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What to add to raw chicken?

Chicken is one of the most versatile and popular meats. It can be prepared in endless ways, from simple pan-fried or baked chicken to more elaborate dishes like chicken parmesan or chicken curry. But before you can start cooking, it’s important to understand what ingredients pair well with raw chicken and how to season it properly.


Seasoning raw chicken is key for adding flavor. Here are some of the most common seasonings used:

  • Salt – This brings out the natural flavor of the chicken. Use kosher or sea salt.
  • Pepper – Freshly cracked black pepper adds spice and tang.
  • Paprika – Smoked, sweet or spicy paprika will give a warm, earthy taste.
  • Garlic Powder – This provides a burst of garlicky flavor.
  • Onion Powder – Like garlic powder, this adds an oniony essence.
  • Dried Herbs – Thyme, rosemary, oregano and basil are good options.
  • Spices – Chili powder, cumin, curry powder, ginger and cayenne can liven up chicken.

For basic seasoning, a simple combination of salt, pepper and paprika is a safe bet. Get creative with spice blends like cajun, jerk or mediterranean rubs. The possibilities are endless!

Wet Marinades

Marinating is an easy way to make chicken juicier and more flavorful. Try marinating for 30 minutes up to overnight.

  • Yogurt – Plain yogurt with lemon, garlic and spices is a classic.
  • Buttermilk – Tangy buttermilk acts as a tenderizer.
  • Wine or Vinegar – Red wine, balsamic, rice wine and apple cider vinegars work well.
  • Fruit Juices – Pineapple, orange and lemon juices provide bright flavor.
  • Soy Sauce – When mixed with honey, garlic and ginger, this makes a tasty Asian marinade.
  • Teriyaki – The sweet salty glaze of teriyaki sauce is always a crowd pleaser.
  • Barbecue Sauce – Choose your favorite regional style for a barbecue chicken.

Use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid marinade per 1 pound of chicken. Store marinated chicken in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Dry Rubs

Dry rubs give a flavorful, textured crust when roasted. Make a rub by combining:

  • Spices and herbs – Chile powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Sugar or brown sugar
  • Pepper
  • Citrus zest
  • Chopped onion/garlic
  • Ground coffee or mustard powder (for deeper flavor)

Mix the ingredients well and coat the chicken evenly. Let sit for 10-20 minutes before roasting or grilling. The rub will form a flavorful crust.


Brining chicken before cooking helps keep it incredibly moist, tender and juicy. Dissolve salt and sugar into water to make a simple brine, using approximately:

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups warm water

You can also add aromatics like peppercorns, herbs, citrus and spices. Soak the chicken for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Rinse and pat dry before cooking.

Stuffing Ideas

Stuffing a whole chicken or chicken breasts adds bold flavor. Try these delicious stuffing combinations:

Stuffing Ingredients
Lemon & Herb Chopped lemon, parsley, thyme, sage, garlic, shallot, butter
Spinach & Feta Spinach, feta, garlic, red onion, Parmesan, breadcrumbs
Sausage & Cornbread Cooked sausage, crumbled cornbread, onions, celery, broth
Mushroom Sautéed mushrooms, onions, garlic, parsley, thyme, breadcrumbs
Cranberry & Pecan Dried cranberries, chopped pecans, celery, thyme, white wine

The options for flavorful stuffings are endless! Get creative with different flavor profiles.

Vegetables & Sides

Chicken goes well with all kinds of veggies. Here are some great options:

  • Roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Corn on the cob
  • Cauliflower

Roast vegetables tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper alongside the chicken for easy one-pan meals. You can also sauté, grill or steam vegetables to serve as tasty sides.


Serve chicken with a variety of whole grains for a well-rounded meal:

  • Rice – Jasmine, basmati, brown or wild rice
  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Pasta – try orzo, penne, rotini or farfalle

Grains provide an excellent base to soak up any sauces or juices from roasted, grilled or braised chicken dishes.


Breading and frying chicken creates a crispy golden crust. Try these breading and coating ideas:

  • Flour – Season flour with salt, pepper, spices and herbs.
  • Cornmeal – Use standard yellow cornmeal or try polenta.
  • Panko breadcrumbs – Japanese style breadcrumbs create an extra crunchy coating.
  • Parmesan – Grated Parmesan gives a tasty, nutty flavor.
  • Cracker crumbs – Crushed saltines, Ritz or pita chips make a crunchy crust.

