Easy Chicken and Vegetable Meal Prep

This simple chicken and vegetable meal prep is an easy way to prepare meals ahead to save time and money, plus it’s customizable!

The post Easy Chicken and Vegetable Meal Prep appeared first on Budget Bytes.

It’s January again and this time of year there are a LOT of people experimenting with meal prep, whether it be for budget reasons, health reasons, or maybe you’re just trying to work on organization and time management. Well, this blog post is simply to remind you that meal prep doesn’t have to be complicated. This Easy Chicken and Vegetable Meal Prep is what I make when I don’t want to think too hard. It’s easy, always satisfying, and there is plenty of room for customization.

Four rectangular glass meal prep containers with chicken, brussels sprouts and sweet potato

The Meal Prep Formula

The easiest way to meal prep is to use a simple formula and just plug ingredients into the formula. So for this meal prep, I used the protein + veg + veg formula. Sometimes I do a protein + veg + grain. Either way, I keep the cooking method and seasonings simple to reduce effort.

A third formula that I use sometimes is refrigerator salad + protein. This formula is a little more involved, in my opinion, because salads tend to take a little more prep work than a simple roasted vegetable.

Other Vegetable Options

As mentioned above, one of the reasons I love this simple meal prep is that it’s super customizable. If you’re not a fan of the vegetables I used, you can swap them out with just about anything. Here are some options:

Keep the Seasonings Simple

One of the keys to keeping this meal prep fast and easy is to not overthink the seasonings. This is one time when I usually lean heavily on pre-made seasoning blends. I don’t want to pull out ten bottles of herbs and spices, I just want to add a sprinkle-sprinkle of one thing and that and be done with it. Some great seasoning options are steak seasoning, cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, chili seasoning, za’atar, curry powder, garlic herb seasoning, lemon pepper, or Greek seasoning.

I usually season the protein heavily, and then keep the seasonings for the vegetables quite simple (salt, pepper, maybe garlic powder) so they aren’t competing too much.

Bulk it Up

A great way to bulk this meal up a bit without adding too much to the cost is to add a grain. Try rice, quinoa, bulgur, farro, or barley are all great options. Try cooking your grain in broth instead of water for an easy extra dose of flavor.

lineup of meal prep containers with chicken, brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes
lineup of meal prep containers with chicken, brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes

Chicken and Vegetable Meal Prep

This simple chicken and vegetable meal prep is an easy way to prepare meals ahead to save time and money, plus it's customizable!
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Total Cost $10.59 recipe / $2.65 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 461kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts $1.99
  • 1.25 lbs. sweet potato* $1.25
  • 3 Tbsp cooking oil, divided $0.12
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 1.3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $6.79
  • 2 tsp steak seasoning $0.20
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika $0.05
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.10

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rinse the Brussels sprouts and slice them in half. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  • Wash the sweet potato then slice it in half lengthwise. Prick the outside surface with a fork. Rub 1 Tbsp oil over all surfaces of the sweet potato. Place the sweet potato, cut sides down, on the baking sheet with the Brussels sprouts.
  • Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir the Brussels sprouts, then return the baking sheet to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the Brussels sprouts have reached your desired level of browning. If the sweet potato is not softened all the way through at this point, just remove the sprouts and return the sweet potato to the oven.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the chicken breast. Combine the steak seasoning, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika in a bowl. Coat the chicken breasts in the seasoning mixture.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the chicken breasts.
  • Cook the chicken breasts, without flipping, for about 8 minutes, or until well browned on the bottom. Flip the breasts and cook on the second side until well browned and cooked through (internal temperature 165ºF). Cooking time will vary with the thickness of the chicken.
  • Transfer the cooked chicken breast to a clean cutting board to rest for five minutes before slicing.
  • Cut the sweet potato halves in half once again to create four portions. Divide the sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and sliced chicken between four containers. Add a pat of butter to each piece of sweet potato. Refrigerate up to four days.

Notes

*I had one very large sweet potato and used ¼ of the potato per portion. You could also use two smaller sweet potatoes and use ½ of each per meal prep.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 18g | Sodium: 448mg | Fiber: 9g

How to Make Chicken and Vegetable Meal Prep – Step by Step Photos

Prepped Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rinse one pound of Brussels sprouts and slice them in half. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with 1 Tbsp cooking oil, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat the Brussels sprouts.

Prepped sweet potatoes on the baking sheet with Brussels sprouts

Wash a sweet potato (or two) and slice it in half length-wise. Use a fork to prick the outer skin. Rub a tablespoon of cooking oil over all surfaces of the sweet potato. Place the sweet potato, cut sides down, on the baking sheet with the Brussels sprouts.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato

Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes, then stir the Brussels sprouts and return everything to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the Brussels have browned to your liking. If the sweet potatoes are not softened all the way through, simply remove the Brussels and return the sweet potato to the oven until tender.

Seasoned chicken breasts on a cutting board

While the vegetables are in the oven, prepare the chicken. Coat the outside of two boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a mix of 2 tsp steak seasoning, ½ tsp smoked paprika, and ½ tsp sweet paprika.

oil being added to the skillet

Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-low.

Cooked Chicken breasts in the skillet

Once the skillet and oil are hot, add the seasoned chicken breasts. Cook on one side, without flipping, for about 8 minutes or until well browned on the bottom. Flip the chicken breasts and cook on the second side until well browned and cooked through (internal temperature of 165º).

Sliced chicken breasts

Transfer the chicken breast to a clean cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

meal prep containers full of chicken, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potato scattered on the surface

Divide the Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, and chicken between four meal prep containers. Add a pat of butter to each sweet potato. Refrigerate up to four days.

The post Easy Chicken and Vegetable Meal Prep appeared first on Budget Bytes.

How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan

Learn how to cook tender, juicy, and flavorful boneless chicken breasts in a pan. Perfect for quick dinners and meal prep!

The post How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan appeared first on Budget Bytes.

The last two times I bought chicken breast at the grocery store, the cashiers asked me how to cook them (I had to wonder if they secretly knew what I did for a living 😅). While it can seem like a simple process, it can definitely go wrong if not done properly. And I’m not about to let you big $$$ dry, tasteless chicken breasts. So here is my full tutorial on how to cook chicken breast in a pan so that it stays juicy, flavorful, and tender.

