One ordinary ingredient — 5 extraordinary ways to use it.

By Vanessa Greaves
March 11, 2021
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Looking to get out of your same ol' same ol' chicken rut? All it takes is a little imagination and a willingness to try new things. Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, is here to show you how to turn plain and simple skinless, boneless chicken breasts into five different, utterly delicious meals.

1. Grind and Grill

side view of a chicken burger stacked with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese
Credit: Allrecipes

Chicken breast meat is a healthier alternative to beef, so go on and use it to make chicken burgers. Inherently mild chicken can be flavored in countless ways to take it in many different directions with seasonings and sauces. Tip: Use your food processor to grind chicken breast meat instead of buying it ground. It's usually cheaper to do it yourself, and it will definitely be fresher.

2. Wrap It Up

ground chicken and peanuts served on lettuce leaves
Credit: Allrecipes

Turn ground chicken breast into tasty fillings for Asian-style lettuce wraps, Mexican burritos, and more. It just comes down to choosing the flavoring for the meat and the wrappers to hold it all together.

3. Pound It Out

pan fried chicken breast paillard served with arugula and tomato salad topped with shaved Parmesan cheese
Credit: Allrecipes

Chicken breast can be tricky to cook because of its uneven thickness from one end to the other. When the thin end is cooked perfectly, the thick end is still a bit raw. When the thick end is cooked through, the thin end is overcooked and dry. The solution? Make the meat an even thickness all the way around before cooking. Here's how to do it: Start with a skinless, boneless chicken breast, place it flat between two layers of plastic wrap (make sure you leave plenty of room on the sides) and start pounding with the smooth side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin until the entire chicken breast is flattened to about ¼-inch thick. Congratulations — you just made a paillard (pie-YARH). Tip: Paillards cook in a fraction of the time it takes to cook a conventional chicken breast, so don't walk away from the stove.

4. Stuff and Roll

chicken breasts stuffed with cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes, and cut open
Credit: Allrecipes

Now that you know how to flatten a chicken breast to make a paillard, take it one step further and roll it up around a filling before cooking. This is the kind of easy-to-make recipe that only looks difficult, but the results are fancy enough for company.

5. Stick It

chicken satay on a skewer, sprinkled with chopped peanuts and cilantro
Credit: Allrecipes

Chicken on a stick just works on so many levels: It's easy to make, it's easy to serve, kids and adults love it, and the flavor possibilities are limitless. You simply cut chicken breasts into cubes or strips, thread them onto skewers, and grill them quickly over high heat. But first, you'll want to marinate the meat so it can soak up whatever flavorings you choose. Tip: For food safety, either hold aside some marinade to use as sauce, or cook any marinade that's been in contact with raw chicken before serving as sauce.

You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

More tips, tricks, and ideas from Nicole: