Cheap Chicken Recipes (Under $3 Per Serving!) for Speedy Meals

Stovetop Chicken, Macaroni, and Cheese
Photo: Jacob Fox

Easy on the wallet but still full of flavor, these easy, cheap chicken dinners are about to become regulars on your menu. With a new budget chicken recipe for every day of the month, we promise you won't get bored—but you will save a lot of cash. That's because we did the math and can confirm: Each of these delicious yet cheap chicken dishes falls under $3 per serving.

01 of 30

Pan-Fried Pretzel Chicken

Oven-Fried Pretzel Chicken
Blaine Moats

We'll let the fast-food restaurants fight over who they think has the best chicken sandwich recipe. We happen to think they're all good—but this crispy, pretzel-breaded chicken is even better. A coating of coarse-ground brown mustard helps those pretzel pieces and spices adhere nicely to the meat in this cheap chicken breast recipe. After pan-frying, tuck a couple of the tenders inside a pretzel bun and drizzle with honey for a sweet-and-savory sandwich.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.26

02 of 30

Chipotle Chicken

Chipotle Chicken
Carson Downing

The key to making a chicken skillet that tastes as incredible as something you'd order in a restaurant? Seasoning properly before cooking and whisking up a pan sauce after to make the most of the drippings left in the pan. Fresh lime, garlic, and chipotle pepper in adobo sauce join chicken broth to create the good-to-the-last drop sauce for this cheap chicken recipe.

Budget Dinner Price: $1.72

03 of 30

Stove Top Chicken, Macaroni, and Cheese

Stovetop Chicken, Macaroni, and Cheese
Jacob Fox

With two types of cheese, plus plenty of chicken, fresh spinach, and tomatoes, this cheap chicken dinner idea sneaks in right under $3 per serving. Our grown-up twist on mac and cheese is worth the splurge, though. One bite will make you forget all about the boxed stuff.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.99

04 of 30

Air-Fried Chicken Tenders

Air-Fried Chicken Tenders
Victor Protasio

This easy, cheap chicken recipe might be even speedier than fast food if you count the time it takes to drive to and from the drive-through! For an easy, cheap chicken recipe that will please kids and kids at heart, crisp up some chicken tenders in your air fryer ($110, Target). Since these clock in at less than half of your $3 budget, we suggest pairing the tenders with a side of vitamin-rich roasted broccoli or baked sweet potato fries.

Budget Dinner Price: $1.38

05 of 30

Indian-Inspired Butter Chicken

Indian-Inspired Butter Chicken
Blaine Moats

Comfort food made easy—and affordable. Take 20 minutes to add some Indian cuisine staples to a pressure cooker or Instant Pot—including ginger, turmeric, garam masala, and cumin—then lock and load the meal. After cooking and releasing the pressure, stir in a pat of butter and a splash of cream (it is butter chicken, after all). No pressure cooker? We also explain how to make this cheap chicken meal for 6 in a slow cooker.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.77

06 of 30

Smoky Chicken Pizzas

Smoky Chicken Pizzas
Andy Lyons

Skip the delivery. BYOP (build your own pizza) night is possible in just 30 minutes with this rendition. This barbecue chicken recipe starts with packaged pizza crusts to speed up prep time and make the easy, cheap chicken recipe weeknight dinner-appropriate.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.97

07 of 30

Honey-Sriracha Grilled Chicken Thighs

Honey-Sriracha Grilled Chicken Thighs
Blaine Moats

Even though we developed this spicy chicken recipe right here in our Test Kitchens, we were blown away by how much flavor the easy, cheap chicken recipe delivers. And it packs it all in using just five ingredients. Sweet honey, spicy sriracha, tangy lime, and earthy cilantro hit all the taste buds with a punch of Asian-inspired flair.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.96

08 of 30

Chicken and Poblano Pepper Soup

Chicken & Poblano Pepper Soup
Blaine Moats

Roasted tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and bone-in chicken thighs infuse this soup's broth with loads of flavor. Scoop up with a spoon—or skip it and use tortilla chips instead. Don't just take our word that you should try this budget chicken recipe, though. One BH&G fan raves, "I can't express how happy I am that I tried this recipe. It is simple, delicious and has quickly become one of my favorites. I make it every other week!"

Budget Dinner Price: $2.94

09 of 30

Spice-Rubbed Chicken and Poblano Tacos

Spice-Rubbed Chicken and Poblano Tacos
Andy Lyons

These tacos, stuffed with equal amounts of grilled chicken and roasted poblano peppers, offer a pleasant amount of heat. Since corn tortillas are so budget-friendly, feel free to double up and make two-ply street tacos. It will add only 16 cents per serving to your cheap chicken dish tally.

