10 Meals You Can Make With Ground Chicken

Ground chicken doesn't get enough love. It's just as convenient as ground beef and can be substituted for it in virtually any of your favorite meat dishes. And, it's healthier for you, too. According to the American Heart Association, skinless chicken has less saturated fat than beef. Saturated fat is the kind of fat that can raise your bad cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

If heart health or weight management are concerns, choosing light meat ground chicken breast is your healthiest option; but if flavor and tenderness are your goals, choose dark meat. It can be difficult to tell exactly what you're getting in store-bought ground chicken, but in general, the lighter the color, the less dark meat it contains (via Cook's Info). You can also grind your own chicken meat at home to ensure you get the perfect mix. Once you have your ground chicken of choice, try it in these 10 delicious dishes hand-picked just for you. 

1. Chicken meatballs

Meatballs — oh, the possibilities! Meatballs are typically made with beef, lamb, or pork, but chicken works just as well in almost any preparation — Italian, Spanish, Swedish, buffalo, or kofta. These classic Italian meatballs can be made with chicken instead of beef and really hit the spot.

The New York Times recommends placing your chicken in the freezer for about 30 mins before grinding it for your meatballs. Don't do that if you're using store-bought ground chicken, for obvious reasons (e.g., it will be really hard to mix with your other ingredients). 

When making chicken meatballs, seasoning matters. Don't skimp on the salt (unless you need to for health reasons), and add lots of fresh (or dried, if that's what you have) herbs. Without herbs, your chicken meatballs will just be really small burgers. And do think outside of parsley — give flavors like basil and mint a try. Also, never mix your chicken meatballs with a spoon. Use your hands (then wash them very, very thoroughly) to gently incorporate the ingredients without smooshing the meat. Because no one likes smooshed meat. 

2. Chicken lasagna

Lasagna isn't the healthiest dish around, with it's layers of cheese and noodles. Add fatty ground beef and you've got a veritable cholesterol bomb. Lighten up your lasagna and change the flavor profile by swapping beef for chicken. Then what? The oven is your oyster. How about this recipe for buffalo chicken lasagna that swaps spicy wing sauce for the traditional tomato sauce? Pasta, cheese, and wings? It's all our favorite guilty pleasures in one decadent, layered extravaganza. 

Health nuts, never fear. Just swap whole wheat noodles and all-white meat ground chicken, then reduce the amount of cheese and sauce you use. Oh, and then add a heap of kale, as in they did in this Tasting Table recipe. Or, you could just have a salad.

Now some tips for making the best lasagna ever: Consider your layers. You could make a gazillion-layer-lasagna and win the Guinness Book of World Record's award for the lasagna with the most layers (this is not an actual category, but the world's biggest lasagna weighed 10,725 pounds); however, it might not taste good. With too many layers, you risk the noodles overpowering the other ingredients. So overachievers, reign yourselves in. 

3. Chicken chili

There is nothing like a steaming hot bowl of hearty chili on a cold winter day. Especially if it's loaded with cheese, sour cream, and onions. If your go-to chili meat is always beef, it's time to change things up with ground chicken. From rich and smoky to light, there are so many flavors to explore using classic chili seasoning and ground chicken as your base. 

The secret ingredient in this smoky chicken chili recipe is dark chocolate, which combines beautifully with the other spices to create a depth of flavor and balance the acidity of the tomatoes. But really, does anyone need an explanation for why there's chocolate in it? No. 

For a lighter dish in both color and calories, opt for this white turkey chili. Including great northern and cannellini beans as well as white corn, it could be bland but for the kick it gets from cumin, cayenne, and green chiles. Keep things light by serving as-is or top it with cheese, chives, sour cream, or bacon bits. 

A few quick tips for cooking chili: Make sure to add some sort of sweetness to offset the often earthy, smoky, spicy flavors of chili. A little brown sugar or a slightly sweet starchy veg like squash will do the trick. And, make sure to cook it long enough. Some soups can get away with quick cooking times, but for chili, you really need to go "low and slow" to let all those flavors develop. 

