Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole

Cheesy Chicken Noodle CasseroleWe certainly couldn’t do a Retro-Week without a casserole, right??  You may have noticed we don’t have many casseroles on our site.  And we kind of pride ourselves on having only have one (yes, one!) recipe that calls for cream-of-anything soup (don’t mess with funeral potatoes.)  But there is something so nostalgically comforting about a nice warm casserole, and even more so if it involves a crunchy topping.  Like I’m sure many of you did, we ate a lot of casseroles in my house growing up, and some of my favorites are still major comfort foods for me.  But now that my tastes have matured a little, I see that many of the popular throw-together casseroles have the same problems that make them not so appealing to me now.  They often involve bland flavors, over-cooked chicken (from putting already cooked chicken in a casserole dish and then baking it more) and mushy noodles or rice.  And while I don’t have anything against condensed  soups, I’d rather make something from scratch because it usually tastes much better.  This Chicken Noodle Casserole is a new family favorite, and it involves some tricks that solve the problems I was just talking about.  It’s just a good, creamy, cheesy, comforting, dish with noodles, chicken, and veggies and topped with a buttery crumb topping.

Let’s make this.   Bring some salted water to boil in a dutch oven.  We’re only going to boil the noodles for about 3 minutes.  They should be just barely al dente at that point and that’s how we want them.  By under-cooking the noodles here, we can add them into the casserole to let them finish cooking in the oven and avoid the mushy-noodle syndrome casseroles so often fall victim to.  As soon as they’ve cooked enough, we’ll rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Cooking Noodles

Now that our pot is empty, add a pat of butter and saute some sweet bell pepper and a finely diced onion.  Those will cook for about 5 minutes and then you can take them out and set them in a bowl to the side.

red peppers

In goes a bit more butter for our roux.  (A roux is a mixture of fat and flour, used to thicken sauces.  Read more about making a roux, here.)


Toss in a few tablespoons of flour, and whisk it up for a minute.

Flour for roux

Then very slowly add a little bit of liquid at a time (we’re using both chicken broth and half-and-half here) and whisk whisk whisk.  It will thicken immediately, and one of the secrets of a non-lumpy sauce is not to pour in all of the liquid at once.  Always add a little at a time, or a very slow steady stream as you whisk the entire time to incorporate the flour mixture.

stock and cream

After that sauce boils for about 5 minutes, we’ll add chicken directly to the pot. Gently poaching it will not only ensure juicy chicken, but it will flavor the sauce as well.  Another trick here is that we’re under-cooking the chicken just slightly, as we under-cooked the noodles.  This allows it to finish cooking in the oven, as opposed to over-cooking in the oven and ending up dry and chewy.

Chicken in Sauce

Pull the slightly pink chicken out and shred it into bite-sized pieces.

Shredded chicken

While you’re waiting for the chicken to be cool enough to handle, you can whisk your cheese into the sauce.  Sharp cheddar provides great flavor, and American gives the sauce body and a creamy smoothness.  In addition, American cheese provides unique stabilizers that prevent the sauce from breaking so it stays creamy and smooth from start to finish.


When you’re shopping for American cheese, hit the deli counter for the best quality (aka: avoid the Kraft Singles, that’s not what we’re going for here.)

cheese in sauce
Before we throw this all together, you’ll need some frozen peas.  I was just texting Kate the other day about how I don’t like peas, but oddly enough I think they totally work here.  They just provide a mellow sweetness (and a pop of color) that just sort of blends in well.  To avoid extra moisture in the sauce, I run my peas under warm water, drain them, and then pat them dry before putting them in.


No just toss it all together.

Casserole in sauce

And put it in a 9×13 pan (or you could put it in individual baking dishes if you wanted)

casserole prebake

And you can’t have a retro casserole without a retro topping.  Corn flakes and potato chips were on the list I’m sure, but the winner is buttery Ritz crackers.  They work like bread crumbs would, and make a crispy crunchy topping you’ll for sure want to pull off and eat before it’s actually time to serve this.

ritz crackers

It all bakes up together for about 15 minutes.  That finishes cooking the chicken and pasta perfectly, and toasts the buttery crumb topping.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole from Our Best Bites

Make sure you let this sit for 10-15 minutes so the sauce can set up before serving.