Budget Dinner Price: $1.32

10 of 30

Chicken Lo Mein

Chicken Lo Mein
Hannah Bigot

Skip the Asian takeout and go the DIY route! Our version incorporates the just-right amount of fresh veggies. The produce stars, plus chicken breasts and egg noodles, transform into international eats in this cheap chicken meal for 6 with a splash of rice vinegar, sesame oil ($6, Target), and soy sauce.

Budget Dinner Price: $1.47

11 of 30

Pressure Cooker Ginger Chicken Congee

Pressure Cooker Ginger-Chicken Congee
Jason Donnelly

New to congee? No need to be intimidated. Think of this Asian rice porridge as a cozy, savory twist on oatmeal. With chicken thighs, chicken broth, and poached eggs in the mix of this easy, cheap chicken recipe, we've tip-toed the breakfast staple into dinner territory. (Although you could eat this 30-minute meal any time of day.)

Budget Dinner Price: $1.23

12 of 30

Southwestern Chicken and Macaroni Salad

Southwestern Chicken and Macaroni Salad
Andy Lyons

Keep a bag of cooked chicken strips in the freezer and a box of macaroni in the pantry, and you'll be just a few steps away from getting this remarkable cheap chicken dinner idea on the table. Just cook them both, add a spicy cream cheese sauce, and top with chopped avocado. (And yes, all those mix-ins and toppings are included in the under-$1 tab!)

Budget Dinner Price: $0.99

13 of 30

Oven-Fried Chicken

Oven-Fried Chicken
Blaine Moats

Cornflakes are the secret to the crispy coating in this budget-friendly version of fried chicken. It's just like the fast-food version that comes in a bucket—but better! Crunchy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside (and not a bit greasy), this cheap chicken recipe is sure to leave your guests asking for more.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.75

14 of 30

Lemon Thyme Air-Fryer Rotisserie Chicken

Lemon Thyme Air-Fryer Rotisserie Chicken
Antonis Achilleos

In many of these dinner ideas, we talk about rotisserie chicken as a speed swap for classic roast chicken. But if you have an air-fryer, you can make this similar homemade budget chicken recipe for 6 with little mess, next-to-no fuss, and few ingredients. Citrus and fresh herbs infuse each ounce with flavor. Once you learn how easy and budget-smart it is to air-fry your bird, you might never buy one precooked at the supermarket again.

Budget Dinner Price: $1.41

15 of 30

Bacon-Cheddar Chipotle Chicken Panini

Bacon-Cheddar Chipotle Chicken Panini
Karla Conrad

Sliced deli chicken, rotisserie chicken, or leftover chicken would all work wonderfully in this wallet- and waistline-friendly easy, budget chicken recipe. A light spiced-up ranch spread and reduced-fat cheddar bring this chicken and bacon sandwich together. With that extra $1.02, why not pair this with a fruit salad on the side for a well-balanced meal?

Budget Dinner Price: $1.98

16 of 30

Chicken Alfredo Cauliflower Rice Bake

Chicken Alfredo Cauliflower Rice Bake
Andy Lyons

Two statements that are generally true:

1. Kids love chicken Alfredo.

2. Kids turn up their noses at cauliflower and spinach.

This cheesy rotisserie chicken casserole combines all of those ingredients in one dish—and the result is one cheap chicken dish that's a definite picky-eater pleaser.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.48

17 of 30

Beer-Braised Chicken Tacos with Toasted Cumin Guacamole

Beer-Braised Chicken Tacos
Blaine Moats

Stock up on a six-pack and crack open one bottle of Mexican cerveza as the poaching liquid for this chicken recipe. Just add a side of chips and salsa, and dinner is done! (By the way, what you do with the other five bottles is up to you!)

Budget Dinner Price: $1.79

18 of 30

Tarragon Chicken Salad with Cranberries

Tarragon Chicken Salad Cranberries
Jason Donnelly

Grab a package of cubed, cooked chicken from the refrigerator aisle or deli, or dice it up yourself from a rotisserie or leftover chicken. Any of the above are fantastic options to get this creamy chicken recipe started—and done in a flash. Plenty of tarragon and dried cranberries make this 15-minute meal taste much fresher than your typical chicken salad sandwich.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.41

19 of 30

Chicken Frittata with Chimichurri

Chicken Frittata Chimichurri
Blaine Moats

Eggs are a budget diner's BFF. Combine them with shredded chicken, spicy cilantro chimichurri, and black beans for a south-of-the-border egg entrée. (Psst—this cheap chicken dinner idea is just as delicious reheated for brunch the next day if you're lucky enough to have leftovers.)

