If you’re looking for a dynamite casserole, one that practically screams “comfort” and one that’s easy to make, serves a crowd, and comes in at a budget, this is the one, Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole.
From the gorgeous herbed breadcrumb topping to the creamy noodles studded with veggies, this Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole always goes over great. People just seem to love it, and I’ve served it to neighbors, friends, and the occasional “Gourmand.”
About Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole:
Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole is truly a family favorite. My version of this casserole was inspired by a friend of my Mom’s who put out a little cookbook called “If it’s Good, it’s Gourmet.” Her version was a lot fancier and used green Spinach noodles, mushrooms, and sliced green olives, along with a beautiful sprinkling of slivered almonds across the top. As a matter of fact, the dish in that form was served at my
Sister’s wedding. It really was elegant.
I needed fast, filling family food my kids would eat, so the casserole morphed over the years. Rototini (or any other corkscrew-shaped pasta) catches the wonderful sauce, the mushrooms are replaced by carrots, olives are omitted and who can deny how gorgeous the breadcrumb topping is? The bottom line: Who has time to argue about food when kids are involved?
The recipe originally called for canned chicken but when I serve chicken early in the week, I sometimes make extra just so I have it for this dish. Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole is also a go-to recipe for us after Thanksgiving Turkey. All that just goes to show, though, how versatile and forgiving Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole is.
Making the Casserole:
Because the recipe makes a large amount, this is the casserole I turn to when a friend is ailing or had a loss; I simply divide it in two and I have dinner for my family and theirs. Unless I’m serving a crowd, I divide the casserole in two anyway and freeze half for later. I just put the topping in a Ziploc and put it on top of the casserole so it can be added when it’s time to take it out of the freezer and heat it.
As far as how this is made? It has Velveeta and canned soup and really can’t be any simpler. Let that be our little secret! It’s sad to have to feel “food-shamed” because of a little Velveeta and canned soup. That being said, Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole can be made with a white sauce and grated cheese.
Instructions to Sub in White Sauce & Grated Cheese:
I know there are those who will not want to rely on two of the most common ingredients often found in casseroles. Namely, the Velveeta and the canned soups. If that’s you, here are the instructions to substitute homemade versions of a cheese sauce and the canned soup.
Simply saute the vegetables in butter, but increase the butter to 4 tablespoons. When softened, sprinkle with four tablespoons of flour. Whisk & cook for several minutes until flour begins to appear drier. Slowly add 2 cups of milk and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil, and simmer until thickened enough to leave a trail on the back of a spoon when a finger is run across it.
Turn off heat and add, bit by bit about two to three cups of shredded cheese. Seasoning will need to be adjusted to taste. You’re going to need more salt, pepper, and perhaps a bit of celery salt. For more information on using a white sauce to sub for a cream soup, see the recipe for “Cream of Anything Soup.”
Storing & Reheating:
Leftovers will keep for three to five days tightly covered in the fridge and can simply be microwaved to reheat. If the casserole seems to be a little dry, a touch of milk can be added when reheating.
When storing a casserole like this that has a breadcrumb topping, the topping can suffer if refrigerated in a way that condensation happens. Be careful to keep the breadcrumbs on top when transferring to a storage container. Let cool to room temperature without the lid, then place in the fridge without the lid. Only after the casserole has cooled to refrigerator temperature is the lid added and sealed.
As mentioned elsewhere this is a large casserole. I often divide it in two and freeze one half for later. It freezes beautifully, without the breadcrumb topping (which I prepare and place in a Ziploc). Add about 20 to 25 minutes to the time when reheating and sprinkle the breadcrumb topping on, just like in the original instructions, about 15 minutes before casserole is expected to be done.
Saving Money on Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole:
Buy chicken at a low (it usually drops to a low price at least once a quarter) and stock up. Break it down into portions your family uses and freeze.
If you use the Velveeta, do watch for sales and coupons. I often see it on special during the winter holidays, around Easter and midsummer. Look for special at the store where Velveeta might be included in those sales, buy so many Kraft items, get a discount or get money back for your next store purchase.
Pantry items like noodles and canned soup are great items to watch for on sale and to pick up at a bargain price. Canned soup is usually at a low during the fall and often on sale during holidays. If you use a coupon matching site, you’ll likely find both items can be picked up for free or near free.
Veggies like carrots, celery, and onions are seldom on sale unless it’s a holiday week, but do look for sale prices on any peppers. When they’re on sale buy what you need and then buy extra for the following week. Green peppers are generally less than the yellow, orange or red peppers.Print
Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Noodle Casserole
A big hearty casserole that everyone loves! May be divided in two and freezes beautifully.
- Total Time: 40 to 50 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- 14 ounces pasta (Rototini preferred)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 can sliced mushrooms or about 1 cup of fresh mushrooms, sliced or a cup of finely diced carrots sautéed in butter
- 1 1/2 cups Velveeta, cubed, about 8 ounces
- 2 cans cream of chicken or celery soup or a combination
- 1 cup chicken broth *
- 2 cups white meat chicken or turkey, cooked *
- 4 ounces slivered almonds or breadcrumb topping
Cook noodles until al dente, drain and set aside. Saute vegetables in the butter until tender.
Cube up Velveeta and melt in the microwave in a large bowl with the soups until melted, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute or so. Watch carefully as it can scorch.
Add the sautéed vegetables and chicken (or turkey) to the Velveeta mixture. Add a little broth if needed – should be creamy, not thick and gloppy.
Fold in pasta. Give it a gentle stir and add a little more additional broth if needed. The consistency should be thick but still able to “flow” over and through the pasta.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes until warmed through and bubbly. Top with almonds or breadcrumbs during last 15 minutes.
This may be made ahead; it refrigerated, bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, adding almonds or bread crumbs during the last 15 minutes.
To Freeze Casserole: Line casserole with foil, letting foil overhang dish is such a way that the casserole can be completely wrapped. Fill with the casserole, then fold foil up and over when frozen. Wrap a second time and label. To bake: Unwrap the first layer of foil, plop it into the casserole dish in the initial layer of foil and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bake as directed above, may need to add a few minutes time.
If making this recipe starting with raw rather than cooked poultry, simmer about 2 small or one very large chicken breast in water until cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Reserve the cooking liquid and use that instead of broth.
- Calories: 198
- Sugar: 4g
- Sodium: 761mg
- Fat: 8g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Carbohydrates: 14g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 15g
- Cholesterol: 48mg
You might also like:
If you came to this recipe looking for a way to use leftover turkey or chicken, be sure to check out the link below for 12 Days of Turkey. You might want to see the sister post for 12 Days of Ham, too.