Whether it’s fried, baked, shredded and used in tacos, or added to your favorite noodle dishes, chicken is a tasty way to add more protein to your meal. And while you can, of course, go out to your favorite restaurant and order your favorite chicken-centered dish, it’s hard to find healthier options when eating out that isn’t full of extra fat and sodium from the oils and other ingredients added. For a solution that still gives you plenty of opportunity to eat chicken your preferred way while maintaining more of its nutritional value, we’ve gathered the best healthy chicken recipes for you to try right in your kitchen.
One of the main health benefits of eating chicken is that it is a much leaner protein than some other animal sources like beef or pork. For instance, in a 4-ounce serving of chicken breast (without the skin), you’ll get about 26 grams of protein and only about one gram of fat. But anyone who has ever tried cooking a chicken breast on its own knows that without anything added, this meat is pretty tasteless and can make for quite a boring dish.
Thankfully, with the help of these tasty—yet healthy—chicken recipes listed below, you can enjoy the health benefits of this lean protein without growing tired of your nightly dinners. Read on for more inspiration, and for other helpful recipes, check out 34 High-Protein Breakfasts That Keep You Full.
You may be used to Caesar salads that are doused in dressing and don’t offer much nutritional value at all, but this healthy chicken recipe is different. The dressing is made from scratch, so you know exactly what’s going in it, and you can control how much dressing is used. Plus, the addition of sun-dried tomatoes and olives will give you a boost of flavor and nutrients.
Get our recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad.
This recipe is the perfect way to get protein, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants all in one meal. What many people don’t realize—but is an added bonus—is that quinoa is the only grain that is also considered a complete protein, meaning you’re getting all of the essential amino acids through this food, which you wouldn’t get with other types of grains.
Get our recipe for Mexican Quinoa Salad.
Southerners may grunt and grumble about the travesty of “fried” chicken not being cooked in big skillets of melted lard, but we’d bring this crispy, succulent bird to a church potluck in Savannah without batting an eye. A long soak in buttermilk spiked with hot sauce both tenderizes and flavors the meat, while the spiced panko provides a layer of captivating crunch. We won’t go as far as to say you won’t taste the difference (properly fried chicken has a depth of flavor that stretches straight to your soul), but we can confidently say that this chicken hits the spot.
Get our recipe for Oven-Fried Chicken.
Pot pies will forever be one of America’s favorite comfort foods. Still, you don’t want to waste an entire day’s worth of calories, fat, and sodium in just one meal, which is what ends up happening in many restaurant renditions. We take the opposite approach, cutting the calories and fat in a pot pie you will still love.
Get our recipe for Best-Ever Healthier Chicken Pot Pie.
This version slashes the calorie count of your usual orange chicken takeout. So, enjoy a healthier take on this classic Chinese takeout dish with our easy-to-make orange chicken recipe.
Get our recipe for Healthier Orange Chicken.
There’s something about the smell of roasting chicken, potatoes, and butternut squash that make you nostalgic. It reminds you of crisp fall days, huddled up with sweaters, sipping on a cup of warm soup, and enjoying a flavorful roast. Another plus side? This roast chicken with vegetables is naturally gluten-free and low in calories.
Get our recipe for Roast Chicken and Vegetables with Fall Spices.
This is a picture-perfect weeknight meal of chicken breasts topped with mozzarella cheese and pesto sauce. Pesto, made from basil, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts, adds rich, satiating, heart-healthy unsaturated fats to the dinner. And the peppery bite of arugula, fresh tomato, and red onion are the perfect complement to the gooey melted cheese.
Get our recipe for Pesto Chicken with a Garden Salad.
Need to use up the leftover cooked chicken in your fridge? This harvest pizza recipe is the perfect way to do so! Mixed with refreshing grapes, fennel, goat cheese, and arugula, this harvest pizza is as nutritious as it is delicious.
Get our recipe for Harvest Pizza with Chicken, Grapes, and Goat Cheese.
We use almond flour, chopped almonds, and a flaky spelt cereal to create a unique crunchy combo that adheres beautifully to little pieces of chicken. While many traditional crunchy chicken recipes use cornflakes, spelt flakes are lower in carbs and provide a toasted, nutty flavor.
Get our recipe for Crunchy Popcorn Chicken with Spicy Chipotle Aioli.
Looking for something on the spicier side? By using jalapeño in the recipe, this chicken curry comes with a slight kick, but between the sweetness of the coconut milk and the acidity of the crushed tomatoes, this tomato chicken curry recipe is the perfect dinner dish no matter what season you’re in.
Get our recipe for Tomato Chicken Curry With Cauliflower Rice.
