The Chicken Casserole Every Weeknight Needs

Chicken casserole is the embodiment of a warm hug in casserole form: gooey, delicious, and savory. It's a classic dish that we're happy to eat again and again! If you grew up in a typical North American household, chances are you have tasted some form of chicken casserole at least a few times. It was probably either made by your grandmother, aunt, or you had it at a potluck — or perhaps even a funeral. It's one of those ubiquitous dishes that may or may not have been invented by Campbell's Soup — but either way, we don't care because it tastes so darn good.

Put those old jars of canned cream of mushroom soup to good use in our cheesy chicken casserole with mushrooms, celery, and a crispy topping of bread crumbs.

Gather the ingredients for this chicken casserole

Making chicken casserole is truly an easy task that's made all the simpler by prepping all the ingredients ahead of time. For our chicken casserole, you'll need some dry pasta. We recommend using either penne or fusilli pasta, though you can also use egg noodles in their place for a more old-school feel (penne or fusilli have a bit more bite and make the dish feel classier and less mushy).

On the produce side, we like to use mushrooms and celery in our chicken casserole, and sauté them briefly. You'll also want to grab one large chicken breast, a can of cream of mushroom soup, milk, breadcrumbs, and butter. No breadcrumbs? Don't worry, we have a breadcrumb substitute.

Finally, you'll also need 1/2 cup shredded cheese — you can use any cheese you like, though we recommend a mix of mozzarella and cheddar for the best flavor.

Dice the casserole's vegetables and chicken

Let's get our mise en place ready, as it's going to make cooking the rest of this chicken casserole a breeze.

You'll first want to cut your chicken breast into two halves, to make the handling easier. Then, dice chicken breasts into cubes, about 1-inch in size is perfect. Go ahead and finely dice up the mushrooms and celery. The smaller your pieces are, the less noticeable they'll be when cooked — and after all, isn't the purpose of a creamy chicken casserole to sneak in all those vegetables without anyone noticing? We sure think so!

Set the oven to 400°F to preheat.

Precook the chicken casserole's pasta

While the oven is preheating, cook the noodles according to package instructions. Usually, that means boiling a large pot of water, and adding a hefty amount of salt. A good gauge for how much salt you need to cook pasta is the following proverb: "pasta water should be as salty as the sea". So don't skimp on the salt!

Cover your pot with a lid, and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Now, the time of cooking will vary based on what kind of pasta you are using — fusilli or penne pasta will usually require 7-10 minutes, while egg noodles cook a bit faster.

So check your package, or better yet, taste the pasta to be sure. You want your pasta to be cooked al dente, which means it should still retain some bite and not be mushy.

Sauté chicken to seal in the casserole flavor

While the pasta is cooking, proceed to half-cook the rest of the components. Sautéing the chicken helps seal in the moisture and flavor. To ease our work, we recommend you use the same pan for sautéing as you do to bake the casserole. To do so, choose a large pan that is oven safe. If you don't have an oven-safe pan, then feel free to use any large pan you have and then transfer everything to a casserole dish.

Preheat the pan to medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add diced chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through, about eight minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Sauté celery and mushrooms for the chicken casserole

Next up, we will be searing the veggies lightly. Browning the celery and mushrooms deepens their flavor, which will give your casserole overall a much better taste. It will also help dry the vegetables, which will give the casserole a better texture than dumping in raw veggies.

To sear the vegetables, add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add the diced mushroom and celery. Cook until the mushrooms have browned around the edges and the celery begins to get golden, around five minutes. Remove the pan from heat, but keep the vegetables in it if you're using the same pan.

Combine all the chicken casserole ingredients in an oven-safe pan

If you're using the same pan to sear the vegetables and chicken and to bake the chicken casserole, then add the chicken back to the pan.

If you're using a casserole dish for baking, then season it with a pat of butter, and add the vegetables and chicken to it. To season a dish with butter, all you need to do is just rub a tablespoon-sized dab of butter all over the inside of your dish. Add cream of mushroom soup, milk, noodles, and grated cheese to the casserole dish. Stir well to combine. The mix should be uniform, with no big clumps of any single ingredient.

Bake the chicken casserole for 20 minutes

Using oven gloves, transfer chicken casserole to the oven. Set it on the middle rack for best results, or set your oven on turbo (for toaster ovens) baking. For best results and a more even cooking, we recommend covering the pan with aluminum foil or even a cover, if you have one that fits. This helps keep the moisture in and avoids drying out your chicken casserole. Because a dry, sad casserole just won't make anyone feel very comforted!

Bake chicken casserole in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, until it is cooked through and the top is golden. 

Top with the chicken casserole with breadcrumbs and finish baking

While the chicken casserole is baking, mix bread crumbs with melted butter in a medium sized bowl. To melt the butter, place the butter in a small bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds. If it's not fully melted, stir it and return it to the microwave for another 10-20 seconds.

Top chicken casserole with the breadcrumb mixture, spreading it evenly across the top. You may need to work with a teaspoon or even a spatula to avoid dumping large clumps of breadcrumbs in just a couple of spots. Finally, return the chicken casserole to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve the chicken casserole piping hot from the oven

After a total cooking time in the oven of 30 minutes, it's time to get that chicken casserole on the table! The best chicken casserole is served and eaten piping hot, straight from the oven. You don't need anything else with it, except maybe a light salad to balance out all those creamy, cheesy flavors.

Any chicken casserole leftovers will keep in the fridge for four days. It will dry a bit with time, so you may want to add some sour cream to make reheated chicken casserole taste and feel better. Either way, it's going to be delicious!

The Chicken Casserole Every Weeknight Needs
4.8 from 14 ratings
Chicken casserole is a classic comfort food and a perfect easy-to-make weeknight meal. This cheesy, tasty chicken casserole comes together in no time flat!
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
43
minutes
Servings
6
servings
chicken casserole with two servings
Ready in 53 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3 cups uncooked penne or fusilli pasta or egg noodles
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large chicken breast, split (2 chicken breast halves, about 1.5lbs)
  • 2 cups mushrooms, diced (about 6-10 whole button mushrooms)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • 6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • black pepper
  • salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and cut chicken breasts into cubes. Dice mushrooms and celery.
  2. While the oven is preheating, cook your noodles according to package instructions.
  3. Choose a large pan that is oven safe. Preheat the pan to medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add diced chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add mushroom and celery. Cook until mushrooms have browned around the edges and celery begins to get golden, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add chicken back to pan. Add cream of mushroom soup, milk, noodles and cheese. Stir well to combine.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until the chicken casserole is cooked through and the top is golden. Mix breadcrumbs with melted butter. Top chicken casserole with breadcrumb mixture, spreading it evenly across the top. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 420
Total Fat 27.6 g
Saturated Fat 9.1 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 70.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 26.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Total Sugars 4.7 g
Sodium 550.5 mg
Protein 17.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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