Chicken Spaghetti Casserole is the one dish my family most often requests! This easy cheesy pasta casserole is a simple "comfort food" you can make in advance and is a great dish to take to potlucks!
This is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day - so make a big batch so you'll have some leftovers.
Creamy spaghetti noodles nestled in a cheese sauce with tender chicken and hints of red and bell peppers! This casserole is ready in less than an hour.
You'll love this recipe!
There are a million versions of chicken spaghetti out there! Most of them contain condensed cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta™ cheese, which I refer to as "plastic cheese."
This recipe has no Velveeta cheese, so it's a bit more natural.
- Quick and Easy - use rotisserie chicken to cut down on cooking time; the recipe card includes time for baking the chicken
- Great for crowds - this Chicken Spaghetti recipe fills a 9 x 13 baking dish and yields about 8-10 servings as a single entree. If you're serving other side dishes, you can get 12-14 servings out of this recipe.
- Leftovers are great! This is one of "those" recipes that almost tastes better the second time around.
I use real cheddar cheese and cream of chicken soup and cream of celery soup. (I know...I don't usually use canned condensed soups, but for this chicken casserole, I make an exception:)
Here's what you'll need
About 4 lbs. of chicken, cheddar cheese, onion, bell pepper, seasonings, condensed soups (optional) and spaghetti noodles. See Recipe Card below for exact ingredients and amounts.
You can use any strand pasta you prefer: linguine, fettucine, or spaghetti. I use thick spaghetti noodles most of the time, but I have made it with flat noodles and it turns out fine.
Here's how to make it
This recipe starts out on the stove. Basically, everything is cooked when you put it in the oven-you're just melting the top layer of cheese in the oven.
If you don't have time to bake it, you can serve it directly from the stove as well, just add in all the cheese instead of half.
Add sour cream and condensed soups: NOTE: Generally, I don't cook with canned condensed soups, but for this classic chicken spaghetti recipe, I make an exception.
Add shredded chicken
Add ½ of the cheddar cheese
Pour into lightly oiled baking dish; top with remaining cheese; cover with foil and bake
White or dark meat?
This recipe calls for dark chicken thighs (boneless and/or skinless), but you can use chicken breast if you prefer.
Dark meat has a more robust flavor than white meat, but some folks don't like dark meat. If you're on the fence, use a combination of white and dark meat in your chicken spaghetti casserole
How to cook the chicken
There are two ways to prepare the chicken for Spaghetti Casserole: Bake or Boil
Bake: salt and pepper the chicken and place it in a lightly oiled dish, covered with foil. Bake at 350ºF for about 40-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
Boil: Bring a big pot of water to high heat, add the chicken and cook about 25 minutes. Again, you want to make sure the temperature of the meat is at least 165ºF.
Even though the baked-method takes a little longer, I prefer it over the boiled-method. Sometimes, boiled chicken turns out rubbery so to avoid a rubber chicken, I opt for the baked-method.
Can I use rotisserie or deli chicken?
Absolutely! Rotisserie deli chicken meat works great in this pasta and chicken casserole!
Be aware that sometimes the deli chickens are small and do not yield enough meat.
This recipe calls for 4 lbs. of chicken. Remove the skin from the chicken, shred the meat and add it to the skillet with the onions and peppers.
Can I make this without condensed soups?
If you prefer not to use condensed soups in the casserole you can make your own condensed soup alternative. You'll need 2 ½ cups of "condensed soup alternative."
Make ahead: freezer and refrigerator storage instructions
Going to a potluck? You can assemble chicken spaghetti casserole in advance, either cooked or uncooked. Either of these can be stored in the refrigerator for one day.
If you need to make it more than one day in advance, freeze the casserole.
For uncooked storage, simply assemble the dish, cover tightly and freeze until time to serve. Allow uncooked casserole to thaw slightly, then bake in the oven (covered) at 350ºF until it's bubbly hot.
For cooked chicken spaghetti, place the chicken spaghetti in a secure container and freeze for up to three weeks. When ready to serve, simply remove from freezer and reheat in the oven (covered) at 350ºF or in the microwave.
Chicken spaghetti casserole is one of those dishes that's been around "forever," and everybody makes theirs differently. I hope you enjoy my spin on this classic pasta casserole!
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If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating! I love to hear from you! Thank you!
Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
- 1 lb. pasta (spaghetti)
- 4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 2 tablespoons oil , canola, vegetable or olive oil
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped green and/or red bell pepper
- 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 can condensed cream of celery
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup chicken broth , unsalted
- 12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese shredded; divided (8 ounces for casserole; 4 ounces for topping)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
Cook the Chicken
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Place chicken on lightly greased baking dish, season with salt and pepper, cover with foil and bake about 40-45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF - OR - Place chicken thighs (or breasts) in a large pot and cover with water; bring to boil; allow chicken to come to 165ºF; remove chicken and set aside4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- While chicken is cooking, chop onions, celery and bell peppers1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup chopped green and/or red bell pepper
- Once chicken has cooled, use two forks to shred the meat; set aside
Prepare the Vegetables and Sauce
- Add oil to skillet, place chopped onions, celery and bell peppers in oil; cook about 15 minutes on medium - medium/high heat2 tablespoons oil, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup chopped green and/or red bell pepper
- Once vegetable mixture is done, add chicken broth, condensed soups, salt, pepper and sour cream; Mix together well and allow to cook for about 5 minutes uncovered1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, 1 can condensed cream of celery, 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup chicken broth, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper
- Add shredded chicken to vegetable mixture; combine well4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- Add one cup of shredded cheese to mixture; combine well; turn heat to low and prepare pasta12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese
- In a different large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil; cook pasta as indicated on packaging (usually about 9 minutes) Drain pasta; set aside1 lb. pasta (spaghetti)
- Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish; add cooked pasta and vegetable mixture to baking dish; combine well (this is easiest to do with tongs)
- Add remaining half of of the cheese to the pasta and vegetable mixture; mix well12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese
- Top with remaining cheese; bake covered for about 15 minutes, or until cheese has melted and casserole is bubbly.
- Note: you can reduce the cooking time by about 45 minutes if you use rotisserie chicken
- I make this dish with dark meat because I think it's more flavorful, however, if you prefer white meat, then use chicken breast. Cook them as indicated in the recipe
- If you buy skin-on chicken, I've found it's easier to remove the skin prior to cooking the chicken.
- If you want a crispy topping, cook the casserole uncovered