Nothing beats a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup on a sick day, does it? Especially if it can be cooked with minimal effort! This Crock-Pot chicken noodle soup recipe is the perfect meal to make you feel better as you’re healing.
Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Chicken Noodle Soup.
A big bowl of ramen sounds like the perfect meal for a rainy night, right? Well, if you’re paleo, ordering a bowl of ramen isn’t always an option. Nevertheless, a simple swap from noodles to zucchini noodles (also known as zoodles!) can easily solve that salty ramen craving.
Get our recipe for Chicken Ramen With Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach.
Is there anything more delicious than fried chicken? That crispy, salty goodness, the juiciness of the meat…you don’t need to do much to make it a delicious meal. But fried chicken is often filled with extra calories and fat, making it one food you may not want to eat on a regular basis. If you’re still craving that crunchy meat, though, you’ll love this crispy chicken recipe. Baked in the oven, this healthy chicken recipe is better than the typical fried stuff.
Get our recipe for Healthy Crispy Chicken Breasts.
If there’s one meal you should truly master making in your slow cooker, it’s chili. Nothing is more comforting than a warm, fiery chili, and we found a way to bring unique flavors to the classic dish by really elevating basic chili with the addition of pumpkin and chicken.
Get our recipe for Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chicken Chili.
This recipe for air-fried chicken wings makes a tender wing with a crisp exterior that holds up to a sesame soy garlic glaze. There’s no batter and no vat of oil—just some crispy chicken tossed in a spicy sauce.
Get our recipe for Air Fryer Sesame Soy Garlic Chicken Wings.
The genius of getting a whole rotisserie chicken is that it can be used in a multitude of different flavor profiles and dishes—it’s like a blank, protein-filled canvas. This healthy chicken recipe is a simplified version of the iconic dish that’ll be ready in about 30 minutes (but equally hearty as the original).
Get our recipe for Chicken Parm Casserole.
Ready to kick your appetizer game up a notch? This recipe for garam chicken masala skewers will do just the trick. Thanks to the flavorful seasoning, these chicken skewers are anything but basic.
Get our recipe for Garam Masala Chicken Skewers With Fire-Roasted Jalapeno Dip.
The easiest way to make sure you’re eating a healthy dinner is to plan ahead, and you can make meal prep even easier by buying a rotisserie chicken and using it in several different ways to create a nutritious plate. This salad is a great example and is not only quick and easy to make, but it’s full of flavor, too.
Get our recipe for Rotisserie Chicken, Kale, and White Bean Salad.
Bored of making the same chicken recipe over and over again? Never fear, chicken marinades are here! These delicious marinade ideas are the perfect way to switch up your usual chicken routine with just a few splashes of oil, vinegar, juices, and more. Add in a few healthy side dishes, and you have yourself an easy dinner!
Get our recipes for 8 Chicken Marinades.
Sometimes, you just really crave a classic dish, and it doesn’t get more classic than some Buffalo wings. This version isn’t fried like most wings tend to be, and is instead a baked version, which cuts the fat content significantly. It’s also easier, cheaper (no oil for frying), and tastier this way, too.
Get our recipe for Baked Fiery Buffalo Wings.
Authentic Mexican food can be incredibly healthy, as the dishes usually consist of tons of fresh produce and lean proteins. These enchiladas are not only easier to make than the Americanized versions served in most restaurants, but they’re tastier and contain fewer calories, staying true to their roots.
Get our recipe for Chicken Mole Enchiladas.
If you order a plate of nachos at a restaurant, you’re most likely going to end up with soggy tortilla chips that are drowning in cheese, sour cream, and oily ground beef. This version ensures that every chip is evenly covered with protein-packed chicken and fiber-rich beans, plus enough salsa, lime-spiked sour cream, and cheese to keep your mouth watering.
Get our recipe for Chicken and Black Bean Nachos.
This is one common restaurant chicken dish that you’ll typically find infused with cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing, ruining any shot you have at a good day of eating. Apply those same appealing flavors at home to crispy stuffed chicken breast, filled with veggies and pine nuts, and you’ll escape unscathed.
Get our recipe for the Crispiest Stuffed Chicken.
This is one chicken sandwich you can’t get at the local drive-thru! It brings a ton of flavor, thanks to the chimichurri sauce it’s dressed in. And along with a solid supporting cast of sweet peppers, sharp raw onions, and peppery greens, you can’t beat this dish that comes in at only 310 calories.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chimichurri Sauce.
Everyone loves rotisserie chicken, and it’s a fast and easy go-to for dinner when you’re in a pinch with no prep needed. But once you’re ready to get back in the kitchen, turn to this great chicken tacos recipe that you can use with leftover pieces of the meat. Tossed with a good dose of mildly spicy salsa verde, these tacos bring a ton of flavor.
