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!!

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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!

The post Coconut Chicken Strips with Sweet Chili Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

A 2-Ingredient Marinade That Doubles as a Sauce

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we’re gue…

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Psst, did you hear we’re coming out with a cookbook? We’re coming out with a cookbook!


It’s hard, if not implausible, if not impossible, to think of a side dish that doesn’t get along with grilled chicken. Whatever is in your pantry-slash-fridge works—potato salad, salad potatoes, the hodgepodge of cucumber and onion and celery in the crisper plus a plop of sour cream.

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Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken

These Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts are so tender, juicy, and flavorful, you’ll want to spoon that delicious pan sauce over EVERYTHING.

The post Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Are you in a chicken rut? Cooking the same ol’ boring chicken breast week after week? Yeah, then you need to try this Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken ASAP. It’s savory, tart, and peppery, and has a delicious pan sauce that you’ll want to spoon over your entire plate! This one is so quick and flavorful, I know it’s going to go into your regular rotation. ;)

Overhead view of lemon pepper chicken in the skillet, garnished with lemon slices

What Kind of Chicken Should I Use?

This quick skillet cooking method requires thin chicken pieces that cook quickly, like boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into thinner pieces), chicken tenders, thin-cut chicken breast, or chicken thighs. This method is not suitable for bone-in chicken.

Do I Need Fresh Lemon?

Nope! While I did garnish this dish with some fresh lemon slices (I had those leftover from another dish), you actually don’t need fresh lemon to make this lemon pepper chicken! Most of the lemon flavor comes from the potent lemon pepper seasoning. The small amount of lemon juice added to the pan sauce can be bottled.

What Is Lemon Pepper Seasoning?

The lemon pepper seasoning I used to flavor this recipe is a mix of lemon zest, pepper, citric acid, and salt. Most major spice brands in the U.S. as well as many major generic store brands make their own lemon pepper seasoning, so it should be easy to find in just about any grocery store in the U.S. If you can’t find lemon pepper at your local store, there are plenty of recipes online for homemade lemon pepper seasoning.

Make sure to check if the lemon pepper seasoning you have contains salt. If it does not, you may need to add more salt to the recipe below.

What to Serve with Lemon Pepper Chicken

I went full-on lemon and served my Lemon Pepper Chicken with Lemon Parsley Pasta, but it would also go great with some Sautéed Vegetables, Roasted Broccoli, Spinach Rice with Feta, or Spanish Chickpeas and Rice.

A sliced piece of lemon pepper chicken on a plate with pasta.
Overhead view of lemon pepper chicken in the skillet with lemon slices

Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken

These Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts are so tender and juicy, and you'll want to spoon that delicious pan sauce over EVERYTHING. 
Total Cost $7.58 recipe / $1.90 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 253.4kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs. total) $6.79
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning $0.30
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.14
  • 1 tsp lemon juice $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional) $0.10
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Use a sharp knife to carefully fillet the chicken breasts into two thinner peices (or use thin-cut chicken breasts).
  • Combine the flour and lemon pepper seasoning in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the chicken breast pieces and then rub it in until the chicken is fully coated.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium. When the skillet and oil are very hot, add the chicken and cook on each side until golden brown (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the cooked chicken to a clean plate and cover to keep warm.
  • Add the butter and minced garlic to the skillet and sauté for about one minute.
  • Add the chicken broth to the skillet and whisk to dissolve all the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the lemon juice and allow the sauce to simmer in the skillet for 3-5 minutes, or until it has reduced slightly. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed (I did not add any).
  • Finally, return the chicken to the skillet and spoon the sauce over top. Allow the chicken to heat through. Season with a little freshly cracked pepper and fresh chopped parsley (optional), then serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 253.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.53g | Protein: 34.45g | Fat: 10.43g | Sodium: 656.68mg | Fiber: 0.15g
Pan sauce being spooned over a piece of lemon pepper chicken in the skillet

How to Make Lemon Pepper Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Two chicken breasts cut into thinner fillets

Use a sharp knife to carefully fillet two boneless, skinless chicken breasts into thinner pieces (or use thin-cut chicken breasts).

lemon pepper flour being sprinkled over the chicken pieces

Combine 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour and 1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the chicken pieces.

Coated chicken breasts on the cutting board

Smear the flour mixture over both sides of the chicken until they’re evenly coated.

Browned chicken breasts in the skillet

Heat 1 Tbsp cooking oil in a skillet over medium. Once hot, add the chicken pieces and cook on both sides until golden brown (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the cooked chicken to a clean plate and cover to keep warm.

