53 Healthy Chicken Recipes for Weight Loss
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 Eat This, Not That! archives for the most delicious poultry creations you can easily make at home.
Add some of these 53 healthy chicken recipes for weight loss to your weekly lineup, and ditch chicken boredom once and for all. But before you check out the recipes, here are some helpful tips that will help you make sure your chicken recipe is perfect.
How do you properly store chicken in the fridge?
"You want to store your chicken on the bottom of the fridge, under any cooked or raw products," says Patrick Ochs, corporate executive chef at Pubblica Italiana and Dalia at The Celino Hotel. If you're storing your container of leftover pasta under a couple of slabs of red meat, you definitely want to reconsider. Why? The last thing you want is the raw juices seeping into your already cooked food because it could cause foodborne illness.
Why shouldn't you wash raw chicken?
Washing raw chicken is a no-go. As Meredith Carothers, the technical information specialist at the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service told us in a former article that washing raw chicken in the sink increases the risk of cross-contamination.
"By rinsing chicken meat, there is a potential to spread foodborne illness bacteria, like Salmonella or Campylobacter, to other surfaces or utensils," she said. "If these surfaces or utensils are not cleaned or sanitized, it could spread to ready-to-eat foods and cause foodborne illness."
How can you tell when raw chicken has gone bad?
"Fresh, raw chicken should have a pink, fleshy color. As it starts to go bad, the color fades to a shade of gray. If the color starts to look duller, you should use it immediately," she said. Once that meat turns gray, toss it!
Another way is to smell it. If emits a potent, sour smell remove it from the fridge and throw away outside immediately.
Thirdly, the chef instructed us to touch the meat, "Raw chicken naturally has a glossy, slimy texture. However, if the slime remains after rinsing underwater, it likely went bad."
How long should you marinate your chicken for?
"Depending on how much salt you use in your marinade, you can ideally marinate for days. I prefer to marinate for at least 24 hours to really penetrate the meat with flavor," says Ochs.
Should you add salt to your marinade?
"I personally prefer to add salt to my marinade, especially for large cuts of meat," says Ochs. "Depending on how much salt you use in the marinade, also limits the time you keep it on. Adding salts allow the meat to be evenly seasoned."
RELATED: These are the easy, at-home recipes that help you lose weight.
Chicken recipes for weight loss you'll love to cook
Chicken is so versatile to cook with, but we get that basic chicken can get old fast. Here, we've gathered 53 best chicken recipes for weight loss for full flavor in every bite. You'll never go back to bland chicken again!
Baked Fiery Buffalo Wings
Sometimes, you just really crave a classic dish, and it doesn't get more classic than some Buffalo wings. This version isn't fried like most wings tend to be, and instead is a baked version, which cuts fat significantly. It's also easier, cheaper (no oil for frying), and tastier this way, too.
Get our recipe for Baked Fiery Buffalo Wings.
Chicken Mole Enchiladas
Authentic Mexican food can be incredibly healthy, as the dishes usually consist of tons of fresh produce and lean proteins. These enchiladas are not only easier to make than the Americanized versions served in most restaurants, but they're also tastier and contain fewer calories, staying true to their roots.
Get our recipe for Chicken Mole Enchiladas.
Chicken and Black Bean Nachos
If you order a plate of nachos at a restaurant, you're most likely going to end up with soggy tortilla chips that are drowning in cheese, sour cream, and oily ground beef. This version ensures that every chip is evenly covered with protein-packed chicken and fiber-rich beans, plus enough salsa and lime-spiked sour cream and cheese to keep your mouth watering.
Get our recipe for Chicken and Black Bean Nachos.
Crispiest Stuffed Chicken
This is one common restaurant chicken dish that you'll typically find infused with cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing, ruining any shot you have at a good day of eating. Apply those same appealing flavors at home to crispy stuffed chicken breast, filled with veggies and pine nuts, and you'll escape unscathed.
Get our recipe for the Crispiest Stuffed Chicken.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chimichurri Sauce
This is one chicken sandwich you can't get at the local drive-thru! It brings a ton of flavor, thanks to the chimichurri sauce it's dressed in. And along with a solid supporting cast of sweet peppers, sharp raw onions, and peppery greens, you can't beat this dish that comes in at only 310 calories.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chimichurri Sauce.