4. Chicken burgers

When you're craving a burger but not all the saturated fat, chicken burgers are just what the doctor (cardiologist) ordered. Of course, what you add to your ground chicken and top your burger with will determine how healthy the finished dish is, but you've got options. If it's a cheat day and extra cheese is on the menu, try this Caprese chicken burger that's stuffed with mozzarella cheese. Topped with tomato slices and basil, it's fresh and flavorful but still sinful. 

Chicken burgers make especially great fare for backyard barbecues with a crowd, as more people are skipping the beef these days (via CSP Daily News). You could go with a basic barbecue chicken burger recipe that's easy to make and easy to please, or you could seriously raise your game with this recipe for wood-smoked chicken burgers with orange peel aioli. Serve these babies with field greens, avocado slices, and strips of crispy bacon for a game-day meal that is just a few hundred yards beyond average. 

According to Pritikin, you can keep your chicken burgers extra juicy by leaving out the breadcrumbs, which soak up juices. Also start by searing the burgers first, which will help keep in all those juices.

5. Spaghetti with chicken meat sauce

Spaghetti and meat sauce is the perfect quick and satisfying weekday meal. Served with a salad and some crusty bread, it's hearty, warming, and satisfying and easily feeds a family. Change things up by subbing ground chicken for ground beef in your favorite recipe — you probably won't notice a difference. If you don't have a go-to meat sauce recipe, this one is quick and easy. You just need some ground chicken, canned diced tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices, and zucchini for the sauce, your noodles of choice, and some freshly-grated parmesan for topping. 

Many of your favorite sauces can be made with chicken, including carbonara, puttanesca, and pesto. But not clam sauce, for obvious reasons (although there's no reason you can't add ground chicken to your clam sauce).

Let's talk about proper pasta preparation: Please, whatever you do, don't break your spaghetti in half before throwing it in the pot. Not only does that make it no longer twirlable (it's a word!), but it will also make Italians all over the world cry. To avoid doing this, using the right size pot is crucial. According to Mashed, you need a pot that holds at least 5 to 6 quarts of water. And don't skip the salt (unless you need to for health reasons). Salt in the water enhances the pasta's flavor and also prevents it from becoming slimy. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons for every 5 to 6 quarts of water. 

6. Mini chicken meatloaves

Hearty, simple, and satisfying, meatloaf is an American classic that's easy to make and infinitely versatile. Ground beef is typically used as the base for this dish, but ground chicken works just as well and can increase the HQ (health quotient) of your meal. Of course, that depends on the recipe you choose. These mini-Mediterranean meatloaves are a nice light and flavorful version that can be enjoyed any day of the week when you want a meal that's quick and nutritious but still crave-worthy. In addition to ground chicken, eggs and oats help the loaves hold their shape and add protein and fiber, and the inclusion of bell peppers, spinach, and fresh herbs make this a one-pot meal — no side salad needed. Chimichurri adds a mouth-watering zing that will make you come back for guilt-free seconds. 

Keeping on the mini theme, how about these super cute ground chicken meatloaf muffins? Whether it's because we're crazy for alliteration, or just because these are so darn tasty, we can't get enough. Packed with parmesan, parsley, and pepper (and some other tasty ingredients that don't begin with the letter P) these little loaves are full of flavor, but lower in fat thanks to the use of lean ground chicken meat instead of beef. Thanks to their small size, they take only 15 minutes to bake, compared to a larger loaf that can take up to an hour. Cute and convenient? Perfection.

7. Chicken potstickers

Your favorite Asian restaurant appetizer also makes a delicious meal. Paired with a side salad or sautéed vegetables, potstickers made with ground chicken really hit the spot any night of the week, and they're simpler to make than you think. So ditch the boxed or bagged frozen versions and try some of our favorite recipes, including this spicy chicken potstickers recipe that's sure to set your evening — and your mouth — on fire with its bounty of Thai chilis. In addition to ground chicken, it's also stuffed with sweet potato vermicelli noodles. These aren't so easy to find but if you live in a major city you can usually find some in an Asian market. If not, you can order them online, since they are packaged dry. 

