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15 Chicken Dishes to Skip — and What to Order Instead

 Italian Chicken Parmesan

Chicken is a very popular lean protein option for those of us dining out. But, knowing that a dish contains chicken won’t tell you how great or not-so-great that dish is for your health. It all depends on the cooking technique and what ingredients are added along with the chicken. To help you decide which dishes to dodge and which to order, we’ve rounded up 15 less healthy chicken dishes to skip and 16 to order instead.

15 Chicken Entrées to Avoid

  1. Buffalo Wings – Deep-fried, breaded chicken wings that are tossed in a hot sauce. Better to skip since frying helps the chicken breading soak in even more added fat. Wings also tend to be served with a high-calorie Ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
  2. Butter Chicken – An Indian dish made by cooking chicken in gravy, butter and cream.
  3. Chicken Alfredo – An Italian dish of chicken served with pasta that’s mixed in a white sauce made from heavy cream and butter.
  4. Chicken Kiev – A Russian dish in which chicken breast is pounded and rolled around butter, then dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and usually fried.
  5. Chicken Parmigiana – An Italian dish in which the chicken is breaded and usually deep-fried. It’s then served with tomato sauce and a generous dose of mozzarella or parmesan cheese.
  6. Chicken Pot Pie – A calorie-dense chicken pie served with a butter crust.
  7. Chicken Quesadilla – A Mexican dish in which chicken is pressed into a flour tortilla along with lots of cheese. There are usually very few veggies in this dish.
  8. Chicken Schnitzel – A German dish of chicken breast that’s been pounded thin, breaded and deep-fried.
  9. Chicken Tikka Masala – An Indian dish of chunks of chicken  simmered in a heavy curry cream sauce.
  10. Chicken and Waffles – A soul food dish that features deep-fried chicken served on top of a large waffle that usually comes with butter and syrup.
  11. Fried Chicken – The chicken is battered or breaded then deep-fried. If it’s Korean fried chicken, you can expect the chicken to be double-fried.
  12. King Ranch Chicken Mac & Cheese – A Tex-Mex dish featuring chicken is cooked in a macaroni and cheese casserole with a crust of crushed tortilla chips.
  13. Kung Pao Chicken – A Chinese-American dish in which the chicken is battered, deep-fried, then smothered in a sweet and sour sauce (similar: Orange Chicken).
  14. Pad See Ew – A Thai rice noodle dish that can be made with chicken, tofu or other meats. This dish tends to be on the greasy side, and doesn’t include very many veggies.
  15. Sesame Chicken – A Chinese-American dish in which the chicken is battered, deep-fried, then smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce (similar: General Tso’s Chicken).

16 Chicken Entrées to Order Instead

  1. Cashew Chicken – A Chinese dish of chicken stir-fried with vegetables — usually bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and cashews. Order with a side of brown rice for a boost of whole grains.
  2. Chicken Adobo – Chicken stewed in paprika, oregano, salt, garlic and vinegar. This dish is popular in Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American and Philippine cuisines. Pair this entrée with a helping of veggies!
  3. Chicken Biryani – A South Asian mixed rice dish that’s served with chicken. Order with a side of light vegetables.
  4. Chicken Cacciatore – An Italian dish of chicken cooked in onions, herbs, tomatoes, bell peppers and wine. It’s a lighter dish featuring plenty of veggies.
  5. Chicken Huli-Huli – A Hawaiian chicken dish that involves roasting the meat over mesquite wood. Order with a side salad (not macaroni salad).
  6. Chicken Lettuce Wrap – A Chinese-American dish in which chicken is diced up and cooked along with mushrooms, carrots, onion and nuts. It’s then served on refreshing lettuce leaves.
  7. Chicken Marsala – An Italian-style dish in which chicken is cooked with mushrooms, olive oil, spices and Marsala wine. This entrée tends to be fairly light compared to other chicken dishes you could order.
  8. Chicken Satay – A Thai dish featuring chicken that’s skewered, grilled and likely served with a peanut sauce. The chicken provides lean protein, and peanut sauce contains good-for-you fats.
  9. Chicken Teriyaki – A Japanese dish in which chicken is marinated in soy sauce, mirin and sugar before being broiled or grilled. Order with a side of steamed vegetables.
  10. Chicken Tikka – An Indian dish that shouldn’t be confused with chicken tikka masala (see above)! It’s boneless chicken that’s marinated in yogurt and spices, and usually grilled or baked.
  11. Chicken Larb – A Thai salad that consists of chicken tossed with lemongrass, mint and lime. Order larb with chicken or seafood instead of beef to reduce the amount of saturated fat.
  12. Chicken Piccata – An Italian dish where chicken is sautéed in lemon, butter and capers. It’s lighter than chicken parmigiana. Order with a tomato-based pasta dish.
  13. Chicken Shawarma – A Mediterranean dish in which chicken is grilled on a rotating spit. It’s usually served on a plate (in which case, ask for lots of cucumber salad!). You can also ask for it in a wrap.
  14. Chinese Chicken Salad – An Asian-style salad that features chopped chicken, lettuce, cabbage, nuts and a sesame oil vinaigrette. Order with dressing on the side.
  15. Jerk Chicken – A Jamaican dish in which chicken is covered in a spicy dry rub (aka: jerk spice), and then grilled or smoked. Order with brown rice and veggies if possible.
  16. Tandoori Chicken Plate: An Indian dish in which chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices then roasted. Order with a side of stewed or curried vegetables.
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