Whether you’re just starting out on Paleo or have been a certified caveman for some time now, you know that the diet involves saying goodbye to grains, legumes, dairy, and sugar. But one food you’ll probably be eating a ton of? Chicken. High in protein, affordable, and easily accessible, the bird is practically its own food group on the Paleo plan.

But before you start panicking over visions of endless, bland chicken breast dinners, let us put your mind at ease. There are plenty of Paleo-friendly ways to enjoy the protein staple that go beyond the basics. We’ve picked 21 of the best Paleo chicken recipes to help you get started.

Appetizers

Photo: Paleo Grubs

While most satays traditionally involve non-Paleo peanut sauces, this caveman-approved version offers a tasty tahini-based substitute. The sesame butter is mild but rich and goes perfectly with the spicy marinated chicken skewers.

Photo: Physical Kitchness

Although you’ll find some sort of flatbread variation on practically every appetizer menu these days, the chances of it being Paleo are next to none. Who needs 'em when you can make this hearty starter at home yourself, complete with a sweet potato and almond flour crust and an Asian-inspired almond butter sauce?

Photo: One Lovely Life

While you’d expect Paleo poppers to be grain-free, what makes these bakeable bites even more exceptional is that they don’t even require egg as a binding agent. Instead, the ground chicken and shredded zucchini hold them together perfectly, while simple seasonings keep them easy to throw together even at the last minute.

Photo: Slimming Eats

You’ll find mango mixed with the chicken and blended into the dipping sauce in this inventive take on meatballs. Don’t worry about the fruit making this dish too sweet—jalapeños, cilantro, and onions do a great job of rounding out the flavors.

Photo: The Endless Meal

Honey takes care of the sweet part of these chicken fingers, while Paleo-friendly hot sauce covers the spicy portion. With garlic powder in the mix and an almond flour crust, there’s so much flavor going on here that you don’t even need to bother with a dipping sauce.

Photo: The Defined Dish

If you’ve checked out our Moroccan recipe roundup, you know that we’re totally hot for harissa right now. Put the North African spice to good use in this recipe, where it lends the chicken much more depth of flavor than just plain old hot sauce.

Photo: Paleo Running Momma

Thanks to substitutions like coconut cream and compliant mayo, this typically dairy-heavy appetizer gets transformed into a perfect Paleo precursor to any meal. The addition of chicken makes it particularly satisfying—so much so that you could easily incorporate this into a main meal too.

Soups and Salads

Photo: Paleo Running Momma

Going Paleo leaves no room for grains or refined sugars, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with zero carbs and no sweet foods whatsoever. With starchy butternut squash, natural sugars from the apples, and just two teaspoons of maple syrup to sweeten up the dressing, this chicken salad shows how balanced the caveman diet can be.

Photo: Jay's Baking Me Crazy

When a grilled cheese dunkable isn’t an option, Paleo eaters could use a way to make plain old tomato soup more exciting. Not only does this recipe use coconut milk and fresh basil to jazz up the soup itself, but it also adds tender chicken thighs to make it a heartier meal.

Photo: Real Simple Good

It may not actually be served anywhere in China, but you’ll definitely be making this salad a regular on your dinner table. The Whole30, Paleo-friendly recipe cooks the chicken in bone broth, ditches the canned mandarin oranges for fresh orange juice, and is drizzled with a no-sugar-added dressing.

Photo: Clean Eating Veggie Girl

This may not be exactly the same chicken noodle soup you ate on sick days growing up, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as comforting. With lots of shredded meat and tons of extra veggies in the perfectly seasoned broth, you won’t miss the noodles for a second.

Photo: Paleo Leap

Shawarma meat is often wrapped in a pita, but make yours Paleo-approved by serving it on a salad. This way, you get more veggies, and there’s no bread overpowering the garlicky, lemony flavors of the marinated chicken.

Photo: Physical Kitchness

Chicken soup doesn’t just have to be brothy, but when cream and milk aren’t options on the Paleo diet, you turn to nondairy alternatives and a blender to satisfy your silky soup cravings. In this case, coconut milk provides the rich base for the recipe, while a heap of mushroom varieties add even more creaminess and kicks the umami factor up several notches.

Photo: Love Food Nourish

If you’re making a meal out of a salad, it had better be pretty darn filling. This one more than fulfills that requirement, using marinated chicken for satiating protein and healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and a cashew-based dressing to minimize post-meal munchies.

Main Dishes

Photo: Flavour and Savour

Marinate chicken in olive oil, garlic, and Mexican spices, and there’s little chance you’ll go wrong, especially when it's in fajita form. With cauliflower rice at the base of this “grain” bowl, this meal jumps on all sorts of trends, but it’s so good that it’ll never go out of style.

Photo: Slim Sanity

This plate looks like it would fit right in on any fine dining table but takes all of 20 minutes to whip up. With gently sautéed zucchini noodles topped with an almond-coated, pan-cooked chicken, the colors and textures here are just waiting for their Instagram close-up.

Photo: What Great Grandma Ate

If a trip to Hawaii isn’t making it on your agenda anytime soon, bring the islands—or at least their flavors—home with this local dish. Although it’s usually made with very non-Paleo ingredients like soy sauce, brown sugar, and ketchup, this recipe uses tomato paste and gluten-free tamari sauce, along with fresh pineapple to keep it caveman-friendly without giving up the tropical vibe.

Photo: Inspiralized

Noodles in a creamy sauce may sound impossible on the Paleo plan, but with a few smart ingredients, it can be your dinner tomorrow night. Just let curls of butternut squash step in for the pasta and cashews take place of the dairy, and add some chicken for that all-important protein.

Photo: Paleo Leap

While the simple chicken patty is a solid start, it’s what goes on top of it that’s even more memorable. The slowly caramelized onions and a reduced balsamic sauce provide plenty of sweetness without any added sugar, making these bunless burgers perfect for a Paleo diet.

Photo: Haute and Healthy Living

We’re all about finding vehicles for pesto sauce beyond just pasta. Turns out, shredded chicken is an awesome substitute for the noodles, and the nondairy pesto itself is Paleo-friendly, subbing cashews for cheese. Make it a complete meal with roasted sweet potatoes on the side.

Photo: A Saucy Kitchen

This easy version of Thai curry makes great use of two prized Paleo ingredients: chicken and coconut milk. Seasoned with simple ingredients like cilantro and lime, with a touch of turmeric for eye-catching color, it’s a weeknight winner.

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