12 Ways To Use Canned Chicken

There are probably a few pantry staples that you always have on hand. You might keep your kitchen stocked with rice, pasta, beans, and even some cans of tuna for those times when you need to whip up a quick meal without making a trip to the grocery store. But there may be one pantry staple you're missing out on: canned chicken. It tends to be relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to fresh chicken, and it's already fully cooked, which means you can easily add it to recipes without worrying about taking the time to roast it, fry it, or bake it yourself.

Although some have a negative view of canned food, it can be an easy way to get more nutrition into your diet without dedicating too much of your time to cooking. And isn't that what we all need sometimes when we're leading busy lives? Let's take a closer look at some of the ways you can use canned chicken in your cooking. You may just learn a new hack that will have you keeping canned chicken stocked in your pantry from here on out. These are a few of our favorite ways to utilize canned chicken.

1. Try your hand at making quesadillas with canned chicken

If there's one simple and easy budget dish that we'll never get enough of, it's quesadillas. There are few dishes that are so quick to throw together, especially if you have all your ingredients already prepped and ready to go. You may tend to opt for cheese quesadillas because they don't require you to cook a separate protein, but when you're in the mood for something that's a bit more filling, chicken can be a delicious addition to your quesadillas. Of course, you can always buy some chicken thighs, season them, and cook them in the oven (a process that is likely to take close to an hour), or you can simply use canned chicken instead.

To make your canned chicken as flavorful as possible, you'll first want to open the can and drain out the excess water and salt. If you're feeling lazy, you can just break up the pieces of chicken with a fork and throw them on top of your quesadilla, but you'll get better results if you cook the canned chicken in a bit of butter, seasoning it along the way. It'll only take a few minutes for the chicken to begin to brown, at which point you can add it to your quesadillas. When you actually cook the chicken beforehand, you'll barely be able to tell that you're using the canned stuff.

2. Put it in chicken wraps

We love a quick, healthy lunch. Whether you're going into the workplace every day or you're trying to whip up a quick meal at home, chicken wraps are one of our favorite lunches. You can pack them with a variety of veggies in addition to the chicken itself, working with whatever you have in the fridge and whatever flavors you enjoy the most. But after chopping all those veggies and laying out your wrap, the last thing you probably want to do is spend valuable time prepping and cooking raw chicken — especially when you're in the middle of your workday.

That's why we love using canned chicken to make chicken wraps. You can keep a can of chicken in the pantry, and when you're ready to make your wrap, just open it up, drain it, and add the chicken straight into the wrap. This works best if you're using plenty of sauce that will disguise the lack of seasoning in the chicken. If you want to ensure that your chicken is as flavorful as possible, your best bet is to season it before you actually add it to the wrap. And if you don't mind spending a bit of extra prep time, you can always marinate your canned chicken in an olive oil and vinegar mixture for an even more luxurious chicken wrap experience. Lunch has never tasted so good.

3. Turn a whole canned chicken into bone broth

When you think of canned chicken, you're probably thinking of the white meat that comes broken up in a can. However, that's not the only kind of canned chicken on the market. If you know where to look, you can also find whole canned chicken. That may sound strange, but yes: You can find entire small chickens in cans. This is a particularly valuable ingredient to have in the pantry because not only do you get all that meat from the chicken, but you also get the bones, which come intact. And do you know what bones are perfect for? That's right: making bone broth.

Making bone broth from fresh chicken can be expensive, so if you want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to homemade bone broth, you should find a canned whole chicken. Then, remove the meat from the chicken and use it in another recipe. You'll want to saute the chicken bones for a while before adding in vegetable scraps from carrots, onions, and celery. Use spices and herbs like dill and coriander to give the broth some flavor, and then pour the water in, making sure the ingredients are fully covered. Simmer this mixture for about four hours, and you'll have delicious homemade bone broth you can use in a variety of recipes (or just drink on its own).

4. Make slow cooker chicken enchiladas

If you're making a chicken recipe from scratch, you may think that you have to prepare fresh chicken to make things taste the way you want them to. But we're here to tell you that's not always the case — or at least it's not when it comes to slow cooker chicken enchiladas. Of course, you can use fresh chicken if you happen to have some on hand, but if you want to make things easier (and cheaper) for yourself, the canned stuff will work just as well. If you were to use fresh chicken, the first step in the process would be cooking that chicken completely before adding it to the slow cooker with all of the other ingredients. But since you're using canned chicken instead, you can just plop it into a bowl with the rest of your other enchilada ingredients.

Once you get the chicken, tortillas, and sauce layered in the slow cooker, all you really have to do is wait. It'll take about an hour for the enchiladas to cook, and then you'll be ready to dig in. Although prep for this recipe could've taken almost an hour if you were using raw chicken and cooking it from scratch, the prep time will only be about 10 minutes if you decide to take the canned chicken route.

5. Add some extra protein to your egg foo young recipe

There are few dishes as filling and as flavorful as egg foo young. This Chinese cuisine-inspired dish makes use of the eggs you have sitting in your fridge and turns them into an affordable but luxurious-feeling meal. It's usually eaten with rice, and it can be enhanced with the addition of vegetables like scallions, sauces like gravy, and even sesame seeds.

However, if you're looking for a way to make your egg foo young more filling, you may want to consider adding meat to the mix. Any type of meat you have sitting around will work, and chicken is a favorite for many. But since egg foo young is already such a simple recipe, you may not want to take a ton of extra time to make your chicken for this recipe from scratch. That's where canned chicken comes in. It's a simple way to add even more protein to this already protein-rich dish, and it makes the finished product even more flavorful than the original. It's an easy hack to enhance an already simple and delicious meal.

