30-Minute Winner Winner Chicken Dinners to Try This Week

These easy chicken recipes prove that family-friendly dinners don’t have to take long to cook. Get our 10 best 30-minute meals that feature fresh-cooked chicken.

  • By Jess Dang
  • January 4, 2022

It’s no wonder chicken is so popular for dinners: It’s inexpensive, full of protein, and low in fat. But it’s easy to get bored with the same ol’ chicken recipes all the time. What’s more, the most flavorful chicken recipes often include an extensive ingredient list and long marinade times that mean you’re not eating until an hour after you start cooking. 

We could all use some inspiration every now and then when it comes to dinner, and this is all the more true if you’re stuck in a chicken rut. Here we’ve gathered 10 of our most popular, most flavorful chicken recipes that are super easy to make.

Now, what exactly does “easy” mean? For our purposes, it’s this:

  • All of these easy chicken recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less
  • Have relatively short ingredient lists
  • Use easy-to-find ingredients
  • Don’t involve fancy or difficult techniques

These recipes are perfect for anyone whose New Year’s resolution is to cook more because you can get a successful, healthy dinner on the table without sacrificing your entire evening. Here’s to your success in the kitchen!

1. Creamy Cajun Pasta with Chicken

Pasta with creamy, spicy Cajun flavors gets tossed with colorful red bell peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes, and wilted baby spinach in this easy 30-minute meal. The pasta is topped with juicy jerk chicken breast and a squeeze of lime to bring out the flavors. Here’s what we love about this meal: Though you’ll need to marinate the chicken breast for at least 20 minutes, you can prep every other part of the meal while it’s happening — cook the pasta, chop bell peppers, garlic, green onions, and limes, and drain the tomatoes. By the time you’re ready to get started cooking, the chicken will be fully marinated and ready to cook.

2. Chicken Burrito Bowls with Pico de Gallo

This “takeout fakeout” meal is a Cook Smarts member favorite similar to the Chipotle restaurant version. You’ll toss chopped boneless, skinless chicken breast with a spice mix instead of marinating it, which is what will help you get this meal on the table in just 30 minutes. The bowl consists of a bed of shredded lettuce topped with rice, chicken sautéed with black beans and corn, sharp cheddar cheese, fragrant homemade pico de gallo, and sour cream. Serve it with tortilla chips for dipping. This meal is ideal for families with picky eaters since you can set out bowls full of ingredients and let everyone assemble their own burrito bowl.

3. Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles with Red Peppers and Coleslaw Mix

Who doesn’t love peanut sauce?! It’s sweet, savory, creamy, and a little spicy, all in one. And tossed in spaghetti noodles with chicken breast and veggies, this meal tastes rich and decadent while still packing in the nutrients a healthy dinner should provide. Coleslaw mix is this meal’s secret to success: Using pre-shredded cabbage saves you time chopping, and once sautéed the coleslaw mix is very similar to the taste and texture of the noodles. This gives you an extra serving of veggies (in addition to bell peppers) that you’ll hardly notice is there. Serve cucumber slices on the side for a refreshing contrast.

4. Honey-Sesame Chicken Salad with Edamame and Cashews

This Asian-inspired chicken salad combines sweet, tart, and savory ingredients, as well as a bit of crunch, which is probably why it’s so highly rated among Cook Smarts meal plan members. And it doesn’t hurt that if you marinate the chicken ahead of time or the night before, it’ll come together in just 25 minutes! In this meal, salad greens get tossed with edamame, cashews, red peppers, and oranges, then topped with honey-sesame–glazed chicken and a sprinkle of green onions. You’ll finish it off with a well-balanced Asian vinaigrette of garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and more. At 32 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, this delicious salad is sure to fill you up.