Rotisserie Chicken Tacos with Salsa Verde
Everyone loves rotisserie chicken, and it's a fast and easy go-to for dinner when you're in a pinch with no prep needed. But once you're ready to get back in the kitchen, turn to this great chicken tacos recipe that you can use with leftover pieces of the meat. Tossed with a good dose of mildly spicy salsa verde, these tacos bring a ton of flavor.
Get our recipe for Rotisserie Chicken Tacos with Salsa Verde.
Chicken Salad Sandwich with Raisins and Curry Powder
Chicken salad is often just doused in mayo, but this version is unlike the one you'll find at your local sandwich shop. We use a modest amount of olive-oil-based mayo, then add in plump golden raisins and curry powder for a sweet and savory combo. Make a big batch of the salad as part of your weekly meal planning and work it into other sandwiches, stuffed in pitas, or even atop a bowl of mixed greens.
Get our recipe for Chicken Salad Sandwich with Raisins and Curry Powder.
Creamy Mushroom Chicken
Chicken buried in mushrooms and cream is the type of dish that's at home in a country kitchen as well as in an upscale city restaurant. We combine elements from both ends of the spectrum: brown mushrooms and chicken stock from the country, a touch of sherry and some dried mushrooms from the city. The combination of Greek yogurt and half-and-half gives the sauce richness and a velvety texture, without weighing it down.
Get our recipe for Creamy Mushroom Chicken.
Grilled Chicken with Cranberries and Avocado Salad
Sometimes, salads can end up being belly bombs in disguise, especially if you decide to order one at a restaurant. So how about you make your own salad right at home that keeps it the healthy meal it should be? This recipe is rich in protein, and it is guaranteed to cut the number of calories you'd have on a salad you order in a restaurant in half.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken with Cranberries and Avocado Salad.
Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Craving pizza? Allow yourself to indulge by adding some chicken on it! This recipe is inspired by California Pizza Kitchen's Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, and as good as theirs is, we're confident this barbecue chicken pizza recipe is even better. Plus, it's cheaper to make at home and has just a third of the calories.
Get our recipe for Barbecue Chicken Pizza.
Chicken Sausage Lasagna
This version of the chicken lasagna recipe brings together the cheesy, tomatoey comfort of the American version of a classic lasagna with the meatiness and healthfulness of the type you would find in Italy.
Get our recipe for Chicken Sausage Lasagna.
A skillet of sizzling chicken strewn with fresh onions and peppers is the base for our chicken fajitas recipe that is boldly flavored, loaded with vegetables and protein, and healthy enough to eat twice a week.
Get our recipe for Chicken Fajitas.
Chicken and Dumplings
Get our recipe for Chicken and Dumplings.
Simplest Beer Can Chicken
Yes, this recipe calls for cooking a whole chicken mounted on beer cans. But hear us out: The liquid creates steam that helps cook the chicken from the inside and keep it moist. Also, standing the chicken up vertically means the legs are exposed to the most intense heat, so the chicken will cook evenly without drying out. You'll end up with one truly tasty chicken.
Get our recipe for Simplest Beer Can Chicken.
Loaded Alfredo Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables
We put a healthy spin on a typical Alfredo dish you would find at a restaurant. We ditched the cream base and made a basic béchamel sauce with flour, milk, butter, and Parmesan in our version of an Alfredo pasta recipe. And with chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes added in, you won't be overstuffed once you're done eating this pasta dish, but happily and healthily content.
Get our recipe for Loaded Alfredo Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables.
Chicken Parm with Spinach
In this recipe, we serve chicken parm with garlicky spinach in place of pasta, which not only cuts calories and boosts nutrition, but also adds a punch that pairs perfectly with the saucy chicken.
Get our recipe for Chicken Parm with Spinach.
Chicken Panini with Pesto and Peppers
Keep it simple with this chicken panini recipe: A light, healthy spread like pesto, a low-calorie cheese, and a layer of lean white meat chicken. Can't go wrong with that!
Get our recipe for Chicken Panini with Pesto and Peppers.
Chinese Chicken Salad
This is no doubt one of the most popular salads in America, sharing space on menus in four-star restaurants and Wendy's alike. Here we have a lighter version of the Chinese chicken salad that isn't bogged down by too much dressing and too many fried noodles.
