Easy Chicken Divan is a flavorful and cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole. With NO mayo or cream of mushroom soup and a few healthier swaps, you’ll enjoy this modern-day fresh spin on a classic.
This retro casserole my mom made nearly my entire childhood is getting a makeover today and I doubt you’ll ever want to visit the other versions again! The chicken divan I grew up on was loaded with whole milk or cream, cream of chicken soup, and sometimes mayo. Today were tossing out all of those ingredients while still making this casserole more flavorful than ever.
While this recipe requires a step or two more, you won’t regret making this dish from scratch — no artificial tasting casserole here!
What is chicken divan?
As a bit of a background on this dish, this casserole is named after the place of it’s invention (the Divan Parisian Restaurant in New York City’s Chatham Hotel). This chicken casserole with broccoli and sauce was the signature dish in the early twentieth century.
Quick ingredient tips
- Broccoli: make sure to grab fresh; the frozen broccoli ends up watery and mushy. It’s also very important the slightly cooked broccoli dries out completely before adding it to the base of this casserole, otherwise it will make the sauce and dish watery.
- Chicken: Save time and effort – grab a rotisserie chicken from the store for this recipe! Not only does it add flavor, it also saves a bunch of time (and you’ll need less seasonings overall since rotisserie chickens are already seasoned.
- Cheese: freshly grated is essential for the recipe. Pre-grated cheese has a waxy coating that keeps it from melting smoothly into the sauce.
- Dijon mustard: while it might seem weird, mustard adds an incredible depth of flavor. If you don’t want to use dijon, I recommend using 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder.
- Sour Cream: while you can use full fat sour cream for a richer dinner, fat free works great in this dish! Great tangy flavor for much less calories.
Chicken divan storage
Preparing ahead of time
To make ahead of time, assemble the casserole according to recipe instructions right up until baking (store panko topping in a bag separately to avoid a soggy topping). Cover with foil and place in fridge for up to 2 days.
When ready to bake: let casserole sit on the counter as the oven preheats to 350 degrees F. Bake for 35 minutes (add panko topping mixture and keep casserole still covered with foil) or until heated through, and bubbly around the edges.
To reheat this chicken divan in the oven, cover the leftovers in the casserole dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes or until warmed through.
You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave.
- Make and assemble according to directions up until adding the panko. Store panko in a bag separately to avoid a soggy topping.
- Let casserole cool from the warm cheese sauce.
- Wrap securely with plastic wrap and then foil.
- Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge (can take up to 24 hours to fully thaw).
- Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Add panko topping in the last 10 minutes of baking.
- Chicken divan with ritz crackers: you can use crushed up Ritz crackers in place of the Panko, but it will be less crunchy! (If you’re not familiar with Panko, read up on it here!)
- Chicken divan recipe with mayo: replace some or all of the sour cream with mayo. I also recommend adding 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice if using mayo.
- Switch up veggies: instead of broccoli try asparagus or frozen peas.
- Chicken divan with curry: many recipes call for curry powder; feel free to add 1/4 to 1 full teaspoon to the sauce of this recipe. If adding curry powder, I also recommend adding 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
- Chicken divan with rice: to have rice already added into the casserole dish, try this similar recipe.
What to serve with chicken divan
- We like serving chicken divan over rice best (minute rice for an even quicker side!)
- It’s also frequently served over mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles
- For side dishes a large garden salad (such as this Olive Garden Salad copycat or this Italian Salad) would be delicious
- Dinner rolls or garlic bread or crusty bread would create a delicious avenue to sop up any leftover creamy cheese sauce
More comfort food favorites:
- Crockpot Cowboy Casserole
- Quinoa Enchilada Bake
- One skillet Cheesy Taco Pasta
- Chicken Ramen
- One Skillet Chicken Enchilada Pasta
Easy Chicken Divan is a flavorful and cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole. With NO mayo or cream of mushroom soup and a few healthier swaps, you'll enjoy this modern day twist on a classic.
- 4 heaping cups fresh broccoli (2 florets; about 11 ounces)
- 3 cups prepared rotisserie chicken, cut into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup white all-purpose flour
- 1 cup lowfat milk (I use 1% to keep this healthier; skim or milk alternatives don't work well)
- 2/3 cup chicken stock or broth
- 1 and 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated, separated
- 2/3 cup fat free sour cream (regular sour cream can be used)
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder, onion powder, & dried parsley
- Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 3/4 cup Panko (or crushed Ritz crackers)
- 2 tablespoons butter
BROCCOLI & CHICKEN: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Start with the broccoli. Cut into bite sized florets. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add in chopped broccoli and cook for 3 minutes, drain and let stand to thoroughly dry. Chop up the chicken into bite-sized pieces to get 3 cups.
SAUCE: Melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Once melted, gradually add in flour while whisking constantly until a thick paste forms. Whisk for one minute and then gradually add in 1/3 cup of the milk while whisking constantly. Gradually add 1/3 cup chicken stock or broth while whisking constantly. Add in another 1/3 cup milk, then remaining 1/3 cup stock, and last remaining 1/3 cup milk. Whisk until completely smooth. Add in 1 cup of cheese and whisk until completely smooth. Add in sour cream and whisk until smooth. Stir in the chicken bouillon powder, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, and salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; add to taste preference).
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Add the completely dry broccoli (if it's still wet, it will make the casserole soggy) to the base of a 9 x 13 ceramic casserole dish. Sprinkle the chicken right on top. Pour the sauce over everything and spread to evenly coat. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over top of sauce. In a saucepan over medium high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the Panko and toast, stirring constantly, until Panko is a light brown and toasted. Sprinkle topping evenly over cheese. Cover casserole with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges. Remove and serve hot.