Cooking chicken? Here are 5 easy comfort-food recipes that are anything but basic

If you're making dinner at home this week, think outside of the basic chicken breast

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published March 22, 2020 4:30PM (EDT)

Chicken Pot Pie (Skyhorse Publishing)
Chicken Pot Pie (Skyhorse Publishing)

For most meat-eating Americans, the ultimate comfort food is chicken. As New York Times food editor Sam Sifton told Salon Food on an episode of "Salon Talks," chicken is the most searched-for food on the Times' site. And for that very reason, it's easy to fall into a trap of just cooking plain old chicken breasts over and over. But there's so much more you can do with other parts of the bird that are even more delicious. 

If you're making dinner at home this week, think outside of the basic breast. Try making one of these five comfort foods from recipes that are easy to follow for all skill levels.

1. Chicken Pot Pie

"I like to use store-bought pie crust for this pot pie," writes Joyce Klynstra in this excerpt from her "Mom's Comfort Food" cookbook, which gathers recipes that "were once written on cards and swapped with friends and family" — an ultimate comfort-food guide. "If you have leftover chicken to use, you have a quick meal on your hands!" 

2. Chicken and Dumplings

Hope Comeford's recipe for this Southern classic requires only five ingredients, and you can fix it and forget it in the comfort of your own slow cooker. Comeford recommends sprinkling pepper on top, if desired. If you prefer a less broth-y stew, she suggests adding another half-pound of vegetables to bulk it up. 

3. Chicken Taco Lasagna 

"Chicken taco lasagna falls somewhere between a juicy burrito and an enchilada, but it's layered lasagna-style," Jake Smollett, host of "Living By Design," writes in his "The Family Table" cookbook, which features 100 pasta dishes from the "Rachel Ray Show" alum. "Mexican food was big in our household when we lived in Southern California, because it was easy to find really great spices and fresh ingredients at the awesome Mexican grocery stores near our neighborhood. This is a dish that the entire family will love, and it goes a long way."

4. Arroz con Pollo 

"Comfort food" doesn't have to automatically mean unhealthy, either. "If I had to choose one recipe from the classic Latin repertoire to serve as an example of all the substitutions that can be made to health-ify a recipe, this is it," writes Leticia Moreinos Schwartz in an excerpt from her "Latin Superfoods" cookbook. "Arroz con Pollo is an incredible delicious dish, full of flavor, and full of satisfaction . . . By using brown rice, chicken or turkey sausage, and skinless-less chicken breasts, it becomes a lot more diabetes-friendly recipe. At the same time, you don't sacrifice flavor, as the herbs and spices are here in full gear." 

5. White Chicken Chili 

This white chicken chili recipe is more good news for those who try to avoid comfort foods because of health concerns. Judy Gascho's recipe appears in "Fix-It and Forget-it Instant Pot Diabetes Cookbook." Edited by Hope Comerford, this cookbook has 127 easy-to-prepare recipes like this one, which you make in an Instant Pot. Each serving is packed with 57 grams of protein, making it one hearty dish. 

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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