If you are looking for an easy, healthy meal tonight, look no further than this awesome Chicken Divan Casserole. Packed with broccoli, lean chicken breast, a creamy, curry flavored sauce and crunchy croutons, it is comfort food at its finest. Oh, and if you have leftover turkey and rolls from Thanksgiving, this is an excellent way to give them a new life on the dinner table.
Chicken Divan is one of those relics of my childhood that I turn to time and again when I'm in need of a relatively healthy, easy and comforting dinner. It takes just a handful of ingredients, is a great use for leftover chicken or turkey, is baked until bubbly and delicious, and is universally liked by children and adults.
As the mother and schedule keeper of three kids spanning 6 years apart - each with various independent after-school activities, mind you - my Mom had a laundry list of meals that she could whip up in a heartbeat. Her Chicken Divan casserole was one of our favorites and always resulted in a trio of clean plates. If you're looking for a simple meal to feed a crowd of hungry kids, teenagers or adults, this is the recipe for you.
Table of Contents
- How to Make Chicken Divan
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Need more easy dinner inspiration? Check out these other recipes:
How to Make Chicken Divan
Chicken Divan casserole is about as simple as it gets when it comes to weeknight dinner. All you need are seven common ingredients - chicken breasts (or leftover chicken or turkey), broccoli, a can of cream of chicken soup, store bought mayonnaise, curry powder, sliced bread (or leftover dinner rolls) and butter.
First up, make your croutons. Cut your bread into square pieces and put them on a parchment or Silpat lined sheet tray. Toss them with melted butter (or olive oil if you're trying to be good!), then spread them out in an even layer. Pop them in a 350F oven for 12-18 minutes, until crispy and lightly golden brown.
TIP: Trying to work your way through Thanksgiving leftovers? Stale or leftover dinner rolls make an excellent base for homemade croutons.
While the croutons are baking, you'll need to cook the chicken and broccoli. The easiest way to accomplish this is to bring a big pot of salted water to boil. You're going to cook both the chicken and the broccoli in the same pot, cutting back on your dishes. Great, right?
TIP: If you want a bit more flavor, add a few bay leaves, garlic cloves, peppercorns, bouillon or wine to the water to infuse the chicken with some extra yummy flavor.
After the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the chicken breasts first, as they will take longer to cook through. You will start to see some scummy white stuff floating to the surface. You can either a.) opt to skim this off with a spoon, or b.) say "screw it" and leave it alone. Skimming will result in a prettier finished dish, but is not necessary.
While the chicken is poaching, prepare your broccoli. If you're using a head of broccoli, cut it into florets. And don't even think about tossing the stem! It is just as delicious and nutritious as the leafier green bits. Peel off about ⅛" worth of the skin if you're worried about it being too tough, then cut it into similar sized pieces as your florets.
After about 6-8 minutes, you can toss in your broccoli florets. I personally like my veggies a little al dente, so I toss my broccoli in around the 8 minute mark. My husband and his family prefer their broccoli a little softer, so I put it in around 6 minutes if I'm cooking for them.
TIP: Are all of your big pots still dirty from the holiday? Don't fret! Use a smaller pot to first poach the chicken breasts, then cook the broccoli in the leftover chicken broth.
At the 12-13 minute mark, remove the pot from heat and drain the contents. Prepare the chicken by either shredding or chopping it into bite sized pieces. Layer the chicken pieces and broccoli florets in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
TIP: Is your chicken still a little pink in the center? Not to worry! You're going to bake the casserole after assembly, so it should easily reach 165F by the time it hits your plate.
In a separate bowl, mix together cream of chicken soup with an equal amount of mayonnaise, then add curry powder to your taste. Spoon the sauce over the top of the casserole and spread it out in a relatively even layer. Lightly cover with foil.
TIP: Love spicy foods like we do? Add a bit of cayenne and garam masala to the mix to heat up the sauce!
Bake the covered Chicken Divan casserole at 350F for about 25-30 minutes, until heated through. Remove from the oven, take off the foil, dish it up over rice and sprinkle with the croutons. How easy was that?!?
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of chicken should I use for this casserole?
If you're looking to make Chicken Divan from scratch, I generally recommend that you opt for chicken breasts for the best consistency. For whatever reason, chicken breasts seem to shred the best, and they are the perfect candidate for poaching.
If you're wanting a shortcut to get dinner on the table faster and with fewer dishes, grab yourself a rotisserie chicken instead. Pull off as much meat as you can, and use it as you would the poached chicken breast.
