Chicken Parmesan Casserole
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Chicken Parmesan Casserole is by far one of the most popular recipes on Thriving Home. It’s super easy to make, can be turned into a freezer meal, and kids love it.
We joke around that this is the recipe got us our first cookbook deal.
Reason is, about 7 years ago this recipe went viral on Pinterest, bringing us lots of new followers who were seeking simple and delicious freezer meals. This increased attention snowballed and helped us catch the attention of publishers.
We’ve since carved ourselves a niche in the freezer cooking world with two cookbooks, 1 Hour Meal Prep Sessions, and more.
All thanks to Chicken Parmesan Casserole. But, dear readers, this recipe is really about and for YOU!
5 Reasons to Make This Recipe Tonight
If you’re short on time, new to cooking, feeding picky eaters, or just tired at the end of the day, we created this recipe for you. Here’s why it’s our most popular casserole…
- Only 6 main ingredients: So simple! You probably have most ingredients on hand. Plus it’s a great way to use up leftover cooked or rotisserie chicken.
- Fast: Takes 35 minutes to make from start to finish.
- Kid-friendly: Just check out the comments. People of all ages like this casserole.
- Freezer-friendly: We give you freezing instructions so that it will come out tasting like a fresh meal (this is our area of expertise!). So double your batch and freeze one for later.
- Healthy: Serve alongside some whole grain pasta or brown rice and a salad or veggie, and you’ve got a well-rounded, nutritious meal.
Ingredients in Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Like I mentioned, a perk of this recipe is the simplicity of the ingredients–only 6 main ones! I bet you have most of these on hand:
- Cooked Chicken – Use rotisserie chicken as a shortcut or I included directions for how to cook your chicken ahead of time in the Cooking Notes.
- Marinara sauce – You can make your own marinara or use store bought. Choose the brand with the most recognizable ingredients. We recommend Newman’s Own or Rao’s brands.
- Shredded Mozzarella cheese – Not too much, but definitely staple of Chicken Parmesan and adds comfort factor.
- Shredded Parmesan cheese – Another mandatory staple of Chicken Parmesan. Grated Parmesan will work, too.
- Panko or whole wheat bread crumbs – Panko breadcrumbs will give it a great texture on top. You can use regular bread crumbs in a pinch though.
- Fresh herbs – Fresh parsley or basil adds some additional flavor and color. You can substitute dried herbs from your pantry.
Reader Tip: Add Pasta
Several of our readers have said they add cooked pasta as the bottom layer of the casserole with success.
We would suggest cooking pasta just until it’s al dente, so it doesn’t get too soft after baking. Also, make sure it gets coated in the marinara sauce so it doesn’t dry out.
Make It a Freezer Meal
As with many of our freezer-friendly recipes, this one freezes wonderfully. A valuable use of your time in the kitchen is to double this recipe and a freeze an 8×8 dish for another dinner.
To Freeze: Simply assemble the casserole (with cooked chicken), do NOT bake, and then freeze it in an airtight freezer container.
To Prepare From Frozen: When you want to make it, thaw and bake it according to the recipe instructions.
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How to Serve Chicken Parmesan Casserole
I almost always serve this casserole over cooked pasta. You could use penne, linguine, or really any type of noodle you have on hand. Chicken Parmesan Casserole can also be served over cooked brown rice. Lastly, it’s delicious if simply served by itself!
Serve it with one of our easiest side dishes, Garlic Green Beans, for a delicious well-rounded meal.
Side Dish Ideas
Here are some recipe ideas that would go well with this Chicken Parmesan Casserole…
More Easy Chicken Recipes
Be sure to check out our Top 15+ Chicken Freezer Meals. Every recipe can be made fresh or from frozen.
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
Chicken Parmesan Casserole
This family favorite is super easy to make, made with real food ingredients, and also freezer friendly.
- 4 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) fully-cooked chicken, shredded or cubed (see Cooking Notes for how to cook the chicken)
- 1 jar (about 28 ounces) of marinara sauce (or make your own)
- 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup Panko or whole wheat bread crumbs (Here is how to make your own) (Gluten-Free Option: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond meal instead.)
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2–4 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
- salt and pepper, to taste
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Make It Now:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Layer the fully-cooked chicken in the bottom. Dump in the marinara sauce and mix with the chicken. Next, top with both cheeses until all the chicken is covered.
- In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, olive oil, fresh herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper together.
- Sprinkle the seasoned breadcrumbs over the top. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden on top and bubbling on the sides.
Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-4. Cover the casserole tightly with a few layers of plastic wrap and/or foil, squeezing out as much air as possible. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the fridge over night and follow Step 5. Note: If it’s still slightly frozen in the middle, you’ll just have to cook it longer than the recipe calls for or defrost it a bit in the microwave before baking. Cover it with foil if the top gets too brown in the oven.
How to Cook the Chicken: For this recipe you can use rotisserie chicken from the store, which is a great short-cut! Or, cook some boneless, skinless chicken breasts using one of these methods until it’s done (165°F internally or no longer pink inside). Be sure to season well with salt and pepper first.
- Bake in Oven: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chicken in a casserole dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake uncovered for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.
- Slow Cooker: Place chicken in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Really! That’s all it takes to get it done, otherwise you’ll overcook and dry it out.
- Instant Pot: Place chicken and 1 cup chicken broth or water in a 6 quart Instant Pot. (Note: If using an 8 quart, add an additional 1/2 cup of broth.) Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes and use a quick release of the pressure when the cook time is up. (Note: It will take 10-15 minutes to come to pressure before the cook time starts.)
- Grill: Cut the chicken in half lengthwise so you have thinner pieces (this helps with fast and even cooking). Preheat grill to medium-high heat and clean the grates well. Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side, maybe longer depending on the thickness.
Gluten-Free Version: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs. I like to make my own with gluten-free breadcrumbs, because I can’t stand the gummy rice flour ones at the store. To do this, simply throw small pieces of GF bread in a blender or food processor and process until crumbly.
Reader Tip: Several of our readers have said they add cooked pasta as the bottom layer of the casserole with success. We would suggest cooking pasta just until it’s al dente, so it doesn’t get too soft after baking. Also, make sure it gets coated in the marinara sauce so it doesn’t dry out.
Where We Get Our Chicken: We get our meat from ButcherBox. The chicken is organic and curated from small, trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat–like uncured bacon, wild salmon, and grass-fed beef–and have used it for years ourselves.
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