Crunchy, sweet, creamy, and irresistibly delicious – poppy seed chicken casserole is the ultimate comfort food.
It’s loaded with tender chicken, poppy seeds, cheddar cheese, and topped off with buttery Ritz crackers.
Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
Perfect for family dinners and busy weeknights, you can prep this casserole in just 20 minutes!
Topped with a buttery, crunchy, cheesy masterpiece, it’s the ultimate creamy chicken casserole. Everything about this dish screams, Come back for more!
It freezes well too! But I doubt you’ll have any leftovers.
Easy enough for weeknights but special enough for company, this will be the best casserole you ever make!
With just seven ingredients, you can have this casserole ready in no time.
- Chicken breasts – The recipe calls for four skinless, boneless breasts cut in half. You can also use store-bought rotisserie chicken to save time.
- Ritz crackers – Any round, buttery crackers will do, but Ritz is my favorite brand. You need a single sleeve. If you don’t have any, you can use Panko breadcrumbs instead.
- Butter – Salted or unsalted is fine. Just be aware salted butter will make the recipe saltier.
- Poppy seeds – You can find poppy seeds in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. They taste great, are good for you, and help aid in digestion.
- Condensed cream of chicken soup – Don’t add water to thin out the soup. Pour it into the bowl straight from the can as-is.
- Sour cream – Opt for full-fat sour cream for the best flavor.
- Cheddar cheese – The cheese provides a rich, cheesy topping for the casserole. Along with the crunchy crackers, it’s the perfect way to finish off the dish.
How to Make Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
This dish couldn’t be easier to throw together! Follow these simple steps:
1. Cook the chicken. Add the chicken breasts to a large pot and cover them with water. Then, heat the water over high heat until it boils.
Cover it with a lid, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer it for 20 minutes. When ready, the chicken should be white all the way through.
2. Shred the chicken. Drain the water and shred the chicken using two forks. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Make the topping. Combine the crushed crackers, melted butter, and poppy seeds. Mix well.
4. Make the filling. Mix the cream of chicken soup and sour cream in a clean bowl.
5. Arrange the casserole. Pour half of the chicken soup mixture into a 9-inch baking dish. Then, add a layer of shredded chicken. Pour the other half of the soup mixture on top.
Finally, top the casserole with the cracker mixture and cheddar cheese.
6. Bake. Pop the casserole in the oven and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes. Then, remove it from heat, serve, and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Casserole
To make your casserole even better, follow these easy tips:
- Skin and debone rotisserie chickens. If you want to save time by using a rotisserie chicken, that’s fine. However, remember to remove the skin and pull the meat from the bones.
- Make the sauce skinny. You can use chicken broth or chicken stock to thin the sauce. It’s unnecessary, but if you like a thinner sauce, these ingredients can make that happen.
- Swap out Greek yogurt for sour cream. Both work well, so if you don’t have one, use the other.
- Have fun with extra seasonings. Add garlic, cayenne, or red pepper flakes, for extra flavor.
The best part of this recipe is it’s easily customizable! Try these variations for a fun twist.
- Spice it up. Add diced jalapenos or ground cayenne pepper for a bit of heat. You can also substitute pepper jack cheese for cheddar.
- Bulk it up with veggies. Want an even more complete, all-in-one meal? Add onions, carrots, broccoli, spinach, or other favorite veggies.
- Throw in some rice. Add a layer of cooked rice under the chicken in the casserole. Or serve the casserole on top of a bed of rice.
- Try turkey instead. Have some leftover turkey from Christmas or Thanksgiving? Use turkey in place of chicken. It still tastes just as good.
- Try a topping twist. You can use cheese crackers instead of buttery ones. Or forget the crackers entirely! Use chips, Panko breadcrumbs, or fried onions for the topping instead.
Poppy seed chicken casserole is a hearty meal all on its own. However, consider pairing it with some of the following sides for the best results:
- Green beans almondine. This recipe is my absolute favorite for making green beans. It’s butter, salty, fresh, and delicious.
- Creamy broccoli salad. The crunchy broccoli, onions, and seeds, coupled with a creamy sauce and bacon, make this dish to die for. It tastes fantastic with this chicken casserole.
- Cracker Barrel baby carrots. These carrots are tender, sweet, and impossible to resist. Pair them with this chicken salad or anything else. People will love them.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
If you want to save time, you can make this casserole beforehand.
To Make Ahead: Prepare it according to the recipe, but stop before adding the crackers.
Tightly wrap the casserole with plastic wrap. (Wrap the cracker mixture separately in its own bowl, or add an air-tight lid.)
To Store: Store the casserole unbaked in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Store the cracker mixture at room temperature.
To Freeze: The process is basically the same. Store the casserole and the cracker mixture separately.
Wrap the casserole in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Freeze it for up to 3 months. Freeze the cracker mixture in a separate freezer bag.
To Reheat: Transfer both containers to the fridge to thaw overnight when you’re ready to bake. Then, spread the cracker mixture over the top and bake it according to the recipe instructions. (Add 5 to 10 minutes if necessary.)
As for leftovers, let them cool completely. Then, transfer them to an air-tight container. Pop them in the fridge. They should remain fresh for up to 4 days.
To Reheat Single Servings: Heat them in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Then, take them out, stir them, and return them to the microwave. Microwave them for another 25 to 45 seconds, then serve.
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