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Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

By Rachel Tiemeyer

A little sweet and a little spicy, this easy chicken recipe is BIG on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the slow cooker.

Honey Bourbon Chicken and Stir Fry Vegetables on a large white platter
Photo credit: Hélène Dujardin

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken is one of only two recipes we’ve been given permission to share with you from our newest cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker (released January 14). And, I’m so glad because it is perhaps my favorite chicken dish in the whole book!

Actually, this recipe is only a partial recipe from the book. That’s because every single recipe in our latest cookbook includes:

  • Slow cooker instructions AND
  • Instant Pot and pressure cooker instructions AND
  • freezer meal instructions.

There is truly nothing else like our cookbook on the market! Like our first cookbook, we rigorously tested every dish, used (mostly) whole food ingredients, and only included ones that our families and recipe testers enjoyed. I think you’ll find it to be incredibly useful no matter what cooker you own.

Why This is My Favorite Chicken Dish

With all of these perks, what’s not to love about easy Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken?

1. It’s super simple to throw together. Simply dump the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it cook on low for a few hours. After it’s done, you can quickly thicken up the sauce using what’s called a cornstarch slurry but that’s optional yet quite easy.

2. It’s complex in flavor thanks to ingredients like fresh ginger (just keep some in my freezer to have on hand), soy sauce (or substitute coconut aminos), honey, green onions, and, of course, bourbon. (More on the bourbon in a minute.)

3. My kids love it! It’s a little spicy, but you can always pull back on the spice if your family has a sensitive palate.

4. It’s been very well-tested by Polly and me, as well as, our 500 person recipe-testing team for this cookbook! In fact, we spent nearly two years developing and refining the recipes in From Freezer to Cooker. It was quite a feat because every single recipe works in the slow cooker, the Instant Pot, and includes freezer meal instructions!

How to Serve Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

I like to round out this spicy-sweet chicken and sauce by serving it on top of some brown rice (or quinoa or cauliflower rice) and stir-fried veggies. There’s a lot of sauce to spare, so whip up a big pot of rice and a pan of stir-fried veggies to help soak up all that delicious sauce. To save time, buy pre-made brown rice at the store and use the frozen stir-fry vegetable mix.

What Should I Know About Cooking with Bourbon?

I personally don’t drink or enjoy the taste of bourbon. However, when used in cooking, I’ve found that the bourbon lends a smoky caramel-like sweetness that’s hard to replicate with another ingredient. If you have kids, don’t worry, the alcohol will almost entirely evaporate when the sauce is simmered at the end. Look for small bottles by the liquor counter, if you don’t have some at home in your cabinet. Update: One of our readers said she used chicken stock as a replacement with decent results.

How to Make Ahead and Freeze This Recipe

Like most of our recipes, this freezer-friendly chicken dish is one you can easily double, eat one for dinner tonight, and freeze the other for later. Here’s how easy it is to make ahead and freeze…

inside freezer

To freeze a batch for later, you’ll combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Pour the sauce and chicken into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. When you’re ready to eat it, simply thaw the meal using one of these safe thawing methods and then cook according to directions.

Every recipe in From Freezer to Cooker has “make ahead and freeze” instructions, saving you time in the kitchen. Plus, when you’ve got a freezer full of healthy, delicious family meals, you’ll spend less money and eat healthier.

How to Make Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

You’ll love this healthy, delicious chicken meal that goes from slow cooker to table with ease!

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gluten-free Honey Bourbon Chicken and Stir Fry Vegetables on a large white platter

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Total Time: 3 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Asian

Description

A little sweet and a little spicy, this chicken dish is big on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the slow cooker.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (For Gluten-Free: use coconut aminos or GF tamari soy sauce.)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup organic or all-natural ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey (For Gluten-Free: Omit or use chicken stock/broth instead.)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (decrease to 1/8 teaspoon, if sensitive to heat)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/22 pounds boneless, skinless medium chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Cooked basmati rice or brown rice, for serving
  • Stir-fried vegetables, for serving

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, bourbon, oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and green onions. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the sauce. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the chicken and sauce in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until cooked through. (The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.) Carefully transfer the chicken to a wooden cutting board, dice or shred the meat, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Carefully pour the juices from the slow cooker into a medium saucepan. Add in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Return the chicken and sauce to the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions and serve with stir-fried vegetables, if desired.

