My mom used to make this casserole a lot when I was growing up. Matter of fact, I remember specifically requesting it for my birthday on more than one occasion. And we’re talking, like, into my 20’s. She found the recipe on the back of one of those cans of french fried onions — you know, the kind people use to make that awful green bean casserole at Thanksgiving? (Cream of Mushroom soup? No.)
The first time she made it, it blew my tweenage mind. It was some of my favorite things in one dish! I was never a picky eater growing up (quite the opposite, in fact), but I especially loved anything with or involving box mix stuffing.
I know, it’s terrible. I should feel dirty just saying it.
But I don’t. Stuffing mix is awesome, especially when you’re short on time or don’t have the room to bake a pan of home made stuffing or you just need something quick to serve alongside your main course.
Or if you want to make this casserole. It’s the most delicious mess you’ll ever put in your oven (and your mouth). It takes a little bit of work to put together, but you can easily make it a day or two ahead of time. You can take a couple of short cuts with it, too – use rotisserie chicken, or pre-made cheese sauce (WHY, precious?); but I would refrain from using frozen broccoli — it might get too watery.
First step is to cook your chicken. I used boneless/skinless breasts because that’s my go-to protein, but you can do a mixture of white and dark meat if you prefer. Even roast it with the skin on, just remove it before dicing up and adding to the casserole.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients – cut and steam the broccoli and set aside, make the stuffing according to package directions (stir in half of the can of the french fried onions at the end), make the cheese sauce and let it thicken a little bit.
Once your chicken is cooked through, dice it up, assemble the whole glorious mess, top with the remaining onions, and bake, covered, at 375 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.
Remove the cover and return to the oven for a few more minutes for those onions to get brown and crispy. Let cool and serve.
Oh heck yeah. Tastes like 1991. (What does 1991 taste like, you ask? AMAZING.)
Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheese Casserole with Stuffing
- 1 box stuffing mix
- 1-11/2 lb boneless skinless chicken, roasted and diced into cubes
- 2 cups fresh broccoli florets, steamed until fork tender
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 cups milk (stick with 2% or full fat)
- 1 can french fried onions, divided
- 2 TB unsalted butter (plus more for stuffing)
- 2 TB flour
- 1 TB dijon mustard
- 1 tsp paprika
- Salt/Pepper to taste
Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions. Stir in 1/2 can of french fried onions. Set aside.
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, until slightly brown and the flour is cooked out. Add paprika and stir together. Add milk slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly until thoroughly combined. Stir for 2-3 minutes until it starts to thicken. Add shredded cheese and continue to whisk until completely melted. Stir in dijon mustard. Cook cheese sauce for 3-5 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly. Add salt and fresh ground pepper as needed. Set aside.
Assemble the casserole:
Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Spread the stuffing mix in the bottom of the dish. Top with steamed broccoli florets (you can absolutely chop your broccoli smaller than I did, hide it for those kiddos if you need to!). Spread roasted and chopped chicken over the broccoli. Pour cheese sauce over the entire casserole. Top with remaining french fried onions. Cover casserole with lid or foil and bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes. Remove lid and return to oven for 5-10 more minutes, until onions have crisped and browned slightly.
Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes (or longer, this stuff’s like molten lava), and serve.