7 ways to make your chicken dishes more exciting

June 23 2015

As the most common source of protein on menus, chicken can be prepared in a variety of ways - and its versatility is part of what makes it so popular. After all, chicken goes well with a huge range of herbs, spices and sauces. It can be grilled, fried, broiled or roasted and it's commonly found in a wide range of ethnic dishes - from Chinese sweet and sour chicken through to peri peri chicken from Mozambique.

What's more, customers love to order chicken dishes because of the poultry's perceived health benefits. And, with the trend for healthy eating seemingly always on the rise, ensuring you have plenty of chicken dishes to choose from will make sure you're catering for diners who are watching their waistlines.

However, with so many chicken dishes to choose from, it can be difficult for restaurants to differentiate their menus from the competition. Making unique dishes that are also delicious can be difficult - but it is possible. You just have to get creative and try a bit of experimentation. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Try flavours from a different part of the world - While the cuisines of many cultures are already well established in Canadian restaurants, many others are still ripe for discovery - so pull out your atlas, pick somewhere your taste buds have never been and learn about that culture's foods. You might just discover the next big flavour trend. Alternatively, try some cultural fusions for your recipe inspiration. Again, many of these have already been explored, so test out some combinations that haven't yet been considered and you could end up with a surprisingly tasty new chicken dish that sets you apart from the crowd.
  2. Think about texture - How a food feels in the mouth can be a big part of how something tastes, so make your dishes unique by adding different textures. For example, you could serve a dish with couscous for a grainy texture or add some crispiness by battering and frying the bird.
  3. Make the meal customisable - Giving customers control over their meal can help to ensure they get a dish they love. For example, if you're serving chicken wings, why not give a variety of dipping sauces to choose from? Alternatively, let your customers design their own chicken sandwich - with options including fried or grilled chicken, a variety of vegetables and sauces and even a selection of artisanal breads.
  4. Add unusual sides - If you aren't sure about getting creative with the main meal, why not focus your culinary creativity on the side dishes instead? For example, you could swap steamed vegetables for a Moroccan-spiced couscous and instead of standard french fries, go for herby potato wedges with parmesan flakes.
  5. Aim for the health-conscious crowd - We've already mentioned that chicken is a favourite for health eaters, so why not play on that by offering chicken dishes that are tasty and even more nutritious? Opt for healthy cooking options like grilling and steaming, add plenty of veggies and consider going gluten-free too, with sides like quinoa salad and mashed sweet potatoes.
  6. Choose top quality birds - Today's consumers like to know where their food comes from - so try to source high-quality chicken that was organically raised and ethically treated. Then, make sure your customers know by promoting your choice of chicken on your menu.
  7. Pay attention to presentation - An unusual or creative presentation can make a big impact - making sure customers remember your menu and come back for more. If a dish looks particularly impressive, diners will even do your marketing for you, taking pictures of their meals and sharing them on social media.