Chicken Noodle Casserole

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Chicken Noodle Casserole channels all the flavors you know and love from chicken noodle soup into a creamy, cheesy casserole dish the whole family will love! This is the absolute best-ever version of this popular casserole–it’s got loads of veggies, tender chicken, a cheesy cream sauce, and a crunchy topping.

Try some of our other favorite chicken noodle recipes like this Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup or this one pot Chicken Pot Pie Pasta.

Overhead image of the Chicken Noodle Casserole

A Chicken Casserole With Noodles

There are few things better than a cheesy chicken casserole, but load it up with some pasta, veggies, and top it all with a crunchy topping? Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

One of the best things about this dish is that the creamy cheesy sauce is made from scratch. Not only are you avoiding all the chemicals (and who knows what else) found in “cream of something” soups, but you’re also going to get far more flavor this way. Nothing is better than a homemade cream sauce in a casserole and this “no-soup” Chicken Noodle Casserole is no exception.

QUICK TIP

Love a good casserole? Us too. Here are a few favorites: Chicken DivanChicken TortelliniChicken Poppy Seed CasseroleTuna Casserole (made in one pan!), Crockpot Cowboy Casserole, and this Tortellini Casserole

Process shots-- images of the butter, seasonings, and flour being added to a pot and being sautéed together

How To Make Chicken Noodle Casserole

There are four components to this recipe: 1. pasta, 2. chicken, 3. vegetables, and 4. the cheesy cream sauce. Here’s a quick overview along with some tips:

  1. Pasta. Be sure to salt the pasta water, as this will season the pasta. I recommend cooking the pasta for 1 minute shorter than the shortest time indicated on the box. Why? The pasta will be baked later on so if it’s slightly too firm after being boiled, it will be perfect after baking!
  2. Chicken. The more seasoned and flavorful the chicken, the better the casserole will taste. That said, be sure the seasoning flavor correlates well. A spicy, Asian-inspired, or BBQ-sauced chicken isn’t going to work well flavor-wise here.
  3. Vegetables. To keep things as simple as possible, use frozen diced veggies. Grab your favorites; we like peas, corn, and carrots best. (And, those are typically the veggies in chicken noodle soup!)
  4. Cheesy cream sauce. More tips on this sauce below!

Process shots of Chicken Noodle Casserole-- images of the milk being added and it all being cooked together

What Do You Eat With Chicken and Noodles?

We like this creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole best with a homemade creamy cheese sauce.

Here are a few tips for making the best cream sauce:

  • Use a flavorful cheese. Sharp (and extra sharp) indicates a more aged cheese that will deliver a richer and more pungent flavor. If you’ve ever noticed your cheese sauce to be lacking, it’s likely because the cheese wasn’t aged –or the sauce needed more salt!
  • Grate your own cheese! Already-grated packaged cheese will give the sauce a powdery texture and won’t melt as nicely (Pre-grated cheeses have a powder coating to keep shreds from clumping in the bag).
  • Cook the sauce until properly thickened. The quantity for the sauce on this Chicken Noodle Casserole Recipe has a lot of volume (4 cups of milk!) so it can take a while to thicken. Here’s a quick test to tell if the sauce is thickened enough: While stirring the sauce, lift up the spoon and immediately trace a line across the back of it with your fingertip. If the line retains a clear track, the sauce is thick enough. If not, the sauce needs to be cooked a bit longer.

Process shots of Chicken Noodle Casserole-- images of the cheese being added and the pasta being drained

VARIATIONS

Recipe Variations

  • Make an old-fashioned chicken and egg noodle casserole by replacing the rotini pasta with egg noodles. We like the rotini better because it holds up really well,  but egg noodles are still tasty.
  • Prepare a healthy casserole by leaving off the crunchy panko topping, using 1% milk instead of whole milk, and slightly reducing the cheese (leave out 1/2 cup). This will make the casserole a bit healthier, but note: there will be some flavor and texture missing.
  • Make a Chicken Noodle Casserole with broccoli by adding 1 cup diced broccoli to the cooking pasta water in the last 1 minute of boiling. Drain with the pasta and broccoli and use in this recipe.

Process shots-- images of the pasta, veggies, chicken, cream sauce, cheese, and buttered panko being added to the dish

SHORTCUTS

Easy Chicken Noodle Casserole

  • A nice shortcut for this recipe is using frozen veggies — no prep on your end!
  • We’re using seasonings instead of aromatics to cut down on prep time. No need to dice an onion or mince garlic for this Chicken Noodle Casserole recipe!
  • Another nice shortcut is using pre-cooked chicken. You can purchase rotisserie chicken meat already pulled from the bones and shredded or diced — a lot of grocery stores sell this conveniently prepared chicken! Many stores also sell leftover roasted or grilled chicken that has been conveniently sliced and is ready to throw into this casserole. 
  • Not necessarily a shortcut per se, but everything for this casserole can be made ahead of time and then assembled when ready to eat. Store pasta, veggies, and chicken separately from the sauce (so the pasta doesn’t absorb the sauce and bloat), then toss together when ready to bake. Add 5-10 minutes on bake time since ingredients will be cold from the fridge.

