What To Do With Chicken That's Gotten Overly Dry

Overcooked chicken. It's happened to so many and is often one of a home chef's worst nightmares. It's easy to understand how it happens. Unfortunately, chicken cooks so quickly that it goes from perfectly moist to cottony and dry in just a matter of moments. Moreover, it's not a situation like with beef, which is a type of meat that can be cooked to preference. With beef, a little bit of pink (or more than a little bit) is often welcome. On the other hand, chicken should be cooked thoroughly so there's no chance of it causing illness. 

It's even more difficult when cooking a whole chicken because, as Bon Appetit explains, the breast and legs cook at different speeds. The breast is often done quicker. Those factors combined together often lend themself to overcooked chicken. Of course, avoiding cooking your bird to smithereens is most desired. But once you're at dry and tough, don't despair. There are a few delicious ways to camouflage that overcooked chicken and make it — dare we say — presentable enough for company.

Get sauced

One way to deal with overcooked chicken is to douse it with sauce. The sauce of your choice won't only add moisture, it will add new flavor to the chicken (and possibly a new way of serving it). Was dinner originally roast chicken with mashed potatoes? Now it's barbecue chicken sandwiches and fries, with that overcooked chicken breast totally hidden in a swatch of spicy and sweet barbecue sauce. While you could use a basting brush to slather the sauce on the chicken, we think it would work equally as well to shred or chop the chicken and mix it with the sauce of your choice. Mix with Alfredo sauce for pasta, ranch dressing for a salad, or anything else that is up your alley and in your fridge.

You can also add the meat to a soup. Just heat the soup gently and then stir the chopped chicken pieces into the pot. Just don't let the meat cook too long — after all, it's already overcooked.

Let soup do the work

Because chicken is such a versatile meat, the flavors of soup it melds with are virtually limitless. Matzo ball soup, tortilla soup – the list of delicious soup recipes goes on and on. Even better, go to your favorite grocery store for ready-made soups. These work in a pinch for a simple, quick fix for overcooked chicken.

One more idea is disguising the overcooked chicken by adding it to a broth. This is similar to the soup idea, but because broth is often clear or with few add-ins, it can be easily frozen if made in large batches. If your chicken is overcooked, just pull a batch of the homemade broth from the freezer, reheat it until simmering, and add the chicken. Spice it up with fresh herbs and your favorite rice, dumpling, or noodle — and dinner is done.

Basically, if chicken turns out overdone, don't get hot under the collar. There are so many options to still make it a success.