Spice up your chicken with 21 creative ideas
Chicken breasts. They're packed with protein, great for building muscle and leaving you feeling satisfied, but they're also incredibly versatile. They can be boring if you don't get a bit creative, but provided you buy high-quality, free-range chicken (we recommend getting yours from an organic market or local butchers) and make the most of herbs, spices and other flavourings, you can knock up some amazing, tasty, flavour-packed dishes that will put chicken at the top of your favourite ingredients list!
Our 21 ideas breathe new life into bland, boring chicken breasts, from soups to sandwiches, salads to inspired stews. Soon you'll be mixing and matching, coming up with your own ideas; there's so much you can do with chicken breasts.
#1. Lemon herb chicken
One-pan meals are great if (like the Expertrain team) you're always short on time and on-the-go. You'll need chicken stock, parsley, thyme, lemon, garlic and butter for this simple recipe – use fresh herbs as they really do make all the difference. We love to serve this with an avocado salad or maybe some parmesan sweet potato wedges, but mash would be great too.
#2. Spicy cayenne chicken with avocado salsa
Cayenne pepper briefly boosts your metabolism and is the perfect spice to pep up bland, boring chicken breasts. We love the Mexican flavours of the cooling salsa with lime, red onion and avocado, packed with heart-healthy fats.
#3. Jamaican Jerk chicken
Spicy Jamaican flavours are great year round but as the weather turns colder outside, this recipe really comes into its own. With cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, thyme, sugar and sage adding bags of flavour, this chicken tastes delicious served with fibre-packed kidney beans and brown rice.
#4. Hawaiian chicken
We'll be honest – we're not sure why this recipe is called Hawaiian chicken; it tastes more Asian-inspired to us! With super-healthy coconut milk, the simple ingredients in this marinade make the chicken tender and tasty. Serve it with coconut rice and plenty of vegetables or slice it up for wraps and sandwiches to take for lunch at work.
#5. Lemony chicken with cucumber feta salad
Salty, creamy feta, fresh cucumber, antioxidant-packed tomatoes and a honey, lemon, mustard and olive oil dressing makes this salad the perfect accompaniment to simple lemon and dill marinated chicken breasts. We recommend marinating the chicken for around two hours; that gives you just enough time to head to the gym for a treadmill workout or enjoy a dance class!
#6. Avocado chicken salad
If you've already tried our avocado salad recipe, here's another for you. This one uses Greek yogurt, one of our favourite ingredients. This is amazing served as a filling for baked sweet potatoes, or spread on crackers or crispbread for a delicious lunch as a great healthy alternative to tuna mayo.
#7. Thai chicken salad
Whip up this bowl of chicken salad after an intensive session of boxing or weight training – with 40g of protein and less than 400 calories it will help repair tissues and build muscle! Protein-packed quinoa, chicken breast, edamame beans and plenty of vegetables ensure you'll be well on your way to five-a-day. The recipe recommends using powdered peanut butter, but we prefer to use organic almond or another nut butter in the Thai inspired dressing, which also contains good fats from the olive oil.
#8. Chicken pesto sandwich
This is a recipe for lazy weekend brunches when you have a bit more time to spare preparing something really tasty. Making your own pesto rather than buying it in your local supermarket means you'll know exactly what's in it – in this case that's just fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil. Add Greek yogurt, salad vegetables (we like cucumber and tomatoes) and chicken breast and serve in a baguette, as a wholemeal toastie or in flatbread. Yum!
#9. Chicken noodle soup with a twist
Chicken noodle soup is great if you have a cold or have come down with flu – this version is packed with Chinese flavours thanks to the sesame oil, soy, dry sherry and rice vinegar. Spring onions and garlic help to boost your immune system. Keep a batch in the freezer, so you can just heat it up and add noodles whenever you need something comforting.
#10. Cure-a-cold chicken soup
This Rachael Ray recipe is a more traditional version of chicken noodle soup. It's that time of year when many of us come down with a cold, so add this vegetable-packed soup to your menu, with herbs, onions and garlic. Try to use organic or home-made chicken stock if you can.
#11. Mexican chicken stew
This spicy chicken stew uses chipotle paste for its fiery Mexican flavour. Lycopene from the tomatoes, fibre from pinto beans, protein from the quinoa and chicken and antioxidant-loaded red peppers make this Mexican stew a super-healthy meal.
#12. Pesto, chicken and white bean soup
Healthy chicken soup is perfect to come to after a stressful day at work or an intensive training session at the gym. Make your own basil pesto in advance and add cannelini beans, an excellent source of fibre. This recipe also uses courgette, which is rich in vitamin C and one of our favourite ingredients.
#13. Thai green curry
We're a bit particular about our Thai food – it has to be hot, sweet, sour and salty in order to taste authentic, so make sure you use proper Thai green curry paste such as Mae Ploy or Maesri, found in most Asian supermarkets. We leave out the cuttle fish and instead add extra vegetables, such as baby sweetcorn, mangetout or anything else green you fancy – green peppers are a nice addition! This freezes well so it's ideal to cook at the weekend and enjoy for dinner throughout the week.
#14. Easy pesto chicken
Home-made pesto is the perfect way to flavour chicken breasts, but this recipe uses kale and basil pesto. Kale is packed with antioxidants and adds anti-inflammatory benefits to your pesto. By cooking the chicken breasts in coconut oil, you'll enjoy a happier, healthier heart.
#15. Spinach and feta chicken
Spinach is loaded with iron, so it's ideal if you don't eat much red meat. Use whole wheat breadcrumbs made from stale bread, and add salty feta and creamy ricotta cheese – a little of what you fancy does you good! Good fats from the olive oil and amino acids and protein from the egg make this dish pretty healthy; serve it with a mixed salad, rice or quinoa.
#16. Coconut mango chicken
Tropical flavours compliment chicken breasts really well, although we like to add some chopped red chillies to the mango salsa for a little extra heat. The chicken in this recipe is coated in natural, unsweetened shredded coconut, the perfect alternative to breadcrumbs for anyone on a low carb diet.
#17. Spicy apricot chicken
This is so easy to make, so it's a great option if you need a quick dinner before or after a run. Use organic apricot jam; choose one with no preservatives or additives, and add chilli flakes for heat. It only takes around 15 to 20 minutes to bake the chicken in the oven, and you can serve it with rice and vegetables for a healthy dinner.
#18. Spicy chicken pizza
Use our cauliflower pizza base for a healthier take on this spicy pizza, which is a great way to use up leftover chicken. Spicy jalapenos, cheese, antioxidant and vitamin C packed tomatoes and a whole host of other vegetables make this pizza something special. Use aubergine or courgette in places of Asian eggplant.
#19. Chicken, edamame and ginger pilaf
This fibre and vitamin C packed pilaf uses edamame beans, a complete protein; you can use fresh or frozen. With the addition of rice, chicken and a few spices, you have a delicious one-pot meal that's great to share with friends.
#20. Harissa chicken and chickpea salad
If you haven't read our post on chickpeas, now's the time! This fibre-filled recipe incorporates fresh, summery flavours into the chickpea salad which is the perfect match for the spicy, smoky harissa chicken. Add some chopped avocado to the salad and serve with wholemeal pita bread.
#21. All-in-one chicken and vegetable roast
This simple, delicious recipe works with whatever vegetables you have to hand. We like to use red onions, peppers, sweet potatoes and courgettes for a healthier take. The vegetables and chicken cook in the stock for a delicious one-dish roast that's low in fat and great for weekends.
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