Butter and garlic added to the skillet

Add 1 Tbsp butter and one minced clove of garlic to the skillet. Sauté the garlic for about one minute.

Chicken broth being poured into the skillet

Pour ½ cup chicken broth into the skillet and whisk to dissolve all the browned bits off the bottom. Add 1 tsp lemon juice to the broth, then let the broth simmer in the skillet for 3-5 minutes, or until it has reduced just slightly. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed (I did not add any, but this will depend on the salt content of your lemon peppers seasoning and broth).

Chicken returned to the skillet, pan sauce being spooned over top

Return the chicken to the skillet and spoon the sauce over top. Allow the chicken to heat through (a few minutes).

Finished lemon pepper chicken in the skillet topped with parsley

Top the chicken off with some freshly cracked pepper and chopped parsley (optional), then serve!

A fork lifting a slice of lemon pepper chicken from the plate

The lemon helps keep the chicken extra tender, juicy, and flavorful! Enjoy!

The post Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Yogurt Marinated Chicken

This tangy and garlicky Yogurt Marinated Chicken is full of warm spices and can be served several different ways. It’s my new go-to chicken marinade!

The post Yogurt Marinated Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Yogurt has become one of the most versatile ingredients in my kitchen. While it’s more common in the U.S. for yogurt to be served sweet, yogurt is just as useful and delicious in savory dishes, like this Yogurt Marinated Chicken. This delicious chicken is tangy, garlicky, full of warm spices, and can be served several different ways. It’s definitely one of my favorite go-to chicken marinades!

Sliced yogurt marinated chicken on a bed of spinach rice with tomatoes

Why Yogurt Makes a Great Marinade

Aside from giving the chicken a deliciously tangy flavor, yogurt contains a lot of lactic acid, which works to tenderize the chicken and help keep it moist while it cooks. You’ll find yogurt marinades used a lot in Middle Eastern recipes, like this recipe for Shish-Tawook from my friend, Yumna, at Feelgoodfoodie.net.

What Kind of Yogurt Should I Use?

Make sure you buy plain flavored yogurt, nothing sweetened or with flavors added. I suggest buying regular yogurt, not Greek-style, because Greek is very thick and dry and will not coat the chicken the same way. You can get around this by thinning out the yogurt with a little water, broth, or milk, but plain, regular yogurt works best. You’ll also want to make sure your yogurt has at least some fat, which is important for carrying the fat-soluble flavors in the marinade. Full-fat is best, but you can go down to 2% fat if needed.

Can I Use Chicken Thighs?

Yes, this recipe is also awesome with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Because chicken thighs are already fairly thin and cook quickly, you will not need to slice the thighs into thinner pieces, as I do with the chicken breasts in the recipe below.

Can Yogurt Marinated Chicken be Grilled?

Yes! Yogurt marinated chicken is perfect for grilling! Just cook in the same manner as you would with chicken marinated in any other mixture. You’ll get wonderful browning on the meat when using a grill. You can also use an indoor, countertop style grill, like a George Foreman grill.

How to Serve Yogurt Marinated Chicken

I love, love, LOVE this chicken in so many different dishes. It’s great for adding to bowl meals (pictured above with spinach rice, tomatoes, and feta), you can stuff it into a pita, like a chicken schawarma sandwich, use it to top a fresh green salad, or even a pasta salad. Or, just serve it up with a couple of sides and make it your main dish! It would go great alongside a marinated white bean salad, or a super fresh cucumber salad and maybe some hummus.

Sliced yogurt marinated chicken on a cutting board next to two whole cooked chicken breasts
Sliced Yogurt Marinated chicken on a bed of spinach rice with tomatoes and feta

Yogurt Marinated Chicken

This tangy and garlicky Yogurt Marinated Chicken is full of warm spices and can be served several different ways!
Total Cost $7.29 recipe / $1.82 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinate Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 229.5kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt $0.34
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves $0.02
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs.)* $6.54
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.04

Instructions

  • Combine the yogurt, minced garlic, lemon juice, cinnamon, oregano, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in a bowl.
  • Slice the chicken breasts into two thinner pieces so they cook quickly and evenly in the skillet. If slicing is too difficult, you can cover the chicken breasts with plastic and use a rolling pin or mallet to pound the chicken into an even thickness (1/2-3/4 inch thick), then slice the breast across into two smaller portions.
  • Place the chicken in a shallow dish or zip-top bag and pour the yogurt marinade over top. Make sure all sides of the chicken are coated in yogurt, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  • When you're ready to cook, heat ½ Tbsp cooking oil in a large skillet (preferably some sort of non-stick surface) over medium heat. Once hot, add two pieces of chicken and cook on each side until deeply browned. Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and repeat with the rest of the cooking oil and second two pieces of chicken.
  • Let the chicken rest for five minutes, then slice and serve!

Notes

*You can purchase thin-cut chicken breasts, chicken tender, or chicken thighs to avoid needing to slice or pound the breasts into thinner pieces (step 2).

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 229.5kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.65g | Protein: 34.35g | Fat: 8.38g | Sodium: 375.13mg | Fiber: 0.35g

How to Make Yogurt Marinated Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Yogurt with garlic and spices in a bowl

Make the yogurt marinade first. Combine ½ cup plain yogurt, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 Tbsp lemon juice, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, and ¼ tsp ground cloves.

Sliced boneless chicken breast on an orange cutting board

Filet two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs. total) into two thinner pieces. This helps it cook quickly and evenly in the skillet. You can also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, thin-cut chicken breasts, or even chicken tenders.

Chicken in a shallow dish with yogurt marinade

Place the chicken in a shallow dish or a zip top bag and pour the yogurt marinade over top. Make sure the yogurt coats all sides of the chicken, then marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours (refrigerated).

Cooked yogurt marinated chicken in the skillet

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat ½ Tbsp cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat (a non-stick surface works best). Once hot, add two pieces of the chicken and cook on both sides until it is well browned and cooked through. Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and repeat with another ½ Tbsp oil and the second two pieces of chicken.

Resting chicken on the cutting board

Let the yogurt marinated chicken rest on the cutting board for five minutes before slicing and serving.

Sliced Yogurt Marinated chicken on a bed of spinach rice with tomatoes and feta

Serve over rice, a salad, stuffed into a pita, or just on its own with a couple of sides!

The post Yogurt Marinated Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Garlic Marinated Chicken

This simple all-purpose Garlic Marinated Chicken is great to add to sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and more!

The post Garlic Marinated Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I had this recipe for Garlic Marinated Chicken hidden away within an old meal prep post, but this chicken is just SO good and SO simple that I think it deserved a post on its own. This is my favorite all-purpose quick chicken recipe that I use as an addition to all sorts of meals, so I know this is one you’ll want to save and use over and over again. Keep on reading for all the ways you can use this versatile, finger-lickin’ good chicken.

Sliced garlic marinated chicken on a plate with a fork and cauliflower salad

What Does it Taste Like?

Perhaps I should call this Lemon Garlic Marinated Chicken, because this chicken is slightly tangy, super garlicky, and absolutely delicious. The natural sugars in the lemon juice caramelize beautifully in the skillet, giving it even more depth of flavor. And because lemon and garlic are such versatile flavors, you’ll find that you can pair this garlic chicken with just about anything.

How to Serve Garlic Marinated Chicken

In addition to just serving it as a main dish with a couple of sides, this chicken is great to add to other recipes. You can slice this garlic chicken up and use it for a sandwich, to top a salad, or even to top a big plate of pasta. Here are a few recipes that would benefit from being topped with this garlic marinated chicken:

Great for Meal Prep!

This chicken is absolutely perfect for meal prep! Cook up a couple chicken breasts worth on the weekend, then use the cooked and sliced chicken to add to your meal prep for the next few days. The cooked chicken can be refrigerated for about 3-4 days.

Can I Grill Garlic Marinated Chicken?

Absolutely! This chicken is great on the grill, whether you have a charcoal grill, gas grill, or even an indoor countertop grill, like a George Foreman.

Can I Use Chicken Thighs?

Yes, this recipe also works great with chicken thighs and they even require a little less prep! Because chicken thighs are already on the thin side and they don’t over cook quite as easily, you can skip filleting the thighs into two thinner pieces, like you need to do with a chicken breast. Simply marinate, then cook on each side until browned and the chicken is cooked through.