Cheesy Chicken Noodle Casserole from Our Best Bites

My kids devoured this, and my husband and I stuck our forks in the leftovers for the rest of the day.  New family favorite!

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Noodle Casserole from Our Best Bites

If you want to prep this ahead, you could definitely make it up to the point where you top with crackers.  I would put it in the pan and then cover and refrigerate.  Before you bake it, give it a stir to distribute the sauce, and then sprinkle the crackers on right before baking.




woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. I just started watching Granite Flats and was so happy that it’s a show I can watch with my young kiddos in the room. As soon as you said a cross between Goonies and Wonder Years, I knew what you were talking about. (I’m a BYU alum, too, and heard about this show at TOFW. Missed you guys this year!) I agree on all counts about casseroles…boring but nostalgic/comforting! Looking forward to trying this one on the fam!

  2. Lovely casserole – I love anything chicken!! Wanted to point out two typos in your recipe (print version). American cheese to be chopped “coarse” and you have 1 1/2 peas – I think you left out the word “cups”. LOL!! Thanks for the great recipes!!!

  3. I take it you don’t have to grease the pan? Also how many would this serve(no small children around)?
    Looks like a winner. Thanks.

    1. No, you don’t need to grease the pan. It makes a full 9×13 pan, so you can decide from there how big your servings would be, but I’d say 6-8 generous servings and 8-10 smaller ones.

  4. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your recipes on your blog. I find all of your recipes easy to make and delicious. I always say choosing the correct recipe is 90% of the battle when it comes to cooking great food. I recommend your website and cook your recipes very often. I am making your fried rice recipe tonight and I have a stack of others I have printed from your website that I can’t wait to try.
    Thank you!!

  5. This looks delicious! I wasn’t sure if Granite Flats would be boring, but it is excellent! I am really enjoying it!

  6. So I’m guessing I drizzle butter over crushed crackers and add them on top? I don’t see that in your recipe 🙂

    1. Nope, Ritz are already filled with buttery goodness so you don’t even have to add extra (but I won’t stop you if you want!)

  7. I’m guessing that you add 1 1/2 cups of peas, not 1 1/2 peas. Looking forward to trying this. I just bought two packages of No Yolk noodles (required for coupon), so this will help use them up.

  8. My 5 year old loves Granite Flats! After conference ended, my son was thrilled there was finally a show on that kept his attention. Please tell me it is not just my kid that fights us on watching conference?!? 🙂

  9. I just saw a little thing on granite flats. I’ll have to check it out. Much love, ladies!

  10. YAY!! We LOVE chicken noodle casserole and I’ve been wanting to find a way to make it without the cream soup. And I love the addition of the peppers. THANKS!!

  11. Sounds like a dumb question but is cream OK to use instead of half and half? (That’s what’s in my fridge!) Also wondering what you suggestions, thoughts, or tips would be on freezing and then reheating this. Thanks! This looks super good! Can’t wait to make it! I make your stuff every single week! 🙂

    1. I can’t see how cream could ever be a bad thing 😉 But it might be a bit heavy- I might do 3 parts cream to one part milk, just to balance it out a little, but yeah, it should be yummy (and extra creamy!)

  12. We’ve been loving Granite Flats too! Love the ideas for the casserole, I’m going to incorporate them into the recipe I’ve already been using next time I make it!

  13. I saw the first few episodes of Granite Flats at my parent’s house and loved it! The casserole looks yummy. Thanks for another fun recipe tot try.

  14. We have kids ages 5-15 and we all love Granite Flats. It is great to have a show that the whole family can enjoy. Also love your site and cookbooks, thanks for all your hard work.

  15. Studio C is the best show on BYUTV. Our whole family laughs so hard. We haven’t checked out Granite Flats yet.

  16. I’ve been shredding up rotisserie chicken & using that in casseroles & such. A lot of times the regular ones are a bit dry, but some grocery stores sell an extra-large version which I’ve had a lot of luck with. I just shred it up & freeze it until we need it ~ we hate dry chicken!

  17. I like that show for the same reasons you stated. We don’t have kids yet but I want to make it a habit of watching shows they could watch with us and this show is perfect for a family to watch together.

  18. Totally loving Granite Flats, though I have to catch either the late-night reruns or watch it online. LOL And I totally love old-fashioned casseroles too!! Definitely giving this one a try!! Yeah!!