What to Do with Leftover Barbecue Chicken: Quick and Tasty Ideas

Who doesn’t love a delicious barbecue chicken feast? The smoky, tender meat bursting with flavor is always a hit at any gathering. However, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves with leftovers after a big meal or a party. Instead of letting that scrumptious BBQ chicken go to waste, there are numerous ways to transform it into a variety of tasty dishes! In this article, we will explore some of the most creative and mouthwatering ideas to make the most out of your leftover barbecue chicken.

From sliders to salads, and nachos to stuffed potatoes, the possibilities are endless when it comes to reimagining your BBQ chicken leftovers. With a bit of creativity and some easy recipes, you can turn your once simple meal into exciting new dishes that will delight your taste buds, and make the most of that savory grilled chicken. No need to be an expert chef – these recipes are designed to be accessible and fuss-free, allowing anyone to bring new life to their leftover BBQ chicken with minimal effort.

So, are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure and give your barbecue chicken a fantastic makeover? Stay tuned as we delve into these fantastic recipe ideas that are guaranteed to elevate your leftover BBQ game to a whole new level. Let’s make every meal an unforgettable experience, and say goodbye to food waste!

Creative Ideas for Leftover BBQ Chicken

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas are a fantastic way to transform leftover BBQ chicken into a delicious and satisfying meal. To make these, shred the chicken and combine it with your favorite barbecue sauce. Place a tortilla in a skillet over medium heat, and sprinkle one side with a layer of cheese. Add a layer of the BBQ chicken mixture, followed by another layer of cheese, and top it off with another tortilla. Cook until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crispy, then cut into wedges and serve with salsa and sour cream.

BBQ Chicken Nachos

BBQ Chicken Nachos are another perfect use for leftover chicken, especially when paired with flavorful toppings. First, spread a generous layer of tortilla chips on a baking tray. Next, combine your leftover BBQ chicken with cheese, diced red onion, and sliced jalapeños, and scatter the mixture evenly over the chips. Bake in the oven at 375˚F for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with additional ingredients like avocado, salsa, and sour cream, and enjoy a tasty and fun meal!

BBQ Chicken Salad

To create a wholesome and filling BBQ Chicken Salad, shred your leftover chicken and combine it with a hearty salad base. Start with a mix of greens, such as romaine, spinach, or arugula. Add chopped veggies like cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes. For a touch of crunch, include toppings like croutons, bacon bits, or even roasted nuts. Finally, toss the salad with your favorite barbecue sauce or a tangy BBQ vinaigrette to bring it all together.

BBQ Chicken Casserole

Utilizing a casserole dish is an easy and convenient way to make BBQ Chicken Casserole. Begin by mixing the shredded leftover BBQ chicken with black beans, corn, chopped green pepper, and additional barbecue sauce. Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish, and top with a generous layer of cheddar cheese. Bake the casserole in the oven at 375˚F for about 25 minutes—loosely covered with foil—until heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve this comforting dish with a side of your choice or a crisp green salad.

Unconventional Recipes

BBQ Chicken Pizza

If you’re looking to put a twist on a classic dish, try making BBQ Chicken Pizza. This recipe uses leftover barbecue chicken, combined with some fruity and fresh flavors to create an unforgettable pizza experience. Start by preheating your oven and preparing a pizza crust. Spread a thin layer of barbecue sauce on the crust, followed by sliced pieces of the leftover BBQ chicken. For toppings, add a combination of diced pineapple, thinly-sliced red onions, and fresh corn. Finish it off with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese and bake the pizza until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly. The combination of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors in this pizza will certainly delight your taste buds.

BBQ Chicken Rice Casserole

Another creative way to use your leftover BBQ chicken is by making a BBQ Chicken Rice Casserole. For this dish, cook some rice and mix it with chopped cooked barbecue chicken. In a separate bowl, combine BBQ sauce, diced green onions, and any other desired vegetables (such as corn or bell peppers). Mix this sauce with the rice and chicken, ensuring everything is well-coated. Transfer the mixture into a greased casserole dish and top with some cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Bake in a preheated oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. This hearty and flavorful casserole is a filling meal option that’s sure to satisfy.

BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps

For a lighter, healthier option, consider using leftover BBQ chicken in lettuce wraps. First, shred or chop your leftover barbecue chicken into bite-sized pieces. Prepare a variety of fresh vegetables, such as sliced red onions, diced tomatoes, and thinly-sliced green onions. Lay out large lettuce leaves (such as romaine or iceberg) and place the chicken and vegetables onto each leaf. Drizzle with extra BBQ sauce if desired, and wrap the lettuce around the filling, securing with a toothpick if needed. These BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps are perfect for a low-carb meal or appetizer, and their refreshing taste paired with smoky chicken will keep you coming back for more.

