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50 best chicken recipes that are absolute winners

Bored of chicken? Think again.
Alex Hitz's Perfect Roast Chicken and Tomatoes + Smashes Potatoes + White Chocolate-Pecan Cookies
Roast chicken with confit tomatoes and lemonsNathan Congleton / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

If there’s one ingredient that you can probably find in almost every refrigerator in the U.S., it’s chicken. The ever-so-versatile protein can be cooked in countless ways, making it a favorite with home cooks and professional chefs alike. Chicken cooks up beautifully on the grill, in the oven, on the stovetop, in an air fryer — so it’s no surprise that the bird has become our country’s go-to protein.

One of the main reasons why chicken is a mealtime MVP is because it’s affordable and accessible. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or making a meal for one, it’s an ingredient that can be easily and economically purchased at any supermarket. And with so many different cuts of chicken available, you can choose the one that best fits your recipe and budget. One of the great things about the popular poultry is that every part of the bird can be used — from breasts to thighs to wings, each cut offers a unique flavor and texture.

It’s likely that you already have a lineup of chicken recipes to turn to as part of your dinner rotation, but there’s probably a lot you didn’t know you can do with the beloved ingredient. But if you’re seeking some new, inspiring ways to cook with the lean protein outside of classics like roast chicken or chicken Parm, we’ve got you covered. No matter if you’re seeking comfort dishes or creative recipes that push you to try new ingredients or cooking styles, there are plenty of ideas to choose from in this list.

With recipes that use different cuts, flavor profiles and culinary techniques, these recipes will inspire you to break out of your chicken rut and savor the endless possibilities of the beloved protein.


Whole Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken

This roasted chicken is guaranteed to impress even the toughest of critics. It’s juicy, tender and packed with flavor since the bird is not only seasoned with salt and herbs, but also coated in a garlicky compound butter. Start the oven on high to help brown the skin, then bring the temperature down to keep the meat moist.

Roasted Spatchcock Chicken

If you’re looking for a quicker way to roast a whole chicken without sacrificing flavor, spatchcocking is the way to go. The technique involves removing the backbone and flattening the bird, which helps it cook more evenly and in less time. This recipe calls for crisping the skin in a cast-iron skillet before placing the bird in the oven with two full heads of garlic, fresh rosemary, thyme and  lemon to roast until golden brown.

Sticky-Sweet Roast Chicken

The glaze for this sticky-sweet chicken will take a few rounds of shellacking to, well, stick, but the effort will be well worth it. You’ll get tender meat, browned skin and the irresistible sauce with every forkful. Be sure to finish with fried shallots, garlic and ginger — the crispy bits add a nice textural contrast. 

A 24-hour brine not only adds flavor, but also keeps the chicken moist throughout the roasting process. Garlic, ginger and scallions are tucked into the cavity for an aromatic hit and the cooked bird is covered with a sweet-and-spicy chili crisp glaze once it’s out of the oven.

Melba Wilson's Fried Chicken and Waffles

Melba Wilson’s fried chicken is an iconic American dish. Wilson seasons her bird not just with spices, but brown mustard as well, then marinates the pieces in buttermilk. Once they’re ready for cooking, she tosses the chicken in a finishing coat of Sazonador-seasoned flour and fries each piece until golden-brown. Serve on waffles as they do at her Harlem-based restaurant or enjoy alone — they’ll be delectable either way.

Giada's Amalfi Lemon Chicken

The Amalfi Coast is famed for its exquisite lemons, which serve as the star of this bright and zesty chicken. Using a spatchcocked bird speeds up the cooking process so you can get it on the dinner table in less than an hour. There’s a bit of work involved —the recipe calls for basting the meat with pan drippings every 15 minutes — but that’s the key to moist, lemony chicken.  

Huli Huli Chicken

Huli huli chicken is a Hawaiian staple, sold everywhere from roadside stands to school fundraisers. When chef Sheldon Simeon decided to add it to his restaurant’s menu, he sought to “combine those homey roadside flavors with how classic roast chicken is often presented at fancy restaurants.” That’s how this spatchcocked chicken — rubbed in shio koji (a fermented grain paste) and then brushed in a sticky-sweet glaze — came to be. The succulent grilled bird is served with more sauce, which features another island staple: pineapple juice. 