Get our recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad.
Roasted Chicken Wings in an Asian Marinade
In this roasted chicken wings recipe, we soak the chicken in an Asian marinade, then roast (again, we don't deep fry here, either!) them at high temperature in the oven to crisp them up. This option saves you many calories, but will still satisfy the taste you crave.
Get our recipe for Roasted Chicken Wings in an Asian Marinade.
Tastiest Sunday Roast Chicken
You don't have to wait until Sunday to whip up this dish! The key to this roasted chicken is seasoning it long before you start cooking, so that it will create a juicier roast.
Get our recipe for Tastiest Sunday Roast Chicken.
Simple Chicken Greek Salad
This Greek salad recipe is both hearty and healthy without adding any heavy, high-calorie ingredients. And if you double the recipe, you'll be able to serve yourself a few spoonfuls for lunch each day and be set.
Get our recipe for Simple Chicken Greek Salad.
Seared Chicken Pizzaioli
We lighten up this chicken dish by ditching the breading (which gets soggy underneath the sauce anyway) and searing the chicken instead of frying it. A ladle of red sauce and a thin layer of bubbling mozzarella rounds the dish out for a twist on a classic comfort food that's actually good for you.
Get our recipe for Seared Chicken Pizzaioli.
Spicy Thai Chicken with Basil
This Thai classic gets its flavor from chiles, garlic, and fresh herbs—all nutritional powerhouses that together also make for a next-level flavor experience that trumps any basic stir-fry, at least in the health department!
Get our recipe for Spicy Thai Chicken with Basil.
Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas
When you're in the mood for some Mexican, it's always a good idea to make beloved dishes right at home so you're in control and can make them much healthier than any version you would be served at a restaurant, and that's exactly what this red chile chicken enchilada recipe does.
Get our recipe for Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas.
Flavorful Provençal Chicken
This is the type of simple, healthy, satisfying meal that gives Mediterranean cooking its reputation as the perfect blend of flavor and nutrition. With white wine, tomatoes, olives, and herbs, this chicken dish has the soul of southern France in every bite.
Get our recipe for Flavorful Provençal Chicken.
Chicken Cacciatore Recipe
Chicken cacciatore gets all its delicious flavor from a stew of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and wine. So not only is this a dish that will make your tastebuds soar, but it's healthy for you, too. And that is the true sign of a meal you will happily turn to again and again.
Get our recipe for Chicken Cacciatore.
Classic Herb Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
This roast chicken recipe produces a bird so moist, no other will compare. Plus, it's simple enough to make on a weeknight, but still impressive enough to whip up if you're hosting a dinner party, too.
Get our recipe for Classic Herb Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables.
This dish combines some of the great flavors of northern Spain—smoked paprika, sweet peppers, and piquant chorizo—in a slow-cooked stew that could warm even the most frigid of souls. We put our own spin on the basque chicken with the addition of dark beer, which brings a great flavor that will leave your taste buds in awe and your guests wanting more.
Get our recipe for Basque Chicken.
Easiest Chicken Adobo
This may be the easiest chicken recipe of all time. The key is to reduce the sauce down to a syrup thick enough to cling to the chicken, as that will infuse your meal with a huge jolt of savory garlic-soy flavor. Pair with a side of veggies, and you'll be set for the perfect dinner.
Get our recipe for Easiest Chicken Adobo.
Mediterranean-Inspired Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers
This baked chicken breast recipe will have you roasting the meat with tomatoes and capers, then olive oil basting the chicken in a savory broth, which keeps the meat moist as it's topped with a chunky, textured sauce. And it's made in just one baking dish, making for easy cleanup!
Get our recipe for Mediterranean-Inspired Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers.
Chicken Under a Brick
Gone are the days of drowning your chicken in a bottled barbecue sauce! Instead, this basic, rustic way of grilling chicken—no special sauces or condiments needed—gives you tons of flavor without the added calories. All you need is a brick or two and aluminum foil. Why does this work so well? That kind of extra weight from the brick pushes the chicken down evenly, which results in juicier meat and a crispy skin no one can resist.
Get our recipe for Chicken Under a Brick.
