Weeknight Cooking

Why Roast Chicken is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

January 22, 2018

It’s almost impossible to count all the reasons why roasted chicken makes a winning weeknight main. It’s speedy, hands-free, and affordable (not to mention downright delicious). Plus there are so many ways to bake your bird. Maybe you bathe your chicken in milk for tender, fall-off-the-bone meat that comes with a flavorful sauce, or choose to roast it in a paper bag to lock in moisture and ensure even browning. Or possibly your go-to method is basting your bird in olive oil and butter for an unbelievably rich flavor. My personal favorite is to spatchcock my chicken (that is, cut out the backbone) for the speediest possible way to dinner.

But even the most delicious roasted chicken can inspire fatigue after day three. To shake up your meals (and make your bird last all week long), it helps to incorporate that chicken into salads and sandwiches and soups. Not sure where to begin? Here are seven ways that roast chicken can give you dinner all week long.

First, our favorite roast chickens

Now, for those leftovers

A simple yet crunchy salad that gives leftover chicken a facelift with the addition of aromatic coriander, pungent fish sauce, and refreshing lime.

A little kitchen magic makes this dish greater than the sum of its parts. Simply cook the onion until caramelized alongside sun-dried tomatoes, chili flakes, garlic, and chorizo, then add white wine, chicken, and cream to create a luxurious onion sauce to pour over cooked penne. Gild with pesto and Parmesan cheese.

Pile on tart, crunchy slaw and bright green onions and wrap those leftovers up in lettuce and for a satisfying, easily portable dinner or lunch.

Cold roast chicken is the perfect vehicle for a sour-spicy mango-based amba sauce. Add some onions and arugula, pile on sourdough bread, and you've got a mind-blowing sandwich.

For a hot take on a classic, try this red curry chicken noodle soup. Community member Erika Kotite says: "I am bored by most chicken noodle soups but not this one. I omitted the Thai chili for the tender tongues in the family; still nice and spicy. I made it last weekend, and this afternoon I made a double batch. A keeper!"

The secret to this dish is tossing the chicken and potatoes with half the vinaigrette and heating them until the chicken is warmed through and both the chicken and potatoes are crisp around the edges. Toss with lettuce and more vinaigrette, and you've got dinner.

A very California salad from Sqirl (crunchy, bright, and studded with avocado) that can masquerade as a sandwich. Prepare to be amazed.

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What's your favorite way to use up leftover roast chicken? Share thoughts in the comments!

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The Dynamite Chicken cookbook is here! Get ready for 60 brand-new ways to love your favorite bird. Inside this clever collection by Food52 and chef Tyler Kord, you'll find everything from lightning-quick weeknight dinners to the coziest of comfort foods.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Marie Frank
    Marie Frank
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  • PHIL
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Marie F. January 22, 2018
I take most of the meat off the chicken and make broth. Use celery, carrots, onion, peppercorns, salt and the carcass, cover with water and simmer for several hours.
HalfPint January 22, 2018
Every part of a roast chicken can be used, not just the meat. My mother takes the carcass of the roast chicken and makes a broth for congee (rice porridge) and noodle soups like Mi Wonton (Egg noodle Wonton soup).
PHIL January 22, 2018
And.... some much better roasting your own chicken then a store bought one (in my opinion)
PHIL January 22, 2018
I like to use the chicken on loaded nachos or fajitas. Also, sometimes simply warmed up with pan juices over rice and a nice vinegary salad.