Chicken Curry Traybake

This one-pan chicken dinner is packed with flavor, thanks to chef Karan Gokani’s from-scratch roasted red curry powder, but you can also use store-bought Indian or madras curry powder in a pinch. The spice-rubbed bird is roasted over a bed of veggies, which cook in chicken stock and coconut milk to form a fragrant curry sauce.   

Chicken Breast

Gluten-Free Chicken Piccata

An almond flour and egg “breading” turns this classic chicken dish gluten-free, while still maintaining the dish’s signature crispiness. Oh, and did we mention that it’s dairy-free as well? The caper-studded sauce calls for coconut cream thickened with arrowroot starch. Serve over zucchini noodles or your favorite gluten-free pasta.

Chicken Paillard Saltimbocca

As its name suggests, this recipe draws from two classic dishes: chicken paillard and chicken saltimbocca. Crispy prosciutto, sage and aged balsamic make the chicken dinner feel special, even though it’s easy enough to prep on a weeknight.

This chicken skillet dinner is an homage to summer. Chicken breasts are seared to juicy perfection, then smothered in a creamy corn-and-tomato sauce. A finishing sprinkle of fresh basil ties it all together. With minimal prep and cleanup, you’ll have more time to enjoy those warm summer evenings.

Enjoy the flavors of pineapple chicken without spending money on takeout. This weeknight recipe cooks all on one pan, making cleanup a breeze. Chicken tenderloin, bell peppers, onions and, of course, pineapple are coated in store-bought teriyaki sauce and honey, then baked until caramelized. Serve over brown rice or make wraps using lettuce or tortillas.

Yogurt is a foolproof way to yield juicy chicken, thanks to its tenderizing abilities. You can easily use this recipe as a base and swap out the spices for chopped herbs, vinegar or even hot sauce. The broiled chicken is great on top of grain bowls, salads and more. 

The secret ingredient in Kevin Curry’s lightened-up chicken alfredo? Cauliflower. Along with almond milk, the versatile vegetable adds a light sweetness and creaminess to the sauce, balancing the saltiness that comes from Parmesan. Make the sauce in advance and use store-bought rotisserie chicken to make this in a flash on busy evenings.

Dylan Dreyer’s chicken piccata is one of her son Cal’s favorite dinners. The seasoned chicken is first browned in a skillet, then removed so the sauce can come together and take advantage of the flavorful, stuck-on bits. Juicy chicken topped with buttery, lemony capers proves to be a hit every time.

Though the process is simple, chicken Parm requires a good number of steps, from the breading to the frying. Elena Besser cuts down on some of that work by recreating the dish in a sheet pan. She also adds broccoli and garlic bread, both of which are cooked on the same tray, to complete the meal. 

Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

Loaded with colorful bell peppers, chicken tenderloins and onions seasoned with fajita spices, this recipe is sure to be a hit with your family. Plus, cleanup is a breeze since it’s done all on a sheet pan.

Chicken Thighs

This classic Italian dish is a hearty, comforting meal. Chicken thighs are simmered in a rich tomato sauce with mushrooms and lots of fresh herbs, then served over creamy polenta. It’s a satisfying dish that’s sure to warm you up on a chilly evening.

 Lemon Tarragon Chicken

Lemon and tarragon are a classic combination for a reason — the herb’s licorice-like notes pair wonderfully with citrus. Chicken thighs pick up those flavors via an hour-long marinade before they’re seared and finished with more chopped tarragon and lemon juice.

Sheet-Pan Chicken with Jammy Tomatoes and Pancetta

This sheet-pan chicken is a game-changer for weeknight dinners. Chicken thighs are seasoned with a savory, cumin-scented spice mix and roasted with whole garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes that get nice and jammy.  With minimal prep and easy clean-up, you can have a complete dinner on the table in no time.

Lemony Chicken and Rice Casserole

Jocelyn Delk Adams calls this recipe a “crowd pleaser” because it’s just as good for Sunday supper as it is on a busy weeknight. The casserole features chicken thighs and rice baked in a lemon-infused sauce until the meat is tender and the rice is perfectly creamy.

Sesame chicken gets the sheet pan treatment so you can recreate the popular takeout recipe with minimal dishes and no deep-frying required. Cubes of chicken thighs are breaded in panko — plus cornstarch for maximal crispability — and baked with broccoli until crunchy and charred. Coat the chicken in the homemade sesame glaze and serve over rice or noodles.

“Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are the MVP in this dish because they’re almost impossible to overcook and you get so much flavor from them,” says recipe developer Becca Jacobs. The thighs render over the green beans and orzo, infusing both with rich, schmaltzy flavor. Calabrian chili paste and garlic are low-effort ways to amp up the flavor even more.

Chicken cacciatore is a classic Italian stew that’s full of comfort. This recipe makes things easy by baking the chicken and tomatoes on a sheet pan, which reduces dirty dishes makes clean up easy

What’s even better than a one-pot meal? A one-pot meal brimming with chicken and Mediterranean flavor. This chicken bake is packed with lots of vegetables and herbs, forming a succulent sauce for spooning over couscous or rice. 

This recipe with grapes and burrata was inspired by chef Curtis Stone’s travels through Sonoma County. Grapes pop up in two ways here: They’re roasted alongside the crispy chicken thighs and in a sauce made with white wine , chicken stock, butter and thyme. The chicken and grapes are served with burrata and plenty of grilled bread for sopping up the sauce.

Cashew Chicken

“The combination of garlic and ginger always makes a dish shine with flavor, and when combined with earthy shiitake mushrooms, tender chunks of chicken and buttery cashews, it’s unstoppable,” says recipe developer Grace Young. This stir fry calls for cooking on high heat, so set aside your nonstick skillet

Chicken scarpariello is a hearty Italian-American dish that pairs its namesake ingredient with sausage, peppers (both fresh and pickled) and a tangy sauce. The traditional version requires a slow braise, which isn’t ideal for busy weeknights. This recipe reimagines the dish as a sheet-pan meal, keeping the flavors intact, but speeding up the cooking — and cleanup!

This fried chicken is an homage to the diverse heritages — indigenous Guyanese, African, Chinese and more — that have influenced Guyana’s cooking traditions. Chicken thighs marinate in coconut milk and mole verde, two ingredients that also pop up in the sauce. Coconut makes a second appearance as flakes in the panko-rice flour batter, which gives the thighs a hefty crunch. Serve with fried plantains, the coconut sauce and a drizzle of spicy honey.   

Barbecue Chicken Quinoa Salad

Gaby Dalkin’s barbecue chicken quinoa salad combines pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients to make a speedy, filling meal. Quinoa serves as a base for ingredients like shredded barbecue chicken, black beans, fresh corn, cheese and avocado, but you can easily swap those out for whatever’s in the fridge.

These copycat chicken lettuce wraps are a mouthwatering take on the takeout classic. Load up lettuce cups with the chicken thighs, water chestnuts and mushrooms cooked in aromatics like ginger and scallions and an umami-packed sauce that uses low-sodium tamari and coconut sugar as lightened-up swaps.  

Caesar salad fans will be thrilled to see that their favorite dressing can be used to do so much more than dress romaine. Creamy Caesar dressing (from a bottle!) not only adds deep, rich flavor, but also helps brown chicken thighs. Nestled atop tender sautéed broccoli, the meat bakes until tender, then the entire skillet is finished with lemon zest and crunchy Parmesan chips as a nod to its salad roots.

These citrusy chicken thighs draw inspiration from the classic Moroccan pairing of lemon, chicken and olives. The spiced thighs are roasted with sliced lemons and garlic until the skin is nice and crispy, then the pan juices are zipped up with even more lemon to use as a dressing for fluffy couscous. Top each plate with feta and enjoy a mix of salty, tangy and bright flavors with each bite.

Transport your taste buds straight to New Orleans with this jambalaya. This classic Creole dish is a comforting and spicy one-pot wonder that’s perfect for feeding a crowd. With juicy chicken and flavorful andouille sausage cooked in rice with the holy Southern trinity of onion, celery and bell peppers, this dish is sure to warm you up from the inside out.

Chicken Wings

Korean Honey Butter Chicken Wings

Sweet, spicy, sticky, crispy, tangy, rich. These Korean honey butter chicken wings “tick all the boxes,” says chef Leah Cohen. Adding potato starch and baking powder to flour ups the crunchy factor of the wings, while the sauce adds sweet and spicy flavor.