Two chicken breasts in a skillet garnished with parsley

Why I Love Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

This has become my go-to method for cooking chicken breasts. Not only is it super fast and easy, but you get a lot of delicious browning on the outside of the meat, which is something that doesn’t happen in the gentle heat of an oven. Plus, you can change the seasoning and make it taste like something new every time!

I’ve begun cooking a couple of chicken breasts at the beginning of each week, slicing them up, then storing them in the refrigerator to add to salads, pasta, sandwiches, and bowls over the next few days. It’s only a few minutes of prep and then I’ve got an easy protein ready to add to any meal. Here is a roundup of flexible recipes that are perfect for adding any protein, like pan-seared chicken breasts.

Cooking Boneless vs. Bone-in Chicken Breasts

The cooking technique below is for boneless chicken breasts (with or without skin). Bone-in chicken breasts take much longer to cook through, so you’ll want to utilize the oven to make sure the breast heats through completely without burning on the outside. For bone-in chicken breasts, I suggest using the method outlined in my Herb Roasted Chicken Breast recipe.

How Long to Cook Chicken Breasts in a Skillet

The amount of time needed to cook a chicken breast in a pan will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breast, the amount of heat used, and the type of cookware used. To take the guesswork out of how long to cook the chicken breasts, I suggest using an instant-read meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the chicken breast has reached 165ºF.

Thick Chicken Breasts

Thick chicken breasts take longer to cook through than thin chicken breasts, so I like to use lower heat (medium-low) and a longer cook time, which allows time for the meat to heat through without the outside burning. For a boneless chicken breast that is about one inch thick, I cook for about 8 minutes per side over medium-low heat.

Thin Chicken Breasts

If you buy thin cut breasts, fillet the chicken breasts yourself, or use a mallet to pound the chicken breasts to ½-inch thick, they will cook much faster. You’ll want to increase the heat to medium so you can still achieve some browning on the outside with a shorter cook time. For thinner breasts, I cook for about 4-5 minutes per side.

How to Season Chicken Breasts

I used a very classic smoky seasoning for the chicken breasts in the recipe below, but there are so many other delicious options. Here are some other ways you can season your pan-seared chicken breasts:

side view of chicken breasts in a skillet
close up of cooked chicken breasts in the skillet

Pan Seared Chicken Breasts

Learn how to cook tender, juicy, and flavorful boneless chicken breasts in a pan. Perfect for quick dinners and meal prep! 
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Cost $7.27 recipe / $0.91 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 229kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp steak seasoning $0.20
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika $0.05
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1.3 lbs. total) $6.79
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 1 Tbsp butter (optional) $0.10

Instructions

  • Combine the steak seasoning, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika in a bowl. Coat the chicken breasts liberally with the seasoning on all sides.
  • Add the cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-low (or medium for thin-cut breasts). Once hot, swirl the oil to coat the skillet.
  • Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook for about 8 minutes without flipping (5 minutes for thin-cut breasts). Flip the chicken and then cook on the second side until well browned and cooked through (internal temperature of 165ºF).
  • For extra luscious chicken, add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet, allow it to melt, then flip the chicken a couple of times to coat in the melted butter.
  • Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and allow it to rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 10g | Sodium: 197mg | Fiber: 1g
close up side view of sliced chicken breasts

How to Make Cook Chicken Breasts in a Pan – Step by Step Photos

Seasoned chicken breasts on a cutting board

Begin by seasoning the chicken breast liberally on each side. I used a mix of 2 tsp steak seasoning, ½ tsp smoked paprika, and ½ tsp sweet paprika. The steak seasoning contains salt, so no extra salt was needed in my mix.

oil being added to the skillet

Add a tablespoon or so of your favorite cooking oil to a large skillet. Heat the skillet over medium-low (or medium heat for thin cut breasts).

Cooked Chicken breasts in the skillet

Once hot, swirl the oil in the skillet to coat the surface, then add the chicken breasts. Let the chicken breasts cook for 8 minutes without flipping (or 5 minutes for thin cut breasts). Flip once and cook until well browned on the second side and cooked through.

Butter added to the skillet

To make the chicken breasts extra luscious, add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet, allow it to melt, then flip the chicken a couple of times to coat. The butter will help dissolve some of the flavor off the bottom of the skillet to further coat the chicken.

Sliced chicken breasts

Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and allow it to rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.

close up of cooked chicken breasts in the skillet

The post How to Cook Chicken Breast in a Pan appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken is tender, juicy, tangy, and rich all at the same time! Perfect for sandwiches, nachos, salads, pizza, and more.

The post Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken recipe was one of the top things I was looking forward to making once I figured out the formula for my Homemade Ranch Seasoning. The slow-cooked chicken is tender, spicy, tangy, and rich all at the same time and there are a hundred different ways you can use it! Sandwiches, dips, salads, pizza, and more. I’ve got a full list of how to use this insanely easy and delish shredded buffalo chicken below, so don’t miss it! I’m sure this is something you’ll want to make over and over again throughout football season and the holidays.

Shredded buffalo chicken in a slow cooker with tongs

What is Buffalo Sauce?

If you’re unfamiliar with this American classic, Buffalo Sauce is basically a combination of hot sauce (traditionally Frank’s Red Hot Sauce) and butter, which creates a super tangy, spicy, and slightly rich sauce that is used to coat fried chicken, among other things. For this slow cooker buffalo chicken, we’ve gone one step further and added ranch seasoning mix, which is a super tasty combination of buttermilk powder, herbs, and spices. The ranch seasoning adds a huge burst of flavor to the sauce and makes it even a little bit more creamy. It’s just to die for!

What Kind of Hot Sauce to Use

As mentioned above, buffalo sauce is usually made with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, but you can use any similar vinegar-based cayenne flavored hot sauce for this recipe. I used the ALDI version of Frank’s and it was great!

Can I Substitute the Ranch Mix?

The ranch seasoning mix really brings a lot of flavor to this sauce, so I would avoid skipping it if possible. If you don’t have the ingredients to make your own ranch seasoning mix you can definitely use one packet of store-bought ranch seasoning in place of the ingredients listed below. Or, if you want to use your own herbs and spices but just don’t have the buttermilk powder, that will still taste really good, just slightly less rich.

