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Easy Chicken Casserole: Make-Ahead Weeknight Meal

Easy Chicken Casserole: Make-Ahead Weeknight Meal

Our Easy Chicken Casserole seamlessly blends succulent chicken chunks, rustic bread, and a luxurious baked in a creamy custard sauce.
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Discover the ultimate comfort food with our unbeatable Easy Chicken Casserole recipe! Indulge in this ultimate delight. Bursting with savory flavors and wholesome ingredients, this comforting dish is guaranteed to elevate your dining experience. Perfect for family dinners or as a tasty brunch option, our casserole combines tender pieces of chicken, rustic soft bread, and a rich, creamy custard. Seasoned and baked to a golden perfection, this dish is not only a feast for your taste buds but also a great way to use leftover bread, chicken or turkey. Dive into this easy-to-follow recipe and enjoy a cozy, satisfying meal that’s sure to become a new favorite!

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white casserole dish of baked Easy Chicken Casserole with a spoon in center scooping a serving

Easy Chicken Casserole


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Description

Overflowing with rich, savory flavors and nourishing ingredients, this delightful dish promises to enhance your culinary journey. Ideal for cozy family gatherings or a delectable brunch affair, our Easy Chicken Casserole intertwines succulent chicken pieces, artisanal bread, and a velvety, indulgent custard.


Ingredients

Scale

4 oz (4 slices of bread) of whole unsliced rustic bread (pain beaucaire, farmhouse white, French, hearth bread)

2 cups chopped cooked chicken, I use a combination of rotisserie and smoked chicken

3 Tbsp butter

1/4 lb fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cups milk

1 cans (10 3/4 ounce) cream of chicken soup

2 eggs, beaten

3 Tbsp diced pimiento, drained

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp white pepper


Instructions

Step 1:  Pre-Heat Oven

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).

Step 2:  Prepare the Baking Dish

  • Start by taking an 8×8 inch baking dish and generously buttering the bottom and sides.
  • Cut or tear the bread into medium chunks. 
  • Arrange bread to completely cover the bottom of the dish.
  • Once the bread is laid out, evenly distribute chopped chicken over the bread, creating the first layer of your casserole.

Step 3:  Sauté the Mushrooms

  • Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and melt butter.
  • Add sliced mushrooms to the pan and sauté them until they are nicely browned, which should take about 7 – 9 minutes.
  • This step infuses the mushrooms with a rich, buttery flavor, adding depth to the casserole.

Step 4:  Add Water Chestnuts and Mayonnaise

  • Once the mushrooms are sautéed, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Stir in chopped water chestnuts and mayonnaise, mixing everything together until well combined.
  • This mixture should then be evenly spread over the layer of chicken in the baking dish.
  • Follow this by sprinkling a generous amount of grated cheese over the top, covering the mushroom mixture.

Step 5:  Prepare the Casserole Mixture

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine milk, cream of chicken soup, beaten eggs, diced pimento, salt, and white pepper.
  • Whisk these ingredients together until the mixture is smooth and well blended.
  • This creamy mixture is then poured over the chicken and mushroom layers, ensuring the dish is well-coated and ready for baking. 
  • Preparing your casserole ahead of time and refrigerating it overnight is a fantastic little kitchen hack. It not only helps you manage your time more effectively, especially if you’ve got a busy day ahead, but it also allows all those delicious flavors to meld together, promising an even tastier dish once it’s finally time to bake.

Step 6:  Bake the Casserole

  • Bake the casserole for 1 hour at a temperature that ensures the dish is cooked through and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Notes

  • I use a less sweet mayonnaise such as Hellman
  • If you do not have access to smoked chicken, use all rotisserie or other precooked chicken
  • For anyone adverse to mushroom, you may reduce the butter to 1 Tbsp, melted and continue the recipe mixing the water chestnuts and mayonnaise
  • Don’t forget to read our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) and HOW MUCH TO MAKE sections below.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

ENHANCING THE EXPERIENCE WITH INGREDIENTS

Choose the Right Mayonnaise for the Perfect Blend

When it comes to selecting mayonnaise for this recipe, I always reach for a less sweet variety—Hellmann’s is my go-to. It strikes the perfect balance, ensuring the dish isn’t overwhelmed by sweetness, but instead, enhances the savory flavors we’re building.

No Smoked Chicken? No Problem!

Not everyone has smoked chicken readily available, and that’s perfectly okay. You can still achieve a deliciously rich flavor by using rotisserie or any other precooked chicken you have on hand. The key is to ensure your chicken is tender and flavorful, ready to meld into the creamy, savory layers of our casserole.

Adapting for Mushroom Dislikes

I understand that mushrooms aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s completely fine. If you or your guests are not fans of mushrooms, you can easily modify the recipe without losing its essence. Simply skip the butter and mushrooms—no need to sauté anything. Instead, continue with the recipe by mixing the water chestnuts with mayonnaise. This adjustment keeps the texture interesting and the flavors balanced, ensuring everyone can enjoy this comforting dish.

