Have you ever found yourself staring at a fridge full of leftover barbecue chicken from a summer cookout and wondering what on earth to do with it? I’ve certainly been there. Leftover BBQ chicken can seem boring, but with a little creativity, you can transform it into a variety of delicious new dishes.
In this post, I’ll provide 8 tasty recipe ideas to give your leftover BBQ chicken a second life. From casseroles to salads to sandwiches and more, you’ll find plenty of mouthwatering options for using up leftover chicken so it doesn’t go to waste. I’ve scoured top recipe sites to curate the very best recipes that will have you excited to cook again.
Let’s get started! Here’s what to do with leftover BBQ chicken to take it from dull to delicious.
Leftover BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
One of the easiest and quickest options for using up leftover chicken is to make BBQ chicken quesadillas. Simply shred or chop your chicken and combine it in a tortilla with shredded cheese like cheddar or Monterey Jack. Cook the quesadillas in a skillet until the cheese melts and the tortillas turn golden brown. Serve with your favorite quesadilla toppings like guacamole, salsa, sour cream, or jalapeños for a fast and flavorful meal.
To make things even easier, you can assemble several quesadillas ahead of time and cook them whenever you’re ready for a quick meal or snack. Adding veggies like bell peppers or onions amps up nutrition. Quesadillas are also highly customizable, so get creative with fillings!
BBQ Chicken Salad
Turning leftover chicken into a hearty BBQ chicken salad is one of my favorite go-to lunches. Salad provides a lighter, healthier way to enjoy barbecue flavor without all the heavy sides that usually come with BBQ.
To make a BBQ chicken salad, simply chop or shred cooked chicken and toss it with greens, vegetables, beans, cheese, nuts, fruit…you name it! Think outside the box with unique salad add-ins like sweet corn, avocado, strawberries, black beans, feta, or pecans. Then dress the salad with a tangy, sweet and salty dressing that complements the barbecue flavor – I love using a mix of olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey and Dijon.
You can also turn the salad into a wrap or pita sandwich for extra flavor and crunch. BBQ chicken salad makes excellent packable leftovers too – just avoid wet ingredients like tomatoes when prepping your salad to prevent sogginess.
Shredded Leftover Chicken & Rice Casserole
For the ultimate comforting leftover chicken dish, you can’t go wrong with a BBQ chicken and rice casserole. This savory bake combines shredded barbecue chicken, rice or pasta, veggies, and cheese baked together until hot and bubbly. It’s simple, budget-friendly, and easily customized.
Some of my favorite mix-ins for chicken and rice casserole include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, mushroom, onion, garlic, and a melty cheese like cheddar, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella. You can make it as saucy or dry as you prefer depending on your rice to chicken ratio. Top with crispy fried onions or crushed potato chips for some extra crunch!
Serve chicken and rice casserole on its own or alongside salad or garlic bread. It also stores well as leftovers too. Just throw it back in the oven to reheat when needed.
BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes make for a very hearty, filling meal that pairs deliciously with barbecue chicken. Save your leftover baked potatoes to stuff with shredded chicken, cheese, bacon bits, butter, sour cream, chives and other tasty toppings.
Or if you don’t have leftover baked potatoes, simply bake some Russet potatoes until fork tender. Cut them in half lengthwise when done and scoop out some of the inner flesh to make room for the stuffing. Then fill the potatoes with BBQ chicken and desired toppings. Pop them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes just until the filling is hot.
The great thing about stuffed baked potatoes is you can fully customize them to suit your tastes – add hot sauce if you like heat, swap in sweet potato instead of Russet, or top with avocado slices or chili for extra flavor. Serve with a crisp green salad for a hearty and balanced comfort food meal.
BBQ Chicken Empanadas
Empanadas make an amazing appetizer or snack, and they’re also a fantastic way to use up leftover chicken. These stuffed pastries are common in Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American cuisines.
To make BBQ chicken empanadas, mix shredded barbecue chicken with cheese, onions, peppers, cilantro, corn, or other desired fillings. Spoon the filling into dough circles, fold them over to seal, pinch with a fork, and bake or fry until golden. Serve empanadas on their own or with chimichurri sauce, salsa, guacamole or sour cream for dipping. You can also form empanada dough into fun shapes like triangles, half-moons or rectangles.
The great thing about empanadas is you can fill them with just about anything – so experiment with different leftover chicken combo fillings. They make an easy portable meal or appetizer that’s sure to impress guests too!
BBQ Chicken Roll Ups
This recipe idea transforms leftover chicken and veggies into tasty pinwheel roll ups. To make them, simply spread cream cheese, pesto or herb-infused butter onto a tortilla or flatbread. Top with shredded mozzarella or cheddar, leftover chicken, grilled onions/peppers/zucchini, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes – whatever sounds good!
Roll up the flatbread tightly into a log shape. Then chill for at least 30 minutes before slicing into BBQ chicken roll ups. The chilling helps the rolls hold their shape when sliced. Arrange pins on a serving tray and enjoy!
These colorful and fun roll ups are perfect for appetizers, snacks, lunchboxes or side dishes. They’re infinitely adaptable as well, so you can tweak the flavors and fillings to suit your tastes or what’s already in your fridge. Give your chicken leftovers new life in rolled form.
Butter chicken is an incredible Indian dish that transforms barbecue chicken leftovers into an exotic, creamy curry. To make butter chicken, sauté chopped onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, garam masala, cumin and other spices in butter or oil. Then add cubed chicken and simmer in the fragrant sauce until heated through.
Just before serving, stir in heavy cream or coconut milk and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve butter chicken atop steaming hot basmati rice or with warm naan bread for dipping in those irresistible creamy sauces. This recipe lets you experience complex new flavors while still utilizing leftover chicken.
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken
Fried rice is a great way to transform random leftover veggies and meat into an easy, delicious one-pan meal. And Thai pineapple fried rice brings the perfect sweet and salty flavor pairing to the table.
To make it, simply heat oil in a skillet or wok, then quickly stir fry onions, carrots, peas, pineapple chunks and leftover BBQ chicken. Whisk eggs into the skillet to lightly scramble them. Finally, stir in cold, cooked rice so it separates into individual grains and absorbs flavors while heating through.
Season Thai pineapple fried rice with soy sauce, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, red pepper flakes, cilantro and lime juice. It comes together in a flash but tastes like you spent all day cooking! Enjoy this tropical twist on fried rice for dinner or even breakfast.
As you can see, leftover BBQ chicken is endlessly versatile for whipping up quick, delicious new meals at home. From stuffed potatoes to curries, rice bakes, salads, sandwiches and more – the possibilities are truly endless for giving leftover chicken a tasty second life rather than letting it go to waste.
I hope these 25 mouthwatering ideas have sparked inspiration for transforming your own BBQ leftovers into crave-worthy cuisine. So next time you find yourself staring down containers of leftover chicken, remember these recipes. Your taste buds and wallet will thank you!
Now it’s your turn to get cooking with leftover chicken. Which recipe are you most excited to try first? Let me know in the comments – as well as any of your own go-to BBQ chicken leftover ideas that I may have missed!