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7 Easy Weeknight Recipes That Use Store-Bought Rotisserie Chicken

Literally no one can resist the siren call of an already cooked grocery-store chicken.

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Photos by Taylor Miller / Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Even as someone who loves to cook, I understand the magic of a grocery-store rotisserie chicken.

Charlotte Gomexz / BuzzFeed

It's cheap, it easily feeds four four, it's already cooked, it comes HOT and ready to eat, and it can be a lifesaver on busy weeknights.

But there's a difference between fresh-from-the-store stuff that you can eat straight out of the box...

...and rotisserie chicken that's been sitting in your fridge for a day (or three) and frankly, might need a little help.

Still very much edible but probably in need of some extra love (aka other ingredients). And don't get me started on the weird gelatin warts that form on the bottom...
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Still very much edible but probably in need of some extra love (aka other ingredients). And don't get me started on the weird gelatin warts that form on the bottom...

Below, you'll find seven simple ways to upgrade rotisserie chicken. The smartest, most delicious way to ~reinvent~ it actually depends on how long it’s been in your fridge and whether you’re working with light or dark meat.

~FRESH~ rotisserie chicken is obviously the most delicious kind. It's perfect in no-cook dishes with lighter dressings, since the flavor and moisture don't need much help. It's also very acceptable to eat fresh rotisserie chicken straight up.Day-old rotisserie chicken is easily revived by either reheating it with a little added flavor, cooking it into a casserole, or chopping it up for a mayo-based deli-style chicken salad. At this point it's getting a little dry in your fridge, but is still totally salvageable. Rotisserie chicken that's two days old or more can get pretty dry. If yours is still pretty moist, or if you don't mind dry chicken (lol but seriously why?), you could totally use it for one of the day-old chicken recipes. But if your chicken is dry and you're just not into it, the best way to save it is by cooking it into a soup or a stew, so that it can just absorb all the flavorful liquid.

~FRESH~ rotisserie chicken is obviously the most delicious kind. It's perfect in no-cook dishes with lighter dressings, since the flavor and moisture don't need much help. It's also very acceptable to eat fresh rotisserie chicken straight up.

Day-old rotisserie chicken is easily revived by either reheating it with a little added flavor, cooking it into a casserole, or chopping it up for a mayo-based deli-style chicken salad. At this point it's getting a little dry in your fridge, but is still totally salvageable.

Rotisserie chicken that's two days old or more can get pretty dry. If yours is still pretty moist, or if you don't mind dry chicken (lol but seriously why?), you could totally use it for one of the day-old chicken recipes. But if your chicken is dry and you're just not into it, the best way to save it is by cooking it into a soup or a stew, so that it can just absorb all the flavorful liquid.

Got all that? Let's do this.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed
Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

1. Chicken Taco Bar

The magic of these tacos is in the DIY taco seasoning, which is made with things you might already have on hand. If your pantry is sparse and you really don't want to buy spices, you can use a package of taco seasoning. But honestly, making your own is SO MUCH BETTER!CHICKEN TACO BARServings: 4–6Total time: 15 minutesINGREDIENTS2 tablespoons canola oil1 teaspoon chili powder1 teaspoon kosher salt½ teaspoon dried oregano½ teaspoon ground cumin½ teaspoon garlic powder½ teaspoon onion powder½ teaspoon paprikaFreshly ground pepper1 cooked rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, shredded12 small corn tortillas (or 24, if you want to use two for each taco)Suggested toppings:GuacamolePico de galloFresh cornShredded cheddar cheeseSour creamPREPARATIONPreheat the oven to 300°F. Lay the tortillas out over a sheet tray (if you’re using 24 tortillas, use two sheet trays) and put them in the preheated oven to warm. It’ll take about 5 minutes, so they should be warm by the time the chicken mixture is ready.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chili powder, salt, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, and pepper, and stir everything together. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, to toast the spices. Add the shredded chicken and cook, stirring, until the chicken is hot and thoroughly coated with the spice mixture. Set out the cooked chicken, warmed tortillas, and whatever toppings you want, and let everybody build their own tacos!
Photos by Taylor Miller / Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

The magic of these tacos is in the DIY taco seasoning, which is made with things you might already have on hand. If your pantry is sparse and you really don't want to buy spices, you can use a package of taco seasoning. But honestly, making your own is SO MUCH BETTER!