Up close overhead image of the Chicken Noodle Casserole ready to be enjoyed

What Do You Serve With A Chicken Casserole?

The nice thing about a chicken casserole is it’s really an all-in-one type of meal. We’ve got carbs, proteins, and fats — pasta, chicken, and a cheese sauce. Plus, there are loads of veggies. 

That said, here are our favorite sides for this Chicken Noodle Casserole:

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Chicken Noodle Casserole

5 from 1 vote
Chicken Noodle Casserole channels all the flavors you know and love from chicken noodle soup into a creamy, cheesy casserole dish the whole family will love! This is the absolute best-ever version of the popular casserole--it's got loads of veggies, tender chicken, a cheesy cream sauce, and a crunchy topping.
Print Recipe

Chicken Noodle Casserole

5 from 1 vote
Chicken Noodle Casserole channels all the flavors you know and love from chicken noodle soup into a creamy, cheesy casserole dish the whole family will love! This is the absolute best-ever version of the popular casserole--it's got loads of veggies, tender chicken, a cheesy cream sauce, and a crunchy topping.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken casserole with noodles, Chicken Noodle Casserole, chicken noodle casserole recipe
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Calories 702kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.54

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. (4 cups) rotini pasta (Note 1)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme and dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed, optional
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk (Note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, optional
  • 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, divided (Note 3)
  • 1-1/2 cups diced rotisserie/leftover cooked chicken
  • 1 bag (12 oz.) frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Optional topping: 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons butter (Note 4)

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Remove milk from the refrigerator, measure, and set aside. Take frozen peas and carrots plus corn from the freezer and let stand at room temp for now. We want all of these ingredients to come close to room temperature.
  • PASTA: Generously salt pasta water (I add 1 tsp fine sea salt to every 4 cups of water). Cook pasta according to package directions, subtracting 1 minute. Drain, allow to slightly cool, then pour directly into the prepared casserole dish. (Don't rinse in cold water.)
  • OPTIONAL TOPPING: Meanwhile, prepare topping if desired. (See Note 4.)
  • SAUCE: Add the butter to a nonstick pot over medium heat. Once melted, add in all the seasonings plus salt & pepper (to taste; I add 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper). Stir. Then, sprinkle flour on top and briskly whisk until the mixture forms a dough. Cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Very gradually pour in 1/2 cup of milk, whisking constantly until mixture forms a smooth paste. Gradually add in remaining milk, 1/2 cup at a time, while whisking briskly and constantly.
  • CREAM SAUCE CONT.: Increase high to high. Bring sauce to a boil, stirring frequently so the sauce doesn't catch. Boil for 3 minutes and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer until sauce is nicely thickened. (Sauce should be thick enough that you can draw a path across the back of a spoon and it stays; this takes about 5-8 minutes.) Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Add in Dijon mustard and 1-1/2 cups Cheddar cheese and stir gently until melted.
  • ASSEMBLE: Add diced chicken, frozen peas, carrots and corn to the prepared casserole dish. Pour the sauce over all; then stir until everything is nicely coated. Smooth everything into an even layer. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar evenly over everything. Top evenly with the panko topping.
  • BAKE: Bake 25 minutes until top is golden and edges are bubbling. Serve immediately!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Pasta: Most packages of penne pasta are either 12 ounces (perfect amount for this recipe!) or 16 ounces. If you get a 16-ounce package, measure out 1 and 1/4 packed cups and remove that (use in a different recipe). The remaining left in the package is 12 ounces (or 4 cups) -- just the right amount for this recipe.
Note 2: Whole milk: Remove from the fridge, measure, and set aside before starting to cook. Room-temperature milk will heat quicker! This is intended to be a creamy recipe, and the lower-fat milk choices won't achieve the right texture. That said, you can use 1% or 2% (for a less creamy dish). Unfortunately, skim milk or a dairy milk alternative doesn't work the same in this recipe.
Note 3: Cheese: Use a flavorful cheese. Sharp (and extra sharp) indicates a more aged cheese that will deliver a richer and more pungent flavor. If you’ve ever noticed your cheese sauce to be lacking, it’s likely because the cheese wasn’t aged, or the sauce needed more salt. Avoid this by grating your own cheese! Already-grated packaged cheese will give the sauce a powdery texture and won’t melt as nicely (Pre-grated cheeses have a powder coating to keep shreds from clumping in the bag).
Note 4: Optional topping: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add in panko and salt to taste, I add a heaping 1/4 teaspoon. Stir constantly until lightly browned then sprinkle over the casserole. (Don't want to use stovetop/pan? Just melt butter in the microwave and mix panko through with heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt.)
Nutrition information does not include the panko topping.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 702kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 742mg | Potassium: 613mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 6203IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 502mg | Iron: 2mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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