How to Use Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Okay, here’s the fun part. How do you use this delicious shredded buffalo chicken? SO MANY WAYS. Here are some ideas:

  • As a buffalo chicken sandwich or wrap: bun or tortilla, coleslaw, pickles, ranch dressing
  • On nachos: on tortilla chips with lettuce, shredded carrot, and a drizzle of ranch dressing
  • Make a buffalo chicken dip: stir cream cheese into the shredded chicken until melted for a super creamy dip
  • In a quesadilla: fill a tortilla with the chicken and shredded Monterey jack cheese, then toast in a skillet
  • On a salad: pile the chicken onto crisp iceberg, top with chopped celery, shredded carrots, and blue cheese dressing
  • Pizza: add it to a pizza with a white sauce and top with a little mozzarella and maybe a drizzle of ranch after baking

My mouth is totally watering just typing all of that out! This stuff is seriously so good.

Close up side view of shredded buffalo chicken in the slow cooker with tongs
Close up side view of shredded buffalo chicken in the slow cooker with tongs

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken is tender, juicy, tangy, and rich all at the same time! Perfect for sandwiches, nachos, salads, pizza, and more.
Total Cost $12.65 recipe / $1.58 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 ½ cup each
Calories 191kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Ranch Seasoning*

  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk powder $0.15
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill $0.03
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp sugar $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.01

Buffalo Chicken

  • 12 oz. hot sauce $2.19
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts $9.53
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.40

Instructions

  • Combine the ranch seasoning (buttermilk powder, parsley, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon pepper, sugar, salt, and pepper) and hot sauce in a bowl.
  • Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a 3 quart or larger slow cooker. Cut the butter into chunks and place the butter on top of the chicken. Pour the hot sauce mixture over the chicken and butter.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low heat for four hours. After four hours, use two forks to shred the chicken (if it's not tender enough to shred yet, let it cook a little longer).
  • Serve the shredded chicken and sauce on sandwiches, in quesadillas, on top of nachos or salads, or as a dip for crackers and chips.

Notes

*You can use a store-bought packet of ranch seasoning instead of the homemade mix, if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 191kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 1350mg | Fiber: 1g
tongs holding a scoop of buffalo chicken over the slow cooker

How to Make Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken – Step by Step Photos

ranch seasoning being poured into a bowl of hot sauce

Combine the ingredients for the ranch seasoning (2 Tbsp buttermilk powder, ½ tsp dried parsley, ¼ tsp dried dill, ¼ tsp onion powder, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp lemon pepper, ⅛ tsp sugar, ⅛ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper) with one 12 oz. bottle of vinegar-based hot sauce.

Chicken and butter in the slow cooker

Place about 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast in the bottom of a slow cooker. Cut 4 Tbsp butter into chunks and place them on top of the chicken.

Hot sauce mixture being poured over the chicken in the slow cooker

Pour the hot sauce mixture over the chicken and butter in the slow cooker.

Cooked buffalo chicken in the slow cooker

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook the chicken on low heat for four hours.

two forks shredding the chicken in the slow cooker

After four hours the chicken should be tender and easily shreddable using two forks (if it’s not, let it cook another 30 minutes).

shredded chicken in buffalo sauce in the slow cooker

Fully shred the chicken, then enjoy!

A buffalo chicken sandwich with coleslaw
Shown on a bun with Creamy Coleslaw.

The post Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad

If you think a salad can’t fill you up, think again. This awesomely crunchy and flavorful Kale and Chicken Salad is chock full of juicy chicken breast, almonds, celery, and lots of fiberlicious kale to keep your belly full. And flavor? Oh don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the flavor. A tangy, sweet, and creamy […]

The post Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

If you think a salad can’t fill you up, think again. This awesomely crunchy and flavorful Kale and Chicken Salad is chock full of juicy chicken breast, almonds, celery, and lots of fiberlicious kale to keep your belly full. And flavor? Oh don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the flavor. A tangy, sweet, and creamy honey Dijon dressing drenches the salad in tons of flavor. Throw a few sweet golden raisins on top for a pop of sweetness and you’ve got salad magic. And the best part? All of these ingredients hold up well to refrigeration, so this salad is perfect for your weekly meal prep. 🙌

Originally posted 7-28-2014, updated 8-16-2021.

Dressing being poured over a kale and chicken salad

If you love regular chicken salad, I think you’ll love this kale and chicken salad as well. It has all the same flavors as traditional chicken salad, but the ingredients are piled onto a bed of greens and the dressing is made slightly thinner so that it’s pourable instead of acting like a thick binder. And just as with regular chicken salad, there is a lot of room for customization here, so keep reading for some ideas.

Can I Use Different Greens?

Sure! If you’re not into kale, you can swap it out with your favorite greens. I think a crunchy green like Romaine or finely shredded cabbage would probably be best, but you could use any green that you like to use for fresh salads.

What Kind of Chicken to Use

I used plain chicken breast that I cooked quickly in a skillet and then diced, but you can take a shortcut and use store-bought rotisserie chicken instead. You’ll need about 1.5 cups of chopped cooked chicken for this recipe. 

Raisin Substitutes

I love the mildly sweet golden raisins in this recipe, but you could swap them out with dried cranberries, chopped apples for more crunch, or even fresh grapes (sliced). 

Dressing Options

If you don’t want to make your own homemade dressing for this salad, a store-bought honey mustard or poppyseed dressing would be awesome with the flavors in this salad.

How to Meal Prep Kale and Chicken Salad

The sturdy, crunchy nature of the ingredients in this salad means that it holds up extremely well to refrigeration without much effort. I would store the dressing on the side just to maintain maximum crunch-factor, but other than that, all of the ingredients can be stored together in single-serving containers. The prepped salads will stay good in the fridge for about 3-4 days.

Side view of dressing being poured onto kale and chicken salad

dressing being poured over kale and chicken salad

Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad

This Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad is full of flavor, texture, and a tangy-sweet homemade dressing. It's perfect for your weekly meal prep!
Total Cost $8.29 recipe / $2.07 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 446kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1.5 cups chopped cooked chicken $4.33
  • 6 cups chopped kale $1.25
  • 1 cup chopped celery $0.37
  • 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds $0.79
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins $0.47

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise $0.50
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar $0.18
  • 1.5 Tbsp honey $0.27
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.09
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Chop the cooked chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Clean the celery and chop into similar small bite-sized pieces.
  • Remove the kale from the stems, tear it into 1-2 inch pieces, rinse well in a colander, and drain well.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt, and pepper.
  • To build the salad, start with a base of kale, top with the chopped chicken and celery, almonds, and raisins. Drizzle the dressing over top, toss until everything is coated, then enjoy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1salad | Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 444mg | Fiber: 2g
Love kale salads? Try these other awesome kale salads:

Tossed kale and chicken salad in a bowl next to the serving platter full of kale salad

How to Make Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad – Step by Step Photos

Cooked chicken breast in the skillet

You can us any pre-cooked chicken for this recipe and you’ll need about 1.5 cups once chopped. I used one chicken breast (⅔ lb. total) that I filleted into two thinner pieces so that it would cook quickly in a skillet. Once browned on the outside and cooked through, I simply let it cool for 5-10 minutes and then chopped it into small pieces.

