8 Easy Low-Carb Skillet Chicken Recipes

These quick-cooking dishes will make your weeknights easier

Changing your eating habits, like starting a low carbohydrate meal plan, can often appear to be overwhelming especially in the beginning. It may require extra time and effort to prepare food in the initial stages. But the good news is that once you learn the basic concepts and find foods you like, things will get easier.

Overview

There are different reasons that you might choose to go on a low-carb diet. Some people choose this eating plan to manage type 2 diabetes. There is some evidence that restricting carbohydrate intake to a maximum of 40% may provide better metabolic control than a reduced fat diet in people with type 2 diabetes.

Some people also choose low-carb eating to lose weight. The eating style has been used with success in the management of obesity. In some cases, however, adherence is an issue. Some studies have suggested that very low carbohydrate diets (5% of calories from carbs) are harder to maintain than low-carb (15%) or moderate low carb intake (25%) diets.

It should be noted, however, that studies investigating low-carb diets (or any eating plan) generally have limitations. Study results often vary from one research project to another (based on study design and other factors) and low carbohydrate diets haven't been studied for more than two years, so the long-term effects are unclear.

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, or tart flavors, depending on your mood. Added bonus: It cooks quickly. 

Choosing Chicken

Choosing the best available chicken you afford can make a big difference. Some people believe that kosher chickens, pasture raised, or organic chicken tastes better, and are also healthier (depending on how the chickens were fed and raised). If none of these are an option for you, opt to purchase chicken that has not been treated with antibiotics, or those that contain no added sodium or fillers. Here are a few recipe ideas to get you started. 

1

Thai Coconut Curry Chicken

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. 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.

2

Chicken (or Beef) Fajitas

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. Wrap the meat in a low-carb tortilla or simply eat it 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 greens, blanch a collard green or two and load it with the filling.

3

Apple Bacon Chicken Salad

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

The classic combo of apple and bacon shine in this easy-to-assemble salad. While bacon is not a food is not a food that should be consumed regularly, 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.

4

Low-Carb Chicken Marsala

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, but it omits the flour traditionally found in marsala recipes.

5

Creamy Southwest Chicken

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 the whole family. 

6

Moo Shu Chicken

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. 

7

Greek Yogurt Almond Chicken Salad

Greek Yogurt Almond Chicken Salad

Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD 

Poultry and almonds are a match made in heaven. And cranberries can be a delicious addition. You might not guess it, but chicken goes well with this tart berry. And with a freezer, it's always cranberry season! Or, if it's the autumn, use fresh cranberries.

This recipe doesn't necessarily require a skillet, but it's delicious enough that it deserves a mention. You could even use turkey thighs in your meal if you'd rather not use chicken.

8

Basil/Pesto Chicken

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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Article Sources
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  1. Esther J van Zuuren, Zbys Fedorowicz, Ton Kuijpers, Hanno Pijl, Effects of low-carbohydrate- compared with low-fat-diet interventions on metabolic control in people with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review including GRADE assessmentsThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 108, Issue 2, August 2018 doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy096

  2. Kelly T, Unwin D, Finucane F. Low-Carbohydrate Diets in the Management of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: A Review from Clinicians Using the Approach in Practice. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(7):2557. Published 2020 Apr 8. doi:10.3390/ijerph17072557

  3. Harvey CJDC, Schofield GM, Zinn C, Thornley SJ, Crofts C, Merien FLR. Low-carbohydrate diets differing in carbohydrate restriction improve cardiometabolic and anthropometric markers in healthy adults: A randomised clinical trialPeerJ. 2019;7:e6273. Published 2019 Feb 5. doi:10.7717/peerj.6273