After dredging in flour, dip chicken in beaten eggs then press into the breading. Pan fry until golden brown and cooked through.


Sauces add a burst of flavor and moisture. Drizzle over baked, grilled or pan-fried chicken. Ideas:

  • Barbecue
  • Teriyaki
  • Honey mustard
  • Ranch
  • Buffalo hot sauce
  • Blue cheese dressing
  • Chimichurri
  • Pesto
  • Muhammara (red pepper and walnut sauce)
  • Yogurt sauce

Get creative mixing different sauces or make your own from scratch. A sauce takes chicken to the next level.

Baked Chicken Ideas

Baking chicken in the oven results in juicy, tender meat. Try these baked chicken ideas:

  • Roast whole chicken rubbed with herbs or spice blend
  • Chicken thighs with chopped vegetables
  • Drumsticks coated insticky barbecue or honey glaze
  • Boneless chicken breasts stuffed with cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes
  • Chicken parmesan – breaded cutlets topped with tomato sauce and cheese
  • Chicken pot pie – chicken mixed with vegetables and sauce, topped with pie crust

Bake at 350-450°F until chicken registers 165°F internally and skin is browned. Basting and tenting with foil helps keep chicken moist.

Grilled Chicken Ideas

Grilling imparts delicious charred flavor. Try these grilled chicken recipes:

  • Chicken skewers with chunks of meat marinated in Greek yogurt
  • Brushed with barbecue sauce or teriyaki glaze
  • Bone-in chicken halves, quarters or wings
  • Chicken and vegetable kabobs
  • Pounded chicken breasts with mozzarella and tomato
  • Chicken burgers made from ground chicken

Grill over medium high heat, turning occasionally until chicken is nicely marked and cooked through. Brush with sauce during last few minutes of grilling.

Pan-Fried Chicken Ideas

Pan frying makes chicken crispy and browned. Try these pan-fried recipes:

  • Buttermilk fried chicken – marinated then dredged in flour and pan fried
  • Chicken schnitzel – pounded thin cutlets breaded and pan fried
  • Chicken parmesan – breaded cutlets pan fried then topped with sauce and cheese
  • Chicken piccata – dredged in flour and pan fried, then served with lemon caper sauce
  • Nashville hot chicken – spicy breaded chicken

Use a combination of olive oil and butter or bacon grease to fry chicken in a skillet over medium high heat until deeply browned and 165°F internally.

Braised & Slow Cooked Chicken

Braising and slow cooking makes chicken fall-off-the-bone tender. Ideas include:

  • Chicken cacciatore – braised in tomato sauce with vegetables
  • Coq au vin – braised in red wine sauce
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Chicken tagine – Moroccan braised chicken with apricots, olives and spices
  • Pulled barbecue chicken sandwiches
  • Chicken tikka masala
  • Chicken adobo

Braise in sauce on the stovetop or bake in the oven at 300-325°F until extremely tender before shredding.

One Pot & Sheet Pan Chicken

For easy clean up, make one of these one pot or sheet pan chicken dinners:

  • Chicken and rice – season chicken and uncooked rice, bake together
  • Chicken paella – chicken baked with rice, sausage, seafood and vegetables
  • Chicken and veggies – roast chicken pieces with potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts etc
  • Chicken fajitas – spiced chicken with peppers and onions, served with tortillas
  • Chicken parmesan pasta – chicken baked with tomato sauce, mozzarella and pasta

One pot meals allow you to cook the entire dish together for fuss-free cooking and cleaning.

Leftover Chicken Ideas

Leftover chicken has many versatile uses. Transform it into:

  • Casseroles or pot pies
  • Soup – chicken noodle, chicken tortilla etc
  • Salads – chicken Caesar, chicken salad sandwiches
  • Quesadillas or enchiladas
  • Chicken fried rice
  • Pasta dishes
  • Sliders or sandwiches
  • Breakfast – eggs with chicken sausage

Get creative transforming leftovers into easy meals later in the week!


Raw chicken can be dressed up in endless flavorful ways before cooking. Try marinades, dry rubs, stuffings and breadings to add your own unique twist. Pair with fresh vegetables, grains and sauces for delicious complete meals. Bake, grill, pan fry, braise or slow cook chicken using your favorite flavors and seasonings. With a little creativity in the kitchen, simple raw chicken can become mouthwatering meals the whole family will love.