Chicken Divan is purely comforting soul food. Juicy chicken, creamy cheese sauce, and buttery, crispy topping create a flavor party for your mouth. This incredible casserole is guaranteed to be your family’s favorite meal this fall.
Who doesn’t love simple and tasty one-pan meals? When I make this casserole for my family, they always think I worked way harder than I actually did. It comes together easily and quickly but delivers heavily on flavor and satisfaction.
My opinion of baked casseroles changed forever when my auntie made super easy Chicken Divan for me for the first time. I couldn’t believe all that creamy deliciousness could come from just a handful of ingredients. Since then, I’ve been whipping it up for weeknight dinners whenever I want something special without the extra work.
Why It Should Be Your Go-To Casserole
Why Chicken Divan Should Be Your Go-To Casserole
Some people think this classic dish is just a humble chicken and broccoli casserole. But it has prestigious origins. Chefs at the Divan Parisien of Chatham Hotel in New York came up with the original Chicken Divan recipe.
It is luscious and indulgent, the way you’d expect food from a fancy hotel to be. It starts with juicy chicken, fresh, crisp broccoli, and a cheesy gravy sauce. Then it’s topped with buttery panko breadcrumbs.
- Chicken – I like chopped, boneless, skinless chicken breast, but you can swap it for chicken thighs or shredded rotisserie chicken. The well-seasoned, juicy chicken will contribute to a delicious final product.
- Broccoli – Fresh steamed broccoli gives a nice contrast of textures with its crispness and is a great way to get some healthy veggies on the table. You can also use packaged broccoli florets to save time.
- Cheese – Freshly grated cheddar and parmesan cheese melt beautifully and give the dish a wonderfully sharp, salty bite. You can also find pre-shredded cheese blends at the store that work well in this recipe.
- Onion – Rough chopped, softened onions play great with the flavors in this dish. The onions will contribute to its savoriness and fullness.
- Gravy – Butter, flour, chicken stock, and whole milk make a fabulous homemade gravy. It’s what makes this dish creamy and thick. You could also use store-bought gravy if you’re short on time.
- Panko Breadcrumbs – Topping your dish with buttery Panko breadcrumbs gives it that crispy, crunchy top that sets it apart from other casseroles. You can also crush some Ritz crackers for the same buttery effect.
How To Make Chicken Divan
- Steam the Broccoli – Put your broccoli florets into a pan with just enough water to cover them. Heat the water to a boil and cook with the lid on for 5 minutes. When the broccoli is tender, drain and set aside.
- Cook the Chicken – Whether you use breast, thigh, or a combination, season your chicken generously with salt and Creole seasonings. Chop the chicken into small chunks and cook it in a skillet for about 6 minutes. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pan and set it aside. (Photos 1-2)
- Make the Sauce – Add butter, garlic, and onions to the same pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in your flour and let it cook for another minute. Slowly add the milk and chicken stock, mixing well each time to prevent lumps. Let it simmer for 5 minutes or so. Once the gravy thickens, add more Creole seasoning and some cheese. Mix until smooth and creamy. (Photos 3-8)
- Layer the Casserole – First, add the cooked broccoli to the pan, followed by the cooked chicken. Then pour the sauce over it and top it with breadcrumbs. (Photos 1-5)
- Bake – Put the casserole in the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes or until it’s golden brown and bubbly. (Photo 6)
- For a twist on Chicken Divan, you can also try using turkey or pork in your dish. Both will work excellently with this meal.
- You could also switch the broccoli to another green vegetable, like peas or celery. A bag of mixed veggies also adds life to the party for more variety.
- Mix and match with your favorite cheese blends. For example, Pepper Jack, Gruyere, Provolone, Fontina, etc.
- Switch out the Panko breadcrumbs with herbed (Italian, etc.) breadcrumbs, Ritz crackers, or cornflakes.
Tips and Tricks
- More cheese on top of your casserole gives you an extra cheesy, melty Chicken Divan.
- Also, brining your chicken ensures it’s flavorful and juicy.
If you want an even simpler weeknight dinner, layer the broccoli and chicken in the pan and set aside in the fridge until the next day. Make the gravy and store it in the refrigerator also. When you’re ready to serve it, pour your gravy sauce over the chicken and broccoli, then top it with breadcrumbs and throw it in the oven. Done!
