Although there are numerous sources of protein available, ranging from beans and veggies to fish and beef, chicken is by far one of the most popular sources—and it’s easy to see why: It’s affordable, easy to prepare and lower in fat than many other types of meat.
But here’s the dilemma: There are only so many grilled chicken breasts you can eat before you get bored and turn to more flavorful ideas that often come with a big dose of unwanted calories. That’s why we plucked out some of our favorites from the ETNT archives and searched the web for the most delicious, slimming poultry creations out there—and we’re pretty excited about what we’ve found! Add some of these to your weekly lineup to lose weight and ditch chicken boredom once and for all. And to get your stomach supertight, don’t miss these 30 Foods That Melt Love Handles!
The Best-Ever Oven Fried Chicken
Southerners may grunt and grumble about the travesty of “fried” chicken not being cooked in big skillets of melted lard, but we’d bring this crispy, succulent bird to a church potluck in Savannah without batting an eye. A long soak in buttermilk spiked with hot sauce both tenderizes and flavors the meat while the spiced panko provides a layer of captivating crunch. We won’t go as far as to say you won’t taste the difference (properly fried chicken has a depth of flavor that stretches straight to your soul), but we can say with confidence that this chicken hits the spot. Try it here: Oven Fried Chicken!
The Zero Belly Chicken and Rice Soup
This delicious recipe for a lunchtime (or anytime) soup couldn’t be easier. It’s just one of the 150+ belly-flattening recipes in the best-selling new Zero Belly Cookbook! Test panelists lost up to 16 pounds in 14 days!
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
Given the rate of wing consumption in this country, clearly hot sauce-slathered chicken and blue cheese is a winning combination for American palates. We stay true to the flavors people love—basting the chicken in hot sauce butter after grilling, topping with a yogurt-based blue cheese sauce—but manage to do what no one else out there has done yet: make Buffalo chicken into a healthy meal. Try the same technique with grilled shrimp. For the recipe, try this Buffalo Chicken Sandwich!
Sizzling chicken and steak platters clutter the menus of nearly every major chain restaurant in this country, a testament to the enduring popularity of meat and melted cheese. We can’t fault people for loving it—who wouldn’t?—but we do take issue with the fact that these savory skillets rarely contain fewer than 1,000 calories, regardless of who’s holding the spatula. That is unless you are. Our version—a meal that you can have on the table in 20 minutes—contains all the same bells and whistles (Cheese! Salsa! Sizzle!) while skipping nearly 900 calories per portion. For the full recipe, click here for our Margarita Chicken.
Chicken Tikka Masala
So dense is the Indian population and so ubiquitous their imprint on the country that many call tikka masala the national dish of England. It takes many years to master the complex spice art at the heart of Indian cuisine, but tikka masala is the perfect beginner’s dish—light on ingredients and relatively mild in flavor. Tikka masala normally involves a heavy hand with both butter and cream, but we found that the combination of Greek yogurt and half-and-half gives you the same velvety texture for a fraction of the calories. Click here for our Chicken Tikka Marsala!
Kung Pao Chicken
What makes a stir-fry so incredibly comforting? It’s knowing that, after a long, difficult day, a lean and flavor-packed meal can be prepared in a single pan in under 10 minutes. A real kung pao kicks like a karate kid, loaded with dried chiles that imbue the mash-up with a capsaicin glow. But in most versions across the restaurant and takeout spectrum, the heat takes a backseat to Chinese-American food’s more dominant flavor profile: fat plus salt. This one puts the heat back in the driver’s seat. For the full recipe, click here for Kung Pao Chicken!
Sesame Noodles with Chicken
Italians might cringe in horror to hear it, but the noodle originally comes from Asia. In 2005, archeologists discovered what they believe to be the oldest bowl of noodles on record, dating back some 4,000 years. (No word yet on what type of sauce they were dressed with.) The point being that sometimes a box of fettuccine is just as appropriate for an Asian-inspired meal as it is for an Italian repast. Think of this as a salad, with the noodles sitting in for lettuce. Add some protein and as many or as few vegetables as you like, and toss the whole package with a light but powerful dressing. It’s the culmination of four millennia of noodle knowledge. (Well, maybe not, but it’s awfully tasty.) Click here for our Sesame Noodles with Chicken.
Thai Chicken Curry
Redolent of ginger and lemongrass, chiles and coconut milk, Thai curry brings all of the classic flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine—salty, sour, bitter, hot—together in one dish. What’s more, it derives all of its flavors from ingredients packed with powerful antioxidants. Even coconut milk contains lauric acid, among the healthiest forms of fat you can consume. The flavors may be exotic, but the tender chicken, the bouquet of vegetables, and the rich coconut milk will all taste wonderfully familiar. Read on for our Thai Chicken Curry!
