How to Turn Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Into Dinner (3 Recipes for Tonight)

A cheesy baked pasta, a shortcut noodle soup, and the best weeknight quesadillas.

March 23, 2020

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.

I love a rotisserie chicken. If I'm at the market and don’t have a full sense of what dinners are going to be in the days to come (read: every time), I pick up a rotisserie chicken. Sometimes I serve it that night and, if timing allows, still warm from the ovens. I make a salad, maybe a pot of rice, and call it a day. Especially now, these are the kinds of shortcuts we need. (Note: If your local grocery store doesn't have rotisserie chickens right now, then you could cook and shred your own breasts, thighs, or drumsticks. You could even "rotisserie" your own bird in the slow cooker.)

Delicious though a fresh rotisserie chicken is, sometimes the leftover meat on its own just doesn’t seem, I don’t know, interesting enough—especially if it's been tucked in the fridge for a day or two. That’s when the true magic of the rotisserie chicken comes into play: So many opportunities for dinner reside in that domed plastic container. Here are but a few of the directions you could take, whether with a supermarket chicken or any leftover meat you might have sitting in the refrigerator.

Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Recipes

1. Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

This is pure Italian comfort food—chicken Parmesan translated into a baked pasta casserole. When I first plunked this on the table, there were choruses of “Oh, damn!” and “That’s what I’m talking about.” Which is my family’s way of saying: “Why, thank you, mother, that looks scrumptious.” Saucy, cheesy, homey, and quite sustaining. You can make this casserole ahead of time, too, and keep it covered in the fridge for up to a day.

Leftover rotisserie chicken makes for a hearty pasta bake. Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

2. The Easiest Shortcut Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup

To make this rich and satisfying soup, you simply simmer the bones of a rotisserie chicken (everything but the meat, which you can shred and save for the dish itself). Add a few chunks of carrot, celery, and onion if you'd like. Then, strain the broth and stir in the cooked ramen noodles; you can toss those little packets of chicken base or save them for another day). Instant bowls of happiness.

A simple broth, fortified with noodles and chicken, is the best shortcut dinner. Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

3. Overstuffed Chicken & Broccoli Quesadillas

And lastly, these overstuffed chicken quesadillas, filled to the brim with sautéed onion, broccoli, and greens—and cheese, of course. The vegetables listed in the recipe are a lovely combo, but you can use whatever you have around: a bit of asparagus from last night’s dinner, that extra cup of sautéed collard greens. You do you. Complete with homemade guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo, quesadillas are the easiest, quickest weeknight dinner.

What are you cooking with leftover rotisserie chicken these days? Let us know in the comments below.
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Author of The Mom 100 Cookbook and blog. A New Yorker, cook, and mom, I don't sit still very much.


Wendy September 12, 2020
Curried chicken salad! Delish! Roughly based on Ina Garten’s recipe.
Nancy May 19, 2020
Great ideas! I also put some if the chicken meat into a fennel slaw, for a lunch dish. Or, add, obviously, to any other salad you have around or like.
Susan R. March 27, 2020
Chicken caesar salad and tortilla soup.
Bevi March 23, 2020
Molly Baz of BA makes a delicious chicken pot pie. She insists upon turnips, but I didn't have them so subbed carrots. She also asks for 2 cups of heavy cream. I skated on 1 cup of homemade chicken stock that was on the stove, and 2% milk. I simply increased the amount of flour in the recipe to make up the difference, and seasoned liberally. COVID 19 necessitates changes, and in some ways makes us better cooks.
Eric K. March 23, 2020
Couldn't agree more, Bev. (I also love that pot pie, too).
HalfPint March 23, 2020
I make a warm chicken sandwich with rotisserie chicken: shred warm chicken, add to rolls or slice bread that has been spread lightly (or heavily, your choice) with mayo, season chicken with salt and pepper, top with lettuce and tomato. I use to get this sandwich from a local eatery in San Francisco near my office :)
Eric K. March 23, 2020
Delicious :)