The best weeknight chicken breast recipes

Chicken is the most readily available meat in the United States, outpacing beef and pork, so it's not surprising that so many Americans make chicken the center of their dinner plates. And chicken breasts are an especially popular cut of poultry, given that they're high in protein, low in fat, and easy to prepare. So whether you have an hour or less after work on a weeknight to cook, or you're putting everything in the slow cooker in the morning, it's helpful to have a stash of recipes on hand that ensure you'll have dinner on the table for the fam. Here are some of the best chicken breast recipes you can make for busy weeknights. 

Baked mushroom chicken

Chicken pairs naturally with flavors like mushroom and onion, absorbing the earthiness from the former and the crisp, spicy bite of the latter. And since Americans are eating more cheese than ever, why not bring some of it to the dinner table? The saltiness of Parmesan and the gooeyness of melted mozzarella make this recipe from Taste of Home a home run for both kids and adults. Additionally, it's super easy, and only takes a total of 40 minutes to prepare, cook, and plate. For side dishes, serve with green beans tossed with toasted, sliced almonds, or with a big green salad that has lots of fresh tomatoes.

Slow cooker chicken with farro and vegetables

Slow cookers are a life-saver for those of us who work full-time, but also want to ensure that we get a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table. If you're on the hunt for a new grain to use instead of rice or quinoa, farro is a great choice as it won't turn to mush and it absorbs flavors nicely. Plus it's good for you! This recipe from The Spruce combines farro with chicken and vegetables like mushroom, onion, carrot, and celery, as well as flavors like sage, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. All you have to do is get a sear on the chicken, then throw everything in the slow cooker for about six hours on low. 

Roasted spicy mayonnaise chicken breasts

Using mayonnaise in cooking and grilling is way underrated. It brings amazing flavor to grilled cheese, and keeps grilled fish from sticking to the grill and burning. And it works its own special magic with baked chicken. This recipe from the Food Network uses mayonnaise as the base for a sauce containing paprika, lemon zest, celery seeds, and a hint of cayenne pepper. There's very little prep outside of stirring things together and slathering the sauce over the chicken while it bakes for about 25 minutes. And while it's cooking, you can whip up a side dish of tomato and avocado salad with fresh cilantro, and serve everything with a baked potato on the side. It's easy, quick, and delicious.

Shredded chicken breast and noodle salad

Cold noodle salads are great on warm nights. They're fresh, filling, and simple to serve in one big bowl. This recipe from Bon Appétit uses classic Asian flavors like sesame, rice vinegar, scallions, and soy sauce, and combines them with udon noodles and shredded chicken breast. It also calls for thinly sliced carrots and cucumbers, which you can do that evening if you have time, or prep over the weekend to use when you make it later in the week. And if you're even more pressed for time, you can always throw the chicken breast frozen into an electric pressure cooker for super fast cooking. The delicate flavor profile belies how easy this salad is to make.

Spicy kale and corn stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffing chicken breasts is a great way to make a dinner that looks fancy and tastes amazing. And even though stuffing poultry might seem like an intimidating task, it's surprisingly easy as long as you have a good, sharp knife. This recipe from the Food Network is healthy, too, though it's certainly not lacking in flavor given that it has pepper jack cheese and lots of garlic. Conveniently, the stuffing calls for frozen corn and frozen kale, which cuts down the prep time significantly. And since the dish is so hearty, you don't need to go overboard with side dishes; a tomato-corn relish adds color and contrast. It also brings freshness to the plate.

Spinach and blue cheese chicken

Of course there's more than one way to stuff a chicken breast — there are tons of different combinations, in fact. And if you switch out the primary stuffing components, you wind up with a completely different dinner every night. This recipe from Cooking Light uses sharp, tangy blue cheese in combination with salty, crispy prosciutto, minced garlic, and fresh baby spinach. And although the recipe doesn't call for it, you can elevate the dish by wrapping additional strips of prosciutto around the outside of the chicken breasts before you bake them; the prosciutto forms a delicious crust and contrasts with the juicy, white meat.

Goat cheese and herb stuffed chicken breasts

Another variation of stuffed chicken breasts is from the Food Network. This recipe has an elegant flavor profile, centering goat cheese as the primary ingredient in the stuffing. The stuffing also contains egg whites for lightness, parsley and tarragon for herbaceous freshness, shallots for a bite, Dijon mustard for a tangy flavor, and lemon zest for acidity. Additionally, there's a sauce for the dish that's built from the drippings of the chicken and stuffing combined with butter, garlic, and thyme. I like to serve the dish with blanched green beans and a quinoa salad with sun dried tomatoes, but you can also serve it with a kale salad with slivered almonds and halved cherry tomatoes. 

Chicken with tarragon sauce

Tarragon is a wonderful fresh herb with a bright and aromatic flavor that has notes of anise, lemon, and basil. It's often featured in sauces as it contrasts nicely with rich butters and savory creams. This recipe from Taste of Home combines fresh, minced tarragon with shallot, lemon, butter, and heavy cream in a decadent sauce that's poured over sautéed chicken breasts. If you want to add an earthy element, thinly slice some mushrooms and sautée them along with the shallot and add it to the sauce. For side dishes, you can serve the chicken over steamed, buttered asparagus and skin-on smashed potatoes. Sprinkle everything with a bit of fresh tarragon before serving for a flavor boost.

Chicken cutlets with creamy Dijon sauce

This recipe from Cooking Light uses Dijon mustard as the central flavor component in the sauce, along with fresh rosemary, chopped shallots, chicken broth, and a little heavy cream, to serve over sautéed chicken breasts. I like to sautée the chicken with a tablespoon of butter instead of olive oil for flavor, but either fat works fine. And while it tastes like comfort food, it's relatively healthy as long as you're careful with the heavy cream. You can serve it with steamed broccoli flavored with lemon and a little butter and boiled potatoes, or with bean salad with fresh herbs and a green salad.

Jalapeno chicken breasts

While I normally cook with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, some recipes are so good that I can be convinced to work with bone-in chicken breasts. Bonus points if it's a slow cooker recipe, which is a guarantee that I won't be pressed for time. This spicy recipe from Midwest Living is not only easy, but super delicious and easy to make. The chicken takes six hours to cook, and in that time, it soaks in the flavors of lemon juice, chicken broth, and sliced, pickled jalapeño, rendering it super moist and perfectly spicy. Once it's finished cooking, you'll build a sauce with cornstarch, cream cheese (low fat is fine), and the liquid from the slow cooker, which is poured over the chicken. 

Weeknight lemon chicken skillet dinner

Having a couple of easy, filling one-pot dinner recipes in your cooking arsenal sets you up for success and helps you avoid the takeout trap. It's also good because leftovers can be easily tossed in a plastic container for lunch the next day, killing two birds with one stone. This recipe from Cooking Light is a crowd pleaser that features chicken breasts, thinly sliced lemons, halved baby red potatoes, cremini mushrooms, green beans, fresh thyme, and a sauce built with those flavors combined with milk, flour, and stock. The result is a homey, satisfying dinner that sticks to your ribs without the fat of other comfort food dishes. A side salad is an optional accompaniment if you want to sneak in another serving of vegetables. 

Easy pan-roasted chicken breasts

Being able to make a good pan sauce can be a game-changer for your cooking game, specially when working with wine. So if you have some boneless, skin-on chicken, consider this recipe from Serious Eats. It pairs seared, baked chicken breasts with a pan sauce made with a dry white wine, chicken stock, gelatin (for texture), garlic, shallots, butter, and soy sauce. The sauce is elevated with the use of fresh herbs like chives, parsley, tarragon, and chervil if you're lucky enough to get it. You can serve the chicken with a white and wild rice blend (which is dynamite with the pan sauce) and a green salad with butter lettuce and radicchio. 

Chicken larb

Larb, which is a meat salad from Laos and Thailand, is a delicious and healthy salad made with a variety of meats, from pork to beef to chicken. And fortunately, it's not difficult to prepare as long as you have a food processor. This recipe from Cooking Light is a great introduction to Thai cooking, which only takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook. The secret is in the seasoning, so make sure you use enough curry paste and salt in the food processor when blending the chicken breasts. Fresh cilantro, chopped shallots, and lime juice build the flavor profile of the meat salad, which is best served on cabbage leaves with some chili paste. 

Five-minute grilled chicken breasts

After a long day, there's nothing like a simple grilled chicken recipe to stop you from ordering a pizza or losing yourself in a box of crackers. This recipe from Serious Eats may only take 20 minutes to cook, but it sure doesn't taste like it. It combines the basic but classic flavors of minced garlic, minced fresh rosemary, lemon juice, and olive oil into a marinade that ensures your chicken is juicy and delicious. Serve with whatever you have handy, whether it's last-minute baked potatoes, microwaved corn on the cob, or frozen broccoli warmed up with garlic and butter.

Chicken breasts with parsley, pine nut, and golden raisin gremolata

Just because you don't have a ton of time to prep and cook doesn't mean you don't want your meals to be sophisticated. For this reason, it helps to have some staples in your kitchen that can quickly elevate a dish, like shallots, pine nuts, and golden raisins. This recipe from Bon Appétit combines those ingredients together along with chicken breasts, broth, fresh parsley, and lemon to create an elegant and healthy dish you can whip up in under 30 minutes. Serve with a rice pilaf and freshly steamed broccoli, making sure you spoon plenty of the sauce and gremolata over the top of everything for a uniform flavor. 

California grilled chicken

Grilling is a great way to cook poultry as it imparts a delicious, smokey flavor. So if you're game for grilling on a workday, consider this recipe from Delish for a fast and flavorful evening meal. It pairs smokey chicken with freshly sliced tomatoes, perfectly ripe avocados, and melty mozzarella for a low-carb, California-style dinner. As long as you're sure to marinade the chicken in balsamic and Italian flavors with plenty of garlic beforehand, the chicken will be super juicy and flavorful, and contrast nicely with the accompanying tomato and avocado. Enjoy alone, or top with thick slabs of bacon for an indulgent finish.

Pounded lemongrass chicken

The thickness of a chicken breast can determine a lot, from cooking time to seasoning ratios. Pounded chicken is more likely to retain moisture while cooking quickly than non-pounded. Additionally, once pounded thin, chicken breasts absorb flavor like a sponge. This recipe from Bon Appétit is perfect if you're an aficionado of Asian flavors like fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, shallots, and of course lemongrass.  As long as you remember to marinate the chicken for 30 minutes with those ingredients (which you can do the night before to save time) along with brown sugar and crushed red pepper flakes, you'll have a seriously delicious chicken dish ready in about ten minutes. Serve with rice and veggies.