Chili-Mango Chicken Stir Fry
The combination of heat and sweet is a rollercoaster for our taste buds and a partnership that lurks behind—knowingly or not—our affection for so many Asian dishes: General Tso’s, orange chicken, and mu shu pork, among others. Here, that combination upgrades a basic chicken stir-fry to something special with just two ingredients: The heat comes from a lashing of chili sauce (look for the bottle with the Red Rooster and a green screw-on cap) and the sweet from a thin coating of quick-cooked mango chunks. For the complete recipe, go here for the Chili-Mango Chicken Stir Fry!
Another Italian classic lost in translation. Too many cooks (including the toques at Macaroni Grill) interpret this dish—traditionally chicken or pork, lightly floured and cooked with sage and prosciutto—as a huge helping of meat, breaded and fried and covered in a murky, sodium-strewn gravy. Our lighter, more authentic version wraps chicken and sage in a layer of prosciutto, which then becomes a crispy skin that keeps the chicken moist while it sautés. A splash of wine and chicken stock directly into the cooking pan becomes your 2-minute sauce. Just the latest proof of why simpler is so often better. For the full recipe, go here for the Chicken Scaloppine.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
It’s French in name, but it feels American, right down to its molten cheese core. Normally, this chicken is stuffed, breaded, then deep-fried into submission. But our testing found that a high-heat oven provides all the crunch we want without all the calories we don’t. If honey mustard feels a bit like gilding the lily, it is, but at 350 calories for the whole dish, why not? Visit here for the full-on Chicken Cordon Bleu!
Nutrition: 384 calories, 18.2 g fat (3.8 g sat fat), 346 mg sodium, 6.2 g fiber, 3.6 g sugar, 39.6 g protein
Who knew you could crust your chicken with hummus? This ingenious blogger. The stats here include all the veggies, chicken, and hummus, so you can polish off your plate guilt-free.
Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Lighter Kung Pao Chicken
Nutrition: 240 calories, 9.9 g fat (2.2 g sat fat), 755 mg sodium, 1.9 g fiber, 4.2 g sugar, 26.7 g protein
Before you assume this takeout classic done at home will have you in the kitchen at least a solid hours, hear us out: This recipe takes a mere 30 minutes. And we didn’t scrimp on the ingredients, either. The nutrition stats we calculated are based on using three chicken breasts instead of two.
Get the recipe from Creme de la Crumb.
Mini Chicken Meatball Soup
Nutrition: 429 calories, 13.8 g fat (4.2 g sat fat), 514 mg sodium, 3.4 g fiber, 3.6 g sugar, 35 g protein
Winter isn’t over quite yet, so there’s still time to whip up a soothing batch of this soup. Chicken meatballs keep calorie counts in check while adding the heft you need to brave days out in the icy weather.
Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats.
Balsamic Kale and Chicken Sausage Pizza
Serves: 4 (2 pieces per person)
Nutrition: 600 calories, 15.9 g fat (8 g sat fat), 909 mg sodium, 7.7 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 32.5 g protein
Some nights you just need a slice of pizza and any old slice will do. Other nights, you want something tastier than a dollar slice. This recipe fit the bill perfectly. Balsamic, chicken sausage, and kale make for a thoroughly satisfying slice like none you’ve tasted before.
Get the recipe from Real Food by Dad.
Skinny Honey Lemon Chicken
Nutrition: 433 calories, 16.3 g fat (4.1 g sat fat), 970 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 13.6 g sugar, 50.3 g protein
We get it: Sweet and sour is addictive. It’s just a shame the ‘sweet’ part of the equation comes with so many extra calories. Next time a craving strikes, whip up this lighter version at home. You’ll get enough sauce to feel satisfied but only the amount of sugar you’ll find in an average pot of yogurt. Feeling extra virtuous? Serve it over quinoa instead of brown rice for added protein.
Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Greek Chicken Tacos
Serves: 4 (2 tacos per person)
Nutrition: 413 calories, 21.5 g fat (4.8 g sat fat), 305 mg sodium, 4.6 g fiber, 2.9 g sugar, 29.9 g protein
Fusion cuisine isn’t just for the confines of the restaurant. This recipe takes the healthy—but flavorful—elements of the Mediterranean diet (think briny olives, sweet bell peppers, and tangy feta) and wraps them up like a taco. It’s a new take on taco night your taste buds and waistline will love.
Get the recipe from Creme de la Crumb.
Chopped Chicken Sesame Noodle Bowls
Nutrition: 326 calories, 16.5 g fat (2.8 g sat fat), 407 mg sodium, 2.4 g fiber, 3.7 g sugar, 23.6 g protein
We know you think you love pad thai. Of course you do. Because you’ve never had this sesame noodle bowl before. Sesame makes a fresh addition to the classic peanut sauce you love while soba noodles give your bowl a little extra boost of protein on top of the chopped chicken.
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Easy Chicken Posole Verde
Nutrition: 247 calories, 5.6 g fat (1.1 g sat fat), 1006 mg sodium, 3.7 g fiber, 3.3 g sugar, 23.6 g protein
Sure, the sodium count is a bit higher than we’d like, but you can’t argue with the rest of the stats. Slim on fat, big on protein, a bowl of this bright soup is good enough to earn a spot at the dinner table year-round.
Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Cashew Chicken Chopped Salad
Nutrition: 544 calories, 36.3 g fat (6.3 g sat fat), 868 mg sodium, 5.1 g fiber, 21.3 g sugar, 22.7 g protein
This is no puny salad. The healthy fats from the cashews and a hefty serving of protein from the chicken in this salad will put an end to your after-dinner snacking—for good. Don’t think this is a standard chicken salad, either; chili-dusted mango brings the heat and makes a creative addition to this diet staple.
Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats.
Skillet Chicken Tortilla Pie
Nutrition: 356 calories, 15.3 g fat (6.7 g sat fat), 586.9 mg sodium, 4.6 g fiber, 4.5 g sugar, 28.5 g protein
This comforting skillet proves that, if done right, you can have a cheesy dinner without undoing a day’s worth of healthy eating. Pair it with a side salad to boost your fiber and veggie intake so you’re less tempted to dive back in for seconds.
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup
Curer of colds, warmer of hearts, soother of souls: Chicken noodle soup does everything a comfort food is supposed to do, and does so without a hefty caloric price tag. But steer clear of canned chicken soup: Not only is it sparse on chicken and vegetables, a single cup can carry up to half a day’s worth of sodium. This version is light on the salt, but so loaded with chunky vegetables and shredded chicken that it could be dinner on its own. Get the pot on and make this Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup!
BBQ CHICKEN QUINOA CASSEROLE
Nutrition per serving: 523 calories, 9.4 g fat (3 g saturated), 432 mg sodium, 72 g carbs, 11.8 g fiber, 9.9 g sugar, 33.4 g protein (calculated with 1 cup of organic BBQ sauce and 2 cups quinoa)
While quinoa may be considered a health food god, many recipes that use the ancient grain really don’t help you lose weight. This is because the supergrain is often paired up with not-so-wholesome foods. You want your quinoa to couple up with nutritionally-dense foods, like the ingredients in this casserole. Of course, consuming anything in excess can cause weight gain, so keep your serving to about a cup. You’ll still pack in 12 grams of satiating fiber (thanks to the black beans and quinoa) and 33 grams of muscle building protein (thanks to chicken…and quinoa).
Get the recipe from Gimmie Some Oven.
CHIMICHURRI ROASTED CHICKEN
Nutrition per serving: 322 calories, 17.8 g fat (2.9 g saturated), 6 mg sodium, 3.2 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 38.6 g protein
It doesn’t get much easier than covering a whole chicken with homemade chimichurri sauce and roasting it. This recipe calls for a combination of cilantro and parsley, two cellulite-reducing ingredients, heart-healthy olive oil, antibacterial garlic, and a few other flab-fighting ingredients.
Get the recipe from Love and Olive Oil.
HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN WINGS
Nutrition per serving: 447 calories, 30.3 g fat (5.7 g saturated), 142 mg sodium, 3.9 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 3.6 g fiber, 39.5 g protein
Honey, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt. Simple, wholesome and super tasty—these are chicken wings you don’t have to feel guilty about. Plus, they pack in 40 grams of protein. It doesn’t get more manly than wings during football games on Sundays, but don’t forget to check out these 30 Best Proteins for Your Penis
Get the recipe from Savory Simple.
CHICKEN PARMESAN BURGERS
Serves: 4 burgers
Nutrition per serving: 467 calories, 18.3 g fat (7 g saturated), 749 mg sodium, 34.6 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 5.4 g sugar, 38 g protein (calculated without salt and whole wheat buns)
Chicken parm is weight loss usually forbidden food. After all, it’s breaded, fried chicken that’s been smothered in salty, sugary tomato sauce and oily cheese. Luckily for you, we found a version that won’t ruin your diet! Did we mention it’s under 500 calories?
Get the recipe from Recipe Runner.
CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN
Nutrition per serving: 287 calories, 13.3 g fat (3 g saturated), 214 mg sodium, 6.1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 34 g protein (calculated with lemon lime seltzer instead of soda)
Detox fat cells lose belly fat and reduce the appearance of cellulite with this powerful chicken dish. Herbs like cilantro help to fight puckered skin by removing heavy metals from the body that tend to hide in fat cells, disrupting normal tissue function. And with 34 grams of muscle-building protein, you’ll increase metabolic burn and sizzle away those unwanted love handles.