Freeze For Later:  Follow step 1. Pour the sauce and chicken into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen:  Note: Have cooked rice, cornstarch, and (optional) stir-fried veggies on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Follow steps 2 through 4.


Notes

One of our readers tested this recipe without the bourbon and reported that their family thought it was still delicious. 

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Chicken Parmesan Casserole

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Chicken Parmesan Casserole is a family-favorite freezer meal that is super easy to make. This real food, healthy dinner recipe is a staple in our home.

Chicken parmesan casserole

(Looking for healthy freezer meal recipes? We have 70+ of our favorites HERE!)

Whenever I make my Roasted Whole Chicken and Vegetables (one my very favorite recipes) or Slow Cooker Whole Chicken, I sometimes have chicken leftover. So, I throw it in the freezer. When I’ve got a few cups of cooked chicken in the freezer, I’m ready to make this delicious chicken freezer meal: Chicken Parmesan Casserole.

Chicken parmesan casserole in a 8x8 glass dish

My family loves this simple chicken freezer meal recipe because it’s an old family favorite in a comfort-food form.

I bet you have most of these ingredients on hand:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Panko or whole wheat bread crumbs
  • A few fresh herbs.

That’s it. You can eat it by itself or serve it over pasta. It might be nice over a bed of rice, too.

Chicken parmesan casserole with a side salad

See How Chicken Parmesan Casserole comes together!

How to Freeze Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Chicken parmesan casserole in a freezer container

Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read our full disclosure policy here.

The easy-to-print Chicken Parmesan Casserole recipe is below, but I wanted to mention that, as with so many of our freezer-friendly recipes, this Chicken Parmesan Casserole freezes wonderfully. Simply assemble the casserole (with cooked chicken) and freeze it in an airtight container before baking.

When you want to make it, thaw it safely and bake it according to the recipe instructions.

We recommend using a BPA-free container or dish. While it may be easier to buy the disposable Glad ovenware containers, it really makes sense to stock up on some quality, safe dishes that you can bake AND store in.

The Ultimate Chicken Freezer Meal: Chicken Parmesan Casserole

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Chicken Parmesan Casserole Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This family favorite is super easy to make, made with real food ingredients, and also freezer friendly.


Ingredients

  • 4 cups (about 1.5 pounds) fully-cooked chicken, shredded or cubed (where to find meat you can trust)
  • 1 jar (28 ounces) of marinara sauce (or make your own)
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup Panko or whole wheat bread crumbs (Here is how to make your own) (Gluten-Free Option: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond meal instead.)
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 24 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease an 8×8 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  3. Layer the fully-cooked chicken in the bottom. Dump in the marinara sauce and mix with the chicken. Next, top with both cheeses until all the chicken is covered.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, olive oil, fresh herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper together.
  5. Sprinkle the seasoned breadcrumbs over the top. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden on top and bubbling on the sides.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-5. Cover the casserole tightly with a few layers of plastic wrap and/or foil, squeezing out as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the fridge over night and follow Step 6. Note: If it’s still slightly frozen in the middle, you’ll just have to cook it longer than the recipe calls for or defrost it a bit in the microwave before baking. Cover it with foil if the top gets too brown in the oven.


Notes

We get our meat from ButcherBox*. Their chicken is organic, curated from small, trusted farms, and absolutely delicious. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat–like uncured bacon, wild salmon, and grass-fed beef–and have used it for years ourselves. *Disclaimer: We are an affiliate of ButcherBox.

Pro Tip: If you’re making this as a freezer meal or to take to someone, be sure to use one of our freezer meal labels!

Chicken parmesan casserole being scooped out of a dish.

Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken {Freezer Meal}

By Polly Conner

This freezer-friendly Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken recipe is healthy and simple, with a blow-your-mind-delicious balsamic marinade.

Easy and delicious, freezer-friendly, Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken with Brussels sprouts.

By Alyssa Nitz, Contributing Author

I was first introduced to this tasty, Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken recipe just a couple weeks after having my son, Jacob. After receiving some yummy but heavy pasta and casserole meals, which I gobbled gratefully, my mom made me this dish, and it was a like a breath of fresh air.

