When you’re first getting started with chicken meal prep, it’s easy to think that you’re stuck to a lifetime of eating the same meal 10 times in a row. If you’re a beginner who’s not sure what to eat besides grilled chicken breasts and steamed veggies, or you’re just looking for refreshing new ideas, we got you.
Add some flavor to your meal prep this week by spicing up your chicken recipes. With its high protein content, low fat, and ability to take on whatever flavor you give, adding some pizzazz to your chicken is the best way to keep your taste buds entertained while making sure you’re still eating healthy.
There are so many ways to enjoy chicken in your meal plan routine – you can have it baked, grilled, sautéed, poached, slow cooked. We’re breaking down each cooking method for me doing big batches of meal prep to help you decide the best way to meal prep for your week.
Jump ahead to a section in this article:
- Crockpot Chicken Meal Prep Recipes
- Baked Chicken Meal Prep Ideas
- Spicy Chicken Meal Prep Ideas
- 4 Cooking Techniques for Chicken Breast Meal Prep
- Reheating & Storing Meal Prepped Chicken
Meal Prepping Chicken With Variety
The secret to meal prepping is to add variety so you don’t go crazy and get sick of eating the same dish over and over. Cook a big batch of chicken with some neutral spices like onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
A neutral flavor allows you to add the chicken to multiple different dishes with other sauces to give you totally different flavor profiles without spending all Sunday in the kitchen.
Here’s a video (below the basic chicken recipe) for some inspiration on how easy it can be to take a big batch of slow cooker shredded chicken and turn it into totally different dishes. We use up this shredded chicken in: a chicken burrito bowl (cauliflower rice version and a quinoa & black bean version), a Chinese chicken salad, Lemon Arugula Parmesan Salad, and buffalo chicken lettuce wraps.
Easy Crockpot Shredded Chicken Recipe
This easy recipe prevents chicken from getting dried out so you have a big batch of juicy shredded chicken to use all week in different meals.
- 2 pound chicken breast
- 2 pound chicken thigh
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chicken stock
Trim: off any excess fat from the chicken thighs.
Add: chicken and seasonings to the slow cooker. Pour in the chicken stock.
Cook: for 2-3 hours on low. Cut into the chicken to make sure it's done. If you use just chicken breasts then around 2 hours should work. If you have thighs in as well then it will be closer to the 3 hour mark. Some slow cookers only have low setting available for 6 or 8 hours so you can just set it to 6 hours on low and then use a set a kitchen timer to 3 hours. This lower cooking time prevents chicken from getting rubbery and still cooks it all the way through.
Shred: the chicken. You can shred by hand with two forks, use a mixer, or transfer to a food processor.
The keys to avoiding dried out and rubbery chicken breast in a slow cooker are:
-Only cook for 2-3 hours on low. Yes, they will still be fully and safely cooked. Leaving chicken breast in there for 8 hours is a guaranteed way to get some funky textures going on. But hey, you do you.
-Mix in some chicken thighs with the chicken breast. They help keep the shredded chicken mix moist and flavorful. Just trim the extra fat off the chicken thighs before tossing them in.
You don’t have to follow precise recipes to follow the ideas we share in the video, but here are general ingredients to use with the shredded chicken:
Chicken Burrito Bowl
- Stir in about 1 cup of salsa and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning with the shredded chicken (change the salsa amount based on how much chicken you have).
- Add: Quinoa & black beans for the balanced version.
- Add: Cilantro lime cauliflower rice for the grain-free version
- Microwave a frozen bag of cauliflower rice or cook for 7-8 minutes in a skillet with a little bit of oil. Mix 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice (or 2 tbsp if you like it really zesty) and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro with the cauliflower rice.
- Top with your favorite taco toppings: avocado, cheese, sour cream, etc.
Chinese Chicken Salad
- Get the coleslaw mix at the store so you don’t have to shred the cabbage and carrots yourself. Mix with some chopped romaine lettuce.
- Diced red bell pepper
- Canned Mandarin orange slices
- Asian salad dressing
Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Mix buffalo wing sauce with the shredded chicken. You can add 1 tablespoon of melted butter if want to make it richer and taste more like restaurant wing sauce.
