One of the great ironies of writing a food blog and a cookbook is that the nights I think I’ll enjoy cooking the most—the ones when I’m not following or testing a recipe and thus can toss in a pinch of this and a handful of that without second thought or even (GASP!) measuring—end up being the ones I most wish I’d documented our meal with my usual rigor. Ben and I will sit down to eat and both love the dish, and my immediate reaction is to want to share it with you all here! Such was the case with this Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chicken Skillet with Goat Cheese and Cranberries. It was a complete improv recipe based around our Thanksgiving leftovers, and we both adored it so much, I knew I had to recreate it for you.
This easy chicken dinner is my favorite kind of meal and the way I cook most often: a one-pan dinner that offers both protein and veggies so I don’t need to cook a separate side.
I also always make sure I add a few flavor boosters so that even though the ingredients are simple (ahem, whatever I could dig out of my fridge), the recipe tastes special, intentional, and like something that really could have come from a cookbook, instead of its actual source—my moderately sleep-deprived brain after a glass of Cabernet.
WELL, perhaps I do some of my best work after a glass of red, because what started as a throw-it-all-in, see-what-happens stand-up dinner turned out to be a meal that we truly loved and that I was ecstatic to eat a second time.
About This Easy, Healthy Chicken Recipe
The core base ingredients (the ones I found in my fridge) are:
- Chicken. Originally I made the recipe with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, but since I only have that in my refrigerator once a year, I updated today’s version to use cooked, shredded chicken instead. If you need an easy way to make it, check out my How to Cook Shredded Chicken for my favorite easy, foolproof method. This Crock Pot Shredded Chicken is also great.
In an ideal world, I cook my shredded chicken in advance, but if you follow my method above, you can start the chicken cooking when you begin the recipe and it will be ready by the time you need to add it to the skillet with the veggies. For an even greater shortcut, you can try this recipe with shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken.
- Sweet Potatoes. I almost always have one or two of these sweet orange beauties in my pantry. They are a quick and healthy add to almost any fall or winter dinner.
- Kale. Sturdy kale is ideal for stir-fry and skillet-type recipes like this because it can hold up to the heat and other bold flavors. The amount called for will seem like a lot at first, but it will cook down significantly.
Next, the flavor boosters! Don’t miss these. They make the recipe.
- Goat Cheese. Crumbled goat cheese melts into the nooks and crannies, makes the recipe creamy, and gives the dish just enough indulgence to make it taste satisfying. I like to stir in half, then leave the rest to crumble on top so that I get delightful little pockets of it with every forkful.
- Balsamic Vinegar. When I was first cooking this dish, I tasted it at the end and felt it lacked a little pop. A splash of balsamic vinegar did the trick! It brightens up the ingredients and balances the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes.
- Fresh Herbs. Use any mix of sage, rosemary, and thyme, all of which seem to make their way in and out of my refrigerator this time of year. I really recommend fresh over dried (dried doesn’t have the same wonderful effect). Look for the poultry herb mix, which usually offers all three.
- Dried Cranberries or Pomegranate. I love adding a handful of these little jewels anytime I’m doing a fall-themed recipe. The first time I used pomegranate seeds because we happened to have some leftover. The second I used dried cranberries, because we always have them around and I wanted to see how the dish would taste with more of a pantry staple. Answer: both are delicious! Feel free to choose your favorite.
Pomegranates feel fancier; dried cranberries are easier and still taste great.
What to Serve with This Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chicken Dinner
- Rice. This dish is yummy on its own, but I loved it most with a brown and wild rice mix blend like this one. If you’re looking to keep things low carb, try cauliflower rice.
- Bread. I also suspect this recipe would be delicious paired with thick slices of good-quality crusty bread.
More One-Pan Healthy Chicken Recipes
- Harvest Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
- Butternut Squash Gnocchi
- Sheet Pan Italian Chicken
- Sausage and Peppers
- Mexican Chicken and Rice
- Plus, all of these healthy one-pan recipes! I have dozens waiting to be on your dinner menu.
Here’s to dinner improv turned dinner staple. I hope this chicken sweet potato kale skillet becomes a regular on your menu too!
One Pan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes Kale and Cranberries
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium sweet potatoes scrubbed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch kale stemmed and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic about 3 cloves
- 2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded or diced (about 2 1/4 pound raw chicken or 3 cups cooked, diced/shredded; you can use rotisserie chicken or use this easy guide for how to cook shredded chicken; for another option, check the recipe notes*)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage**
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary**
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Prepared brown and wild rice blend, brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice
- Heat the olive oil in a very large, very deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium high. Add the sweet potatoes, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften and turn golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the kale a few handfuls at a time, until it is all wilted and fits in the skillet (this may take a few minutes). Let cook, stirring very frequently, until the kale is tender, about 6 additional minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 additional minute.
- Stir in the chicken. Next, stir in the balsamic vinegar, sage, thyme, and cranberries. Crumble half of the goat cheese over the top, then stir so that it melts and becomes creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese over the top, then serve hot over rice.
- *In place of shredded chicken, you can also cube the uncooked chicken and saute it in about 1 tablespoon olive oil at the beginning of the recipe. Remove it from the skillet, proceed with the recipe starting at Step 1, then add the chicken at the end. You can also use Instant Pot Chicken or Crock Pot Shredded Chicken.
- **For the sage, rosemary, and/or thyme, I suggest buying the “Poultry Blend” fresh herb packet, as it contains all three. You can also use one or all three of the herbs, depending upon what you have left over.
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