5. Creamy Chicken and Pesto Pasta with Asparagus and Peas

Spring is in the air anytime of year when you make this simple pasta full of green veggies! Store-bought pesto is the key to this recipe’s ease, which gets stirred into a cream sauce in which asparagus has been simmering. You’ll mix it all with warm pasta, peas, chopped chicken, and crispy bacon, and serve it with freshly cracked black pepper on top. With an ingredients list this short, you’ll be amazed at how much flavor is packed into this meal. It also reheats well, so plan for extras and you’ll have lunch all ready to go. 

6. Asian Kale Salad with Chicken, Celery, Asian Pears, and Peanut Dressing

Chicken is prepared simply for this quick and easy 30-minute meal, but don’t be fooled: It’s full of flavor even without a marinade! This salad is fresh, hearty, and full of bright flavors. The baby kale gets tossed with delicious homemade peanut dressing packed full of fragrant fresh ginger, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, and more. By letting the dressed kale sit in the refrigerator while you make the rest of the salad, it will tenderize, eliminating the chewy, fibrous feel that some people dislike about kale. The dressed kale then gets tossed with crisp celery, Asian pear slices, fresh mint, and peanuts. It’s topped with seared chicken slices and more peanut dressing to serve.

7. Chicken Tenders with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce and Edamame “Succotash”

This is another marinade-free meal; the chicken gets its flavor from being tossed in flour and cooked in herb butter made with garlic, green onions, paprika, and Italian seasoning. It takes on even more flavor from being topped with sautéed tomatoes, which are cooked in the same herb butter to save you time and tie the meal together. The chicken and tomatoes are served with a side of edamame succotash. Succotash is usually made with lima beans, which are a polarizing food, but edamame works just as well. Cooked with onions, corn, and butter and finished with lemon juice, this healthy side will win over skeptics!

8. Ginger Apricot Glazed Chicken with Fig Salad

In this quick yet elegant meal, flour-dusted chicken breasts are pan-seared, then coated in a rich glaze flavored with dried apricots, fresh ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and white wine. Serve the chicken with a salad of mixed greens, figs, and pistachios tossed in a maple-balsamic vinaigrette. The figs and apricots give this meal a light sweetness that balances the other flavors without going overboard, and the pistachios provide the perfect texture contrast to the softer elements of the meal.

9. Sesame Ginger Chicken Lo Mein with Broccoli and Cashews

This quick and easy 30-minute meal takes sautéed chicken seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper, and turns it into a flavorful part of the meal. This is thanks to the savory sesame-ginger sauce that gets stirred into the vegetables, chicken, and noodles before serving, which flavor everything with notes of soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and fresh ginger. Along with lo mein noodles, this meal consists of sautéed bell peppers, coleslaw mix, and broccoli, so you’ll be sure to get your vitamins and minerals! Add some cashews and top with sesame seeds, a squeeze of lime juice, and fresh cilantro for a colorful, fragrant plate.

10. Slow Cooker Sopa Azteca with Chicken

This easy meal is one of our meal plan members’ favorite crockpot chicken recipes. Sopa Azteca is a traditional Mexican soup, and a variation on tortilla soup that features a rich, tomato- and chile-heavy broth. It’s typically made with dried chiles, tomatoes, garlic, and onion, and is full of savory chicken. To make this meal quicker and easier, we took a little shortcut that allows you to prepare it in just 25 minutes, not counting slow-cooking: Instead of starting with dried chiles that need to be soaked, cooked, and blended to a smooth consistency, we have you use a spice mix along with adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo. Slow cooking also means cooking the chicken is completely hands-off — so easy! Prep this meal at lunchtime and you’ll be ready for a fantastic dinner. The soup is served over crushed tortilla chips and topped with avocado, cilantro, and sour cream, as well as a squeeze of lime.

Want more easy chicken recipes and other great dinner ideas? Our meal plan service offers 4 meals per week with the choice of original, gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian versions, as well as an extensive archive of past recipes. All of the recipes and techniques mentioned above are a part of the service. For more info and to get a taste test with a free 14-day trial, sign up here.


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