This chicken divan is made without soup! A simple homemade white sauce, with the addition of some mayo, makes a great base, without the need to open cans.
Why you’ll love this chicken divan recipe
- This is the chicken divan recipe I have been making for decades. Yes, it might be retro, but it’s classic comfort food, that always hits the spot.
- No cans of soup needed for this chicken divan!
- Mayo and lemon juice adds a little tang to the sauce, which is the signature of a great chicken divan, in my opinion.
- Make this dish in just one pan.
- A great dish to use up left-over cooked chicken or make it super easy by starting with a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
- Tweak to your taste. Use more broccoli and less chicken or vice versa. Add mushrooms. Or not. Change the cheese or the crumb topping. Check the Variations below for more ideas!
- Assemble this chicken divan casserole early in the day, refrigerate and then just pop in the oven at dinnertime.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Broccoli – Use fresh or frozen broccoli. In either case, cook ahead only until tender crisp, as it will cook a bit more in the oven.
Chicken – Use any cooked chicken you like. You can cook it as you prepare this dish, or start with left-over cooked chicken or chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
Mayonnaise – Use any mayonnaise, regular or light. You can also use salad dressing, such as Miracle Whip™, if you prefer. No mayo? Substitute a thick yogurt or sour cream.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms are totally optional. Use them if you like them and have them or omit, if you don’t.
Cream – Heavy, 35% b.f. whipping cream is best here, as it will produce the smoothest sauce. If you only have a lighter cream (such as 10% half and half), you may want to omit the lemon juice, to prevent the lighter fat cream from splitting and making a grainy sauce.
- Cook the broccoli to tender crisp. You can microwave or steam.
- Cook the mushrooms and onion.
- Cook the diced chicken (or use pre-cooked or rotisserie chicken and skip this step!).
- In the same skillet, make the quick sauce.
- Add the broccoli, mushrooms and chicken to a casserole dish and pour sauce over. Stir to combine.
- Top with shredded cheese.
- Make the crumb topping.
- Sprinkle crumbs over-top and bake!
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of mild curry powder to the sauce for a great flavour twist.
- Make it vegetarian by using roasted cauliflower instead of chicken and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Or swap out the chicken for cooked rice or noodles for a meatless meal.
- Add some Parmesan to the cheese topping or just use Parmesan, instead of cheddar.
- Swap the cheddar for other cheeses, such as mozzarella, Gruyere etc. or use a mix of cheese.
- Skip the cheese and use some flaked almonds for the topping.
- Switch up the bread crumbs for panko or crushed crackers (soda crackers or Ritz™)
- Add some poppy seeds to the crumb mixture.
Making ahead, storing and freezing
You can assemble this dish ahead and refrigerate. Simply pop in the oven when ready to eat. Allow a few extra minutes in the oven if it is cold going into the oven.
Store left-overs in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
You can freeze left-overs up to 2 months.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Divan with Mayo (but without soup!)
- 8 oz broccoli, fresh or frozen (about 1 head if fresh)
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lbs., cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4-5 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 6 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 35% b.f.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup fresh or dry bread crumbs, or panko or crushed soda crackers or Ritz crackers
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- Have a 9x13-inch oven-safe casserole dish or baking dish ready.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
Cook the Broccoli:
- Cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Add to a microwave-safe bowl and lightly season with salt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave about 60-90 seconds, or until tender crisp. Leave covered and set aside. (Alternately, you can steam the broccoli until tender-crisp).
Cook the Mushrooms and Onion:
- In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and lightly season with salt. Cook, stirring, until golden. Add the onion and cook until the onion is softened, a few minutes more. Remove to the baking dish.
Cook the Chicken:
- If starting with uncooked chicken, add to the same skillet and cook over medium heat until cooked through, 4-5 minutes. Add to the casserole dish with the mushrooms and onion.
Make the sauce:
- Wipe the skillet clean. Add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Gradually add the chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper, to taste.
Assemble the casserole:
- Add the broccoli to the baking dish with the chicken, mushrooms and onions. Pour the sauce over top and use a fork to gently stir together. Top with shredded cheese.
- **Can be made to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 8 hours before baking.
Make the crumb topping:
- Combine the crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl. Stir together until moistened. Sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake casserole, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. *Add a couple of extra minutes if baking straight from the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate left-overs for up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.