CHICKEN TACO BAR

Servings: 4–6

Total time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon paprika

Freshly ground pepper

1 cooked rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, shredded

12 small corn tortillas (or 24, if you want to use two for each taco)

Suggested toppings:

Guacamole

Pico de gallo

Fresh corn

Shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lay the tortillas out over a sheet tray (if you’re using 24 tortillas, use two sheet trays) and put them in the preheated oven to warm. It’ll take about 5 minutes, so they should be warm by the time the chicken mixture is ready.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chili powder, salt, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, and pepper, and stir everything together. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, to toast the spices. Add the shredded chicken and cook, stirring, until the chicken is hot and thoroughly coated with the spice mixture.

Set out the cooked chicken, warmed tortillas, and whatever toppings you want, and let everybody build their own tacos!

2. Hummus Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken salad is great, but some days you want something a little lighter (read: not dressed in mayonnaise). Using hummus as the base for your chicken salad dressing adds flavor and fiber, without adding as many calories as mayonnaise. Chicken breast is good to use here, since the dressing pumps up their flavor and texture. HUMMUS CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPSServings: 4Total time: 10 minutesINGREDIENTS½ cup plain hummus1 tablespoon red wine vinegar1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oilKosher salt and freshly ground pepper2 cooked chicken breasts (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, cut in ½-inch cubes1 large red bell pepper, chopped in ½-inch pieces1 large beefsteak (or heirloom) tomato, cored and chopped in ½-inch pieces2 scallions, thinly sliced¼ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped12 large romaine or Bibb lettuce leaves, for servingPREPARATIONIn a large mixing bowl, combine hummus, vinegar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add all the remaining ingredients except the lettuce leaves, and toss until everything is evenly coated.Serve the chicken salad atop the lettuce leaves, or on top of a pile of greens for a salad.
Photos by Taylor Miller / Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Chicken salad is great, but some days you want something a little lighter (read: not dressed in mayonnaise). Using hummus as the base for your chicken salad dressing adds flavor and fiber, without adding as many calories as mayonnaise. Chicken breast is good to use here, since the dressing pumps up their flavor and texture.

HUMMUS CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS

Servings: 4

Total time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

½ cup plain hummus

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cooked chicken breasts (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, cut in ½-inch cubes

1 large red bell pepper, chopped in ½-inch pieces

1 large beefsteak (or heirloom) tomato, cored and chopped in ½-inch pieces

2 scallions, thinly sliced

¼ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

12 large romaine or Bibb lettuce leaves, for serving

PREPARATION

In a large mixing bowl, combine hummus, vinegar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add all the remaining ingredients except the lettuce leaves, and toss until everything is evenly coated.

Serve the chicken salad atop the lettuce leaves, or on top of a pile of greens for a salad.

3. Fancied-Up Chicken Ramen

If you're dealing with chicken that's three or more days old, the only surefire way to combat dryness is to submerge it in broth. This recipe is written for one because, face it, instant ramen is something you usually eat alone. If you’re cooking for more people, it’s super easy to double or quadruple the recipe. Just make sure to use a bigger pot!FANCIED-UP CHICKEN RAMENServings: 1Total time: 10 minutesINGREDIENTS1 teaspoon canola oil1 clove garlic, minced1 teaspoon minced ginger½ small red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced1 package instant ramen (preferably chicken flavored)½ cooked chicken breast (about 3 ounces), bones and skin removed, shredded1 head baby bok choy, cored and thinly sliced, lengthwisePREPARATIONHeat the canola oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until everything is fragrant and lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, until the pepper starts to soften, about a minute. Add the ramen noodles and the flavor pack it comes with, then add 1 cup of water. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and add the shredded chicken and sliced bok choy. Simmer just until the chicken is heated through and the bok choy is wilted, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.
Photos by Taylor Miller / Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

If you're dealing with chicken that's three or more days old, the only surefire way to combat dryness is to submerge it in broth. This recipe is written for one because, face it, instant ramen is something you usually eat alone. If you’re cooking for more people, it’s super easy to double or quadruple the recipe. Just make sure to use a bigger pot!

FANCIED-UP CHICKEN RAMEN

Servings: 1

Total time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced ginger

½ small red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

1 package instant ramen (preferably chicken flavored)

½ cooked chicken breast (about 3 ounces), bones and skin removed, shredded

1 head baby bok choy, cored and thinly sliced, lengthwise

PREPARATION

Heat the canola oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until everything is fragrant and lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, until the pepper starts to soften, about a minute. Add the ramen noodles and the flavor pack it comes with, then add 1 cup of water. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and add the shredded chicken and sliced bok choy. Simmer just until the chicken is heated through and the bok choy is wilted, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

