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Juicy chunks of poached chicken and tender-crisp broccoli in a creamy, cheesy white sauce that makes Chicken Divan one of our family favorite casseroles.
Our remake of this popular classic is completely homemade and no canned soup. The original recipe was created in the 1940’s at the Divan Parisien Restaurant in the Chatham Hotel in New York City by a chef named Lagasi. Lagasi’s creation included a creamy béchamel sauce and no cream-of-something soup.
Delicious Chicken Divan
Somewhere along the line Chicken Divan fell into the convenience category and was made with frozen broccoli spears, canned cream of chicken soup and sometimes Swiss cheese. We updated the recipe with our own easy, creamy cheese sauce.
The Betty Crocker Cookbook version of Chicken Divan also calls for frozen broccoli, white wine, Swiss cheese and Parmesan on top. This version is probably the most familiar to those of us that cut our teeth on that cookbook.
We usually start with tender poached chicken breasts, but rotisserie chicken will work well too. White American cheese from the deli is added to the sauce for its exceptional meltability. Fresh shredded cheddar is spread on top to add color, a sharp tangy flavor and ultimate cheesiness.
Once baked the casserole is topped with crushed buttery crackers like Ritz then baked again until bubbly and golden brown. This is one terrific casserole!
- unsalted butter, melted
- minced shallots or onion
- all-purpose flour
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- salt and pepper
- low-sodium chicken broth or stock
- white deli-style American cheese, cubed or Swiss cheese
- Dijon mustard
- sour cream
- broccoli florets
- diced cooked chicken breast
- sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or fresh grated Parmesan
For the topping:
- Ritz crackers or unseasoned bread crumbs
- unsalted butter, melted
How to make Chicken Divan
1. Prep the pan and preheat the oven
Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch casserole baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Make the sauce
Melt the butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the shallots and cook until softened. Sprinkle the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper over the cooked shallots. Cook stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
Add the chicken broth a little at a time while scraping up the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the cured American cheese and Dijon until melted.
Off heat stir in the sour cream until blended. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Fold the broccoli and chicken into the creamy sauce then pour the mixture to the prepared casserole.
3. Bake the Chicken Divan Casserole
Sprinkle the shredded cheddar over the casserole and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter. Stir until blended. Remove the casserole from the oven. Remove and discard the foil then top with the cracker or breadcrumb and butter mixture. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake until golden brown and bubbly.
Cool the casserole for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Storing and reheating Chicken Divan
Leftover Chicken Divan keeps very well for up to 4 days. Seal in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Reheat individual portions covered in the microwave until hot. Enjoy!
What to serve with Chicken Divan
We enjoy serving this chicken casserole over hot cooked rice, but buttered egg noodles are also great. My husband is crazy about mashed potatoes so that works too.
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- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2oz or 57g)
- 2 large shallots minced or 1 small onion
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (38g)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (16oz) or stock
- 4 ounces white deli American cheese cubed or Swiss cheese
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- ⅔ cup sour cream (5 ½ oz or 153g)
- 1 ½ pounds broccoli florets cut into bite size pieces
- 4 cups diced cooked chicken about 3 chicken breasts
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded or Parmesan cheese
For the topping:
- 31 Ritz crackers crushed (1 sleeve or 94g)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch casserole and set aside.
- Add 4 tablespoons butter to a large skillet or Dutch oven. Warm over medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper over the cooked shallots. Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth a little at a time while scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cubed American cheese and Dijon until melted.
- Off heat stir in the sour cream until blended. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold in the broccoli and chicken and transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the casserole. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and discard the foil. Increase the temperature to 400°F. Combine the crackers with the melted butter and sprinkle over the top. Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling around the edges, 5 to 8 minutes. Let the casserole cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve over rice or buttered egg noodles.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat leftovers gently in the microwave
- To make several hours ahead prepare the casserole until it’s covered with foil, but do not bake. Refrigerate until needed. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
- Do not use the individually wrapped slices of American cheese. Yellow or white American can be used but should be purchased from the Deli in a block.
Great chicken casseroles
We’re crazy about easy chicken casseroles that are company-worthy and make-ahead friendly. This dish can be made right up to the point where it’s covered in foil then refrigerated for up to 8 hours before baking.
Another family friendly favorite is Million Dollar Chicken Casserole and these terrific casseroles: