This easy, make-ahead chicken recipe goes with EVERYTHING (tacos, salads, soup, sandwiches, pasta, casseroles, etc.), uses any cut of chicken, cooks in the oven, slow cooker, grill, or Instant Pot!
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How long does it take you to cook dinner? One of the biggest complaints I get from singles or working professionals about cooking is how long it takes to make a meal.
I mean, I don’t know what the problem is, really. After working all day and coming home exhausted, my favorite thing to do is chop, boil, sweat, bake, and wait an hour for the chicken to cook while answering questions from the kids about when dinner will be ready.
And this from someone who enjoys cooking.
Easy Make-Ahead Chicken
One hack that shaves down my dinner preparation is cooking most of our protein in advance. This is especially handy for chicken. There are pros and cons to make ahead chicken. On the one hand, you don’t get all the spicy, saucy flavors of your dish soaked into the fibers (or whatever) of the meat. But on the other hand, you have a life because you aren’t in the kitchen all day.
Make-ahead chicken takes my dinner preparation time from 1-2 hours to 15-20 minutes. And our food tastes great.
My philosophy is, if I want to eat healthy and frugally, it has to be simple, flavorful, and time effective. Since I love cooking, periodically I turn on some music, pour a glass of kombucha (or whatever), and spend the next hour in foodie paradise. However, doing that daily is neither practical nor fun, so I need a balance.
Make ahead chicken is our balance.
How to Use Make-Ahead Chicken
We use this Make-Ahead Chicken for EVERYTHING.
You can use our seasoning for any cut:
Use any cooking method:
- Bake it
- Grill it
- Slow cooker
- Instant Pot
Use it in nearly any cuisine or flavor profile:
- Middle Eastern
- All of them, friend. I have yet to find a flavor profile this doesn’t fit.
Freezer-Friendly Make-Ahead Chicken
This chicken also freezes well. When I make a batch, I refrigerate what we’ll eat in the next few days. Then I toss the rest in a plastic container or freezer bag for later. Boom. Chicken dinners are ready for the month.
Save Money with Make-Ahead Chicken
One way that we save money and eat healthy is by treating meat more like a side dish or condiment for most of our dinners. We try to get plenty of protein, but meat gets expensive – especially if you try to buy clean, sustainable meat.
When we cook chicken in batches, shred it, and add it to our main dish, we end up eating less meat. This helps us save money and eat well.
This Make-Ahead Chicken is:
- Real food
- Instant Pot
- Slow cooker
- Perfect for meal prepping
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag a photo #cheapskatecook and @cheapskatecook on Instagram.
- 2-3 lbs chicken, (any cut works - whole, thigh, breast, drumstick, bone-in or boneless)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika (optional, but WORTH IT)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- Whatever your cut of poultry, sprinkle with seasoning. If you sprinkle the top and bottom of the meat, the flavor will be even better, but it's not necessary.
- BAKE: Place in a baking dish with a splash of water. Bake at 375 F for 30-40 minutes for boneless cuts and up to 50-60 minutes for bone-in. Check for doneness (see notes!). Bone-in will take significantly longer than boneless cuts.
- GRILL: If using boneless cuts, flatten them with the flat side of a meat tenderizer before cooking until they are an even thickness. Cook over direct heat 3-4 minutes each side (boneless), flipping once. If using indirect heat, cook, covered, for 30-50 minutes, flipping occasionally. Check for doneness (see notes).
- SLOW COOKER: Place in crockpot with 1 cup of water. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Check to ensure the meat is cooked through.
- INSTANT POT: Place steamer rack in the Instant Pot and pour in at least 1 cup of water. Place the chicken in the Instant Pot. Cook on manual pressure for 10 minutes for boneless cuts; 15 minutes for bone-in.
- After the chicken cools slightly, serve with anything - on a salad, in tacos or a pita, chop for soup, pasta, nachos, or casserole. Or serve it with barbecue sauce or gravy alongside potatoes and veggies.
- FREEZE: Chop or shred the chicken and pack 1-2 cup portions in a quart-size freezer bag (squeeze the extra air out) or pack somewhat snugly in a plastic container. Label the bag and toss it in the freezer. When ready to use, thaw in the fridge overnight.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR CHICKEN IS DONE:
Are you as freaked out about raw meat as me? The trick is to check the juices. With a knife and fork, cut into the thickest part of the chicken and gently press the meat. If the meat is done, the juices coming from it will look clear. If they look pink, your bird needs to keep cooking. I found these pictures and videos helpful.
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Nutrition InformationYield 16 Serving Size 3 ounces
Amount Per Serving Calories 375Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 160mgSodium 266mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 41g
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