If you have leftover chicken or turkey that you're looking to use up, this recipe is a great way to do it. Use either light or dark meat, or a combination. Shred the meat with your hands, two forks or cut it into cubes.
What is the absolute simplest and fastest way to get this meal on the table?
I hear you, and I'm here for you. Ok, you need this to be done faster than fast and with almost no dishes? Here's the game plan:
- Buy a bag of pre-washed and pre-cut broccoli florets. Steam them in the bag in the microwave. Just snip off a corner and microwave for 4-5 minutes, or according to package directions.
- Buy a rotisserie chicken, or, in a pinch, use drained canned chicken instead. If you're at Costco, they sell pre-shredded rotisserie chicken breast which is ideal for this recipe.
- Buy store bought croutons rather than making your own.
Congratulations, you just shaved about 15 minutes off a delicious homemade dinner, and all is right with the world. Go pour yourself a glass of wine and toast yourself for being the hero you are.
Can I make a keto version of chicken divan?
Sure thing! The only only carb-y part of the casserole is the buttery croutons on top. Since I did my first round of low carb living over two decades ago, there have been a whole lot of developments to make eating keto way easier. For this particular dish, simply swap in a low carb bread for the croutons and you should be good to go!
If you want the full dinner experience of serving Chicken Divan over rice, swap out riced cauliflower for a perfectly keto meal. You can also just omit the rice altogether and eat a big ol' bowlful of broccoli, chicken, sauce and croutons.
Any way to make this gluten free?
Yep! You can either opt to omit the croutons on top, or substitute gluten free bread or store bought gluten free croutons so you can still get that buttery crunch.
What should I serve with this casserole?
When I was growing up, Mom used to serve Chicken Divan over rice to stretch the meal a little further. If you're looking for something a little more grown up tasting, try it with some wild rice. Brown rice is also a great healthy, high fiber option if wild rice isn't your thing.
TIP: In a rush? I love Seeds of Change's pre-cooked, microwavable rice packs. They get rice on the table in 90 seconds and are perfectly seasoned!
If you're going for a keto meal, you can either serve this over cauliflower rice or opt to eat the meat and veggies all by their lonesome. I promise it is delicious and filling either way.
Need more easy dinner inspiration? Check out these other recipes:
- Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
- Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup
- Sheet Pan Cauliflower Tikka Masala
- Sheet Pan Sausages with Root Vegetables
If you made this super simple Chicken Divan Casserole, please be sure to rate and review it below so I know how it turned out for you.
Chicken Divan Casserole
- 6-8 slices Bread any type - keto, gluten free, multigrain, sourdough, wheat, white, or dinner rolls. Stale is a okay!
- 4 tablespoon Butter, melted sub olive oil for heart healthier option
Poached Chicken Breast and Broccoli
- Cooked White Rice, Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Cauliflower Rice optional
- Slice bread into cubes and place on parchment or Silpat lined sheet tray. Drizzle and toss with melted butter or olive oil. Bake at 350F for 12-18 minutes, tossing midway through. Croutons should be crispy and golden.
- Mix all sauce ingredients together until well combined. Set aside.
- Bring water to boil with kosher salt and any additional flavorings. Add enough salt for the water to taste like the sea. Add chicken breasts and reduce heat to simmer. While chicken is poaching, prepare broccoli by cutting it into florets. Cut stem into bite sized pieces, removing tough skin if needed. If pot is big enough, add broccoli florets after 6-8 minutes. Otherwise, finish poaching chicken (10-12 minutes at a simmer), then remove breasts and add broccoli. Cook broccoli until fork tender, about 8 minutes. Strain and discard poaching liquid. Shred or cube chicken breasts.
- In a 9 x 13 (or multiple smaller casserole dishes), layer broccoli, then chicken and top with curry sauce. Spread the sauce to coat. *You can stop assembly here, covering and refrigerating the casserole for later use. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until casserole is heated through. Dish out over rice (optional) and sprinkle with croutons. Enjoy!
- For even faster assembly, use store bought croutons, rotisserie or leftover chicken or turkey, and a bag of broccoli florets that you steam in the bag in the microwave.
- Croutons can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week
- Casserole can be made and assembled (without baking) up to three days in advance. (Don't add croutons until service)
- Casserole will last frozen for up to a month - defrost overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking.
- Nutrition facts do not include rice.