- Add chicken to the lettuce cups and add toppings of your choice (shredded carrots, diced celery, blue cheese, ranch dressing, etc).
Lemon Arugula Parmesan Salad
- Arugula (or lettuce of choice)
- Shaved Parmesan
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sliced almonds
- Lemon vinaigrette salad dressing (or balsamic would pair well too if you can’t find a lemony dressing!)
Drop us a line in the comments at the wayyy bottom of this post and let us know how you would repurpose this shredded chicken. What are your favorite recipes that you would add this to?
More Crockpot Chicken Meal Prep Recipes
Colorful and nutritious dishes don’t have to be so complicated. This chipotle chicken recipes is a breeze to make.
All you really need to make this dish amazing is to dump everything in and go. It’s the perfect flavor-packed dish for when you don’t have the time to cook anything crazy.
This take on chicken pot pie lightens up this classic recipe but doesn’t cut down on flavor or deliciousness! It’s also the perfect healthy and comforting food to make if you catch a cold.
With a beautiful blend of spices like cinnamon, turmeric, and saffron, this dish will make you feel just like you’re in Morocco.
This recipe is picky-eater approved and gluten-free…. but definitely not free from flavor.
Yes, chilis typically bring a cold wintery day to mind, but this is so good you’ll want it even in the summer.
This dish can be used in tacos, sandwiches, bowls, and salads, but it’s so good that it’s easy to finish entirely on its own.
Vegetables, chicken, spice and everything nice – what’s not to love about this Italian dish made for convenience?
Cooking your marsala in a crockpot will make it so tender that it’s to die for. Don’t take our word for it, try it out here.
The tenderness and flavors of this dish make all the waiting worth it.
Baked Chicken Meal Prep Ideas
Who doesn’t love a good classic dish? Roasted chicken has never been so easy.
With only 6 ingredients needed to prepare this recipe, it’s bound to become a household staple. Who doesn’t love restaurant quality Italian made from home?
So simple you won’t believe you can get this much flavor from just 10 ingredients.
The marinade makes this chicken DROOL. WORTHY.
You don’t need a fryer to fill your crunch cravings – just an oven and 35 minutes of your time.
Let your tastebuds take a trip to the Caribbean by preparing this Jamaican staple.
This is the perfect family dinner dish – it’ll satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
Chicken nuggets don’t just have to be for kids. You can get in on the fun too while eating healthier. Your kid self would be so proud.
Enjoy this tropical take by adding coconut to your chicken! Your tastebuds will thank you.
Spicy Chicken Meal Prep Ideas
These are just as fun to make as they are to eat.
Just keep increasing the amount of red pepper flakes in this recipe until it hits your ideal spice level.
Now THIS is a recipe that will add some spice to your life — literally.
You don’t have to feel bad eating this amazingly healthy version of tikka masala.
It’s no secret that Thai food is the pinnacle of spice, and now you can enjoy it in your own home.
Don’t bother ordering Panda Express to your place when you can just make the perfect kung pao chicken at home.
Chipotle but cheaper, healthier and with the perfect amount of spice? Sign me up.
These delicious pitas are portable pockets of spice. Whew, say that 3 times!
Salads are great, but sometimes you need a little kick to really enjoy it. This recipe delivers.
This dish was MADE to be the perfect comfort food with a kick of flavor.
4 Cooking Techniques for Chicken Breast Meal Prep
Here’s the breakdown of the different ways to cook chicken breasts in big batches for meal prep. If you hate how chicken breasts can get dry, then we suggest you do a 50/50 split between chicken thighs and chicken breasts since thighs have more flavor and stay juicy.
If you’re someone who’s not into spending a lot of hands-on time while cooking, baking might be the way to go. It’s really easy and super hands-off – all you need to do is press a few buttons and you’re on the way to a delicious meal!
The best part about baking is that with so little prep time, you don’t have to feel like you’re doing too much work. It’s easy to multitask on something else while your food bakes. And with so much space, using an oven to bake your chicken means that it’s easier to make big batches and knock out your meals for the week in one go.
