You won't get tired of the lean, muscle-building protein with these recipes.
Toby Amidor, R.D. 1 / 21
If you’re stuck in a grilled chicken rut, it’s time to get creative. And you don't even have to pick another protein to switch things up. The Dietary Guidelines recommend making your protein choices lean, and chicken definitely fits the bill on that front. Although the breast is the leanest, the dark meat is very flavorful and can still be part of your lean protein repertoire—just remove the skin before eating (that’s where much of the artery clogging saturated fat is hiding.) Plus, grilling is a healthy cooking method that’s quick, easy, and delicious. Here are 20 healthy recipes that use grilled chicken in more ways than you could ever imagine.
2 pounds grilled chicken breast, chopped For the sauce 1/4 cup apricot preserves 1/2 cup garlic chili sauce 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup reduced sugar ketchup 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1/2 tablespoon honey 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger 1 teaspoon garlic powder Salt and pepper, to taste Chopped chives (optional)
1. Start with leftover grilled chicken breast or quickly grill some up with a little bit of oil, salt and pepper. 2. To make the sauce, add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until ingredients are well incorporated and thickened, about 20 minutes. Add chicken and stir to combine. 3. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice (not included in nutrition information.) Sprinkle with chives, if desired.
Nutrition Information (per 1-1/4 cup serving without rice)
Grilled Chicken and Quinoa Power Salad with Honey Citrus Dressing
Grilled chicken topped over a bed of quinoa makes for a high-protein, filling meal. The ancient grain quinoa has been around for 5,000 years and is technically a seed. It’s a nutritional powerhouse providing 8 grams of protein per 1 cup cooked along with hefty amounts of B-vitamins, potassium, zinc, selenium, and iron.
Quinoa, 1 cup uncooked 1 cup cilantro 1 red pepper 1 cup julienne carrots 1/3 cup sunflower seeds 2/3 cup pomegranate arils 1 teaspoon ground allspice
For the dressing 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons honey 1 lime, juiced 1½ lemons, juiced Salt and pepper to taste 1 lime
1. Place 2 cups of water in a saucepan with 1 cup of uncooked quinoa. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Once cooked, set aside to cool. 2. For the dressing: Combine olive oil, lemon and lime juices, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, and honey and mix well. Set aside. 3. Place red pepper, cilantro, and carrots in a food processor and combine. Add mixture to quinoa. Then add pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds, and 1 teaspoon of allspice and mix well. Set aside. 4. For the chicken: Place chicken on parchment paper. Make sure there is enough to fold it over and cover the chicken breasts. Cover chicken on both sides with allspice, salt, and paprika. Fold parchment over the chicken and pound with a rolling pin until 1/2 inch thick. Place chicken on grill. Reduce heat to medium and put top down for 4 minutes. Flip chicken and grill for 4 or more minutes or until juices run clear and chicken is firm. Let chicken slightly cool and slice on the diagonal. 5. To layer, place 1 bag of salad on a platter. Top with quinoa salad and chicken. 6. Squeeze 1 lime over chicken. 7. Serve with Honey Citrus Dressing.
Nutrition Information (per 1 chicken breast, ¾ cup of salad, and 2 tablespoon of dressing)
This is an easy weeknight meal that you can have fun with. Get creative with the salsa-preserves combination and try a smoky chipotle salsa with a blackberry preserves or combine peach salsa with apricot preserves.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 30 minutes, plus 2 hours brining time Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 15 minutes
1 lb boneless chicken breasts, soaked in a brining solution 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil Sea salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup thick and chunky salsa (with fruit) 1/2 cup all-fruit preserves (peach, apricot, blackberry, etc.)
1. To brine the meat: Rinse chicken breasts in cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Coat chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside for about 2 hours and make the glaze. 2. Whisk salsa and preserves together in a small bowl. 3. Cook chicken on a preheated grill, on medium-high heat, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees basting with salsa mixture about half way through cooking. Right before chicken is done, coat with a thick layer of salsa glaze and do not flip again before removing from the grill. 4. Serve with steamed vegetables for a superfast, healthy & flavorful meal.
Cook your drumsticks with the skin on to maintain their juiciness, and then remove the skin (or most of it) right before chowing down. That will decrease the amount of artery clogging fat you’re taking in. If you crunch the numbers, it’s more than a 200 calorie saving per two drumsticks!
8 drumsticks (about 2 pounds) 1 fresh garlic clove minced (can also use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder) 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1½ tablespoons of butter 1½ tablespoons of a hot sauce
1. Preheat grill to 450°F 2. Place the drumsticks in a large bowl 3. In a small bowl, mix the onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add to the large bowl with the garlic. Mix well 4. Place drumsticks on the heated grill and turn about every six minutes. You’ll be cooking the drumsticks for 30 to 40 minutes 5. When there are about 15 minutes left, melt the butter and mix in the hot sauce to create your buffalo sauce 6. Brush on the drumsticks as you’re turning them the last two or three times 7. When the meat reaches about 180°F you’re done and the meat will be just about falling off the bone.
Nutrition Information (per 2 drumsticks, without skin)
What makes these chicken breast perfect is the marinating time. With some advanced planning, get these babies marinating for at least 4 to up to 8 hours to help tenderize and add the perfect amount of flavor. Pair with fresh, seasonal vegetables and whole grains for a perfect post-workout or weeknight meal.
3 medium garlic cloves ½ teaspoon of salt ½ cup light brown sugar 3 tablespoons of whole grain mustard ¼ cup of cider vinegar Juice of 1 lime Juice of ½ lemon 6 tablespoons of olive oil Ground pepper to taste 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1. In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Whisk in the olive oil and pepper. Add chicken and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for 8 hours. 2. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before grilling. Place the chicken on the grill and cook 6 minutes each side, or until juices run clear. Let the grilled chicken rest 5 minutes, covered, before serving.
Why wait until Tuesday to enjoy your tacos? Prepare the chicken over the weekend and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. This helps save time during your busy workweek and allows you to enjoy them any night of the week.
4 chicken breasts (about 12 ounces) 1 clove garlic, grated 1 tablespoon honey 1 teaspoon soy sauce (or low sodium soy sauce) Juice and zest from 1 lemon Salt and pepper to taste
For the tacos
12 oz Lemon Honey Chicken (recipe above) 4 soft tacos, either flour or corn 2 cups shredded green cabbage 1 cup sliced bell peppers 1 medium tomato, sliced 1 avocado Choice salsa
1. For the chicken: Add chicken breasts and all ingredients to plastic bag or bowl. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight. When ready to cook, grill chicken until cooked through. 2. Shred chicken once cooled. 3. For the tacos: Add all ingredients on top of tortillas, fold and enjoy.
Traditional chicken salads are drowning in mayonnaise, which contain hundreds of unnecessary calories. Instead, using a small amount of flavorful ingredients helps bring out the delicious flavor so you can feel good about eating chicken salad again.
1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Olive-oil cooking spray 1 pound (2 small whole breasts) boneless, skinless chicken breasts 3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives 1 tablespoon freshly chopped tarragon (optional) 1 Granny Smith apple Juice of 1/2 lemon 1 cup finely diced fennel 1/2 cup finely diced celery 2 cups red seedless grapes, cut in half 6 slices pumpernickel bread or another hearty bread 1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed
1. Combine salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with some of the salt mixture; place in pan. Reduce heat to medium; cover. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes (flip halfway through cooking time). Remove from pan; set aside. Note: can also grill chicken on an outdoor grill, same procedure applies. 2. In a bowl, combine yogurt, mustard, chives, tarragon, and remaining salt mixture. Core the apple, and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Place in a medium bowl with lemon juice, and toss to combine. Add fennel, celery, and grapes. Cut reserved chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Add to salad with yogurt dressing; stir to combine. 3. Serve on toasted pumpernickel bread, open-faced, with watercress.