Salad dressing ingredients in a bowl

While my chicken was cooling, I made the dressing. This dressing is very similar to a dressing you’d use for chicken salad, but it’s a little bit thinner so it’s pourable and will easily coat all of the kale. In a bowl, whisk together ½ cup mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1.5 Tbsp honey, ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Washed kale in a colander

Next, prep the kale. I used bagged kale that comes pre-chopped because it’s super convenient and just about the same price as bunched kale. If your kale is still on the stem, simply pull it off the stem and tear it into 1-2 inch pieces. Rinse it in a colander and then let it drain well. Watery salad is never good. I used ½ of a one-pound bag, or about 6 cups of chopped leaves.

Chopped celery on a cutting board

Next, dice two ribs of celery, or about 1 cup once chopped.

chopped chicken on a cutting board

Chop the cooked chicken to similar sized pieces (about 1.5 cups chopped).

Kale salad topped with chicken and celery

Then just build your salad(s)! You can either build one large salad or build it as four smaller single-serving portions. Start with your bed of chopped kale, then add the chopped chicken and celery…

raisins and almonds added to the salad

Then add ⅓ cup almonds (sliced or slivered) and ⅓ cup golden raisins.

dressing being poured over kale and chicken salad

Pour your dressing over top just before serving.

tossed kale salad in a bowl next to the serving platter

Toss to coat everything in dressing and enjoy! (I added a little extra cracked black pepper on top because I love pepper!)

The post Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Chicken Salad with Apples

I’m kind of obsessed with chicken salad lately. It’s easy to prepare, super filling, and the perfect cold meal during these hot summer months. I especially love this chicken salad with apples because it’s full of sweet and crunchy apples, sweet-tart dried cranberries, and a simple homemade dressing that has a bright fresh flavor thanks […]

The post Chicken Salad with Apples appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m kind of obsessed with chicken salad lately. It’s easy to prepare, super filling, and the perfect cold meal during these hot summer months. I especially love this chicken salad with apples because it’s full of sweet and crunchy apples, sweet-tart dried cranberries, and a simple homemade dressing that has a bright fresh flavor thanks to the addition of yogurt. And as usual, there are plenty of ways you can add to or swap out ingredients in this chicken salad, so keep reading for ideas! 

Originally posted 10-10-2011, updated 8-5-2021.

Overhead view of a bowl of chicken salad with ingredients on the sides

What Kind of Cooked Chicken to Use

I cooked up some fresh chicken breasts just before making my chicken salad (see the step by step photos below the recipe), but rotisserie chicken is a really convenient option. If using rotisserie chicken, simply pull the meat from the bone, remove the skin, and give the meat a rough chop. You’ll need about 3 cups of chopped chicken for this recipe. You can also use canned chicken breast, if needed, although that option will have the least desirable texture and flavor of the three options.

What Else Can I Add to My Chicken Salad?

Chicken salad is so flexible. Nuts pair really well with the flavors of this salad, so you can try adding some almonds or chopped pecans. Finely diced celery is also nice for some extra crunch. And if you don’t have dried cranberries, golden raisins or fresh grapes also work really well in this recipe.

How Long Does This Chicken Salad Last?

Chicken salad is usually good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but it can vary depending on the freshness of your chicken and the conditions inside your refrigerator. This salad should not be frozen.

How to Serve Chicken Salad with Apples

You can eat chicken salad several different ways. The most common is as a chicken salad sandwich and you can do this on your favorite bread, on a croissant (like in the photos), or in a wrap. Chicken salad is also a great topper for a green salad, or you can serve it with crackers and a delicious dip (you might want to chop the chicken and apples a little smaller in that case).

Overhead view of chicken salad sandwiches with croissants

Love chicken salad? You might also like Curry Chicken Salad or Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad.

Side view of a bowl of chicken salad with apples, croissants in the background

Chicken Salad with Apples

This chicken salad is packed with sweet and crunchy apples, tart dried cranberries, and a light and creamy homemade dressing.
Total Cost $10.35 recipe / $2.59 serving
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 1 cup each
Calories 367kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken $7.97
  • 1 apple (1.5 cups chopped) $0.76
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion $0.20
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries $0.22
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise $0.53
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt $0.35
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.18
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Chop the cooked chicken and the apple into small pieces. Finely dice the red onion.
  • Place the chicken, apple, onion, and dried cranberries in a large bowl.
  • Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, Dijon, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir until smooth.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients in the bowl and stir until everything is coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 395mg | Fiber: 2g

Side view of a bowl of chicken salad with apples, croissants in the background

How to Make Chicken Salad with Apples – Step By Step Photos

Cooked chicken breast in a skillet

You’ll need about 3 cups chopped cooked chicken for this recipe, so if you’re not using rotisserie chicken, you’ll want to cook some chicken first. I used two chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs. total). I filleted each breast in half to make two thinner pieces, which helps them cook more quickly and evenly. Then I just cooked them in a skillet with a little oil over medium heat until they were golden brown on each side and cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF.

Chopped chicken on a cutting board

Allow the chicken to cool for 5-10 minutes before chopping it into small pieces.

Chopped apple on a cutting board

Chop one apple into small pieces (about 1.5 cups). You’ll probably want to use a variety of apple that is sweet or sweet-tart, like a Fuji or Gala. Also finely dice about ¼ cup red onion.

Chicken salad ingredients in a bowl

Add the chopped chicken, diced apple, diced red onion, and ¼ cup dried cranberries to a bowl.

chicken salad dressing ingredients in a bowl

To make the salad dressing, combine ⅓ cup mayonnaise, ⅓ cup plain yogurt, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Stir until evenly combined and smooth.

