When it comes to barbecues, more is more. The best cookouts are all about big gatherings, big flavours and big portions. It’s always better to make too much than to let your guests go hungry, and finding delicious ways to use up those leftovers is all part of the fun.
Barbecue chicken is particularly versatile, its smoky flavour adding a gourmet touch to a wide variety of popular dishes, from salads and sandwiches to curries and quesadillas. If you’re looking for some out-of-this-world barbecue recipes to make your next cookout a success and add some great flavours to your leftovers, check out these 5 epic chicken recipes for the grill.
Curry is a great way to use up barbecue chicken. If you use spice rubs, all those herbs and spices will add real depth of flavour to the sauce. Try a curry with a creamy sauce, like this leftover barbecue chicken recipe from Best Recipes, as this will complement the smokiness of the chicken perfectly.
Use barbecue chicken to add interest to salads, from a light lunch with a few leaves and veggies, to a fully layered grain bowl. There are loads of veggies that taste great with chicken, from sweet crunchy peppers and sweetcorn to smoky beans and avocado. Use a creamy ranch dressing to bring out those smoky flavours, or amplify it with a tangy barbecue sauce. We love this generous BBQ chicken salad by Damn Delicious.
There’s nothing quite like a warming, nutritious bowl of chicken soup, and the smoky flavour of barbecue chicken, along with any spice rubs or marinades, all add extra depth of flavour. This leftover barbecue chicken soup from Chowhound has an Asian twist, with rice noodles and fresh lime juice to balance out the smoke.
Barbecue chicken is great in all kinds of sandwiches. Try a chicken salad sandwich, a chicken and avocado panini, or a deli sandwich loaded with cold cuts like pastrami, ham and salami. You also can reheat your leftovers to make a mouthwatering hot sandwich, like this BBQ chicken sandwich from Byron Talbott, which fries up the chicken with sliced onions and barbecue sauce, and adds a generous slice of melted cheese.
Smoky barbecue flavours go perfectly with tomato-based pasta sauces, and leftover barbecue chicken is a great addition to those family-sized pasta bakes everyone loves. Try using your leftovers in this BBQ chicken pasta recipe from Effortless Foodie for some extra barbecue flavour.
Barbecue and Tex Mex is another perfect pairing, and barbecue chicken is ideal for making a delicious, smoky quesadilla. Just mix with all your favourite Tex Mex ingredients, smother with Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or queso blanco, and add tortillas. We love these leftover BBQ chicken quesadillas from Meatloaf and Melodrama, which are great for using up leftover corn too.
Storage for leftover BBQ chicken
When storing leftover meat, the most important thing to get right is the temperature. Bacteria like to grow between a certain range of temperatures, so you need to keep the chicken outside that range, either by heating it or chilling it, for as long as possible. Chicken should be cooked to 165ºF (75ºC) to kill bacteria, and once it has been removed from the heat, it should be either eaten or safely stored within 2 hours, or 1 hour if the air temperature is above 90ºF (32ºC).
Leftover chicken should always be refrigerated or frozen, and if refrigerating, your refrigerator must be below 40ºF (4ºC). To refrigerate, store the chicken in a well-sealed, shallow container, and avoid packing too much into one container, as this will slow the chilling process. To freeze, use freezer bags or containers. Refrigerated chicken leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days, and frozen leftovers will keep for up to 3 months.
When it comes to reheating the chicken, cook it low and slow to make sure everything is fully cooked. You can reheat it in the oven, at around 300ºF (150ºC), or in a skillet over a low heat. Avoid using the microwave, as this can heat unevenly. For frozen chicken, you should thaw it thoroughly in the fridge before reheating. Just like the first time it was cooked, the internal heat of the chicken should be at least 165ºF (75ºC) when cooked.