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3 quick chicken dinner recipes that come together in 20 minutes or less

Chicken is one of America’s favorite choices at dinnertime. Healthier and leaner than red meat and more versatile than fish, chicken is just as good as a cold leftover as it is hot and freshly made. Fried or sautéed, baked or grilled,  chicken can be prepared in ways as varied as the sauces, marinades, and rubs you can cook it with. And that’s not to mention different ethnic takes that range from All-American to Thai, Greek to Middle Eastern, and everything in between. But sometimes your favorite chicken recipes are not necessarily the fastest ones to make.

If you don’t have unlimited time and you’re looking for easy dinner recipe ideas, we are here to help. We’ve collected three of our favorite chicken dinner recipes that take just minutes to make and pulled together some of our favorite tips for making chicken dinners when you’re rushed for time. 

Skip the takeout and forget frozen microwave meals — these chicken dinner ideas come together quickly and are great for the whole family.

5 tips for cooking chicken faster

If you’re in a time crunch but really want to have chicken for dinner, there are a few simple tips that will ensure your chicken cooks faster. 

1. Make it thin. By pounding your boneless chicken breast or thighs until they are nice and thin, you’ll increase the surface-to-volume ratio, which allows the heat to penetrate the meat much faster.

2. Cut it into small pieces. Cutting the chicken into smaller pieces is another way to increase the surface-to-volume ratio, allowing the heat to penetrate faster and better. Whip up a quick stir fry of small chicken pieces and veggies, or skewer the meat and make kebabs on the grill. When it comes to cooking chicken quickly, smaller is better.

3. Add butter or oil. Adding any kind of fat, such as oil or butter, will help the chicken cook faster because fats are heat conductors. In addition, the fats help to give flavor to the meat (particularly butter). 

4. Consider using ground chicken. Just like ground beef, ground chicken literally takes just minutes to cook. Whether as a patty or rolled into meatballs, there is no quicker-cooking chicken than ground chicken.

5. Spatchcock a whole chicken. The easiest and speediest way to grill a whole chicken is spatchcocking. This butterflying method exposes a lot of skin and meat directly to the heating source, ensuring the chicken will be nicely browned and crisp and will cook a whole lot faster. 

You can ask your butcher to do it for you or you can do it yourself following these instructions:

  • Cut along both sides of the backbone using kitchen shears, then remove the backbone.
  • Flip the chicken over and press on the breastbone until you hear it crack.

Hint: To cook your spatchcock chicken even faster, put a brick on top. The brick presses the chicken firmly onto the hot grill, and since the brick will also get hot, the chicken cooks from both directions: above and below.

3 chicken recipes you can make in just 20 minutes

Creamy chicken marsala

This make-it-yourself take on a restaurant favorite is on the table in just 20 minutes. So easy to make, canned cream of mushroom soup forms the base for the creamy broth while slicing or cubing the chicken helps to speed up the cook time. Serve over whole-wheat pasta or brown rice for a healthy, filling, and tasty meal.

Honey-glazed chicken

Sweet, savory, and spicy — this recipe has all three! Whisk together the simple glaze of honey, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes, and then pour it over stir-fried boneless chicken. A few extra minutes in the skillet will create a thick, finger-licking sauce the whole family will love. Using light soy sauce will help to reduce the sodium level without losing any of the taste. At just 179 calories per serving, this chicken can be eaten with a bit of steamed rice to make it more filling. 

Tahini chicken

The key ingredient of this recipe is tahini, a sesame paste that’s a common ingredient in Asian foods but is readily found in many grocery chain stores. With a taste that’s a mix of Mediterranean and Asian, this recipe is reminiscent of a peanut sauce satay. Exotic and delicious, this quick and easy meal is perfect served over noodles or couscous. 

Being in a hurry doesn’t mean you can’t create a tasty, home-cooked chicken dinner that the whole family is sure to love. With a few clever cooking technique adjustments and some simple yet delicious recipes, you’ll satisfy appetites and time constraints all at once. 

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Kim Renta
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kim has written for Bloomingdales, Movado, and various e-commerce wine sites. When she's not writing about wine and…
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