Dressing being poured over the chicken salad ingredients

Pour the prepared dressing over top of the salad ingredients.

Finished chicken salad with apples in a bowl

Stir until the salad ingredients are combined and coated with dressing. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Chicken salad sandwiches made with croissants on a wooden cutting board

The post Chicken Salad with Apples appeared first on Budget Bytes.

13 Celebratory Chicken Recipes for Rosh Hashanah

I grew up a Korean-American Presbyterian girl in New York’s lower Westchester county, in a town that was predominantly Irish and Italian-Catholic, but was also home to many Jewish-American families. I will always credit my best friend, Liz, who lived n…

I grew up a Korean-American Presbyterian girl in New York’s lower Westchester county, in a town that was predominantly Irish and Italian-Catholic, but was also home to many Jewish-American families. I will always credit my best friend, Liz, who lived next door, for being my gateway into a lifelong exposure of Jewish culture: lighting candles on Hanukkah; accompanying her to temple where we’d chase each other (instead of her going to class); cracking up over Mel Brooks movies on our sleepovers; her trying to teach me to read Hebrew; and how my first teaching job out of college was at a Hassidic preschool in Stamford, Connecticut.

As Morah Caroline, I taught children how to make challah, led brachas before meals, and kept Kosher in my professional life (while downing non-kosher everythings at her nearby apartment after work). The memories of being an “honorary member” of a Jewish family remain truly some of my happiest, and still make for the best times as an adult, right down to having a hora at my Korean-Presbyterian-Taiwanese-Colombian-Catholic wedding!

Read More >>

Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice

This easy one-pot chipotle lime chicken and rice is tangy, smoky, spicy, and incredibly delicious. Makes a great main dish or meal prep!

The post Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m all about cooking as much flavor into rice as possible and this Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice is FLA-VOR-FUL! You’ve got a hefty dose of spices, tangy lime juice, and a bunch of flavor from the chicken that cooks right in the same pot. It turns out smoky, spicy, tangy, and oh so delicious! And don’t worry, I’ve got some suggested sides to round out your meal listed below.

chipotle lime chicken and rice in the skillet, garnished with lime wedges

What is Chipotle Powder?

Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeño peppers. They give a beautifully spicy, smoky flavor to everything. You can buy chipotle peppers dried, canned with adobo sauce, or ground into a powder. This recipe uses the powdered form, which can be found along with other herbs and spices in the spice aisle.

Can I Use Bone-In Chicken?

The quick cooking method used in this recipe is not suitable for bone-in chicken breasts, as they require a much longer cooking time. It may work with smaller bone-in chicken thighs, but you’ll want to use a meat thermometer to make sure they reach 165ºF on the inside. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs work just as well as the boneless, skinless chicken breast for this recipe.

Tomato Options

You have a few options for the diced tomatoes in this recipe. I used a can of plain diced tomatoes because that is what was available the day I made this, but I also tried it with fire-roasted diced tomatoes while in the recipe testing phase and they were fantastic. You could also do a petite diced tomatoes if you don’t like such large tomato pieces, or even a diced tomato with green chiles if you want it extra-EXTRA spicy.

What to Serve with Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice

Because this dish is so spicy you’ll probably want to pair it with something that has a cooling effect, so something that is creamy or can be served cold to balance the heat. A little dollop of sour cream on top would be good, or maybe a slice or two of avocado, if you have it. And I highly suggest something green to round out the colors on your plate. Here are some great side dish options:

Side view of chipotle lime chicken and rice in a bowl
Chipotle lime chicken and rice in the skillet garnished with limes

Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice

This easy one-pot chipotle lime chicken and rice is tangy, smoky, spicy, and incredibly delicious. Makes a great main dish or meal prep!
Total Cost $9.16 recipe / $2.29 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 393kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tsp chipotle powder $0.15
  • 1 tsp ground cumin $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.05
  • 1 lime $0.50
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $5.79
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes* $0.59
  • 1 cup chicken broth $0.13
  • 1 cup long grain white rice $0.62
  • 2 green onions, sliced $0.22
  • 1 oz. Cotija cheese (optional) $0.55

Instructions

  • Combine the chipotle powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a bowl. Squeeze 2 Tbsp juice from the lime into a separate bowl (this should be about half a lime, save the other half to cut into wedges for garnish).
  • Use a rolling pin or a mallet to gently pound the chicken breast to an even thickness (about ¾-inch thick). Use half of the prepared spice mix to coat both sides of the chicken pieces (reserve the other half of the spices for later).
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large deep skillet over medium. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until browned. The chicken does not need to be fully cooked, just browned on both sides. It will continue to cook with the rice.
  • While the chicken is cooking, dice the onion. Remove the browned chicken from the skillet to a clean plate. Add the diced onion to the skillet and sauté until softened. Add the remaining spices and sauté for one minute more.
  • Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), rice, chicken broth, and lime juice to the skillet with the onions. Stir to combine and dissolve any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the browned chicken back to the skillet. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium high, and allow the liquid to come up to a boil.
  • Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, and allow the chicken and rice to simmer on low for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the skillet rest, without lifting the lid, for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Finally, remove the lid, transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Fluff the rice to stir the tomato and onion back in. Slice the chicken then place it on top of the rice. Sprinkle with slice green onion and Cotija cheese. Add any remaining lime wedges, and serve!

Notes

*You can use plain diced tomatoes, petite diced tomatoes, fire roasted diced tomatoes, or diced tomatoes with chiles.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 887mg | Fiber: 3g
Side view of chipotle lime chicken and rice in a skillet

How to Make Chipotle Lime Chicken and Rice – Step by Step Photos

Spices in a wooden bowl

Combine 1.5 tsp chipotle powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, and ½ tsp salt in a bowl. Squeeze about 2 Tbsp juice from a lime into a separate bowl (that should be about ½ the lime, so you can save the other half to make wedges for garnish).

Seasoned chicken breast on an orange cutting board

Use a rolling pin or a mallet to gently pound 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts out to an even thickness (about ¾-inch thick). Use half of the spice blend to season both sides of the chicken. Save the other half of the spices for later.

Cooked chicken in a skillet

Heat 1 Tbsp cooking oil in a large deep skillet. Once hot, add the seasoned chicken and cook for a few minutes on both sides, or just until browned. It doesn’t have to be cooked through here because it will cook more with the rice.