4. Spinach-Artichoke Chicken Casserole

This casserole takes a little more time to cook than some of your other options, but it's very easy and it's great for kids. If you have leftover rice, you can definitely use that instead of making it fresh. It's OK if your chicken breasts are a little dried out — all the cheese will bring them right back.SPINACH-ARTICHOKE CHICKEN CASSEROLEServings: 4–6Active time: 15 minutesTotal time: 70 minutesINGREDIENTS1 cup jasmine rice1 tablespoon olive oil1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced1 5-ounce bag fresh baby spinach1 cup whole milk8 ounces cream cheese, cut in 1-inch cubes½ cup grated Parmesan2 cooked chicken breasts (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, cut in 1-inch cubes1 12-ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained and quarteredPREPARATIONIn a small pot with a lid, combine the rice with 1 cup of water. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 23 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the pot sit, covered, for another 5 minutes. When you remove the lid, all the water will be absorbed and the rice will be cooked. Fluff with a fork, then set the rice aside while you prepare the other ingredients.Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat olive oil in a large, cast-iron (or any oven-safe) skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onion just starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, just until the garlic starts to turn golden brown around the edges, about a minute. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, just until the spinach is wilted, about a minute more. Add the milk and bring it to a simmer, then add the cream cheese and Parmesan and cook, stirring, until everything is melted. Add the chicken, artichoke hearts, and rice, and stir everything until it’s thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into an even layer in the skillet, then bake in the preheated oven until the top is set, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler and move the skillet up to the top rack of the oven, then broil just until the top is crispy and browned, about 2 minutes. Let the casserole cool for at least five minutes, then serve.
Photos by Taylor Miller / Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

This casserole takes a little more time to cook than some of your other options, but it's very easy and it's great for kids. If you have leftover rice, you can definitely use that instead of making it fresh. It's OK if your chicken breasts are a little dried out — all the cheese will bring them right back.

SPINACH-ARTICHOKE CHICKEN CASSEROLE

Servings: 4–6

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: 70 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup jasmine rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 5-ounce bag fresh baby spinach

1 cup whole milk

8 ounces cream cheese, cut in 1-inch cubes

½ cup grated Parmesan

2 cooked chicken breasts (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, cut in 1-inch cubes

1 12-ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained and quartered

PREPARATION

In a small pot with a lid, combine the rice with 1 cup of water. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 23 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the pot sit, covered, for another 5 minutes. When you remove the lid, all the water will be absorbed and the rice will be cooked. Fluff with a fork, then set the rice aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Heat olive oil in a large, cast-iron (or any oven-safe) skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onion just starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, just until the garlic starts to turn golden brown around the edges, about a minute. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, just until the spinach is wilted, about a minute more. Add the milk and bring it to a simmer, then add the cream cheese and Parmesan and cook, stirring, until everything is melted. Add the chicken, artichoke hearts, and rice, and stir everything until it’s thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into an even layer in the skillet, then bake in the preheated oven until the top is set, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler and move the skillet up to the top rack of the oven, then broil just until the top is crispy and browned, about 2 minutes.

Let the casserole cool for at least five minutes, then serve.

5. Spiced Cherry-Chicken Salad

Mayo-based chicken salad is a foolproof way to bring chicken breast back to life after it's been sitting in the fridge for a day or two. The cherry and cumin combination here is super summery and delicious, but if it's not cherry season, grapes will work.SPICED CHERRY-CHICKEN SALADServings: 4Total time: 5 minutesINGREDIENTS⅓ cup mayonnaise1 lemon, for juice and zest1 tablespoon Dijon mustard½ teaspoon cumin seedsKosher salt and freshly ground pepper2 cooked chicken breasts (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, cut in ½-inch cubes8 cherries, pitted and quartered1 small red onion, finely chopped2 scallions, thinly sliced8 slices multigrain sandwich bread, for sandwichesPREPARATIONIn a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard, and cumin seeds. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the cubed chicken, cherries, red onion, and scallions, and toss to combine.Toast the bread (or don’t!), then make four sandwiches. You can also serve the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, or by itself.
Photos by Taylor Miller / Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Mayo-based chicken salad is a foolproof way to bring chicken breast back to life after it's been sitting in the fridge for a day or two. The cherry and cumin combination here is super summery and delicious, but if it's not cherry season, grapes will work.

SPICED CHERRY-CHICKEN SALAD

Servings: 4

Total time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

⅓ cup mayonnaise

1 lemon, for juice and zest

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cooked chicken breasts (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, cut in ½-inch cubes

8 cherries, pitted and quartered

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced

8 slices multigrain sandwich bread, for sandwiches

PREPARATION

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard, and cumin seeds. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the cubed chicken, cherries, red onion, and scallions, and toss to combine.

Toast the bread (or don’t!), then make four sandwiches. You can also serve the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, or by itself.

