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.
From the gorgeous topping to the creamy noodles studded with veggies, this Cheesy Chicken Noodle Casserole always goes over great. People just seem to love it, and I’ve served it to neighbors, friends, and he occasional “Gourmand.”
Because it 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 it 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 eat it.
As far as how this is made? Let that be our little secret! It’s sad to feel “food-shamed” because of a little Velveeta and canned soup. That being said, you could look below, under “put your own spin on it.” I detailed how you can make this with a white sauce and cheese.
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’s 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.
I needed fast, filling family food my kids would eat, so it morphed over the years. Rototini 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?
This is a go-to recipe for us after Thanksgiving Turkey! Well, you can see why!
Cheesy Chicken (or Turkey) Casserole
- 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, may be reserved from cooking chicken or turkey if cooking for this recipe and not using leftovers)
- 2 cups white meat chicken or turkey, cooked *
- 4 ounces slivered almonds or bread crumb 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 bread crumbs 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.
Note: 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.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe
- Use a coupon matching site! Every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings!
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read Strategies Applied for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
Per Serving: 198 Calories; Fat (12% calories from fat); 8g; Sat 3g; Mono 1g; Poly 1g; Chol 48mg 16%; Sod 781mg; Pot 27 16%; Carb 17g 16%; Fib 2g 7%; Sug 4g; Protein; 13g 7%; Vit A 11%; Vit C 12%; Calc 20%; Iron 6%
Put your own Spin on it
- Vegetables can be varied: any bell can be added as well as carrots, broccoli, etc., it’s really not particular and is a very forgiving recipe.
- Make this with chicken, turkey or for a change of pace, try ham.
- If you are opposed to the Velveeta and canned soup: cook vegetables in butter, but increase to 4 tablespoons. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons flour. Whisk & cook for several minutes until flour begins to appear drier. Slowly add 2 cup of milk and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil until thickened enough to leave a trail on the back of spoon. Turn off heat and add, bit by bit about two to three cups of shredded cheese. Seasoning will need to be adjusted to taste, salt, pepper, perhaps a bit of celery salt. A half teaspoon of Worcestershire will help, as well. See the recipe for “cream of anything soup.”
- This is fun to make in individual ramekins and there is the added bonus, when served this way, of your family being less likely to over eat. I like to serve this with a dark green salad or a cooked green like kale or turnip greens.
To Freeze: Line casserole with foil, letting foil overhang dish is such a way that the casserole can be completely wrapped. Fill with 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 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.
Cheesy Chicken Casserole made October 2011.