6. Toss it in your chicken soup

Making chicken soup from scratch can seem like a huge task that takes a lot of time and energy, so it may not be something that you want to do on a regular basis. However, we're here to tell you that making chicken soup can be easier than you may assume, especially when you decide to use canned chicken in your soup recipe. Cooking raw chicken can be a lengthy process, especially when you roast the chicken before actually adding it to the soup. However, you can get similar results by utilizing canned chicken. Will it have the exact same texture as fresh chicken? No. But it'll get the job done quickly when you're in a time pinch or you're trying to pinch some pennies.

Your best bet is to make sure you break up the canned chicken really well. It can be difficult for those big chunks of chicken to take on a lot of flavor, but when the chicken is all broken down and distributed throughout the soup, it more easily takes on the flavor of the broth.

7. Whip up a quick, easy chicken salad

If you already keep canned chicken in your pantry, it's probably for one specific recipe: chicken salad. This is probably one of the most popular uses for canned chicken because chicken salad isn't something you have to cook or even warm up. You can just take the canned chicken, place it in a bowl, add mayo and your other chicken salad ingredients like eggs, celery, and spices, and mix it all up. In a matter of minutes, you've concocted the perfect chicken salad — and you never even had to turn on the oven.

You may already have your standard chicken salad recipe that you keep going back to time and time again, but that doesn't mean that you can't change things up and try something new. Perhaps you nix the mayo and make an olive oil-based salad instead, or maybe you remove some of the savory ingredients and add grapes and walnuts to your chicken salad. Don't be afraid to experiment with your chicken salad and allow it to take different forms.

8. Make a beef-free burger

Who doesn't love biting into a big, juicy burger? It's one of our all-time favorite protein-packed dishes. But if you're trying to eat lighter or just don't have any ground beef on hand, you may assume that a burger is out of the question. But that's not the case when you have canned products on hand in your pantry. You may already know that you can use canned tuna to make a tuna patty, but did you know you can do the exact same thing with canned chicken as well? Since canned chicken is already broken up inside the can, all you really have to do is smash it up some more, add your other ingredients, and form it into a patty.

Although canned chicken is already cooked, you'll want to throw your canned chicken patties on a skillet or on the grill to get that slightly charred, smokey flavor you're going for. However, that process should only take a few minutes. When you're done cooking the patties, you can simply place them on buns with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and whatever other ingredients you like on your burgers and start snacking.

9. Eat it straight from the can for a protein-rich snack

As much as most of us wish we could enjoy fresh, homemade dishes for every meal every day of the week, that's not the reality for most of us. Sometimes we're on the go, in a rush, and just need something that will hold us over until the next time we can sit down at a table and really enjoy our meal. That's when canned chicken may just be the most useful. While you can certainly incorporate canned chicken into a wide variety of dishes, it can also be eaten all on its own, straight out of the can. Since it's already been cooked, you don't even have to worry about heating it up at all. This snack provides you with a generous dose of protein and should keep you full for a while.

You can definitely eat your canned chicken plain, but if you want to make it a bit more appealing, add some salt and pepper to the can, and maybe even sprinkle on some furikake or a few drops of your favorite hot sauce. Enjoy it with a fork, or spoon it into your mouth using chips or crackers.

10. Dump your canned chicken onto a BBQ chicken pizza

One of the reasons we love canned chicken so much is the fact that it's one of the least expensive canned foods you can buy, which means it's cheap to keep on hand to use whenever you're making a recipe that could use a bit more flavor of nutrition. One of the best ways to incorporate canned chicken into a meal is by putting it on top of your BBQ chicken pizza. As we've already mentioned, cooking raw chicken from scratch can be a time-consuming process that you may want to avoid. Plus, depending on where you live, chicken breast and thigh prices can be quite expensive. We think that canned chicken gets the job done just as well as its fresh counterpart.

Before putting the chicken on your pizza, break it up into small pieces, then sprinkle it around the pie. Cook it in the oven until that chicken gets nice and browned, and don't forget to add some extra BBQ sauce on top. Who knew making a pizzeria-quality pizza could be so easy?

11. Put together a chicken pot pie

Sure, you can always buy a frozen pot pie at the grocery store, but it's so, so much better when you make it from scratch. If that idea seems intimidating to you, you may want to try to cut a few corners during the process. One easy way to do that is to use canned chicken for your chicken pot pie. This doesn't require cooking your chicken ahead of time, and you don't need to worry about the chicken not cooking all the way through once it's actually in the pie. By using canned chicken, you'll know it's already been cooked before you even put the pie in the oven.

When you're making a chicken pot pie, the chicken generally gets cooked in the liquid inside, which should keep even canned chicken pretty tender. You may want to season your canned chicken before adding it to the pot pie for maximum flavor.

12. Bring it on your next camping trip for an easy meal

There's nothing like a day spent at the campground, hiking to see the sites, and then sitting down around the campfire with people you love. But when it comes time to cook a meal, things can get tricky if you don't have the right ingredients on hand. Bringing a bunch of food — especially perishable food — to your campsite may not be an easy task, so you'll want to make the most of what you can easily bring with you. We love canned chicken for just that purpose. Not only is it easy to get to your campsite without refrigeration, but you don't have to worry about how you're going to keep it cold before you finally get around to eating it.

As we've already mentioned, you can just eat your canned chicken raw if you like how it tastes, but it can also be added to a bunch of other dishes, whether you have access to a fire or not. It's one of those versatile ingredients that it's always smart to have on hand, whether you're at home or at the campsite.