But if you’re the type to get easily distracted, be warned – your chicken can easily dry out if you aren’t paying attention and accidentally let it cook for a few extra minutes.
And if you live in a small space like an apartment, it can get real hot, real fast if you don’t air out the kitchen.
- Really easy and hands off
- Easier for big batch meal prep cooking
- Can cook on the same sheet pan as your side dish
- Can easily dry out if you aren’t paying attention and let it cook for a few extra minutes.
- Heats up your kitchen
You’ll love using your grill to meal prep if you like flavor and moisture in your chicken. Marinades and oils guarantee that you can give your chicken a flavor-packed punch without having to gnaw through dry chicken breast.
A big cooking surface area makes big batch meal prep that much easier because you can cook your chicken and veggies at the same time! It’s also an easy and fun way to get family and friends involved. You don’t have to meal prep alone, and grilling for yourself and others can make for a fun event.
Grilling isn’t the best way to meal prep year-round though – when it’s snowing or raining, the weather can make it difficult, or even impossible to meal prep (unless you have an indoor grill).
Because grilling takes you outside, it’s harder to multitask other dishes in kitchen at the same time. Don’t try and sauté a dish at the same time unless you’re more experienced or up for a challenge.
- Easier for big batch meal prep cooking
- Great flavor
- Stays juicy
- Weather can ruin it
- Harder to multitask with other cooking methods like sautéing another dish at the same time (unless you’re using an indoor counter top grill)
- Can grill big batch of veggies at the same time.
Sautéing your chicken is awesome because it’s easy and flavorful. In fact, it’s probably one of the first methods you used when you started meal prepping, and for good reason. It’s a classic way to cook your chicken, and the best part is that you don’t really need a lot of special equipment for it.
All you need is a stovetop, pan, and some spirit, and you’re on your way to enjoying juicy and flavorful chicken. In fact, some of the best flavor comes from the sear on the pan! What other method lets you get that?
Despite all its advantages, it does come with some drawbacks. It’s difficult to cook a huge batch on the stovetop, but there are certain pans that can make this easier if you’re really into it. It’s also easier to accidentally burn or mess up if you’re not paying attention.
- Some of the best flavor from the sear on the pan
- Hard to cook a huge batch on the stovetop. Some special pans make this easier.
- Requires hands on attention
- Easier to accidentally burn or mess it up
Poaching allows you to cook a juicy and tender meat. It’s also a great way to guarantee that your chicken has a nice neutral flavor that’s not too overpowering on the rest of the dish since the chicken cooks in a water or broth based liquid.
Poaching, however, does take a lot of patience, so if you only have a bit of time in your day to cook, this might not be for you. This is not a method that’s too friendly to beginners – poaching is easy to mess up, and one minute too long can result in dry and tough chicken that’s not fun to eat. And because there’s no searing or browning, the only flavor you really get depends entirely on what liquid and aromatics you choose to cook your meat in.
- Super easy and hands off
- Can leave the house while it cooks
- Make a big batch easily
- Some pressure cookers come with a saute feature so you get the best of both worlds with searing and slow cooking.
- Slow cookers can’t sear & brown the chicken so there is less flavor.
- The texture of chicken breast in a slow cooker can be a little rubbery if it’s left in too long. Mix in chicken thighs to help with the texture and flavor.
Reheating & Storing Meal Prepped Chicken
How long does meal prepped chicken last in the fridge?
Cooked chicken usually lasts about 3 to 5 days in the fridge, so it’s best to cook your meals by the week. If you ever end up cooking too much to finish by yourself, you can always freeze your chicken if you take the proper precautions.
As soon as you’re done cooking, make sure you store any extras in an airtight container and reduce the temperature to lower risk of illness and contamination.
After that, you’re free to freeze your chicken! Cooked chicken lasts around 3 months in the freezer before it starts losing its flavor, so it’s best to enjoy as soon as possible.
How To Reheat Meal Prepped Chicken?
Microwaving is the easiest and fastest way to reheat your chicken. If you’re home and have the time then you can always reheat your meal by tossing it into the oven in an oven-safe dish or using a skillet on the stovetop.