Chicken is an ideal base for a solid weeknight dinner: Fast, economical, nutritious, and filling. But it’s pretty common to get bored with a lackluster rotation of healthy chicken recipes.
“A lot of people get kind of chicken-breasted out at some point,” Rachael Hartley, R.D., certified intuitive eating counselor and owner of Rachael Hartley Nutrition, tells SELF. That may be especially true if you’ve got this particular image of the ultimate healthy dinner plate in your head, courtesy of diet culture’s limited imagination: A plain baked chicken breast, steamed broccoli, and a meager portion of brown rice. Might get a little boring after a while!
Thankfully, there are about 7 million more exciting ways to eat chicken.
A healthy chicken dinner is one that’s nutritionally rich and full of flavors you enjoy, Hartley explains. Ideally, you’ll balance out your protein-packed chicken base with a carb, a fat, and a veggie, Hartley says. That’s why one-pan skillets, stir fries, and sheet-pan roasts are all convenient preparations for serving up a well-balanced and tasty chicken meal, Hartley says. You’ll find a bunch of those below. Some of the recipes included here are just the chicken (with seasonings, sauces, etc., etc.), though—in which case you can add a simple grain and your fave roasted veggie to round out your meal, and help sop up all those flavorful sauces and juices.
Hartley’s other favorite hack for incorporating more deliciousness and nutritional balance with minimal effort is a clapback to that aforementioned diet-y dinner: Starting out with a fattier piece of poultry. Chicken thighs and skin-on breasts are intrinsically more flavorful, juicy, and tender thanks to the extra fat they contain, Hartley explains. “That fat also makes that meal more satiating and satisfying for you,” Hartley explains.
Poultry fatigue, no more. Here are 43 healthy chicken recipes to try.
A note about the word “healthy” here: We know that “healthy” is a complicated concept. Not only can it mean different things to different people, it’s a word that’s pretty loaded (and sometimes fraught), thanks to the diet industry’s influence on the way we think about food. At SELF, when we talk about food being “healthy,” we’re primarily talking about foods that are nutritious, filling, and satisfying. But it also depends on your preferences, your culture, what’s accessible to you, and so much more. We selected these recipes with those basic criteria in mind, while also trying to appeal to a wide variety of nutritional needs and taste buds.