By making these simple tweaks, you’re not just following a recipe; you’re creating a meal that caters to your preferences and dietary needs. Remember, cooking is all about making it your own and enjoying the process. Dive in, get creative, and let’s bring this comforting, heartwarming casserole to life!

A GUIDED JOURNEY OF HOW TO MAKE EASY CHICKEN CASSEROLE

If you’re in need of some guidance on creating this delightful recipe, you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find comprehensive instructions. We’ve enriched these sections with visuals like photos and videos to aid your cooking experience and ensure a successful culinary adventure. By following these steps, you’re not just making a meal; you’re crafting an experience. A dish that warms the soul and brings a smile to faces. Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

Step 1: Get Your Oven Ready!

Let’s kick things off by preheating your oven to a cozy 350 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s about 177 degrees Celsius for my metric friends). This is the perfect temperature to bake something magical.

Step 2: Prep Your Baking Dish Like a Pro

Grab a baking dish (I made a 9×13 casserole) and let’s get buttering! Ensure you’ve got a generous layer on the bottom and sides for that non-stick magic. Next, take your bread—whether you’re a cutter or a tearer, medium chunks are what we’re aiming for. Arrange these chunks to snugly cover the bottom of your dish. Now, sprinkle your chopped chicken evenly over the bread, laying the foundation for what’s about to become a mouthwatering casserole.

Step 3: Sautéing Mushrooms: Unlock Flavor

Heat up a small frying pan over medium heat, throw in butter, and let it melt into liquid gold. Toss in sliced mushrooms and sauté them until they’re beautifully browned (about 7 to 9 minutes). This step is crucial—it’s where the mushrooms soak up all that buttery goodness, adding a rich flavor to your dish.

Step 4: The Creamy Crunch: Water Chestnuts and Mayonnaise

Once your mushrooms are perfectly sautéed, take the pan off the heat. It’s time to stir in those chopped water chestnuts and mayonnaise, blending them into a creamy concoction. Spread this mixture evenly over the chicken layer, then shower the whole thing with a generous layer of grated cheese. Trust me, it’s going to be divine.

Step 5: Crafting the Perfect Casserole Mixture

In a large mixing bowl, it’s time to combine milk, cream of chicken soup, beaten eggs, diced pimento, salt, and pepper. Whisk it all together until it’s smooth and utterly irresistible. This creamy dream is then poured over your layers in the baking dish, making sure every nook and cranny is filled with flavor.

Step 6: Baking Your Masterpiece

Slide your casserole into the oven and bake it for 1 hour. You’re looking for that perfect bake where a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. This is when you know you’ve nailed it—a casserole that’s cooked through, bubbling with flavor, and ready to comfort anyone who’s lucky enough to have a bite.

DETERMINING THE RIGHT QUANTITY: HOW MUCH TO MAKE

A chicken casserole prepared in a 8×8 inch baking dish typically serves between 4 adults as a main course. The exact number of servings can depend on a few factors, such as the portion size and whether the dish is being served as a main course or a side dish.

For larger appetites or as a standalone main course, you might lean towards a 9×13 dish. If the casserole is part of a larger meal with several other dishes, you can stretch it to accommodate up to 8 guests by cutting smaller portions. It’s always a good idea to consider the context of your meal and the size of your guests’ appetites when planning how much to serve.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

What Type of Bread Works Best?

The best breads for bread pudding are typically dense and sturdy, such as challah, brioche, French bread, farmhouse or even croissants. These breads absorb the custard mixture well without falling apart.

Can I Use Stale Bread?

Yes, stale bread is actually ideal for this casserole because it absorbs the custard mixture better than fresh bread, leading to a better texture in the finished dish.

How Do You Know When It Is Done?

Bread pudding is done when the custard is set but still slightly wobbly in the center. A knife or toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, with no liquid custard on it.

Can It Be Made in Advance?

Yes, this casserole can be assembled and refrigerated overnight before baking. This can even improve the flavor and texture as the bread has more time to soak up the custard. the baked casserole can also be refrigerated and reheated.

What do I Serve with It?

If serving as breakfast, I suggest a light fruit salad and a sweet pastry.

If serving for brunch, lunch or dinner:
Steamed or Roasted Vegetables: Such as asparagus, green beans, or Brussels sprouts, to add color and balance the meal.
Fresh Salads: A crisp, green salad with a light vinaigrette can cut through the richness and refresh the palate.

When serving, consider the balance of flavors and textures to ensure a delightful meal. Whether leaning towards the sweet or savory, there’s a perfect accompaniment out there to make your Easy Chicken Casserole even more memorable.

REVIEWS AND COMMENTS

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