Lemongrass Chicken Wings

Give game-day ready wings a Thai-inspired twist. The wings marinate in a from-scratch green curry paste scented with lemongrass, garlic, shallots and herbs before they’re grilled ‘til juicy and charred. Some of the paste is reserved for tossing with the cooked wings for an extra kick of heat.

Za'atar-Spiced Fried Chicken Wings

These crispy wings are coated in a classic blend of Mediterranean za’atar and sumac, but draws from Korean fried chicken for its superior crunch. The wings are coated in cornstarch-flour batter that gives each wing an airy crispness, then dusted with spices as they come out hot from the oil.  

If you love spicy wings, but want some options outside the traditional buffalo variety, bookmark this recipe from Bobby Flay. Store-bought chipotle hot sauce, which is used in the four-ingredient glaze, and Spanish paprika add a lovely smoky aroma to the crispy wings.

White barbecue sauce is a North Alabama tradition that dates back to 1925. The creamy, tangy sauce is a perfect accompaniment to smoky grilled wings and a nice change from the usual red barbecue sauce.

Sticky Soy Sauce Chicken Wings

The combination of soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar and red pepper flakes makes for a delightful spicy-sweet glaze that coats crispy fried wings. It’s the perfect party appetizer or game day snack, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself making this recipe — a go-to for TODAY’s Craig Melvin — anytime you’re craving wings.

Guava-Glazed Chicken Wings

In a nod to Tampa’s guava-growing history, the sauce for these smoked wings features the sweet, pear-like fruit. However, you don’t need fresh guava to try this recipe; a concentrated guava paste that can typically be found at supermarkets will do just fine.

Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie chicken fried rice is an easy weeknight meal that’s ready in no time. It’s an endlessly customizable recipe — add frozen peas and carrots as Kevin Curry does here, or substitute with whatever veggie odds and ends you have in the fridge. It’s a dinner rotation staple that never gets boring.

Rotisserie Chicken Stuffed Shells

Rotisserie chicken stuffed shells is the ideal dish on nights when you’re craving something warm and hearty. These pasta shells are stuffed with shredded rotisserie chicken, broccoli and ricotta then baked in a creamy, cheesy sauce spiced with Creole seasoning. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or just looking for a cozy dinner for two, this dish is sure to be a hit.

On days when there’s too much going on, it’s good to have an all-in-one pasta dish in your back pocket. This one from Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski utilizes rotisserie chicken as a shortcut ingredient, combining it with salty bacon, sweet carrots and pappardelle in a creamy, rosemary-scented sauce. 

Ground Chicken

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

A juicy burger is always a crowd-pleaser. These chicken Parm burgers are a delicious spin on the classic Italian dish, featuring a savory chicken patty topped with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese, all served on a toasted ciabatta bun. This recipe is sure to be a hit at your next barbecue or dinner party.

With spinach chicken meatballs, you get a nutritious meal that kids and adults alike will love. The meatballs are made with ground chicken and packed with fresh spinach, giving you a boost of nutrients. The creamy Parmesan sauce adds a touch of richness. Prep a big batch of the meatballs and freeze for upcoming dinners — future you will be thankful!

Baked chicken and ricotta meatballs are lighter than their beefy counterparts and don’t require a lot of work, says recipe developer Yasmin Fahr. She combines ground chicken with ricotta so the meatballs become juicy and tender. They’re baked with broccolini and lemon as a sheet-pan meal that requires little cleanup.

Chicken Parm Meatballs

Chicken Parm in bite-sized form? Sign us up! Mix together ground chicken, Parmesan cheese, panko and Italian seasonings and roll to form balls that you then stuff with bocconcini mozzarella. Brown in a skillet with tomato sauce and enjoy over pasta or stuffed in a sub.

Victory Chicken Burgers

Food writer Nicole Taylor takes on the challenge of creating a juicy chicken burger. The ground chicken mixture is seasoned with chicken salt — a blend of celery seeds, cumin seed, onion powder and kosher salt — plus a hit of sherry vinegar so they have ample flavor. The grilled patties are topped with sliced white cheddar and tucked into buns with classic burger fixings.

It’s always a good idea to have an extra casserole in the freezer for nights when you want a homemade meal, but don’t have time to pull one together. This chicken meatball and penne pasta bake freezes great and has all the elements of a hearty, satisfying dinner: tender meatballs, tangy marinara sauce and lots of cheese.