This healthy creamy chicken poppy seed casserole is comfort food made simple! Grain free & dairy free with a crunchy, buttery topping your whole family will love.
I love casseroles. There's just something about a good casserole that warms you from the inside out, and this creamy chicken poppy seed casserole is no exception.
I'm always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen. I need them, and I know you need them too. So I'm here to find them, and share them with you as I do.
Casseroles are a short cut. Yes, there's a little bit of prep that goes into the ingredients themselves. But once you have one made, it lasts in the fridge for the week. And they're easy to double - just double the ingredients, freeze the extra batch, and you've got dinner ready a month from now.
You know the day. The one where your kid threw up all over your blouse right before work, then your car wouldn't start and you were late and your boss questioned you and at the end of the day your family is whiny and hungry and you CAN'T EVEN.
I'm here to make sure you can. Just pull the casserole out of the freezer, stick it in the oven, and tell everyone to quit their bitchin', dinner will be on the table in an hour.
Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole ingredients
Your traditional chicken poppy seed casserole is usually full of ingredients like canned cream of mushroom soup, butter, and dairy. Here I've kept it simple, healthy, and still achieved a creamy, flavorful texture. Not your typical chicken poppy seed casserole, but a delicious one!
SPAGHETTI SQUASH: The base of the casserole is spaghetti squash, which has been my go-to vegetable of choice recently. They're easy to cook, it makes a large quantity at once, and my son loves them. In my book, this makes them a win-win-win. If you want the easiest way to cook it, check out this post on how to cook a spaghetti squash in the oven!
CHICKEN: My favorite lean protein. I cook it in the Instant Pot, so it's mostly hands-off, and I keep a cooked batch of it in the fridge almost all the time. I find that anytime I need to throw together a salad (or a casserole!) it's great to have it pre-cooked and on hand. Time-saver tip: buy a rotisserie chicken from the store and pull it apart. No cooking necessary!
ONION: Cooked onion adds a great flavor without being overly pungent. Here you don't need to cook the onion ahead of time; it will soften up and cook in the casserole.
MAYO: I make my own. You can get the recipe here! The flavor is like no store-bought mayo out there. That being said, if you don't have time to make your own, or don't care to make your own for a casserole that it's going to get mixed into and baked, I recommend either Primal Kitchen or Chosen Foods brands for the cleanest options that don't contain highly refined oils such as soybean or canola.
GARLIC: Because, garlic. If you don't like garlic, you can leave it out. I'd recommend just keeping the amount smaller, as it does add flavor. If you DO like garlic, don't hesitate to add some more! The garlic flavor in the finished product is not that strong, and if you would like it more prominent you could definitely up the amount.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST: I love nutritional yeast. It adds a creamy/cheesy flavor to dishes without being overwhelming. The same rule goes for the nutritional yeast as the garlic here - it's not overwhelming, so feel free to add a bit more if you'd like a "cheesier" or richer flavor.
EGGS: They're the glue. They hold the whole thing together. And add more protein!
That crunchy poppy seed topping tho.
This topping, guys. This is what makes this casserole the bomb.
Once I tell you how to make it, you're going to be stunned at how easy it is. Are you ready? Just look at those buttery crispy crumbles.
The traditional topping here usually involves Ritz crackers, which are not a thing we have on hand in our house or eat. We're going to get the same crunchy, buttery texture by making our own mixture.
Take a bag of plantain chips (I use Trader Joe's) and dump them in the food processor. Add ghee (I also use Trader Joe's!), poppy seeds, and salt. Pulse until you get a buttery crumble.
I told you it was easy.
What if you don't have a food processor? That's ok! Use the bottom of a cup or a rolling pin to smash up your chips in a bag until they are in small pieces. Pour them into a bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir until they are all incorporated. Easy peasy.
What to serve with this chicken casserole
Honestly, I'm pretty happy to just eat this one by itself. That being said, if you're making poppy seed chicken for a crowd, you'll probably want to add something on the side.
I would recommend a seasonal side salad - even just some simple mixed greens with balsamic vinegar and olive oil would be a nice compliment to it.
I would also love to serve this with some steamed broccoli on the side. If you were looking to increase casserole volume and minimize dishes, you could also stir in some steamed broccoli before baking the casserole, and incorporate it right into the dish. That's the beauty of casseroles - they're flexible like that.
How to freeze creamy chicken poppyseed casserole
You know I'm a big fan of the double batch. Eat one, freeze the other, that's what I always say.
You can do that with this casserole! Here are my recommendations:
- Make 2 separate pans. Make sure the one your freezing is in a pan you don't mind saying sayonara to for a bit.
- For the pan you are freezing, don't make the topping.
- Bake it without the topping. Once the eggs are set, take it out.
- Allow it to cool.
- If you plan on defrosting the whole thing at once, just cover it and stick it in the freezer.
- If you want separate portions, go ahead and cut it into 8 pieces after it as cooled. Package in groups of 2 or 4 before putting in the freezer.
Other chicken casserole ideas
Now I realize you can't make three casseroles at once (or maybe you can?) but how about we Pin them so you can come back to them later? Here are the quick Pin links for you!
Pin It! --> Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Pin It! --> Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- 6 cups cooked spaghetti squash
- 1 lb cooked chicken
- ½ medium sweet onion, diced
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 ½ tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 medium eggs, whisked
Crunchy Poppy Seed Topping
- 6 oz plantain chips
- ¼ cup ghee
- 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 375°.
- Combine all casserole ingredients except for eggs into a 9x13 casserole dish. Stir well.
- Pour the whisked eggs over the casserole.
- Stir to combine, making sure everything is good and coated with the eggs.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until eggs are set.
- While casserole is baking, combine all topping ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have a crumbly consistency.
- Remove casserole from oven and top with the plantain chip topping, covering evenly.
- Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately.
If you don't have a food processor, that's ok! You can make the crumble topping by putting just the chips into a bag and smashing with a glass or a rolling pin. Then add them to a bowl with the ghee, poppy seeds, and salt and stir until combined.
The crumble is best fresh. You can store the casserole in the fridge for up to a week, but the crunchy topping will get soft. You can either make fresh topping, reserve some when you make it the first time, or stick it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp it back up. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 532mgCarbohydrates: 24gNet Carbohydrates: 0gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 19g