A fork picking up a slice of garlic marinated chicken from a plate
Garlic Marinated Chicken cooked

Garlic Marinated Chicken

This simple all-purpose Garlic Marinated Chicken is great to add to sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and more!
Total Cost $3.37 recipe / $0.84 serving
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 331.5kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil $0.52
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice $0.18
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced $0.24
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano $0.15
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.05
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts* $5.37

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper to a bowl or a large zip top bag. Stir the ingredients in the dish until combined.
  • Filet each chicken breast into two thinner pieces. Place the pieces in the bag or in a shallow dish, then pour the marinade over top, making sure the chicken pieces are completely covered in marinade. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours (refrigerated), turning occasionally to maximize the chicken's contact with the marinade.
  • When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium. Transfer the chicken from the marinade to the hot skillet and cook on each side until well browned and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes each side, depending on the size of the pieces). Cook two pieces at a time to avoid overcrowding the skillet, which can cause juices to pool and prevents browning. Discard the excess marinade.
  • Transfer the cooked chicken from the skillet to a cutting board and let rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes

*This marinade can also be used for chicken thighs. The amount of marinade listed in the recipe can handle about 4-6 chicken thighs, depending on their size.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 331.5kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.28g | Protein: 38.35g | Fat: 11.3g | Sodium: 432.18mg | Fiber: 0.4g

How to Make Garlic Marinated Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Prepared garlic marinade

In a small bow, combine ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 cloves minced garlic, ½ Tbsp dried oregano, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper.

Filleted chicken breasts on a cutting board

Use a sharp knife to filet two chicken breasts into two thinner pieces. If your knife skills are not strong enough to make this cut, you can cover the chicken breast with plastic and use a mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken until it’s about ½ inch thick. Then cut each breast in half to make two pieces.

Marinade being poured over the chicken in a dish

Place the chicken in a shallow dish or a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over top. Turn the chicken to make sure it all gets coated in marinade. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes up to 8 hours (refrigerated), turning the chicken occasionally to make sure it is all in contact with the marinade.

Cooked chicken in a skillet

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a skillet over medium. Once the skillet is hot, add two pieces of chicken at a time, and cook until browned on each side and cooked through. The chicken will already be coated in oil from the marinade, so no extra oil is needed to coat the skillet. Discard the excess marinade.

Sliced chicken on a cutting board with tongs

After cooking the chicken, transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.

Sliced garlic marinated chicken on a plate with a fork

Enjoy that garlicky goodness!

The post Garlic Marinated Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions

Creamy mushroom sauces make me weak in the knees. Anyone else? The chicken here is purely a vehicle for the creamy, garlicky, heavenly mushroom sauce. And the crispy onions? Well that’s just icing on the cake! This Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions is a really simple and scrumptious dinner with plenty of customizable options […]

The post Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy mushroom sauces make me weak in the knees. Anyone else? The chicken here is purely a vehicle for the creamy, garlicky, heavenly mushroom sauce. And the crispy onions? Well that’s just icing on the cake! This Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions is a really simple and scrumptious dinner with plenty of customizable options that I’ll outline for you below. Tuck this one in your back pocket (browser bookmarks?) because I’m sure you’re going to be making it again and again. ;)

Overhead view of creamy mushroom chicken in the skillet

What Are “Crispy Onions”?

I’m not sure how popular crispy fried onions are outside the U.S. so I wanted to take a second to explain and link out to this product for those who are unfamiliar. They’re basically deep fried onions that you can buy in a carton and are often used to top the classic Thanksgiving recipe, Green Bean Casserole. The onions are super crispy, a little salty, and they just add a wonderful texture and flavor in contrast the to the creamy mushroom sauce. The only brand I know that makes them is French’s, but you might be able to find a generic version at some grocery stores. 

Can I Use Chicken Thighs?

Yes, boneless, skinless chicken thighs will work beautifully for this recipe and, because they are already thin and flat, will not require the pounding step that I show for the chicken breasts below. I do not suggest bone-in chicken thighs or breasts for this recipe because they require a much longer cooking time.

Can I Substitute the Mushrooms?

Not a mushroom lover? No problem. This recipe would also be great with spinach. Simply make the sauce without the mushrooms by adding the garlic to the skillet after removing the chicken, then proceeding to deglaze the skillet with broth as directed below. After adding the cream, simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce, then stir in fresh spinach until wilted. Finally, add the chicken and warm through.

Make it Dairy-Free

Full fat coconut milk will work well here in place of the heavy cream, just as it does in my Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen. Make sure to use full-fat coconut milk in a can, not the kind in a carton, which is thinner and meant to be a substitute for dairy milk. Shake up the can well before measuring, to distribute as much fat throughout the liquid as possible. Also, use coconut oil or your cooking oil of choice in place of butter.

