Slideshow: 21 Light and Easy Chicken Dinners

Rustic Chicken Minestrone
Rustic Chicken Minestrone

Though chicken isn't a typical addition to minestrone, it makes this Parmesan-rich broth even more substantial. Still, there are plenty of vegetables, making it a light and satisfying winter meal.

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[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai) With Mushrooms
Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai) With Mushrooms

This coconut milk and chicken soup can be whipped up quickly, but thanks to a few key ingredients, it has tremendous depth of flavor. Galangal and lemongrass leave their fragrant fingerprints, while smashed chiles add an undercurrent of heat.

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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Shredded Chicken, Chard, and Chickpea Soup
Shredded Chicken, Chard, and Chickpea Soup

There are a ton of ways to dress up this simple soup; try playing around with rainbow chard or kale, different herbs like rosemary or thyme, or a generous heaping of dried red chili flakes. If you happen to save your Parmesan rinds (which you should), then add one to the soup as it's cooking for a quick boost of flavor.

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Photograph: Yasmin Fahr

30-Minute Easy Chipotle Chicken Chili
30-Minute Easy Chipotle Chicken Chili

Ground chicken and canned beans are the key to a chili that's on the table in a mere 30 minutes. Jalapeño, cayenne, and chili peppers all lend heat, while corn, crunchy tortilla chips, and avocado bulk it up.

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Quick Asian Chili-Lime Chicken Soup
Quick Asian Chili-Lime Chicken Soup

For this light but brisk soup, green chilies and lemongrass go right into a simmering chicken stock. Fish sauce-marinated chicken breast is sliced thin so that it cooks through super quick (under a minute) when stirred in right at the end. Rice noodles turn it into a filling meal.

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Spaghetti al Limone With Poached Chicken
Spaghetti al Limone With Poached Chicken

In spaghetti al limone, a generous amount of lemon zest and lemon juice creates a lively sauce that's rounded out by chopped basil and Parmesan. Chicken keeps the vibe of the dish light, but its substance elevates pasta al limone into more than just a plate of noodles.

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Glass Noodles With Chicken and Mushrooms
Glass Noodles With Chicken and Mushrooms

In this street food-inspired dish, ground chicken is marinated in Shaoxing wine and ginger, then stir-fried with garlic, chilies, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, crunchy celery, and cilantro. Chewy glass noodles are tossed into the wok at the end, soaking up every bit of the tasty sauce.

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Skillet Whole Wheat Pasta With Chicken and Chickpeas
Skillet Whole Wheat Pasta With Chicken and Chickpeas

This easy pasta is perfect for winter meals or making ahead on a Sunday to eat throughout the week. To make it even healthier, throw in a handful or two of spinach during the last few minutes of cooking, or add ribbons of chard or kale with the chickpeas.

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[Photograph: Yasmin Fahr]

Chicken Pasta With Mixed Mushrooms and Green Onions
Chicken Pasta With Mixed Mushrooms and Green Onions

This isn't a saucy dish; add a dash of cream if you'd like it to be richer. As is, it's more like a warm pasta salad, light but still satisfying, with a whisper of Asian flavor thanks to green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil.

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Skillet Chicken With Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Coconut Curry
Skillet Chicken With Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Coconut Curry

The crunch of the bean sprouts, brightness of the cilantro, and kick of the jalapeño all make this dish fresh and crisp. But perhaps best of all is its coconut-rich broth. Add a starch, like rice noodles or sticky rice, to make sure you get every last drop.

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[Photograph: Yasmin Fahr]

Chicken-Green Bean Yellow Chili Stir-Fry
Chicken-Green Bean Yellow Chili Stir-Fry

This recipe, adapted from one of the most requested dishes served at a top Thai restaurant in Bangkok, uses ingredients that are commonly available stateside. Spicy peppers and crisp green beans appear simple (and come together quickly) but still have those complex Thai flavors.

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[Photograph: Leela Punyaratabandhu]

Thai Chicken Larb
Thai Chicken Larb

This addictive dish gets heat from chilies, tanginess from limes, and a good shot of salty, briny fish sauce. On top of that, it's loaded with shallots, garlic, and handfuls of mint and cilantro leaves, and the sides of lettuce and rice are simple to pull together for a weeknight meal. Feel free to omit the oil for an even lighter dinner.

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Skillet Chicken Burgers With Ginger, Scallions, and Sriracha Mayonnaise
Skillet Chicken Burgers With Ginger, Scallions, and Sriracha Mayonnaise

To make this dish healthier, you can skip the buns and make it more of a wrap, using the extra butter lettuce as the makeshift bun. But whatever you do, do NOT skip the sriracha and Kewpie mayo dipping sauce—it's really so delicious that it would be a shame to opt out of using it.

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[Photograph: Yasmin Fahr]

Skillet Chicken Fajitas With Avocado
Skillet Chicken Fajitas With Avocado

The do-it-yourself style of fajitas makes them super-adaptable, with endless garnish and topping possibilities. But don't feel like you're missing out if you're short on time: With the sweet onions and soft, flavorful peppers, these don't need much more than warm tortillas and avocado.

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[Photograph: Yasmin Fahr]

Sichuan-Style Chicken Salad
Sichuan-Style Chicken Salad

Though this chicken is a standard in Sichuan cuisine, no two versions are alike. The idea is to concoct a beguiling mixture of flavors to adorn the chicken slivers. If the chicken is poached just so, and the vinaigrette is mixed just so, then it all comes together in a very good way.

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[Photograph: Chichi Wang]

Spiced Baked Chicken Parcels (Chicken en Papillote)
Spiced Baked Chicken Parcels (Chicken en Papillote)

As these little parcels bake, the heat inside steams the ingredients, keeping all of the flavor and moisture inside. Because of this, little (if any oil) is needed to cook the food, which allows you to cook a meal that's healthy and light, but no less flavorful. Just out of the oven, the packets are puffed up from the steam like big pillows, the makings for a particularly awesome "voilà" moment at the dinner table.

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]