Get our recipe for Rotisserie Chicken Tacos with Salsa Verde.
Chicken salad is often just doused in mayo, but this version is unlike the one you’ll find at your local sandwich shop. It uses a modest amount of olive-oil-based mayo, then adds in plump golden raisins and curry powder for a sweet and savory combo. Make a big batch of the salad as part of your weekly meal planning and enjoy it stuffed into other sandwiches, in pitas, or even atop a bowl of mixed greens.
Get our recipe for Chicken Salad Sandwich with Raisins and Curry Powder.
Chicken buried in mushrooms and cream is the type of dish that’s at home in a country kitchen as well as in an upscale city restaurant. We combine elements from both ends of the spectrum: brown mushrooms and chicken stock from the country, a touch of sherry, and some dried mushrooms from the city. The combination of Greek yogurt and half-and-half gives the sauce richness and a velvety texture, without weighing it down.
Get our recipe for Creamy Mushroom Chicken.
Sometimes, salads can end up being calorie bombs in disguise, especially if you decide to order one at a restaurant. So how about you make a salad right at home that keeps it the healthy meal it should be? This recipe is rich in protein, and it is guaranteed to cut the number of calories you’d have on a salad you order in a restaurant in half.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken With Cranberries and Avocado Salad.
Craving pizza? Allow yourself to indulge by adding some chicken to it! This recipe is inspired by California Pizza Kitchen’s Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, and as good as theirs is, we’re confident this barbecue chicken pizza recipe rivals the original. Plus, it’s cheaper to make at home and has just a third of the calories.
Get our recipe for Barbecue Chicken Pizza.
Nothing screams comfort quite like chicken and dumplings. This recipe features root vegetables, savory broth, shredded chicken, a roux to thicken the soup base, and, you guessed it, fluffy dumplings.
Get our recipe for Chicken and Dumplings.
We put a healthy spin on a typical Alfredo dish you would find at a restaurant. We ditched the cream base and made a basic béchamel sauce with flour, milk, butter, and Parmesan in our version of an Alfredo pasta recipe. And with chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes added in, you won’t be overstuffed once you’re done eating this pasta dish, but happily and healthily content.
Get our recipe for Loaded Alfredo Pasta With Chicken and Vegetables.
In this healthy chicken recipe, we serve chicken parmesan with garlicky spinach in place of the pasta, which not only cuts calories and boosts nutrition but also adds a flavor punch that pairs perfectly with the saucy chicken.
Get our recipe for Chicken Parm With Spinach.
Keep it simple with this chicken panini recipe. A light, healthy spread like pesto, a low-calorie cheese, and a layer of lean white meat chicken. You certainly can’t go wrong with that!
Get our recipe for Chicken Panini With Pesto and Peppers.
This is no doubt one of the most popular salads in America, sharing space on menus at four-star restaurants and Wendy’s alike. Here we have a lighter version of the Chinese chicken salad that isn’t bogged down by too much dressing and too many fried noodles. You can use your favorite Asian-inspired dressing or even make your own.
Get our recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad.
In this roasted chicken wings recipe, we soak the chicken in an Asian marinade, then roast (not deep frying already makes these so much healthier) them at high temperature in the oven to crisp them up. This option saves you many calories, but will still give you the taste you crave.
Get our recipe for Roasted Chicken Wings in an Asian Marinade.
You don’t have to wait until Sunday to whip up this dish! The key to this roasted chicken is seasoning it long before you start cooking so that it will create a juicier roast. Then serve with butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, or any of your other favorite vegetables.
Get our recipe for Tastiest Sunday Roast Chicken.
This Greek salad recipe is both hearty and healthy without adding any heavy, high-calorie ingredients. And if you double the recipe, you’ll be able to serve yourself a few spoonfuls for lunch each day and be set. Plus, you can use freshly cooked chicken or leftovers from the rotisserie chicken you brought home.
Get our recipe for Simple Chicken Greek Salad.
We lighten up this chicken dish by ditching the breading (which gets soggy underneath the sauce anyway) and searing the chicken instead of frying it. A ladle of red sauce and a thin layer of bubbling mozzarella rounds the dish out for a twist on classic comfort food that’s actually good for you.
Get our recipe for Seared Chicken Pizzaioli.
This Thai classic gets its flavor from chiles, garlic, and fresh herbs. They’re all nutritional powerhouses that make for a next-level flavor experience that trumps any basic stir-fry, at least in the health department! Place over a bed of lettuce or some rice for a complete meal.