Budget Dinner Price: $1.59

20 of 30

Hot Chicken Salad Skillet Casserole

Hot Chicken Salad Skillet Casserole
Blaine Moats

Cream of chicken soup, plain low-fat yogurt, and mozzarella cheese are the budget-friendly ingredients that make this chicken skillet uber-creamy. Top the cheap chicken breast recipe with sliced almonds (just a handful to keep the price tag low) and crushed cornflakes for crunch. No one will ever guess this affordable dinner is also healthy-ish, too—each serving has just 264 calories!

Budget Dinner Price: $2.10

21 of 30

Nacho Cheese Chicken Chowder

Nacho Cheese Chicken Chowder
Blaine Moats

Satisfy even your pickiest eater with a tomato-chicken chowder full of yummy nacho cheese flavoring. As one of our readers says, "My family loves it!" And we'd wager your crew will gobble up this cheap chicken meal for six, too.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.50

22 of 30

Chimichurri Chicken

Chimichurri Chicken
Kritsada Panichgul

Stuck in a chicken rut? Spice up a traditional chicken dinner recipe with chimichurri, an Argentine sauce made from pureed herbs and citrus. Lemon-seasoned green beans round out the cheap, easy chicken dinner lineup.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.48

23 of 30

Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Stew

Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Stew
Blaine Moats

Introduce your family to Indian cuisine with this set-and-forget stew. Aromatic curry, ground ginger, and hints of cayenne team up in this slow cooker dinner idea. After this simmers low and slow all day, pile over basmati rice, and dive in.

Budget Dinner Price: $1.84

24 of 30

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Buffalo Chicken Pizzas
Kritsada Panichgul

This spicy homemade cheap chicken recipe combines two favorites—buffalo chicken and pizza. At just 20 minutes from start to finish, you'll love how quickly you can pull together these hot, peppery pizzas. To fully embrace the buffalo wing flavor, top with celery strips and crumbled blue cheese.

Budget Dinner Price: $1.90

25 of 30

Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken

Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken
Blaine Moats

This classic fried chicken recipe tastes like it should: juicy and tender with a delightfully crunchy coating. Oh yes, and the cheap chicken meal for six is less than a buck a plate! A great budget-friendly option for any cookout or picnic, this finger-licking good recipe will be a hit with any crowd.

Budget Dinner Price: $0.78

26 of 30

Chicken Cassoulet-Style Soup

Chicken Cassoulet-Style Soup
Blaine Moats

Cassoulet, a French slow-cooker pork-and-bean casserole, is a delightful option for a weeknight meal. Our six-ingredient cheap chicken dinner idea uses chicken and turkey sausage to help keep the price low and the flavor complex. While it sounds and tastes gourmet, this dish takes care of itself in your slow cooker after 25 minutes of hands-on time.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.29

27 of 30

Chicken Dijonnaise

Chicken Dijonnaise
Blaine Moats

French-inspired creamy Dijonnaise sauce tops pan-fried chicken in this 30-minute meal. Add green onions to whipping cream, white wine, and mustard to make the simple sauce. You need just 3 tablespoons of vino for the recipe, so keep that bottle handy to pour for the 21+ crowd!

Budget Dinner Price: $2.95

28 of 30

Pineapple Chicken

Pineapple Chicken
Andy Lyons

Temper the spice in this curry-flavor chicken dish with skillet-seared pineapple. A coconut milk sauce flavored with serrano chile pepper and brown sugar finishes off the spicy-sweetness of this cheap chicken recipe. Try it over rice or your favorite whole grain; your budget has some wiggle room with this one.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.07

29 of 30

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Blaine Moats

This slow cooker version of the old-fashioned favorite is a triple threat. That's because it's not only so simple to make but also inexpensive—and uses just five ingredients. Frozen veggies, canned soup, and egg noodles help this easy, cheap chicken recipe come together with just 15 minutes of prep time.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.10

30 of 30

Fast Chicken and Rice

Fast Chicken Rice
Blaine Moats

Try this next time you're tempted to resort to takeout. Saucy chicken breast and brown rice pair with peas and crunchy almonds in this speedy and inexpensive meal. The entire budget chicken recipe takes just 10 minutes—a great solution for hectic weeknights.

Budget Dinner Price: $2.45

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