6 Meals from one rotisserie chicken (or your leftover Thanksgiving turkey)

Time for another round of half-cooking. Today's star ingredient: the rotisserie chicken.

If you're like me, the smell of roasting chickens at your local grocery store or Costco does a pretty good job of awakening your inner carnivore. Add to that convenience and reasonable pricing, and it's hard to say no. But unless you're feeding a family of six, you'll find yourself with enough leftover meat to be eating rotisserie chicken for over a week. No worries though, with just a tiny bit of thinking outside the box you can have 6 different tasty and easy meals. Oh and an added bonus: these recipes work just as well with roasted turkey, so with Thanksgiving just around the corner, you'll know what to do with those turkey leftovers.

Meal 1: The obvious - your favorite cut of meat + sides

The first meal you have should take advantage of the freshly cooked chicken. Ideally this is right after you've bought it, while it's still steaming hot. Choose your favorite cut of meat, whether it be wing, drumstick, or some slices of breast meat, and complete the meal with some veggies and carbs. Here I paired the chicken with some leftovers that I had from the previous night, resulting in a slight twist on traditional sides: an herb salad and curried potatoes. If you don't have sides lying around at home, pick up a bag of mixed greens and a loaf of fresh bread when you're buying the poultry.

Meal 2: Cherry walnut goat cheese and chicken salad

The day after you've bought the chicken is a good day to use it in a salad. The meat is still fresh but cold after a night in the refrigerator. Pull apart some of the white breast meat (I usually just use my hands because it's easier), along with some little bits of skin for more flavor. Bagged, pre-chopped and pre-washed salad greens are convenient to use as a base. Here I've used romaine lettuce because I like the sweet taste and the crispness of the hearts when paired with the chicken. Top the salad with some goat cheese, dried cherries (cranberries are a good substitute), walnuts, and of course the chicken. Finish it off with a drizzle of with some balsamic vinaigrette - an easy homemade version is 2 parts balsamic vinegar, 3 parts extra virgin olive oil, 1 part honey, and some pepper to taste.

Meal 3: Roasted chicken sandwich

Soon after buying the chicken is also a good time to use it in a sandwich. Cut some slices of breast meat to use as sandwich filling. For the bread, just use whatever you have lying around at home. I happened to have some mini baguettes, but toast works just as well. I really like avocado in my sandwiches and had a tub of guacamole lying around, so I spread that on the bread. I also used some roasted red peppers for a juicier component to the sandwich. For the greens, I used some leftover romaine lettuce from Meal 2 above. I paired the sandwich with these awesome chipotle rice and bean chips that I also found at Costco (but I haven't seen them since - don't you hate it when Costco stocks something you love and then it disappears?).

Meal 4: Rotisserie chicken fried rice

This is perhaps my favorite thing to make with rotisserie chicken. It gets bonus sentimental points because I used to eat this as a kid. Here's how you make it:

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Makes 2 servings

  • 1-2 Tb vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c shredded rotisserie chicken (mix of dark and light meats)
  • 2 c day old rice (i.e. more dry)
  • 2 c loosely packed raw baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper

  1. In a large pan, saute minced garlic in oil til lightly browned.
  2. Add chicken and saute until lightly browned and the dark meat starts to sizzle.
  3. Add rice and saute until incorporated.
  4. Add spinach and saute til just wilted.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meal 5: Chicken pesto pasta

This recipe comes from a talented but busy cook and culinaut reader. She shreds the chicken into smaller pieces and combines it with freshly cooked pasta like spaghetti, and then tosses it in ready made pesto sauce. You can add some fresh grape tomatoes to this too to lighten up the flavor.

Meal 6: Chinese noodle soup with roasted chicken stock

This one takes a little more time than the typical half-cooking meal, but it's worth it for some delicious comfort food. Even when you've pretty much eaten all the meat off the chicken and are left with a pile of chicken bones, you're not done with it yet. Those bones are the perfect source for a delicious chicken broth and you get to skip the tedious process of browning meat or roasting bones that some people do for getting a deep flavor out of their homemade stocks because it's already been done for you.

To make a great noodle soup, you start by reserving/removing the remaining meat from the chicken and then making the broth. This takes a while on the stove, but there's little active cooking time (see recipe below). Then you can heat or boil some Asian noodles (like rice noodles, udon, ramen, or soba) in a separate pot. When the noodles are ready, drain and put a serving in a large soup bowl. Then place some veggies (such as spinach or napa cabbage), tofu, and some of the reserved chicken meat in the hot broth for a couple minutes to cook/heat. Spoon these and the broth over the noodles for a warm and comforting meal.

Roasted chicken stock

  • Leftover bones and skin from a rotisserie chicken
  • 1 1/2" long piece of ginger chopped crosswise into 1/8" disks
  • 2 tomatoes chopped into quarters
  • 3 scallions chopped into 3" pieces
  • 2 quarts of water
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Place the chicken parts and vegetables into a large pot and add water (should be enough to cover the bones).
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 2-4 hours (the longer you simmer, the fuller the flavor).
  3. Remove the bones, scallions, and tomato skins (or if you have a strainer, you can strain the stock for a clearer broth). Be careful not to leave any small bones in the stock.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste

Happy half-cooking!

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