This Creamy Chicken Casserole is a family favorite, bringing together tender chicken and pasta in a rich cheese sauce. Topped with golden breadcrumbs, it’s a dish that’s both comforting and delicious.
Creamy Chicken Casserole
This Creamy Chicken Casserole is my family’s go-to comfort dish, a perfect blend of juicy chicken and al dente pasta, all smothered in a rich, creamy cheese sauce. The golden breadcrumb topping adds a delightful crunch, transforming each bite into a symphony of textures. Every time I serve this casserole, it’s greeted with smiles and requests for seconds – it’s that irresistibly good!
Why You’ll Love This Creamy Chicken Casserole
- Comforting and Flavorful: The Creamy Chicken Casserole hits all the right notes of comfort food – it’s hearty, cheesy, and packed with tender chicken and pasta in a rich creamy sauce.
- Easy to Make: This recipe is straightforward and doesn’t require any complicated techniques or hard-to-find ingredients making it perfect for busy weeknights.
- Family-Friendly: This comforting casserole is a crowd-pleaser, loved by both kids and adults. It’s perfect for family dinners, potlucks, or any gathering.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Uncooked Pasta (like Rotini or Penne): The base of our casserole.
- Olive Oil: Used for searing the chicken, substitute with vegetable oil if preferred.
- Chicken Breast: You’ll need some boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs if you prefer.
- Salt and Pepper: To enhance the overall flavor of the dish.
- Onion: Adds a sweet, aromatic flavor to the sauce. If unavailable, shallots or leeks can be used.
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic but garlic powder can be used as an alternative.
- Chicken Broth: Both chicken broth and vegetable broth will work as well as homemade chicken stock.
- Heavy Cream: Gives the sauce its creamy texture. For a lighter version, half-and-half or a blend of milk and a thickening agent like flour could work.
- Cheddar Cheese: Melts into the sauce for a cheesy, comforting element. Other melting cheeses like mozzarella or Gouda can also be used.
- Dried Oregano and Thyme: These herbs contribute to the aromatic profile of the dish. Feel free to experiment with other herbs like basil or rosemary.
- Breadcrumbs: Provide a crunchy topping. Panko or even crushed crackers could serve as alternatives.
- Parmesan Cheese: Adds a salty, umami flavor to the breadcrumb topping. Grana Padano or Asiago are great substitutes.
- Butter: Combines with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan for the topping, to help brown and crisp the top.
How To Make Creamy Chicken Casserole
Cook The Pasta
To whip up this Creamy Chicken Casserole, start by cooking your pasta until it’s al dente, then set it aside.
Cook The Chicken
In a skillet, heat some olive oil and cook the chicken pieces seasoned with salt and pepper until they’re no longer pink.
Make The Sauce
Remove the chicken and in the same skillet, sauté onion and garlic, then pour in chicken broth and heavy cream, stirring to combine. Add shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce and let it melt, seasoning with dried oregano and thyme.
Assemble And Bake
Combine the cooked pasta and chicken with this creamy sauce, transfer everything into a greased baking dish, and top with a mix of breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, and melted butter. Bake in a preheated oven until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbly. Let it rest a bit before serving this comforting, cheesy delight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! You can prepare the casserole up to the point of baking, cover it, and store it in the refrigerator for a day or two. When you’re ready to eat, just bake it as directed, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time if it’s cold from the fridge.
Absolutely! Adding vegetables can boost the nutritional value and flavor. Try mixing in broccoli, peas, carrots, or spinach. Just remember to cook or blanch them before adding to the casserole.
Yes, to make it gluten-free, use a gluten-free pasta and ensure your breadcrumbs are gluten-free too. Also, check the labels on your other ingredients like chicken broth and cheese to ensure they don’t contain gluten.
- Sear the Chicken Well: For added flavor, make sure to sear the chicken pieces until they are nicely browned. This step not only cooks the chicken but also adds a depth of flavor to the casserole.
- Don’t Overcook the Pasta: Cook your pasta until just al dente since it will continue cooking in the oven. Overcooked pasta can become mushy after baking.
- Layer Flavors: Build layers of flavor by seasoning at different stages. Season the chicken well, and don’t forget to season the sauce. Taste as you go to adjust the seasoning.
- Use Quality Cheese: Choose a good quality cheese for the best melting and flavor. A sharp cheddar can add a nice depth to the sauce, enhancing the overall taste.
- Let it Rest Before Serving: Allow the casserole to rest for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven. This helps the sauce to set a bit and makes serving easier.
After the casserole cools down to room temperature, you can cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and keep it in the refrigerator, where it will stay good for 3-4 days.
If you want to keep it for longer, this casserole also freezes beautifully. Just transfer it to an airtight container or wrap it well in freezer-safe packaging. It can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in the oven or microwave.
More Delicious Casseroles To Enjoy
- Baked Ziti
- Easy Moussaka Recipe
- Beef Stroganoff Casserole
- Tater Tot Casserole
- The Best Lasagna
- Sloppy Joe Casserole
Craving More? Follow Along:
Creamy Chicken Casserole
- 2 cups uncooked pasta such as rotini or penne
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound chicken breast boneless, skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup chicken broth low sodium
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- Start by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set it aside.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Season the diced chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until they are no longer pink in the middle. Transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl.
- In the same skillet, add the chopped onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent.
- Pour in the chicken broth and heavy cream into the skillet. Stir well, loosening any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the shredded cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Incorporate the dried oregano and thyme into the sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta and chicken to the skillet. Stir everything together to ensure the pasta and chicken are well-coated with the sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared 9×13-inch baking dish, spreading it out evenly.
- In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and melted butter. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly. Allow the casserole to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Tips & Notes:
- Pasta Choice: You can use any pasta shape you like. Penne, rotini, or even elbow macaroni work great in this recipe.
- Cheese Variations: Feel free to experiment with different types of cheese for varied flavors. A mix of cheddar and mozzarella can be a great combination.
- Adding Vegetables: For a nutritional boost, consider adding vegetables like broccoli, peas, or bell peppers.
- Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through.
- Freezer Friendly: This casserole freezes well. Cool completely before freezing and store in a freezer-safe container. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in the oven.