Creamy mushroom chicken on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

Pictured with Steamed Green Beans and mashed potatoes.

 
Creamy mushroom chicken on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions

Creamy Mushroom Chicken topped with delicious crispy onions is an easy weeknight dinner with plenty of options for customization!
Total Cost $8.70 recipe / $2.18 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 369.8kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms $1.69
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1.3 lbs. total) $5.63
  • 1 pinch salt $0.02
  • 1 pinch pepper $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided $0.26
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream $0.39
  • 1/4 cup crispy fried onions $0.37
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) $0.05

Instructions

  • Rinse and slice the mushrooms. Set the sliced mushrooms aside.
  • Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Use a mallet or rolling pin to gently pound the chicken until it is an even thickness, about ¾-inch thick. Cut each chicken breast into two pieces, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Add one tablespoon of the butter to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once the butter is melted and the skillet is hot, add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the chicken to a clean plate and cover with foil or an upside down plate to keep it warm.
  • Add the second tablespoon of butter and the sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Sauté the mushrooms until they release all their water and the skillet begins to dry up again. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about a minute more.
  • Pour the chicken broth into the skillet and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Add the heavy cream and stir to combine.
  • Return the chicken to the skillet and spoon mushroom cream sauce over each piece. Allow the chicken to simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes more, or until the sauce is slightly reduced. Top the chicken with the crispy fried onions and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 369.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.25g | Protein: 36.13g | Fat: 22.4g | Sodium: 345.45mg | Fiber: 0.65g

How to Make Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions – Step by Step Photos

Sliced mushrooms

Wash and slice 8oz. baby bella mushrooms. Set the mushrooms aside.

Pounded chicken breasts on a cutting board with a rolling pin

Place two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs. total) on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Use a mallet or a rolling pin to gently pound the chicken until it is an even thickness, about ¾-inch. This helps the chicken cook quickly and evenly in the skillet.

Chicken portions seasoned with salt and pepper on the cutting board

Cut each chicken breast in half to create four portions, then season each with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cooked chicken in the skillet

Add one tablespoon butter to a large skillet and heat over medium. When the butter is melted and the skillet is hot, add the chicken and cook until golden brown on each side (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the chicken to a clean plate and cover to keep it warm (either foil or another plate turned upside down).

Sautéed mushrooms and garlic in the skillet

Add another tablespoon of butter and the sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Sauté the mushrooms until they release all their water and the skillet dries up again. Add four cloves minced garlic and continue to sauté for about a minute more.

Cream being poured into the skillet with mushrooms

Add ½ cup chicken broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom. Add ½ cup heavy cream to the skillet and stir to combine.

Chicken in creamy mushroom sauce in the skillet

Add the cooked chicken back to the skillet and spoon the creamy mushroom sauce over the chicken. Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through and the sauce is slightly reduced.

Creamy mushroom chicken in the skillet, topped with crispy fried onions

Top the chicken with crispy fried onions (I used about ¼ cup total). 

Finished Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions, garnished with parsley

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired, then serve. This goes really well with mashed potatoes or pasta, so the creamy sauce can be spooned over top like a gravy.

The post Creamy Mushroom Chicken with Crispy Onions appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Brown Butter Chicken & Other Recipes That Inspire Ina Garten

Ina Garten’s 12th cookbook, Modern Comfort Food, comes out in less than one week, and to say we’re giddy about it would be an enormous understatement. It’s full of flavor-forward, feel-good food (think: tuna melts, beef stew, truffled mac and cheese), …

Ina Garten's 12th cookbook, Modern Comfort Food, comes out in less than one week, and to say we're giddy about it would be an enormous understatement. It's full of flavor-forward, feel-good food (think: tuna melts, beef stew, truffled mac and cheese), which, considering the year thus far, is exactly what all of us need right now. In the excerpt below, Ina talks about how she stays inspired. Also included: three must-make recipes from the book—the only question is, which will you make first?


People ask me all the time how I get inspired. The truth is, after writing twelve cookbooks, it’s not always easy to think of new ideas, so I look for inspiration everywhere. A dish I order in a restaurant or specialty food store might intrigue me. I love to cruise grocery stores and farmers’ markets looking for new ingredients like shishito peppers, fig spread, or truffle butter. In the past few years, social media has also become one of my biggest sources of inspiration; it’s not uncommon for me to see something on Instagram that gets me running to the kitchen.