Incorporating Nutrition

Protein-Packed Leftover Dishes

Leftover barbecue chicken is an excellent starting point for protein-rich, nutritious meals. With a high protein content, chicken contributes to muscle growth, bone health, and supports the immune system. Consider incorporating other protein sources such as black beans to create well-rounded, satisfying dishes. For example, a shredded BBQ chicken casserole could feature black beans and sweet corn, adding fiber and antioxidants to your meal.

Adding Vegetables to BBQ Chicken Meals

Incorporating a variety of vegetables into your BBQ chicken recipes not only adds texture, flavor, and color but also essential nutrients. Consider these veggie combinations:

  • Tomatoes and green peppers: These two nutrient-rich vegetables are high in vitamins A, C, and potassium. Adding them to your BBQ chicken dish, such as in a salad or wrap, introduces an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.
  • Red peppers and sweet corn: Adding these vegetables to your leftover BBQ chicken will enhance the dish’s natural sweetness while supplying fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Use them in a stir-fry or casserole for a flavorful option.
  • Lettuce: Use large lettuce leaves as a low-calorie and nutrient-dense wrapper for your BBQ chicken, creating a delicious and fresh alternative to traditional sandwiches or tacos. Add other veggies like tomato or red pepper for extra crunch and nutritional value.

Choosing Healthier Ingredients

When cooking with leftover barbecue chicken, opt for healthier ingredients to complement the protein and veggies in your meal. Forks:

  • Choose whole-grain options when incorporating grains, such as whole wheat tortillas for quesadillas or wraps. Whole grains provide fiber and a range of nutrients that improve digestion and cardiovascular health.
  • Use olive oil or other heart-healthy oils when sautéing vegetables. These oils provide beneficial monounsaturated fats that promote heart health and support a balanced diet.

By focusing on protein-packed dishes, adding nutrient-dense vegetables, and selecting healthier ingredients, you can create delicious and nutritious meals using your leftover BBQ chicken while supporting your overall well-being.

Repurposing Leftover Chicken

When you have leftover barbecue chicken, there are numerous ways to transform it into a completely new and delicious dish. With a little creativity and the right ingredients, you can easily repurpose leftover chicken for a quick and easy meal that everyone will enjoy.

Transforming Shredded Chicken Into New Meals

One of the best ways to use leftover rotisserie chicken is by shredding it. Not only does shredded chicken absorb flavors from the dish it’s added to, it also has a versatile texture that works well in a variety of recipes. Here are some ideas for repurposing shredded barbecue chicken:

  1. Tacos and quesadillas: Combine shredded barbecue chicken with your favorite cheese and taco or quesadilla toppings for a quick and delicious meal.
  2. Pasta dishes: Add shredded chicken to pasta sauces, such as alfredo or marinara, for a protein-packed addition to your meal.
  3. Salads: Toss shredded chicken into a salad with veggies, nuts, and cheese for a filling lunch option.
  4. Rice bowls: Add shredded chicken to rice bowls, along with mixed veggies, beans, or other ingredients for a satisfying and easily-customizable meal.
  5. Stuffed peppers or mushrooms: Mix shredded chicken with cheese, breadcrumbs, and seasonings, then stuff into bell peppers or mushrooms for a tasty, nutritious dish.

Tips for storing and freezing leftover chicken

Proper storage is crucial in making the most of your leftover chicken. Here are some helpful tips for when you want to store or freeze your leftovers:

  • Allow the chicken to cool down before storing to avoid condensation and bacteria growth.
  • Remove the chicken from the bones and shred or cut it before storing to save space and make it easier to use later.
  • Store the chicken in airtight containers or Ziploc bags with the air squeezed out to maintain freshness.
  • Label and date the containers or bags to keep track of when the chicken was stored.
  • Use the stored chicken within 3-4 days when refrigerated, or freeze it for up to 3 months for optimal quality.

Incorporating leftover barbecue chicken into new meals allows you to stretch your meal budget while reducing food waste. With these tips and ideas, you can easily repurpose leftover chicken into a variety of delicious dishes and make the most of your leftovers.

Serving Suggestions and Side Dishes

Complementary Sides for BBQ Chicken Dishes

Leftover barbecue chicken can be used in a variety of dishes, such as:

  • Fajitas: Mix the chicken with veggies like peppers and onions, and serve in a soft tortilla with cilantro for added flavor.
  • Quesadillas: Pair the chicken with cheese, bacon, and green onions. Toast until crispy on the outside and melty on the inside.
  • Nachos: Layer barbecue chicken on top of crispy tortilla chips, adding cheese, beans, and other toppings to taste.