Don't tell your doctor, but we highly recommend dipping your chicken potstickers in chocolate. Yes, you read that right. Savory, spicy potstickers plus chocolate coating make for a flavor explosion you're not soon to forget. Serve them at a dinner party and watch your guests try to figure out if they're still alive or if they died and went to food heaven. If you want to keep it somewhat healthy, which people seem to like to do these days, stick to at least 70% dark chocolate. According to Harvard Health Publishing, the darker the chocolate, the greater the health benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. 

8. Chicken soup

Chicken soup is just what the doctor ordered when you're feeling under the weather, but it also makes an easy, delicious, and warming meal any day of the week. Shredded chicken is the norm in traditional American chicken soup, but there are many global iterations of the classic that use ground chicken. Italian wedding soup is one of the common ones. Don't worry committment-phobes, there's no need to actually get married to enjoy this delicious bowl of soup. All you have to do is enjoy chicken meatballs in a rich, hearty broth with couscous and veggies.

From the next continent over, Iranian Gondi soup features similar ingredients with a Middle Eastern twist. Instead of breadcrumbs, this Iranian chicken meatball soup recipe uses chickpea flour as a binding agent. And it's spiced with traditional Persian flavors like cumin, cardamom, and turmeric. Another must-try chicken soup straight-outta-Italy, er the Olive Garden, this pasta a fagioli recipe will have you saying "mamma mia!" Chock full of flavor and healthy, too, it combines your choice of ground chicken meat with fresh veggies, two types of beans, and a small Italian pasta variety such as orzo. 

You can also use ground chicken instead of beef to make albondigas, which are little Mexican meatballs that you can add to soup. There are many different recipes incorporating a range of flavors, but common ingredients include black beans, corn, cilantro, garlic, mint, shallots, jalapeno, vinegar, cabbage, celery, carrots, oregano, cayenne, paprika, and cumin (via DelightedCooking).

9. Chicken skewers

Many cultures around the world have their version of skewered, grilled meat that can easily be made with ground chicken. Served with a dipping sauce and a side of sautéed veggies and rice, these make a meal to please a couple or a crowd. 

According to Japan Talk, there are at least 19 types of yakitori, and almost half of those are made with chicken. You can try skewered chicken gizzard, intestine, heart, and even tail, or you can keep it simple (and more widely palatable) with classic chicken meatball yakitori. This chicken meatball yakitori recipe from Tasting Table combines ground chicken with traditional Japanese flavors like sake, mirin, soy sauce, ginger, and bean paste. Shape, skewered, and grilled to perfection, they're served with a citrusy yuzu mayo dipping sauce.

Kofta is a Middle Eastern favorite that's all about the spice blend, typically including loads of garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and nutmeg. It's true that kofta is better when you use fattier meat, like ground beef or ground lamb, but that doesn't mean you have to. Swap red meat for white in your fave recipe and serve it with a fresh dipping sauce made with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin.

Satay, you say? We got you. Balinese chicken satay consists of a ground chicken mix bursting with flavors such as ginger, garlic, chili, and cloves. For authenticity, skewer the molded meat on lemongrass stalks before roasting on the grill (via BBC GoodFood).

10. Ground chicken salad

You can combine sautéed ground chicken meat and fresh vegetables and seasonings in so many unique ways that you could have some version of chicken salad seven days a week. If you wanted to do that, we wouldn't judge.

Head South of the Border with this taco salad recipe that features all your fave Mexican flavors. Mix prepared taco seasoning with sautéed ground chicken and top with lettuce, onions, beans, cheese, and salsa. Then, take a trip to the Far East with a spicy, fresh, and flavorful, larb gai salad hailing from Thailand and Laos. A traditional recipe, larb gai combines ground chicken with sweet, spicy, and sour flavors such as chili sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, garlic, cilantro, mint, and jalapeno. Or stay stateside with a classic chicken salad recipe with onion, celery, sweet relish, and mayonnaise.

DIY chicken salad meal bowls are incredibly easy. If you're even a little creative in the kitchen you can mix ground chicken with your choice of cooked whole-grain, such as brown rice, bulgar, or quinoa, and fresh or sautéed veggies, like broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and roasted beets. Top with a simple oil and vinegar or lemon juice dressing.