Barbecued chicken lends its delicious flavors nicely to pizza. Start with a pre-baked whole wheat pizza crust or stop by your local pizza joint for your favorite dough. If you’re looking to save calories, use whole wheat pita bread or naan bread.
1 pre-baked whole wheat pizza crust (or 4 pieces of whole wheat pita bread) ½ cup BBQ sauce 2 cups sliced grilled chicken breast ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese ½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 1 bell pepper, sliced ½ cup thinly sliced leeks Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 2. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. 3. Top crust with BBQ sauce, chicken, cheese, peppers and leeks. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, transfer to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. 4. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and scallions.
Nutrition Information (per slice, using pizza crust)
Mexican-inspired food has a bad reputation of being unhealthy, but that doesn’t have to be the case. When you’re in control of the ingredients you can make virtually anything healthy. In this tostada recipe, lots of veggies and a homemade fajita seasoning add delicious flavors without the calories and fat.
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced into strips 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into strips 2 orange or green bell peppers, seeded and sliced into strips 2 large onions (I prefer sweet onions), sliced 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Recipe for homemade fajita seasoning, divided *recipe below 2 tbsp fresh lime juice 2 lbs fresh organic chicken tenders 8 corn tostadas Garnish with: sour cream, your favorite salsa, and sliced fresh avocado
1. For the fajita seasoning: Whisk all ingredients together and divide in half for the recipe. 2. Heat grill and set to medium-high temperature. 3. Chop your peppers and onion and set aside in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice and half of the fajita seasoning to veggie mixture. 4. In a separate bowl, mix together chicken, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice and remaining fajita seasoning. Toss well to coat. 5. Grill mixture separately in a grill pan. Chicken takes about 4-5 minutes per side and pepper mixture takes a few minutes longer. Grill until peppers and onions are softened, stirring a few times while cooking. 6. To serve, top a corn tostada with peppers and onions, chicken, sour cream, salsa and fresh avocado.
If you love to use local, seasonal ingredients, jalapeno peppers are now popping into farmers’ markets and CSA boxes. If jalapenos are not in season, substitute with 1 teaspoon of dried jalapeno.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 6 Start to Finish: 55 minutes, plus marinating time Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 40 minutes
¼ small yellow onion 2 scallions, cut into thirds 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, halved, seeds and membrane removed 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon Jamaican jerk seasoning 1 tablespoon expeller-pressed grapeseed or canola oil 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 garlic clove 1 teaspoon salt 3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 2½ pounds), halved Expeller-pressed grapeseed or canola oil spray
For sweet potatoes
3 medium sweet potatoes, sliced crosswise into ¾-inch-thick circles 1 tablespoon (15 ml) expeller-pressed grapeseed or canola oil 1/ 8 teaspoon salt 1/ 8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. To make the chicken: put all the ingredients except the chicken into a food processor and run until puréed to create a marinade. Place chicken and marinade in a shallow dish. Spoon the marinade over and under the skin and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to overnight. 2. Preheat the grill on medium low (about 325°F). 3. To make the sweet potatoes: Coat the potatoes in oil, salt, and pepper. Coat a sheet of aluminum foil with oil spray, place on the hottest part of the grill and lay the chicken skin side down on the foil. Put the potatoes directly on the grate, over the cooler side of the grill or in a grill basket. Cook for 10 minutes. Rotate the chicken by one-quarter and turn the potatoes. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove potatoes from grill when fork-tender. Turn chicken and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until juices run clear or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle reaches 165°F. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information (per ½ chicken breast each with ½ cup sweet potatoes)
This sweet-tangy mango salsa helps bring golden-brown tortilla chips and juicy, lime-infused chicken together into one perfect summer meal.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 6 Start to Finish: 15 minutes, plus 4 hours marinating time Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 15 minutes
For the chicken 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts 3 tablespoons avocado oil 1 lime, zest and juice 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon chili powder Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the salsa
1/2 large or 1 very small red onion 1 red bell pepper 1 just-ripe mango 1 lime, zest and juice 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or scallions
For the chips 3 large, non-hydrogenated, whole grain tortillas Avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1. For the chicken: Place the chicken breasts in a glass pie or baking dish. Drizzle with the oil and lime juice, then add the zest and spices. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Heat a grill pan over medium and add the chicken breasts, cooking 6-8 minutes per side, depending on how thick they are. 2. For the salsa: Dice up the red onion, pepper, and mango [I find it easiest to peel the mango, then cut it away from the disc-shaped pit, and then dice it] and toss to combine. Add in the lime juice and zest and the scallions or cilantro and let sit for at least 15 minutes, but ideally closer to 1-2 hours [using the refrigerator if making more than 30 minutes in advance]. 3. For the chips: Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Brush both sides of the tortillas with just enough oil to coat, then slice into wedges. Bake until nice and crunchy, about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Nutrition Information (per serving of chicken and salsa)
The secret to these chicken patties are grilling the chicken beforehand. Also, by using a combination of more flavorful dark meat thighs with white meat breasts, your patties will come out nice and juicy.