To freeze the unbaked Chicken Divan, assemble it in the casserole dish with the sauce. You could top it at this point with the panko breadcrumbs or add them right before baking. Then tightly wrap the casserole in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and freeze for up to two months.
Serving and Storage Instructions
Serve this dish fresh from the oven. Let it rest a couple of minutes so the casserole can set and you don’t burn your tongue. Then dig in! Chicken Divan is best enjoyed while the cheese from the sauce is still melty and the topping is crispy.
For leftovers, you can easily store them in the same pan in the fridge for up to four days. If you want to freeze it, cover it with plastic wrap and then foil, and it will keep for two months.
To reheat your leftover casserole, zap it in the microwave for a few seconds or bake it in the oven at 400℉/205℃ for 10 minutes. Let it heat through until the sauce gets melty again and the top re-crisps.
You sure can! Why not try my recipe for Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole? Yum!
This dish can totally be adapted for a low-carb diet. Use sour cream, mayo, and heavy cream for the sauce base, and skip the panko topping (or use keto-friendly breadcrumbs). Happy eating!
It did not come from France the way French cuisine does, but it was invented by a French chef. Which makes it a little more fancy, right?
What to Serve With Chicken Divan
Since this dish is quite rich, why not serve a crisp, refreshing tossed salad alongside it? Avocado corn salad, cucumber and onion salad, or shaved Brussels sprout salad are also a perfect balancing act. All of those would be a great addition to this meal.
More Fabulous One-Pan Casserole Recipes to Try
It’s time to impress your family with this luxurious soul food dish that is easy to make and satisfying to eat. Have you ever tried Chicken Divan? When you try this recipe, tell me what you did to make it extra special.
Watch How to Make It
This blog post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated with additional tips, new photos, and a video.
- 4-5 cups (284-355g) broccoli florets
- 2 pounds (907g) chicken breast, skinless, boneless, and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon (4g) Creole seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons (28ml) oil
- 3 tablespoons (42g) butter
- 2 teaspoons (10g) garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons (30g) flour
- 2¼ cups (300ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (240ml) chicken stock
- 1 -2 teaspoons (4-8g) Creole seasoning (salt-free, see notes)
- ½ cup (57g) cheddar cheese
- ½ cup (50g) parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons (10g) Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ teaspoon (3.75g) salt, or more to adjust to taste
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- ¾ cup (37g) Panko breadcrumbs
- 2-3 tablespoons (28-42g) butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/177℃. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Put your broccoli florets into a pan with just enough water to cover them. Heat the water to a boil and cook with the lid on for 5 minutes. When the broccoli is tender, drain and set aside.
- Next, season chopped chicken with salt and Creole seasoning (salt-free). Thoroughly mix.
- Heat oil in a large skillet, add the chicken, and cook it for about 5–6 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside.
- Add butter to the skillet, and let it melt. Follow with the minced garlic and onions. Cook until onions wilted—3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the flour and cook it for about a minute to get rid of the raw flour taste.
- Slowly add milk and chicken stock because you don't want the mixture to form any lumps. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Add Creole seasoning, and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes.
- Stir in the cheeses and Worcestershire sauce, and stir until the cheese melts and everything is evenly combined and smooth. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg to taste.
- Mix the Panko breadcrumbs and melted butter in a small bowl until the butter is absorbed and your mixture is crumbly.
- Add cooked broccoli to the prepared baking or casserole dish. Then add the chicken and follow with the sauce.
- Top with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until bubbly and lightly brown.
Tips & Notes:
- I left out the salt in my homemade Creole Seasoning to better control the amount of salt in the dish. If you use a store-bought version with salt, adjust or cut back on the salt added to this dish.
- You can swap chicken breast for chicken thighs, just make sure it’s boneless and skinless. Leftover chicken or turkey also works fine.
- If you prefer that crisp bite to contrast the creamy cheesy sauce, you may skip the steaming part and just wash and drain the broccoli before assembling it in the baking dish.
- More cheese on top of your casserole gives you an extra cheesy, melty Chicken Divan.
- Also, brining your chicken ensures it’s more flavorful and juicy.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.