Chicken Burger With Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
We know chicken burgers can err on the side of bland, so this recipe takes the basic patty up a notch with a sun-dried tomato aioli sauce. It stays low-calorie, but it adds a rich texture and flavor to the chicken without overpowering the patty. Once you make this sauce, you'll want to put it on everything.
Get our recipe for a Chicken Burger With Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli.
Breakfast Hash With Sweet Potato and Chicken Sausage
This is exactly the kind of meal you want for breakfast that will soak up the excesses of a big night out (perhaps with a Bloody Mary in hand). It's hearty and packed with protein, so it's much better for you than a plate of pancakes and homefries from your local diner.
Get our recipe for Breakfast Hash With Sweet Potato and Chicken Sausage.
Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Sandwich
Those who love sweet and spicy things are up for a real treat with this sandwich. Between teriyaki-glazed chicken, sweet grilled pineapple, and spicy jalapeños, this has every element you'd want in one meal.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Sandwich.
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.
Get our recipe for Oven Fried Chicken.
Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup
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, but a single cup can also carry up to half a day's worth of sodium. This version is light on the salt, and loaded with chunky vegetables and shredded chicken for a truly hearty bowl of soup.
Get our recipe for Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup.
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.
Get our recipe for 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.
Get our recipe for Margarita Chicken.
Chicken Tikka Masala
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.
Get our recipe for 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.
Get our recipe for Kung Pao Chicken.
Sesame Noodles with Chicken
Italians might cringe in horror to hear it, but the noodle originally comes from Asia. The point being though 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.)
Get our recipe for 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.
Get our recipe for 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 metabolism-boosting 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.
Get our recipe for Chili-Mango Chicken Stir Fry.
Another Italian classic lost in translation. Too many cooks (including the ones 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.
Get our recipe for 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?
Get our recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu.
Appetizer-Worthy Chicken Pot Stickers
Making Chinese dumplings at home will only take you about 10 minutes, and this recipe spiked the dish with mushrooms and snap peas. This works great as an appetizer, but you can also cut the recipe down and make it a lean meal for one.
Get our recipe for Appetizer-Worthy Chicken Pot Stickers.
Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers with Chipotle-Honey Mustard
Don't worry—these chicken fingers aren't deep-fried, but oven-baked instead, so you can enjoy this childhood favorite any time you like. We pair the meat with a sweet and spicy sauce that kicks the taste up a notch, too.
Get our recipe for Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers with Chipotle-Honey Mustard.
Classic Slow-Cooker Chicken in Red Wine
Get our recipe for Classic Slow-Cooker Chicken in Red Wine.
Best-Ever Healthier Chicken Pot Pie
It's a known fact that pot pies will forever be one of America's favorite comfort foods, but you don't want to waste an entire day's worth of calories, fat, and sodium in just one meal, which is what ends up happening in many restaurant renditions. We take the opposite approach, cutting the calories and fat in a pot pie you will still love.
Get our recipe for Best-Ever Healthier Chicken Pot Pie.
Asian-Inspired Chicken Meatballs
These chicken meatballs are inspired by the street-corner grills in Vietnam and Thailand, where you'll often find the bold flavors of ginger, garlic, and chiles. Serve these not with pasta but with steamed rice, cucumbers, and big lettuce leaves to make wraps.
Get our recipe for Asian-Inspired Chicken Meatballs.
Healthier Chicken Parm
We know, another chicken parm dish, but we can't help that there are just so many ways to make this classic dish healthy, we just had to share them all. This time around we shallow-fry a small portion of chicken to minimize oil soakage and use fresh mozzarella to top it off.
Get our recipe for Healthier Chicken Parm.
Takeout-Level Chicken Fried Rice
Drop the take-out menu, once and for all! We take the classic white rice heavy dish and simply portion control it, making sure this version is heavy on the fresh veggies. And we use a bit of oil to crisp it all up!
Get our recipe for Takeout-Level Chicken Fried Rice.
Protein-Packed Chicken Fajita Burrito
Burritos are a great take-out go-to because not only are they delicious, but they are fast to make and easy to carry around if you're truly in a rush. We made sure this burrito saves you calories, is still so filling, and is quick and easy to make, so you won't feel the urge to take a trip to Taco Bell!
Get our recipe for Protein-Packed Chicken Fajita Burrito.