Cooked onion in the skillet with spices

While the chicken is cooking, dice one yellow onion. Remove the browned chicken to a clean plate, then add the diced onion in its place. Sauté the onion for a few minutes, or until softened, then add the remaining spices and sauté for one minute more.

diced tomatoes, rice, and broth added to the skillet

Add one 15oz. can diced tomatoes, 1 cup long grain white rice, 1 cup chicken broth, and 2 Tbps lime juice to the skillet. Stir briefly to combine and dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.

Chicken added back to the skillet

Add the browned chicken back to the skillet. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the liquid to come up to a boil.

Cooked chicken and rice in the skillet

Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the pot simmer on low for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, with the lid in place, for another 5 minutes.

Sliced chicken on top of stirred rice in the skillet

Finally, remove the lid. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Fluff the rice with a fork to stir the tomatoes and onion back into the rice. Slice the chicken, then place it back on top of the rice.

Chipotle lime chicken and rice garnished with cotija, green onion, and limes

Sprinkle sliced green onions on top, a little Cotija cheese, and add any remaining lime wedges.

overhead view of a bowl with chipotle lime chicken and rice and a fork

Serve and enjoy! A little sour cream on top wouldn’t be so bad, either. ;)

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BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

Forget boring or bland baked chicken breasts, this BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken is going to be the star of your dinner plate.

The post BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I used to think chicken breasts were bland and boring, but then I changed how I approached them. Instead of seeing chicken breast as the main feature of a recipe, now I see them simply as the vehicle for the flavor in a recipe. In this BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken, the chicken breast is a filling base that carries the tangy BBQ sauce, creamy cheddar, zesty red onion, and fresh cilantro straight to your taste buds. When chicken breast is used like this, I’m ALL ABOUT IT.

Overhead view of BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken in a baking dish

Tips for Baking Chicken Breast

Successfully baking chicken breast can take a little know-how. If you want to avoid overcooked or dry chicken breast, here are a few tips:

  • Adjust baking time for the size of your chicken breast. Larger or thicker chicken breasts will take longer to cook (20-25 minutes), while thinner or smaller chicken breasts will take less time (15-18 minutes).
  • Use a mallet or rolling pin to gently pound the thick end of your chicken breasts to make the breast a more even thickness. This helps them cook quickly and evenly.
  • Use a meat thermometer for best results. Chicken breasts should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 165ºF. The more it cooks beyond that point the more it will begin to dry out and become tough.
  • Let the chicken breast rest after baking. Make sure to let the chicken breast sit for 5-10 minutes after baking to reduce the steam pressure within the meat. This helps the juices stay in the meat once it’s cut, rather than escaping and leaving behind dry, tough meat.

Can I Use Bone-In Chicken?

This recipe is best suited to boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Bone-in chicken takes much longer to cook through and you may find that the BBQ sauce begins to burn with those longer cook times.

What Kind of BBQ Sauce is Best?

For an inexpensive yet flavorful BBQ sauce, I usually go with Sweet Baby Ray’s, but I highly suggest using whatever brand BBQ sauce you like the best. And while just about any flavor BBQ sauce would work for this dish, I would lean toward something more on the savory or smoky side rather than a sweeter BBQ sauce.

What to Serve with BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

I served my BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken with some potato salad and a colorful bean salad (recipes coming next week), but I think it would also go great with Cowboy Caviar, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Cornbread, Summer Sweet Corn Salad, Spicy Sweet Potato Fries, or Green Chile Mac and Cheese.

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken on a plate with potato salad and bean salad, a fork grabbing a slice of chicken
close up of a fork taking a piece of bbq cheddar baked chicken off a plate

BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken

Forget boring or bland baked chicken breasts, this BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken is going to be the star of your dinner plate.
Total Cost $8.89 recipe / $2.22 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 320kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 pounds total) $7.58
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce $0.13
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar $0.85
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion $0.05
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro $0.09

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. If your chicken breasts are very thick or uneven in thickness, use a mallet or rolling pin to first pound them out to a more even thickness. Slice the chicken breasts in half, so you have four pieces.
  • Combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel, then sprinkle the seasoning mix over both sides of each piece of chicken.
  • Place the seasoned chicken pieces in a baking dish, then spoon 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce over top of each piece, spreading it from edge to edge to cover the chicken.
  • Bake the chicken in the preheated 400ºF oven for about 18 minutes (less for smaller or thinner pieces).
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and top each piece with shredded cheddar. Return the chicken to the oven and continue baking for five minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  • After baking the chicken, let the chicken rest for five minutes, then top with diced red onion and chopped cilantro just before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 677mg | Fiber: 1g
bbq cheddar baked chicken being lifted out of the baking dish, viewed from the side

How to Make BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Pounded Chicken Breast

You’ll need two boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe, about 1.3 lbs. total. If your chicken breasts are very thick or a very uneven thickness, use a mallet or rolling pin to gently pound them to a more even thickness. This helps them cook more quickly and evenly. (Covering them with plastic helps keep everything clean as you pound.

Seasoned chicken breast

Pat the chicken breast dry, then cut each one in half so that you have four pieces. Combine 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Sprinkle the seasoning over all sides of the chicken pieces.

BBQ sauce being spread over chicken in a baking dish

Place 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce over each piece of chicken and spread it to cover the surface. Transfer the chicken to the preheated 400ºF oven and bake for about 18 minutes (a few minutes less for smaller or thinner chicken pieces).

Prepared toppings: red onion, cilantro, and cheddar

While the chicken is baking, prepare the toppings. Shred about 1 cup cheddar cheese, finely dice about ¼ cup red onion, and roughly chop ¼ cup cilantro.

Shredded cheese being added to the baked chicken

After baking for about 18 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and top the chicken with about 1 cup shredded cheese (about ¼ cup per piece of chicken). Return the chicken to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF.

Baked bbq chicken topped with red onion and cilantro

After baking, let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, then top with the diced red onion and chopped cilantro.

close up of a fork taking a piece of bbq cheddar baked chicken off a plate

Serve and enjoy!!

The post BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week!

The post Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Are you ready for this? Because I wasn’t quite ready for how easy and delicious this meal was. When I sat down to eat my first bowl of these Pesto Chicken and Vegetables I was like, “Oh yes, I’m going to make this every single week.” It’s the perfect light, flavorful, and fast recipe for meal prep. And it’s just SO SIMPLE.