2 skinless chicken breast fillets, chopped into bite sized pieces 2 skinless chicken thigh fillets, chopped into bite sized pieces 1/2 large onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 tablespoon cumin 1 teaspoon + sea salt (adjust to taste) 1 tablespoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon sage 1 teaspoon pepper Oil for grilling
1. In a food processor or powerful blender, add all the ingredients and blend very well. 2. Remove from blender/food processor and form into 4 even-sized patties. 3. Coat a grill pan with oil on medium heat. Once hot, add the patties and cook 3-5 minutes, until golden brown/slightly charred before flipping and repeating until fully cooked. Remove from pan and wrap in aluminum foil and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate before heading off to work, and get grilling when you get home. Then kick back and enjoy your night with this mouthwatering Indian-inspired meal.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 35 minutes, plus marinating time Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 15 minutes
For the marinade 1 cup low fat Greek style yogurt 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half 1 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon) 2 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon garam masala 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon coriander 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the assembly 1 pound chicken breast, cut into cubes, about 1 ½ inches each 4 wooden skewers, soaked in water for an hour, or metal skewers 1 cup diced cucumber 1 cup diced tomato ¼ cup finely chopped scallions, 2 tortillas, pita or naan bread, sliced in half Lemon wedges for garnish
1. Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Add the chicken cubes, mix to well to coat, cover and let marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight. 2. When ready to grill, take the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes in advance. Wipe off excess marinade, put 4 chicken cubes on each skewer, and season with salt and pepper. 3. Pre-heat the grill to medium-high (400-450 degrees) and make sure grates are wiped clean to avoid having the chicken stick to the grill. 4. Cook chicken 5-6 minutes per side, until meat is firm and just cooked through. Place skewers on a plate, cover loosely with foil, and set aside. 5. While chicken is resting, lightly grill the bread on each side until warmed through. 6. In a separate bowl, mix the cucumber, tomato and scallions, and season with salt and pepper. 7. For the assembly, place one piece of bread on a plate, sprinkle with half a cup of chopped salad, top with one chicken skewer and serve with lemon wedge.
This one-man salad is a simple way to use leftover quinoa and grilled chicken. It can be thrown together in a matter of minutes to give you a satisfying meal for around 400 calories and 36 grams of protein.
The sweet and tart sesame-soy marinade is the perfect accompaniment to these incredibly delicious pineapple-chicken kabobs. Store the extra marinade (that hasn’t come in contact with any raw chicken) in the refrigerator for up to one week.
