Chicken divan is a classic chicken casserole that’s creamy, cheesy, full of chicken pieces and broccoli florets, and is perfect served with some steamed rice for a cozy family dinner.
Recently, I’ve been all about some nostalgic dishes.
Maybe it’s wanting some comfort food amid the crazy times we’re living through. Maybe it’s the sense of being cozy inside during the cold winter months. And maybe it’s just missing being together with family that has me harkening back to some of these recipes.
Which of course means I’m bringing the same dishes we have been enjoying to you!
And I’ve made spaghetti and mac and cheese and more soups and stews than I know what to do with.
Today, I’m taking it way back to my childhood and one of my absolute favorites growing up.
My mom’s chicken divan is what I want when it starts to turn cool in the fall. It’s what I want when I’m sick or not feeling well. This dish just tastes and feels like home to me.
And the good news is, it’s super easy to make, so I can put it together anytime I’m in the mood for a bit of comfort or a bit of home.
This classic chicken casserole is creamy, cheesy, full of chicken pieces and broccoli florets, and is perfect served with some steamed rice.
It’s warm, hearty and just so cozy.
This recipe and the green bean casserole we make at Thanksgiving are about the only times I buy a cream of something soup.
Maybe they aren’t the healthiest, but you really can’t beat the convenience and, well, I’m just not messing with this recipe.
It’s perfection as is and any changes wouldn’t be the way my mom has always made it.
(That includes boiling the chicken, which seems like such a 1950s thing. I boil chicken for this dish and for chicken salad; again, that’s how my mom always did it and it works great.)
OK, let’s get cooking.
Now, I’ve got some notes and tips coming up below on how to make chicken divan. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
First, let’s tackle a few of the basics first.
What is chicken divan?
– Chicken Divan is a chicken casserole with broccoli and a creamy white sauce, sometimes a classic Mornay sauce.
– It gets its name from the Divan Parisien Restaurant in the New York City Chatham Hotel where it was first created and was served as the signature dish in the early 20th century.
What’s in chicken divan?
– You just need 5 ingredients for chicken divan: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, broccoli, cream of mushroom or celery soup, mayonnaise and shredded cheddar cheese.
Yes, some people put almonds in theirs. We do not.
And yes, as mentioned, this recipe originally used a Mornay sauce. We’re doing the fuss-free at-home version that my mom made.
Easy peasy. 👍
OK, let’s talk particulars about making this casserole.
Notes on making Chicken Divan:
- Boiling the chicken breasts is traditional for this recipe, according to my mom at least. However, you could also use baked chicken breasts or substitute a store-bought rotisserie chicken. You’ll want about 3 cups of chopped chicken total.
- As noted in the recipe card below, you can use cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup for this recipe. You could even substitute your own homemade version of one of those if you’d like.
- And either regular mayonnaise or a reduced-fat or light version is fine.
- We love white cheddar cheese but of course regular cheddar is OK to use, too.
As for serving, we always put this over some steamed brown rice. White rice is great, too, if that’s what you prefer.
The rice adds a starch to the dish and also goes great with the sauce.
Or you could use cauliflower rice, try it with quinoa or serve this with some crusty bread.
And because I know you want to know, here’s some pointers on how to prep this ahead.
Make-ahead notes for Chicken Divan:
– You can prep the entire casserole ahead of time and assemble it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
– Pull the casserole out of the fridge as you preheat your oven.
– Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (so add 5-10 minutes to the regular cook time), until warmed through and bubbly.
Or if you just want to cook the chicken ahead, that works too. Every little bit of advance prep helps, doesn’t it?!
Having some or all of this assembled ahead of time makes this dish an easy one to be able to pull out and bake off once dinner time rolls around. Especially on a busy day when you won’t have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen.
And you can make your steamed rice while the casserole is in the oven and then everything is ready at the same time.
Another dinner success!
Oh, and if you have leftovers, they keep great.
Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I don’t recommend freezing leftovers of this dish. The texture and taste just doesn’t hold up to freezing and thawing.
Whether this is a fond dish from your childhood or brand new to you, I hope you give it a try for a classic taste of comfort that you’ll want to return to again and again.
P.S. Stay tuned because I’ve got some other delicious comfort food family favorite recipes coming your way, including one later this week. (Update: Check out this cheesy chicken and rice casserole and Tex-Mex style King Ranch chicken casserole.)
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- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2-3 depending on size)
- 1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 (10 1/2 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup (or use cream of celery)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (light or reduced fat is fine)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- Steamed brown or white rice
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through. Remove and, once cool enough to handle, chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray a medium rectangular baking dish (2 quarts) with cooking spray and set aside.
- Return the pot of water to a boil, add the broccoli and cook for 8-10 minutes, until fork tender. Drain the broccoli well.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise and 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until well mixed.
- Place the broccoli on the bottom of the prepared dish. Top with the chopped chicken and then the creamy soup mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cup of shredded cheese over top of the casserole.
- Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until bubbling.
- Serve hot, over rice if desired.
Chicken: Boiling the chicken breasts is our traditional method for this recipe. However, you could also use baked chicken breasts or substitute a store-bought rotisserie chicken. You’ll want about 3 cups of chopped chicken total.
Soup: You can use cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup for this recipe. You could even substitute your own homemade version of one of those if you’d like.
Cheese: We love white cheddar cheese but of course regular cheddar is OK to use, too.
Serving: We always put this over some steamed brown rice. White rice is great, too. Or you could use cauliflower rice, try it with quinoa or serve this with some crusty bread.
Make-ahead tips for chicken divan:
- You can prep the entire casserole ahead of time and assemble it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
- Pull the casserole out of the fridge as you preheat your oven.
- Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (add 5-10 minutes to the regular cook time), until warmed through and bubbly.
Leftovers: Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I don’t recommend freezing leftovers of this dish. The texture and taste just doesn’t hold up to freezing and thawing.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 390Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 613mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 34g