When planning side dishes to accompany your BBQ chicken meals, consider these delicious options:

  • Side Salad: A fresh, crisp side salad pairs well with the smoky flavors of barbecue chicken. Incorporate a variety of greens, vegetables, and a light dressing.
  • Baked Potato: Serve a steaming baked potato with a variety of toppings like sour cream, chives, and cheese. This hearty side dish complements barbecue chicken perfectly.
  • Baked Beans: Opt for a slow-cooker recipe that’s ready for your summer night meal. The rich flavor of the beans complements BBQ chicken wonderfully.

Beverage Pairings for BBQ Chicken Meals

Different beverage pairings can enhance the experience of enjoying barbecue chicken dishes. Here are some suggestions:

Drink Type Pairing Reason
Cold Beer Refreshing contrast to smoky BBQ flavors
Iced Tea A classic, cooling choice for hot weather
Lemonade Counter the smoky flavor with sweet citrus
Red Wine**[^1]** Balance the tanginess of BBQ sauce with fruity notes

[^1]: Look for fruity reds like Malbec, Zinfandel, or Shiraz.

When planning the beverage pairings, consider whether you want to complement or contrast the flavors of the BBQ chicken. Experimenting with different options allows you to discover the perfect pairing for every chicken dish.

Quick and Budget-Friendly Leftover BBQ Chicken Ideas

Dinner in a Flash

Transform your leftover barbecue chicken into a quick and easy weeknight meal with these simple ideas:

  1. BBQ Chicken Nachos: Layer tortilla chips with shredded barbecue chicken, black beans, corn, shredded cheese, and sliced jalapenos. Bake in a 350°F preheated oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with chopped green onions, sour cream, and salsa for a satisfying appetizer or dinner.
  2. Chicken Bacon Ranch Sliders: Combine shredded BBQ chicken with cooked bacon pieces and ranch dressing. Serve the mixture on slider buns for a delicious and filling dinner option.
  3. BBQ Chicken and Rice Casserole: Mix together rice, shredded chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and barbecue sauce. Top with shredded cheese and bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and the casserole is warmed through.

Hearty Lunches

Pack your lunch with protein and flavor using these budget-friendly leftover BBQ chicken ideas:

  1. Shredded BBQ Chicken Salad: Toss together mixed greens, shredded barbecue chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado. Drizzle with a simple vinaigrette or ranch dressing for a filling and healthy lunch.
  2. Chicken Quesadillas:
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil and cook diced onions until soft.
  • Stir in leftover BBQ chicken and chopped parsley, and heat for 1-2 minutes.
  • Spread the mixture onto a tortilla, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and fold in half.
  • Cook in the skillet until the tortilla is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and salsa.
  1. BBQ Chicken Wrap: Fill a large tortilla with a mix of shredded BBQ chicken, lettuce, shredded cheese, sliced tomato, and a drizzle of ranch dressing. Roll up the tortilla and enjoy a tasty and portable lunch.

These quick and budget-friendly leftover BBQ chicken ideas will breathe new life into your leftovers, making them perfect for dinner or hearty lunches.


In summary, leftover BBQ chicken offers various possibilities for delicious and inventive meals. By repurposing the chicken in creative ways, you can serve up some tasty dishes that will impress your family and friends.

  • BBQ Chicken Nachos: Layer tortilla chips with shredded BBQ chicken, cheese, salsa, and your favorite toppings to create a scrumptious and easy appetizer or meal.
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch Sliders: Combine BBQ chicken with crispy bacon and ranch dressing to create irresistible sliders that will satisfy your cravings.
  • BBQ Chicken Salad: Transform your leftover chicken into a hearty and nutritious salad by adding greens, sliced veggies, and your favorite dressing.
  • Chicken Rissoles: Combine leftover shredded chicken with breadcrumbs, egg, and seasonings, then form into patties and pan-fry for a tasty and versatile meal option.
  • Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese: Elevate your classic grilled cheese sandwich by adding shredded BBQ chicken and buffalo sauce for a spicy twist.

Using these ideas as a starting point, you can continue to explore various recipes and techniques to make the most out of your leftover BBQ chicken. Be sure to store leftovers properly in airtight containers to ensure the freshness and quality of your chicken. Following these suggestions will not only reduce food waste but also allow you to enjoy multiple dishes from one base ingredient.

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