Pesto chicken and vegetables in a skillet

Vegetable Options

I used a summery mix of yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, green beans, and red onion for this quick sauté, but there are a lot of options when it comes to the vegetables. Here are some other vegetables you could add:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh corn
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach

The key thing to keep in mind when using different vegetables is when to add them to the skillet. For this recipe you don’t want to fully cook the vegetables. They should be just tender-crisp. So, keeping that in mind, add sturdy vegetables first and tender vegetables later to make sure they don’t get overcooked.

Can I Substitute the Chicken?

Yes, there are options for that, too! I think shrimp would be absolutely awesome in this recipe, as would tofu. If using tofu, I would do a cornstarch coating and fry it separately (see the technique used in this recipe) before tossing it together with the vegetables and pesto at the end.

How to Serve Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

I ate this dish as-is, just a bowl of flavorful chicken and vegetables. But there are more options! You could eat this over a bowl of rice, stir in some cooked orzo or quinoa, or even add them to a bed of greens. Honestly, I would probably even add them to a flat bread and top with mozzarella as a sort of vegetable pizza!

How Long Does it Stay Good?

I got about four days out of my pesto chicken and vegetables, but this can vary depending on the conditions in your refrigerator, freshness of the ingredients, and how long you cook the vegetables. As I mentioned above, you want to barely cook the vegetables for this recipe. Just make them tender-crisp so they don’t get too wilted. Not only does this give them great texture and a fresh, bright flavor, but they last a little longer in the fridge, too.

side view of a bowl full of pesto chicken and vegetables
Easy pesto chicken and vegetables in a skillet with a spatula

Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week!
Total Cost $11.07 recipe / $2.72 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 369.33kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 zucchini $0.60
  • 1 yellow squash $0.50
  • 1/2 red onion $0.19
  • 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast $6.67
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 1 cup frozen green beans $0.67
  • 1/3 cup pesto* $0.73
  • 1/8 tsp salt* $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper* $0.01
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan* $0.11

Instructions

  • Chop the bell pepper, yellow squash, and zucchini, and slice the red onion. I like to make different shapes for each vegetable, but aim to make the pieces all around the same size.
  • Cube the chicken breasts into ½-inch pieces.
  • Add the cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Once the skillet and oil are very hot, add the chicken and sauté until the chicken pieces are opaque (3-5 minutes – the chicken will continue to cook as you add vegetables).
  • Add the green beans to the skillet and sauté for 1-2 minutes more, or just until thawed.
  • Add the bell pepper and red onion to the skillet. Sauté for 1-2 minutes more. If water is beginning to pool in the skillet, turn the heat up slightly. It should be hot enough that the water released from the vegetables evaporates quickly.
  • Add the yellow squash and zucchini to the skillet and continue to sauté 2-3 minutes more, or just until the squash softens slightly.
  • Turn the heat off, add the pesto to the skillet, and stir until everything is coated. Give the vegetables a taste and add salt, pepper, or more pesto if desired. Top with a light sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving.

Notes

*You may need more or less pesto, salt, pepper, or Parmesan depending on the volume of your vegetables and your personal taste. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 369.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.68g | Protein: 36.8g | Fat: 19.2g | Sodium: 423.15mg | Fiber: 3.43g
Pesto chicken and vegetables in glass meal prep containers lined up side by side

How to Make Pesto Chicken and Vegetables – Step by Step Photos

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board

Chop the vegetables first so they’re ready to go. Chop one red bell pepper, one yellow squash, one zucchini, slice ½ of one red onion and measure 1 cup frozen green beans. I like to do different shapes for the vegetables, but aim to keep them roughly the same size.

Cubed chicken breast on a cutting board

Cut 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch pieces.

Cooked chicken in the skillet, frozen green beans being poured in

Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Once very hot, add the cubed chicken and sauté just until the chicken is opaque (3-5 minutes – it will continue to cook as you add more vegetables). Next, add the frozen green beans and sauté for a couple of minutes more, or just until thawed.

Red bell pepper and red onion added to the skillet

Next add the bell pepper and red onion. Continue to sauté a couple of minutes more. If you see water pooling in the skillet, turn the heat up higher. The heat should be high enough that any moisture released by the vegetables evaporates quickly.

zucchini and yellow squash added to the skillet

Finally, add the yellow squash and zucchini to the skillet. Sauté just a couple of minutes more, or just until the raw edge is taken off the squash.

Pesto being added to the skillet

Turn the heat off. Add about ⅓ cup pesto to the skillet and stir until everything is coated.

Finished pesto chicken and vegetables

Give the vegetables a taste and add salt, pepper, or more pesto if needed (I added a pinch of each).

pesto chicken and vegetables in a bowl topped with a pinch of parmesan

Top with a light sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving.

Three glass meal prep containers full of pesto chicken and vegetables

Perfect for meal prep!!

The post Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce

Talk about addictive! Once you try one of these crispy Coconut Chicken strips dipped in tangy sweet chili sauce you’re going to want to make them on a weekly basis. Because the chicken is sliced nice and thin and then cooked quickly in hot oil, the chicken stays juicy and tender on the inside, while developing […]

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Talk about addictive! Once you try one of these crispy Coconut Chicken strips dipped in tangy sweet chili sauce you’re going to want to make them on a weekly basis. Because the chicken is sliced nice and thin and then cooked quickly in hot oil, the chicken stays juicy and tender on the inside, while developing a perfectly golden brown and crispy exterior. Pair that with a bowl of cool, sweet, and tangy Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping and I’m in absolute heaven. So if you love chicken tenders, chicken strips, boneless wings, or anything along those lines, I think you’re going to love these Coconut Chicken Strips.

Originally posted 1-18-2010, updated 5-10-2021.

Overhead view of a plate full of coconut chicken strips with one being dipped into a bowl of sweet chili sauce

What Kind of Chicken to Use

I’ve tried this recipe with both chicken breast (boneless, skinless) and chicken tenders. Chicken tenders ended up being too large when used whole, so while they are an option you’ll probably still want to slice them into thinner pieces before breading and cooking. 

Another option would be to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks, so you’ll have something more along the lines of coconut chicken “bites” than strips. I think that would be awesome! The dark meat of chicken thighs will be extra tender and juicy.

Cooking Options

Frying – I chose to shallow fry my coconut chicken strips in a skillet because I don’t have a deep fryer and I don’t deep fry often enough to warrant using as much oil as deep-frying requires. Shallow frying will still get you that great super crispy exterior without allowing the inside to dry out.

Baking – While you can bake these, the results won’t be as awesome as frying. Baking takes longer and the hot air causes more evaporation, which results in drier chicken. You also won’t get as much browning as you will with frying. To help the browning issue, you can try adding a tablespoon or two of oil into the panko and coconut breading mixture, similar to the technique used in my Homemade Chicken Nuggets. I suggest using the baking temperature and technique used for the chicken nuggets as well, but increasing the bake time by a few minutes.

Air Frying – I do not own an air fryer, so unfortunately I can’t offer suggestions for cooking times and temperature, but I suspect these chicken strips would be a good candidate for air frying. Because this appliance uses hot air, similar to an oven, I would suggest either spritzing the strips with a little spray oil or mixing a tablespoon or two of oil into the panko and coconut mixture to help with browning.

What to Serve with Coconut Chicken Strips

Don’t skip that sweet chili sauce! You can find sweet chili sauce in the international aisle of most major grocery stores, or you can try making your own with my Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce recipe. For side dishes, you can pair this with something like Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Sesame Dressing, Cucumber Mango Salad, or Savory Coconut Rice

What Oil is Good For Frying?

It’s really important to use the right kind of cooking oil for frying. Every type of cooking oil has a different “smoke point,” which is the temperature that the oil begins to smoke and burn. And obviously, we want to avoid that because burned oil does not taste good (and it’s a fire hazard!). So, you’ll want to choose an oil that can withstand the high temperature of frying and an oil that doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own. Some good oils to choose from are canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, refined coconut oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, refined olive oil, or refined avocado oil.

Close up of a coconut chicken strip being dipped into sweet chili sauce

A plate of coconut chicken strips with a bowl of sweet chili sauce in the center, a hand dipping one chicken strip into the sauce

Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce

These tender and crispy homemade Coconut Chicken Strips are perfect for dipping in a tangy and sweet chili sauce.
Total Cost $10.95 recipe / $2.73 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 4 strips each
Calories 873.13kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts $7.70
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.01
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 large eggs $0.42
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk $0.25
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs $0.22
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut $0.56
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil, divided* $0.32
  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce $1.43

Instructions

  • Slice the chicken breasts into ½-inch wide strips, slicing diagonally to maintain a more even length among the strips.
  • Sprinkle the salt and flour over top of the sliced chicken. Toss the chicken until they're evenly coated.
  • Whisk together the eggs and coconut milk in a bowl. In a separate wide shallow bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and flaked coconut.
  • To bread the chicken, dip each chicken strip into the egg wash, allow the excess to drip off, then dip it into the breadcrumb mixture until it's fully coated. Place the breaded chicken strips on a clean plate or tray until they're all breaded.
  • Once they're all breaded, it's time to fry. Heat ¼ cup cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. To test the heat of the oil, drop a breadcrumb into the oil. It should begin to sizzle immediately. If the oil begins to smoke at anytime, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the chicken strips, several at a time, leaving a little space between each one. Cook the chicken strips for about three minutes on on each side, or until they're deeply golden brown. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate to drain, then repeat with another batch of chicken. Remove any burned pieces of coconut before beginning the next batch, and add more oil as needed, making sure to wait until it is hot before adding more chicken.
  • After frying all of the chicken, it's time to serve! Serve hot with a bowl of sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Notes

*Use a high heat cooking oil. Good options include: canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, refined coconut oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, refined olive oil, or refined avocado oil. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 873.13kcal | Carbohydrates: 82.7g | Protein: 39.45g | Fat: 42.1g | Sodium: 1313.3mg | Fiber: 3.15g

Close up of coconut chicken strips on a plate with a bowl of thai sweet chili sauce

How to Make Coconut Chicken Strips – Step by Step Photos

Sliced chicken breasts

Start with about 1.3 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cut them into ½-inch wide strips. I like to do this sort of on a diagonal to keep them more even in length. If your chicken breasts are very large, you might want to cut the length of the strip in half as well. Cutting the chicken strips thin enough is important because this allows it to cook through quickly. 

Chicken strips coated in flour and salt

Sprinkle ¼ tsp salt and 2 Tbsp flour over the chicken strips, then toss until they’re evenly coated.

Egg and coconut milk mixed in a bowl

Whisk together two large eggs and ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk in a bowl. Make sure to use the type of coconut milk that is in a can, not the type in a carton that is meant to be a dairy milk substitute.

Coconut and panko breadcrumbs mixed together in a bowl

Combine 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes and 1 cup panko breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow bowl.

Breading station with chicken, egg wash, coconut and breadcrumbs

Set up your breading station with the bowl of coconut egg wash, the bowl with coconut and breadcrumbs, and a plate or tray for the breaded chicken. I’m using a parchment lined baking sheet to hold the breaded chicken just for easy cleanup. Dip each chicken strip first into the eggwash (let excess drip off), then into the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure the breadcrumbs and coconut fully coat all sides, then place the chicken strip on your holding tray.

Breaded chicken strips on a baking tray

Once all of the chicken strips are breaded, it’s time to start cooking. Add ¼ cup cooking oil to a skillet and heat over medium. Wait until the oil is very hot, but not smoking. If you drop one of the panko breadcrumbs into the hot oil, it should immediately begin sizzling. If it doesn’t sizzle right away, the oil is not hot enough. If at any point during the cooking process the oil begins to smoke, remove it from the heat immediately and wait for it to cool down. 

Browned chicken strips in the skillet

Once the oil is good and hot, add several of the chicken strips, leaving a little space between each. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they are deeply golden brown on each side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Scoop out any loose pieces of coconut, add a little more oil if needed, wait for it to get hot again, and then cook a second batch of chicken strips. You should be able to cook them all in 2-3 batches. 

Finished Coconut Chicken Strips on a paper towel lined plate

Once they’re all cooked, it’s time to serve! 

Overhead view of a plate full of coconut chicken strips with a bowl of sweet chili sauce in the center

Pour about one cup of sweet chili sauce into a bowl and place that in the center of the coconut chicken strips. I sprinkled the chicken strips with a little cilantro for color, but that’s not needed for flavor. Sliced green onions are another optional garnish idea. Enjoy!

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