6. Warm Chicken, Corn and Quinoa Salad

Grain salads rule for many reasons, but one of the best parts about them is that any leftovers make for the perfect take-to-work lunch. This salad has a great savory-sweet balance, and all the different textures keep it interesting. It's also great served warm or cold. Use dark meat chicken for best results, but cubed chicken breast will work, too.WARM CHICKEN, CORN, AND QUINOA SALADServings: 4Total time: 30 minutesINGREDIENTS1 cup uncooked quinoa3 tablespoons olive oil2 cooked chicken legs (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, cut in ½-inch cubes1½ cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 large ears of corn)Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper2 lemons, for juice and zest ½ teaspoon smoked paprika½ cup dried cranberries¼ cup parsley leavesPREPARATIONIn a small pot with a lid, combine the quinoa and 2 cups of water. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the pot sit, covered, for another 5 minutes. When you remove the lid, all the water will be absorbed and the quinoa will be cooked. Fluff with a fork, then set the quinoa aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and corn and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, just until everything is heated through, about a minute. Add the quinoa, lemon juice and zest, smoked paprika, and dried cranberries and stir to combine. Turn the heat off, then add the parsley leaves and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Photos by Taylor Miller / Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Grain salads rule for many reasons, but one of the best parts about them is that any leftovers make for the perfect take-to-work lunch. This salad has a great savory-sweet balance, and all the different textures keep it interesting. It's also great served warm or cold. Use dark meat chicken for best results, but cubed chicken breast will work, too.

WARM CHICKEN, CORN, AND QUINOA SALAD

Servings: 4

Total time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup uncooked quinoa

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cooked chicken legs (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, cut in ½-inch cubes

1½ cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 large ears of corn)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 lemons, for juice and zest

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup parsley leaves

PREPARATION

In a small pot with a lid, combine the quinoa and 2 cups of water. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the pot sit, covered, for another 5 minutes. When you remove the lid, all the water will be absorbed and the quinoa will be cooked. Fluff with a fork, then set the quinoa aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and corn and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, just until everything is heated through, about a minute. Add the quinoa, lemon juice and zest, smoked paprika, and dried cranberries and stir to combine. Turn the heat off, then add the parsley leaves and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

7. One-Bowl Chicken, Feta, and Watermelon Salad With Mint Dressing

Watermelon, feta, and mint are made for each other. Add chicken and some cucumbers, and an awesome side dish becomes a healthy, filling meal. Use dark meat chicken if you can, since the dressing is pretty light and dark meat is more tender.ONE-BOWL CHICKEN, FETA, AND WATERMELON SALAD WITH MINT DRESSINGServings: 4Total time: 10 minutesINGREDIENTS2 scallions, greens and whites divided½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped1 large clove garlic, minced1 lemon Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper¼ cup olive oil4 cups watermelon, cut in ½-inch cubes2 cooked chicken legs (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, shredded1 large English cucumber, cut in rough ½-inch pieces4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut in small cubesPREPARATIONThinly slice the scallion whites, then put them in a large mixing bowl and add the mint, garlic, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk everything together, then slowly add the olive oil while you continue to whisk; keep whisking until everything is thoroughly combined into a dressing.Cut the scallion greens into rough, ½-inch pieces, then add them to the mixing bowl along with all the remaining ingredients. Toss everything so that the salad is thoroughly coated with the dressing, then divide onto four plates to serve. Garnish with extra mint leaves, if you want.
Photos by Taylor Miller / Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Watermelon, feta, and mint are made for each other. Add chicken and some cucumbers, and an awesome side dish becomes a healthy, filling meal. Use dark meat chicken if you can, since the dressing is pretty light and dark meat is more tender.

ONE-BOWL CHICKEN, FETA, AND WATERMELON SALAD WITH MINT DRESSING

Servings: 4

Total time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 scallions, greens and whites divided

½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup olive oil

4 cups watermelon, cut in ½-inch cubes

2 cooked chicken legs (about 12 ounces), skin and bones removed, shredded

1 large English cucumber, cut in rough ½-inch pieces

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut in small cubes

PREPARATION

Thinly slice the scallion whites, then put them in a large mixing bowl and add the mint, garlic, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk everything together, then slowly add the olive oil while you continue to whisk; keep whisking until everything is thoroughly combined into a dressing.

Cut the scallion greens into rough, ½-inch pieces, then add them to the mixing bowl along with all the remaining ingredients. Toss everything so that the salad is thoroughly coated with the dressing, then divide onto four plates to serve. Garnish with extra mint leaves, if you want.

Recipes by Christine Byrne

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