Get our recipe for Spicy Thai Chicken with Basil.
When you’re in the mood for some Mexican food, it’s always a good idea to make beloved dishes right at home. That way, you’re in control and can make them much healthier than any version you would be served at a restaurant. Thankfully, that’s exactly what this red chile chicken enchilada recipe does.
Get our recipe for Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas.
This is the type of simple, healthy, satisfying meal that gives Mediterranean cooking its reputation as the perfect blend of flavor and nutrition. With white wine, tomatoes, olives, and herbs, this healthy chicken recipe has the soul of southern France in every bite.
Get our recipe for Flavorful Provençal Chicken.
Chicken cacciatore gets all its delicious flavor from a stew of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and wine. So, not only is this a dish that will make your tastebuds soar, but it’s healthy for you, too. And that is the true sign of a meal you will happily turn to again and again.
Get our recipe for Chicken Cacciatore.
This roast chicken recipe produces a bird so moist that no other will compare. Plus, it’s simple enough to make on a weeknight. It’s best with root vegetables like carrots that you can roast in the oven, but if you’re not a fan of these orange veggies, you can replace them with things like Brussels sprouts, zucchini, eggplant, etc.
Get our recipe for Classic Herb Roast Chicken With Root Vegetables.
This dish combines some of the great flavors of northern Spain—smoked paprika, sweet peppers, and piquant chorizo—in a slow-cooked stew that could warm even the most frigid of souls. We put our own spin on the basque chicken with the addition of dark beer, which brings a great flavor that will leave your taste buds in awe and your guests wanting more.
Get our recipe for Basque Chicken.
This may be the easiest chicken recipe of all time. The key is to reduce the sauce down to a syrup thick enough to cling to the chicken, as that will infuse your meal with a huge jolt of savory garlic-soy flavor. Pair with a side of veggies, and you’ll be set for the perfect dinner. This dish also goes great with brown rice, but any type of grain will do.
Get our recipe for Easiest Chicken Adobo.
This baked chicken breast recipe will have you roasting the meat with tomatoes and capers, then olive oil basting the chicken in a savory broth, which keeps the meat moist as it’s topped with a chunky, textured sauce. And it’s made in just one baking dish, making for easy cleanup!
Get our recipe for Mediterranean-Inspired Baked Chicken With Tomatoes and Capers.
Gone are the days of drowning your chicken in a bottled barbecue sauce! Instead, this basic, rustic way of grilling chicken—no special sauces or condiments needed—gives you tons of flavor without the added calories. All you need is a brick or two and aluminum foil. Why does this work so well? That kind of extra weight from the brick pushes the chicken down evenly, which results in juicier meat and a crispy skin that no one can resist.
Get our recipe for Chicken Under a Brick.
We know chicken burgers can err on the side of bland, so this recipe takes the basic patty up a notch with a sun-dried tomato aioli sauce. It stays low-calorie, but it adds a rich texture and flavor to the chicken without overpowering the patty. Once you make this sauce, you’ll want to put it on everything.
Get our recipe for a Chicken Burger With Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli.
Those who love sweet and spicy things are up for a real treat with this sandwich. Between teriyaki-glazed chicken, sweet grilled pineapple, and spicy jalapeños, this has every element you’d want in one meal.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Sandwich.
Cooked in chicken broth with a touch of fresh lemon juice, this Instant Pot lemon chicken recipe is an easy and flavorful protein to add to your dinner plate. Pair it with some easy sides like roasted broccoli or Brussels sprouts for a well-rounded meal.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot Lemon Chicken.
Chicken noodle soup does everything a comfort food is supposed to do, and it does so without a hefty caloric price tag. But steer clear of canned chicken soup. Not only is it sparse on chicken and vegetables, but a single cup can also carry up to half a day’s worth of sodium. This version is light on the salt and loaded with chunky vegetables and shredded chicken for a truly hearty bowl of soup.
Get our recipe for Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup.
Given the rate of wing consumption in this country, hot sauce-slathered chicken and blue cheese is clearly a winning combination for American palates. With this healthy chicken recipe, we stay true to the flavors people love—basting the chicken in hot sauce butter after grilling, topping with a yogurt-based blue cheese sauce—but manage to do what not many people can do: make Buffalo chicken into a healthy meal. Plus, you can try the same technique with grilled shrimp.
Get our recipe for Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.
Sizzling chicken and steak platters clutter the menus of nearly every major chain restaurant in this country, a testament to the enduring popularity of meat and melted cheese. We can’t fault people for loving it—who wouldn’t? But we do take issue with the fact that these savory skillets rarely contain fewer than 1,000 calories, regardless of who’s holding the spatula. Unless you are, that is! Our version—a meal that you can have on the table in 20 minutes—contains all the same bells and whistles with much fewer calories.