1. Preheat outdoor gas grill 2. Alternately thread cubed chicken pieces, pineapple, and peppers on eight 6-inch skewers; set aside 3. In a small bowl combine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil and water; whisk until thoroughly combined 4. Remove ¼ cup of the sesame-soy marinade and set the rest aside 5. Brush the ¼-cup marinade over kabobs 6. Reduce the heat on the gas grill to a medium 7. Place kabobs on grill rack, directly over heat. Cover and grill for 12 to 14 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through, turning once halfway through grilling. Remove kabobs from grill and transfer to a serving plate 8. Shake the reserved dressing and drizzle over kabobs or serve on the side
It’s always important to keep food safety in mind when handling chicken. When barbecuing chicken, use separate dishes for raw and cooked chicken. Also, keep a meat thermometer handy so you can check that your chicken is done. Studies have found that checking the color of poultry or meat is not as accurate using a thermometer.
12 oz raw chicken tenders (breast meat only) 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp chili powder 1 tsp oregano Cooking spray
1. Mix spices in a bag. Coat each chicken breast tender in the spice mix. 2. Heat over BBQ grill on low until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. 3. Serve or refrigerate in Tupperware with secure lid for up to 4 days.
Nutrition Information (per 3 oz chicken breast, seasoned without salt)
This Middle-Eastern dish is perfect over a bed of chilled Israeli chopped salad made from seasonal vegetables and herbs. You can also stuff a pita with the Shawarma and spoon over tahini and spicy red pepper sauce.
1. Place all ingredients except chicken in a bowl and mix, or pulse in a food processor to make a paste. 2. Rub chicken on all sides with the marinade and let sit 20 minutes (or up to 24 hours refrigerated). 3. Grill chicken on a pre-heated BBQ, on medium high heat, closing the lid to the BBQ, until all sides have nice grill marks, about 8 minutes each side. Finish chicken in a 350 F oven until cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes.
This fresh, healthy and nutritious salad is easy to prepare and tote to work. Choose whichever type of noodles suits your fancy like rice or soba noodles, or a specialty noodle found at your local health food store.
12 oz of chicken breast cutlets A pinch of salt 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons soy sauce 8.8 oz noodles 1 cup red tomatoes, quartered ¼ cup fresh chives, sliced A squeeze of lemon juice ¼ cup sunflower seeds A dash of olive oil (optional)
1. Season the chicken with the lemon juice, soy sauce and a pinch of salt. 2. Grill the chicken over a medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. 3. Cook noodles according to package directions. 4. Drain the noodles under cold water and transfer them to a salad bowl. 5. Stir in the tomatoes, chives, and lemon juice. 6. Finish by sprinkling the sunflower seeds. 7. If needed, season to taste with salt and olive oil.
Nutrition Information (per serving, with rice noodles and without olive oil)
1 pound grilled chicken, diced 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced 1 cup grapes, halved ½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced ½ red onion, diced 1½ teaspoons curry powder ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
1. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together until thoroughly coated. 2. Serve a scoop on top a bed of greens or in between two slices of seedy bread.
Nutrition Information (per serving, without optional greens or bread)
Jazz up your grilled chicken with maple and whiskey flavors. Alcohol is one of the most flavorful and low calorie to flavor poultry. When the whiskey is cooked on the grill, most of the calories and alcohol dissipate you’re left with is tasty.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 35 minutes, plus marinating time Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 30 minutes
1 lb Chicken, Breast, Meat Only, Raw-3 Large Chicken Breast (7-8oz Each) 1/4 cup Braggs all-purpose liquid soy (or low sodium soy sauce) 1/4 cup whisky, 40% alcohol 1/2 cup maple syrup 2 cloves garlic, raw 1/2 cup chopped onion 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Cut chicken breasts into cubes and place in a re-sealable plastic bag. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over chicken. Close the bag and refrigerate up to 24 hours or for a minimum of 3 hours. 2. Strain marinade into a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover saucepan and continue boiling marinade for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 3. If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes. 4. Preheat oven broiler or barbecue. 5. Thread marinated chicken onto skewers. Broil or grill the chicken for 7 to 10 minutes per side, basting frequently with reserved marinade, until chicken is no longer pink inside. 6. Serve with white or wild rice and grilled vegetables.