Read More >>

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

I’m all about the quick skillet meals because, let’s face it, sometimes after a long day of work you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat. This super quick Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a deliciously […]

The post Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m all about the quick skillet meals because, let’s face it, sometimes after a long day of work you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat. This super quick Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a deliciously rich sauce to smother the pasta, chicken, and broccoli. The pesto provides all the garlic and herbal flavor needed, so there’s no need to even dice an onion, mince garlic, or measure any herbs and spices—it’s already in the sauce! The whole dish cooks very quickly so you can have this one on the dinner table in about 30 minutes.

Originally posted 11-24-2013, updated 8-9-2020.

Creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli in the skillet, viewed from above

Can I Use a Different Pasta Shape?

Yep! Any short shaped pasta, like penne, rotini, or even macaroni will work fine for this recipe. You can use a longer type pasta, like fettuccine or linguine, but it’s a little harder to stir chunky ingredients, like the chicken and broccoli, into long pasta. Sometimes breaking it in half before cooking can help.

What Kind of Pesto Do You Use?

I used basil pesto from ALDI for this recipe because it’s super affordable. If you don’t have an ALDI store near you, Classico brand pesto and Barilla brand pesto also tend to be very affordable. 

Can I Substitute the Cream Cheese?

If you’re not into cream cheese, you can make a similar creamy sauce by substituting the cream cheese with about a ½ cup heavy cream, or replace both the chicken broth and cream cheese with 1 cup half and half. The sauce will be nice and creamy, but it won’t have that tangy cream cheese flavor that some people are not a fan of. You may need to add a pinch or two of salt at the end if you’re skipping the chicken broth.

Make it a Vegetarian Creamy Pesto Pasta

This Creamy Pesto Pasta can easily be made vegetarian. Just use a little extra broccoli, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and you’re good to go!

Front view of a bowl of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a fork lifting one bite

 
A bowl full of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a black fork on the side

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

A super fast creamy pesto sauce drenches tender pasta, chicken breast, and broccoli for an easy weeknight dinner.
Total Cost $5.48 recipe / $1.37 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 606.33kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. bow tie pasta $0.67
  • 8 oz. frozen broccoli florets $1.00
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.12
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $2.49
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto $0.73
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $0.40

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once it reaches a full boil, add the pasta and continue to boil just until the pasta is tender, but still slightly firm in the center (7-8 minutes). Once the pasta is tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the water with the pasta and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken breast into ½-inch pieces. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and continue to cook until the outside of the chicken pieces are white, but they're still tender in the center (they will continue to cook as more ingredients are added).
  • Add the chicken broth to the skillet with the chicken and allow it to heat through. Once hot, add the cream cheese (cut into small pieces) and pesto. Continue to stir and cook until the cream cheese has melted and created a smooth, creamy sauce with the pesto and chicken broth.
  • Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat it in the cream sauce. If the sauce becomes too dry or thick, add another splash of chicken broth to loosen it up. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 606.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 53.58g | Protein: 37.18g | Fat: 28.33g | Sodium: 725.78mg | Fiber: 7.15g

How to Use Your Leftover Pesto

Not sure what to do with the rest of the jar of pesto? Try these recipes:

How to Make Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli – Step by Step Photos

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 8oz. bowtie pasta and continue to boil for 7-8 minutes, or just until it’s tender with a little firmness in the center. Add ½ lb. frozen broccoli florets and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes more or just until the broccoli is tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

Diced chicken breast on an orange cutting board

While the pasta and broccoli are cooking, cut one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch chunks.

Broth being poured into a skillet with cooked chicken pieces.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, add the diced chicken and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is white on the outside, but still slightly tender inside (it will continue to cook as more ingredients are added). Add ½ cup chicken broth to the skillet and allow it to heat through.

pesto and cream cheese added to the skillet with the chicken and broth

Add 4oz. cream cheese (cut into small chunks) and ⅓ cup basil pesto to the skillet. 

Smooth and creamy pesto sauce in the skillet

Stir and cook over medium heat until the cream cheese has melted and created a smooth sauce with the pesto and broth. The cream cheese might look a little chunky as it’s melting, but keep stirring and cooking, it will smooth out once fully melted.

Finished creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli in the skillet with a spatula

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir until it is all coated in the creamy pesto sauce. If the sauce becomes too dry or too thick, add another splash of chicken broth to loosen it up.

A bowl full of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a black fork on the side

And that’s that! So easy! If you like ranch flavored foods, I think this tangy, garlicky sauce almost tastes ranch-like. So yum!

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