Get the recipe from Creme De La Crumb.
CHICKEN ENCHILADA ZUCCHINI BOATS
Nutrition per serving: 188 calories, 8.7 g fat (3.6 g saturated), 249 mg sodium, 12.8 g carbs, 2.7 g fiber, 6.2 g sugar, 16.7 g protein
These zucchini boats are super low cal and loaded with vitamins, protein, and metabolism-boosting ingredients. Capsaicin, a compound found in chile peppers, suppresses appetite and increases metabolic burn while reducing belly fat!
Get the recipe from Cooking Classy.
Nutrition per serving: 369 calories, 11.1 g fat (2.8 g saturated), 357 mg sodium, 31.3 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 17.8 g sugar, 33.7 g protein (calculated with low sodium soy sauce, low sodium chicken broth, and 1/2 cup sugar)
Teriyaki dishes are a crowd pleaser but tend to be super high in sodium. Although salt is an essential mineral that our body can’t function without, excessive amounts can cause high blood pressure, water retention, kidney stones, and even cognitive decline. In fact, one Canadian study found that consuming a high sodium diet for over three years reduced brain functioning in sedentary adults. That’s why we love this recipe that’s made with a homemade sauce and contains just 357 milligrams per serving or 14% of your daily salt allotment.
Get the recipe from Real Food By Dad.
Nutrition per serving: 384 calories, 21.1 g fat (7.3 g saturated), 598 mg sodium, 5.5 g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 42.7 g protein
Artichokes are a weight loss
superfood and one of the best sources of prebiotic inulin, which feeds your good gut bacteria. The healthier your gut, the better your levels of leptin (an appetite suppressor that signals to your brain when you’re full) and ghrelin (the “I’m hungry” hormone). Paired with a lean protein that serves up a whopping 43 grams of protein, this is one serious waist-slimming dish.
Get the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.
PINEAPPLE BAKED CHICKEN
Nutrition per serving: 384 calories, 12.7 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 166 mg sodium, 14.7 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 8.6 g sugar, 49.8 g protein
Need an afternoon or evening energy burst? Pineapple is one of nature’s best sources of manganese, a trace mineral that is essential for energy production. One cup provides 76 percent of your daily recommended intake. Plus, there are 50 grams of protein per serving, so not only will you feel fuller for longer, you’ll have more energy to burn off what you ate.
Get the recipe from In Sonnet’s Kitchen.
GREEK YOGURT RANCH CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICHES
Serves: 8 sandwiches
Nutrition per serving: 414 calories, 13.4 g fat (3 g saturated), 429 mg sodium, 32.5 g carbs, 2.5 g fiber, 4.8 g sugar, 45.4 g protein (calculated with whole wheat croissants)
When it comes to weight loss, fat burning and fitness fuel, few foods are more powerful than greek yogurt. Protein aside (up to 20 grams in some varieties), it’s loaded with probiotics that aid in digestion, calcium, and vitamin D. Use it as a substitute for mayo, sour cream, or cream to reap all the slimming benefits.
Get the recipe from Foxes Love Lemons.
ONE-POT CHICKEN AND RED POTATO STEW
Nutrition per serving: 249 calories, 10 g fat (1.8 g saturated), 85 mg sodium, 28.4 g carbs, 4.4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 16 g protein
Not only is this stew extremely low in sodium, but it’s got hefty amounts of satiating protein, B vitamins, and minerals like potassium and niacin. Plus, it dishes up an entire day’s worth of vitamin C. And while this nutrient’s fame comes from its immunity-boosting powers, it also aids in muscle and blood-vessel formation and can even help the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to researchers at Arizona State University,
Get the recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.
TOMATO AND FETA STUFFED CHICKEN
Nutrition per serving: 445 calories, 20.3 g fat, (7.2 g saturated), 461 mg sodium, 25.4 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 11.8 g sugar, 41.3 g protein
Before you reach for that fat-free feta, consider this: People who consume full-fat dairy products actually have the lowest incidence of diabetes, while those opt for the low-fat have the highest incidence, according to a 2015 study of 26,930 people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For more innocent decisions that deter weight loss, check out the 40 Habits That Make You Sick and Fat.
Get the recipe from That Oven Feelin.
TANDOORI CHICKEN KEBABS
Nutrition per serving: 154 calories, 4.4 g fat (1.2 g saturated), 275 mg sodium, 8.5 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 5 g sugars, 19.4 g protein
These chicken kebabs contain three of the 5 Healthiest Spices on the Planet: turmeric, ginger and chili. These spices host a slew of healthful benefits, including taming an upset stomach, increasing caloric burn, and fighting off free radicals. Plus, they’re just 154 calories and deliver 19.4 filling grams of protein a skewer. Need we say more?
Get the recipe from The Heathy Marvin.