Get our recipe for Margarita Chicken.
It takes many years to master the complex spice art at the heart of Indian cuisine, but tikka masala is the perfect beginner’s dish—light on ingredients and relatively mild in flavor. Tikka masala normally involves a heavy hand with both butter and cream, but we found that the combination of Greek yogurt and half-and-half gives you the same velvety texture for a fraction of the calories.
Get our recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala.
These sesame noodles are both delicious and full of nutritional value. Add some protein and as many or as few vegetables as you like, and toss the whole package with a light but powerful dressing. If you follow the recipe as is, you’ll be able to enjoy a huge burst of flavors with only 340 calories per serving.
Get our recipe for Sesame Noodles With Chicken.
Redolent of ginger and lemongrass, chiles, and coconut milk, Thai curry brings all of the classic flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine—salty, sour, bitter, hot—together in one dish. What’s more, it derives all of its flavors from ingredients packed with powerful antioxidants. Even coconut milk contains lauric acid, among the healthiest forms of fat you can consume.
Get our recipe for Thai Chicken Curry.
The combination of heat and sweet is a rollercoaster for our taste buds and a partnership that lurks behind—knowingly or not—our affection for so many Asian dishes—General Tso’s, orange chicken, and mu shu pork, among others. Here, that combination upgrades a basic chicken stir-fry to something special with just two ingredients: The metabolism-boosting heat comes from a lashing of chili sauce and the sweet flavor from a thin coating of quickly cooked mango chunks.
Get our recipe for Chili-Mango Chicken Stir Fry.
Another Italian classic lost in translation. Too many cooks interpret this dish—traditionally chicken or pork, lightly floured and cooked with sage and prosciutto—as a huge helping of meat, breaded and fried and covered in a murky, sodium-strewn gravy. Our lighter, more authentic version wraps chicken and sage in a layer of prosciutto, which then becomes a crispy skin that keeps the chicken moist while it sautés. A splash of wine and chicken stock directly into the cooking pan becomes your two-minute sauce. It’s just the latest proof of why simpler is so often better.
Get our recipe for Chicken Scaloppine.
This dish is French in name, but it feels American, right down to its molten cheese core. Normally, this chicken is stuffed, breaded, then deep-fried into submission. But our testing found that a high-heat oven provides all the crunch we want without all the calories we don’t. If honey mustard feels a bit like gilding the lily, it is, but at 350 calories for the whole dish, why not?
Get our recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu.
Don’t worry—these chicken fingers aren’t deep-fried but oven-baked instead, so you can enjoy this childhood favorite any time you like. We pair the meat with a sweet and spicy sauce that kicks the taste up a notch, too.
Get our recipe for Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers With Chipotle-Honey Mustard.
This is our version of Coq au vin, as it’s known in France. All you need is a whole chicken, half a bottle of wine, and a few vegetables in a slow cooker, and this recipe is good to go.
Get our recipe for Classic Slow-Cooker Chicken in Red Wine.
Between the cannellini beans, the corn, and the chicken, a bowl of this Instant Pot white chicken chili will leave you feeling full for hours. Top it off with some avocado, and you’ll have a hearty serving of healthy fats, too.
Get our recipe for Instant Pot White Chicken Chili.
These chicken meatballs are inspired by the street-corner grills in Vietnam and Thailand, where you’ll often find the bold flavors of ginger, garlic, and chiles. Serve these not with pasta but with steamed rice, cucumbers, and big lettuce leaves to make wraps.
Get our recipe for Asian-Inspired Chicken Meatballs.
A quality gluten-free breadcrumb mix really can go a long way! This chicken is oven-fried, which essentially means you roast it in the oven until the chicken is crispy. Served with a fresh spinach salad, this oven-fried chicken is the perfect gluten-free alternative to the beloved fried chicken.
Get our recipe for Gluten-Free Oven-Fried Chicken
Drop the takeout menu, once and for all! We take the classic white rice-heavy dish and add more portion control, ensuring this version is heavy on fresh veggies. Also, we use a bit of oil to crisp it all up.
Get our recipe for Takeout-Level Chicken Fried Rice.
Burritos are a great option to take on the go. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also easy to make. We made sure this burrito saves you calories, is still filling, and is quick and easy to make, so you won’t feel the urge to take a trip to Taco Bell!
Get our recipe for Protein-Packed Chicken Fajita Burrito.
A previous version of this article was published in September 2017. It has been updated to include proofreading revisions, additional recipes, and updated contextual links.