stock, to pan sauce, and, perhaps most heroically, to a host of pack-ahead lunches. Here are eight ideas to get you going, but we have a feeling you'll think of more. Yet another reason to pop a chicken in the oven.

1. Bulk up a green salad up with the help of some chicken and roasted fingerling potatoes. Unless you're using a sturdier green, like kale, pack the chicken separately and assemble just before eating.

2. Shred the meat into tacos -- or bring rice and beans separately to burrito-fy your lunch.

3. Make a batch of jambalaya, adding the chicken a few minutes before you finish cooking.

4. Arrange the meat on a sandwich with whatever vegetables, cheeses, and condiments make your heart pitter-patter -- from pesto to romesco to aioli.

5. Make a chicken salad by combining torn-apart chicken with your pick of mayonnaise, herbs, and crisp vegetables. Need inspiration? Try this one. Spread the chicken salad between two pieces of bread or eat with a salad.

6. Soups let the meat and carcass do double-duty: start with a big pot of stock, then turn it into a soup, any soup, or ditch the recipes altogether and try your hand at chicken noodle.

7. With curry paste and coconut milk, you're minutes away from curry. Just don't forget the rice (and pack it separately to keep it from getting mushy).

More: Step up your rice-cooking game.

8. Broaden your horizons from chicken-centric dishes to chicken complements. We're talking grain salads (such as this one). Your best bet is one that has plenty of flavor on its own but longs to find its other half -- in the form of good, chicken-y protein.

Tell us: What are your favorite ways to repurpose roast chicken?

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Fond of large dogs, tiny houses, pungent cheese, and dessert for dinner (or breakfast).


tamater S. June 19, 2018
For carb-cutters: slice breast to stand for bread in an open-faced sandwich. Top with, using cream cheese as the base,(a dab of yogurt if it needs thinning) mixture of wilted minced spinach, minced sun-chokes, artichokes, finely chopped leftover broccoli, or asparagus, herbs or spices (How about curry powder, chives, or green onion?)... or whatever inspires you; the main tip here is using the horizontally sliced breast as bread. Or sliced differently, could be canapés; olive secured with a toothpick?
Cynthia F. October 12, 2015
Empanadas. So easy to use shredded or diced chicken to make little hand pies. Stir fried rice with diced chicken. Chicken is so versatile. Love having left over chicken!
judy December 9, 2014
I freeze the bone (I use organic chickens). When I have about 4 chickens worth I make bone broth. I will combine these with bones from our pastured cow. the broth is nourishing, filling and heartening.
Lillian October 7, 2014
Love these awesome ideas! I like making sandwiches with leftover chicken :)
I hate wasting food so I always try to find ways to use up the leftovers!

I’m doing a campaign called “Be Grateful, Not wasteful”, which aims to raise awareness about the food waste issue & provide tips on reducing food waste. Would it be okay if I share these ideas for the campaign?

Here are the links to the FB page & blog:

Please check them out!
MaryMary June 29, 2014
Dice or shred chicken in small pieces and place in a mug with gluten free "boxed" organic beef broth, some scallion tops, 2 teaspoons gluten free tamari sauce and pop in the microwave for 1-2 minutes just to heat. Gluten free, high in protein, and diet friendly.
Chef D. March 31, 2014
Chicken Pot Pie!
AntoniaJames March 25, 2014
Toss in this sauce ; stuff into a phulka roti (they can be cooked ahead on the stove, stored with a small piece of paper between them, then refreshed in a damp towel in the microwave) with sliced avocado and cucumber.
Or, reserve pan juices (and deglaze roasting pan after you've removed as much as you can . . . I do this after dinner . . . to stretch what you have), stir odd chicken bits from carcass and cutting boards into it; add roasted carrots (leftover from another meal) and serve over quinoa salad base, leftover or fresh from the freezer farro, Japonica rice, etc. Top with toasted almond slivers.

These of course are also good dinner ideas.

I could go on and on. ;o)
nospeakada March 25, 2014
Bbq pulled chicken
Catherine L. March 25, 2014
Roast chicken makes excellent enchiladas! These ideas are awesome -- way to think outside the box.
butter L. March 25, 2014
Soup or stew is always my go-to for roast chicken leftovers, but I also love making a chicken pot pie with some homemade biscuits on top!