Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Cheesy Chicken Casserole: Real Food Meets Reality {Freezer Meal}


Cheesy Chicken Casserole

This casserole won my husband’s heart over when we were dating. Well, I think our relationship was a little more complicated than that…but he did love Cheesy Chicken Casserole then and still asks for it today 14 happily-married years later!

Cheesy Chicken Casserole is just one of those simple, comfort food casseroles that delivers every time. The question I had, though, is could I make this traditionally processed food-laden dish a bit healthier without sacrificing taste or convenience? Can “real food meet reality”, as our Recipe Index tagline says?

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Well, yes, I think so! In this Cheesy Chicken Casserole recipe, I simply made a few swaps to clean up the junk in the original recipe I made 14 years ago.

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Chicken breasts: Buy Bare Chicken or organic chicken, to avoid added antibiotics and preservatives.

Canned Cream of Mushroom Soup: Campbell’s or other standard canned “cream of” soups are one of the worst convenience items you can buy. Read the ingredient label sometime and see if you can determine what most of the items listed are. It’s not real food, that’s for sure. So, I always spend a little more and substitute with an organic soup, preferably in a box or BPA-free can. You can also certainly make your own, too!

Stuffing: Store-bought stuffing mix is also filled with processed ingredients, preservatives, and additives. To avoid those, spend a little more and purchase an organic (and preferably whole wheat) stuffing in the health food section. Or, again, make your own! I also add in a little ground flaxseed or chia seed to up the nutrition.

Butter: I love real butter, especially organic, grass-fed butter. But, I did cut back on how much is used in this recipe. You could also substitute olive oil instead, if you want.

I feel like a broken record, but be sure to divide this in half and freeze one for later. (Freezer cooking changes the way I think about every meal nowadays.) Or double and freeze several for later! Freezer meal instructions are included below.

BONUS: Use up leftover turkey and stuffing from Thanksgiving in this simple casserole.

Did I mention it’s easy to make? Check out these simple steps and be sure to pin this image for later use.

Cheesey Chicken Casserole recipe

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Cheesy Chicken Casserole

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: one 9x13 casserole or two 8x8 casseroles (8 servings) 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A healthier version of the simple, comfort food classic that delivers every time!


Ingredients

  • 6 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 can/small box (15 ounces) organic cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 ounces stuffing mix
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed or ground chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 casserole pan with cooking spray.
  2. Spread diced chicken over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Top chicken with cream soup evenly.
  4. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the casserole.
  5. In a bowl, mix stuffing, flax/chia, water, and butter. Spread over the top of the casserole.
  6. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until chicken is done (white throughout) and corners are bubbly.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:
Put casserole together and freeze it before baking. When you’re ready to cook it, let thaw in the fridge over night. If it’s still slightly frozen in the middle, you’ll just have to cook it longer than the recipe calls for or defrost a bit in the microwave before baking. Cover it with foil if the top gets too brown in the oven.


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22 replies
    • Rachel says:

      Oh yes, it will cook through during that bake time. You can always use a meat thermometer to double check. It should reach an internal safe temp of 165°F.

      Reply
    • Rachel says:

      Our recipe is written for cooked chicken (not raw), so follow those instructions after thawing your freezer meal. If you mean, how long will it take if the casserole is actually frozen…I haven’t tested it, so I don’t know the exact time. But bake until the center is at least 160°F to be safe. Sides should be bubbly. It will take a while from frozen, so cover with foil if it starts to get too brown. I hope that helps!

      Reply
  1. Jessica says:

    I just discovered this recipe and love that it can be frozen. I have baby #4 coming at the beginning of February so trying to get prepared! Would you mind telling me what stuffing you use when you don’t just make it yourself? Thanks so much!

    Reply
  2. Carney says:

    Can I use black chia seeds instead of ground chia seeds? I think black chia seeds are considered “whole” chia seeds. Would this work?

    Reply
  3. Courtney says:

    Hi,

    This sounds delicious but I was wondering if you have a recommendation to replace the cream of mushroom. I can’t eat them but would love to make this!

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      The great thing about this casserole is that it’s a pretty complete meal–meat, grain, vegetables, cheese. But, I usually serve it with a few other sides like a simple baguette, green salad, and cut up fruit.

      Reply
  4. Nancy Tran says:

    Rachel and/or Polly,

    What container do you use to freeze your meals? I used to buy Gladware 8 x 8 containers, but now I can only find them in 9 x 13 size. The 9 x 13 is too big for most of what I freeze. I have been watching the internet for several months and they are “out of stock” everywhere. I really like these containers, and would like to find more. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Nancy Tran

    Reply