Low-Carb Dinner In a Flash: 8 Skillet Chicken Recipes

These quick-cooking dishes will make your weeknights easier

Following a low-carb diet, which restricts certain food groups, adds another layer of responsibility to your life. It requires time, effort, and preparation to stick to and stay enthusiastic about. And as you know if you've been on this diet for any length of time, it's all too easy to fall into a food rut (eating the same tired meat and veggies over and over), or run into a "food emergency" and scarf down a bag of pretzels just because you're famished. Or worse, calling your local pizzeria! (We've all been there.) 

Given that it can be tricky to adhere to, having a collection of quick and easy recipes in your repertoire can make your life infinitely easier while low-carb dieting. And chicken, well, this white meat is not only super healthy and protein-packed, it's also incredibly versatile: It can take on sweet, savory, spicy, and/or tart flavors, depending on your mood. Added bonus: It cooks quickly. 

Using the best available chicken you can afford really makes a difference. Taste tests usually favor kosher chickens and chickens that have access to pasture (they're eating bugs and grass, not just grains), but there is a lot of variation between farms. Sample and decide what you like best!

When I know I don't have a lot of time to cook, or I'm just tired at the end of the day, I reach for the skillet and a package of boneless, skinless chicken. I can cut it up and cook it in a flash, and dress it up with almost any flavors and other ingredients I have in the pantry or fridge. It can be Mexican one night, and Thai the next with not much thought or work. Let your imagination go wild! Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

1

Thai Chicken Curry
Thai Chicken Curry. Photo © Paul Brighton

This is a very simple one-skillet meal that's so delicious, it will make you forget you're even following a special diet. It's one I do when I have little energy at the end of the day. You can use any Thai seasoning mixture or curry paste you like. For a hearty rice replacement, try serving it over cauliflower rice.

Also, when thawing boneless skinless chicken that you intend to cut up, don't let it thaw all the way. It will be easier to cut if it's still a little firm.

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2

Use low-carb tortillas, or just eat with a fork -- and don't forget the guacamole!. Jodi Pudge/Radius Images/Getty Images

Fajita night just got easier. These fajitas can be made in a skillet or on a grill.  My husband eats them with low-carb tortillas; I eat them with a fork. Though it may be a little messier, you could also use green leaf or Boston lettuce leaves—or if you've been skimping on your dark green leafies, blanch a collard green or two and load it with the filling.    

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3

Apple Bacon Chicken
Apple Bacon Chicken. Enrique Gomez/Dreamstime.com

The classic combo of apple and bacon shine in this easy-to-assemble salad. The sweet and salty combination works nicely with chicken, and the avocado adds a touch of creaminess to balance out the crunchy bacon bits.

Time saving tip: "Chicken tenders" are a flap of breast meat underneath the main piece of meat. Sometimes these are sold separately and are even faster to cut up since it is already partly done for you.

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4

Chicken Divan
Chicken Divan - Chicken with Broccoli and Mushrooms in a Cream Sauce. PoppyB/E+/Getty Images

You can make this low-carb version of chicken marsala right on the stovetop. It is classic comfort food, yet it omits the flour traditionally found in marsala recipes. 
 

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5

southwest chicken
You can also bake this chicken in the oven. Lilechka75

This skillet chicken dish is one you can have on the table in 20 minutes, start to finish, using canned green chiles and shredded cheese. Alternately, you can pop the ingredients in your slow cooker before work, reducing your prep time, and come home to a delicious meal you can serve to the whole family. 

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6

Moo Shu Chicken
Moo Shu Chicken. cobraphoto/Dreamstime

Often, Moo Shu pork or chicken in a restaurant has quite a bit of sugar in it, but this homemade recipe is sugar-free—and the most labor-intensive part of your dinner prep will be chopping the veggies. Savory with a bit of a kick, this healthier take on Chinese is better than takeout. 

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7

Cranberry Chicken
Chicken with Cranberries and Red Wine. Ruslan Olinchuk

Poultry and cranberries are a match made in heaven (just think of Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce). You might not guess it, but chicken goes just as well with this tart berry. And with a freezer, it's always cranberry season! Or if it's the autumn, use fresh. You could even sub the chicken for turkey thighs in your holiday meal, if you'd rather not roast a whole turkey.   

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8

Chicken, vegetables, and pesto
Chicken, vegetables, and pesto - mix, match, and combine!. Photo © Beaucroft

Essentially a chicken and vegetable stir-fry with garlic and basil, this recipe can be tweaked to include any veggies your heart desires. Alternately, you can throw the garlic and basil into a food processor with some olive oil and make a pesto to top the mixture with. 

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