Sitting in the balsamic marinade in the refrigerator all day, the chicken will turn out incredibly tender and flavorful. Let me tell you, this marinade is everything. It’s tangy because of the balsamic and dried cranberries, and little bit sweet because of the maple syrup. My husband may or may not have caught me eating a spoonful of it out of the dish once. Just sayin’. He has no proof.

Added bonus, since this dish is best when prepared ahead of time, you get to simply toss your dish in the oven at dinner time. If you’re in the same parenting phase as I am, not having to be in the kitchen too long before dinner is a real game-changer. Not that I don’t love having my little people within a three feet proximity as me crying for crackers while I cook. It’s just not exactly relaxing.

Start by grabbing a baking dish, or gallon size freezer bag if you’re planning on freezing, and whisk together your olive oil, balsamic, maple syrup, garlic, thyme, oregano, and salt and pepper.

Then you throw in some dried cranberries. Those cranberries will break down in the balsamic vinegar and flavor the whole marinade.

Add the chicken breasts and Brussels sprouts to the marinade, rolling everything around, and giving your chicken and sprouts a nice little marinade bath. Tuck it all in nicely, cover it, and let it hang out in the fridge for at least a few hours.

After the marinade has worked its magic, pop this beauty in the oven and go sit on the couch and watch Ellen. You’ve done your job.

And hello dinner.

The meal was such a hit that it became a regular in our dinner lineup. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is as easy to prepare as it is tasty. This dish checks all the boxes of being nutritious and simple, with a sauce so delicious you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful…but who would do that?!

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Healthy, delicious cranberry balsamic chicken

Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken

  • Author: Alyssa
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken with Brussels sprouts is super simple to make and full of flavor. The delicious combination of the tangy balsamic with the sweet maple syrup and cranberries will make this chicken dish a family favorite.


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 34 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups (or more to your preference) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. Add chicken, Brussels sprouts, and cranberries to the marinade, and mix until everything is evenly coated. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Cover dish and store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
  4. Bake uncovered at 375°F for 30 minutes (or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F or no longer has any pink inside).

Freeze For Later: Complete recipe through Step 2. Pour all ingredients into a gallon-sized freezer bag or container with lid. Seal and freeze.

Prepare from Frozen: Thaw for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. Cook according to the instructions in Step 4.

 About the Author

Alyssa is a former English teacher turned stay-at-home mama. She married her high school sweetheart and still thinks he’s dreamy. She likes to write about, talk about, make, and most importantly eat delicious, nourishing food.

Alyssa and family from Always Overdressed

Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches {Freezer Meal}

By Polly Conner

Create the ultimate chicken sandwiches for any weeknight by prepping and freezing all the components ahead of time. This well-seasoned, versatile, grilled chicken also works to top pasta or salads.

Gourmet Chicken Sandwich

Disclaimer: We are an affiliate of ButcherBox and have included links in this post.

It’s amazing what a great marinade can do to plain ole chicken.

For instance, this chicken sandwich would be ho-hum without the flavor-packed marinade the chicken sat in for a few hours. However, now it is restaurant quality. Seriously. It was SO good.

Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches are the ultimate chicken sandwiches for any weeknight! Just prep and freeze all the components ahead of time. This well-seasoned, versatile grilled chicken also works to top pasta or salads. #freezermeal #realfood #thrivinghome

Everyone in my family liked it and I even used the leftover grilled chicken to put on some pasta for lunch the next day. Don’t box yourself in to just using this delicious, gourmet chicken for sandwiches. It is very versatile!

Also, in case you didn’t know, marinated chicken makes a GREAT freezer meal. Just double the marinade, throw half of it in a zip-top bag along with the uncooked chicken and freeze it that way. You can also throw the bun and toppings in a separate freezer bag. When you thaw the chicken in the fridge, the meat will soak up the flavor from the marinade. Result: a super easy and delicious chicken dinner.

Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches are the ultimate chicken sandwiches for any weeknight! Just prep and freeze all the components ahead of time. This well-seasoned, versatile grilled chicken also works to top pasta or salads. #freezermeal #realfood #thrivinghome
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Create the ultimate chicken sandwiches for any weeknight by prepping and freezing all the components ahead of time. This well-seasoned, versatile grilled chicken also works to top pasta or salads.

Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 sandwiches 1x
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Create the ultimate chicken sandwiches for any weeknight by prepping and freezing all the components ahead of time. This well-seasoned, versatile grilled chicken also works to top pasta or salads.


Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons powdered ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 6 slices cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 pound uncured bacon, cooked and broken in half (try our No Fail Way to Cook Bacon)
  • 6 whole wheat hamburger buns (or make your own Homemade Hamburger Buns)
  • Optional toppings: BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato slices, onion slices, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard

*Updated ingredient on 8/3/20: This used to be 1 Tablespoon salt, but we found the marinade to be too salty.


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Make the Marinade: In a gallon-sized freezer bag, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, ginger and paprika. Gently shake the bag to mix. Then set aside.
  2. Slice the Chicken: (Note: This step is essential for even cooking.) Carefully cut the chicken breasts lengthwise through the center to create two thin halves out of each breast. If needed, pound down the thicker parts to create cutlets that are the same thickness. 
  3. Marinate (or Freeze) the Chicken: Place the 6 chicken cutlets in the bag with the marinade, seal the bag, and shake to ensure the breasts are coated. (Freezing instructions begin here.) Set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours to marinate.
  4. Cook the Chicken: Preheat a grill over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade using tongs and add to grill. Discard remaining marinade. Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side or until done. (Chicken is done when juices run clear or the internal temperature is 165° F.)
  5. Assemble the Sandwiches: On top of a bun, place 1 chicken breast, 1 slice cheese, some bacon, and optional toppings.

Freeze For Later: Follow steps 1-3 (do not marinate in refrigerator). Package the bacon and cheese slices separately in small freezer bags (or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil). To make a freezer meal kit, freeze the chicken in marinade alongside the bacon, cheese, and buns.

Prepare From Frozen: You’ll need the optional toppings on hand to complete this meal. Thaw the meal kit in the refrigerator. Follow the recipe beginning with Step 4.


Notes

We get our meat from ButcherBox. The bacon is uncured, contains no sugar, and is absolutely delicious! The chicken is organic and curated from small, trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat and have used it for years ourselves.

Chicken Apple Bites {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Chicken and Apple Bites - perfect size for small hands!

Last night we tweaked and tried a new recipe that Jack (age 4) picked out from a cookbook called Perfect Food for After School. I made a few substitutions to make it healthier and more kid-friendly. We all really enjoyed these Chicken and Apple Bites. They remind me of the Mini Chicken Burgers recipe, except they are more moist, a little less tangy, and have a sweetness from the apple.

Chicken and Apple Bites are great for little hands to pick up and dip in ketchup.  My husband and I preferred to eat them in a mini burger form on a bun with cheddar cheese.  I will be making these again, as they led to a complaint-free meal!

Chicken and Apple Bites - perfect size for small hands!

Check out our list of 60+ Healthy Freezer Meals here or pin it here!

healthy freezer meals

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Chicken and Apple Bites

Chicken and Apple Bites

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 20 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Chicken and Apple Bites – perfect size for small hands! There is a great flavor combination between the chicken and the sweet, tangy apples.


Ingredients

  • 2 small or 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock
  • 1/41/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • whole wheat flour, for coating
  • olive oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Peel, core, and grate 2 small, or one large, apple.
  2. Spread the apple out on a clean dish towel and press out all the excess moisture.
  3. Put the grated apple, chicken, onion powder, parsley, breadcrumbs, chicken stock, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper in food processor and blend until well combined.
  4. Spread the flour out on a plate.
  5. With wet hands, divide the mixture into 20 mini portions.
  6. Shape each portion into a ball (or a mini burger using several of the portions) and then roll in the flour.
  7. Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the balls for 5-8 minutes, rolling them occasionally so they brown on all sides.
  8. When done, they should be golden brown and juices should run clear (no pink inside).
  9. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  10. Serve hot (or cold for lunchbox).

Notes

Freezer Meal Directions:
To Freeze:
Roll into balls and coat with breadcrumb mixture. Then, freeze in airtight container for up to 2 months.
To Prepare:
When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave on the defrost setting. Cook as directed.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 20 chicken and apple bites