Chicken Divan is a classic cheesy, creamy chicken and broccoli casserole that's topped with buttery panko breadcrumbs and baked to golden perfection. This version is made from scratch with no condensed soup.
You may be wondering what is Chicken Divan and where did the name come from? Well, it's an old school American casserole that has been around since the early 20th century. The internet tells me that it originated in the Divan Parisien Restaurant in NYC. It appears the original recipe was a secret (but apparently a bit more gourmet and labor intensive), and it morphed into a dish that started to appear in American cookbooks in the 50s. Many versions are made with "cream of" soups.
This Chicken Divan recipe has a homemade cream sauce that's made with cream cheese, heavy cream, garlic powder, onion powder, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and cheddar cheese to give it plenty of flavor. Sure, it's a little more effort than opening a can, but it also tastes better. 🙂
This creamy chicken casserole isn't difficult to make, but the prep does take a bit of time. I recommend making it when you feel like spending a little more time (but still under an hour) in the kitchen. It's great for company, makes delicious leftovers, or feeds a crowd if you've got a big family.
How to make Chicken Divan (summary):
Start by prepping all ingredients so the recipe goes smoother. Partially cook the broccoli (add it to boiling water for 2-3 minutes), then drain it and add it to a 9x13 casserole dish. Add the cooked chicken to the casserole dish as well. Make the cheddar cream sauce in a skillet or saucepan, then pour it over the chicken and broccoli. Toss it together (I use two spoons to make it easy), then spread it in an even layer. Top it with the remaining cheddar, the parmesan, and the buttery panko breadcrumb topping. Bake, uncovered, at 375F for 20 minutes or until it's hot and the topping is golden. (Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below)
What kind of chicken to use?
I used a rotisserie chicken (a combo of light and dark chicken meat). Don't have cooked chicken? No problem! Cut up 3-4 chicken breasts into small pieces and sauté them in a skillet with some salt & pepper until they're just cooked, then proceed with the recipe as indicated.
Recipe notes & tips:
- I recommend grating your own cheeses for this recipe... they will melt better than the pre-grated/bagged stuff. Use an old/sharp cheddar if possible for better flavor.
- Substitutions: I've only tested this recipe as written, so sub any ingredient at your own discretion.
- Using heavy cream means the sauce will be thicker and less likely to curdle in the oven. If you want to replace it with a lower fat alternative (like half-and-half or milk), I suggest making a roux.
- You can sub the panko with crushed up cornflakes or Ritz crackers. Regular breadcrumbs can be used, but they're denser and the topping won't be quite as light and crispy.
- Can I use frozen broccoli? Yes, but I'd thaw it first, drain it well, and then skip the boiling step (it's already been blanched).
- Make ahead tips:
- If you want to make this casserole a day or two ahead of time, assemble it up until just before the baking step, cover the casserole dish tightly, and refrigerate once it's cooled down a bit. You may want to wait to add the panko topping just before baking so it's not soggy. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until it's heated through.
- Freezing: Assemble just prior to the baking step as outlined above, cover the casserole dish tightly, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until heated through. Cream sauces and broccoli don't always freeze and reheat well, so my personal preference is to avoid freezing it if possible.
- Chicken Divan leftovers will keep 3-5 days in the fridge.
- If microwaving, try to warm it up slowly in intervals not on the highest setting (the sauce may separate otherwise). You may want to add a splash of milk to keep it creamy since cream sauces tend to dry out a bit the longer you leave them. You can also warm it up in a covered saucepan on the stove (do it over a fairly low heat) or in the oven (try a baking dish covered with foil).
- I used this Staub 9x13 baking dish in the photos.
What to serve with Chicken and Broccoli Divan?
Chicken Divan is delicious with mashed potatoes (like in the photos), rice, or over pasta (try egg noodles). Or eat it as-is!
You may also like...
- Ranch Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
- Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe
- Creamy Broccoli Pasta
- Easy Broccoli Salad
Questions about this Chicken Divan casserole recipe? Ask me in the comments below!
- 1 pound broccoli cut into florets
- 3 cups cooked/rotisserie chicken shredded or diced
- 8 ounces cream cheese (1 block Philly) softened
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Take the cream cheese out of the fridge at least an hour prior to starting the recipe or microwave it for 20-30 seconds (it should be very soft).
- Boil a pot of water for the broccoli. While you're waiting for it to boil, start prepping all the recipe ingredients (ensure they're ready to go before starting the sauce). For the melted butter, I recommend microwaving it in a small bowl and setting it aside until needed.
- Preheat your oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
- Once the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook it for 2-3 minutes, then drain well and add it to a 9x13 casserole dish.
- Add the cooked chicken to the casserole dish (just put it beside the broccoli for now).
- To a skillet or medium saucepan, add the cream cheese, cream, onion powder, garlic powder, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, and some salt & pepper. Cook it over medium-high heat, stirring/whisking nearly constantly until the cream cheese has melted into the sauce (this should take about 5 minutes). Important: Don't let the sauce get too thick (it should be similar to Alfredo sauce). If the sauce seems a bit too thick, add in another splash of cream. The sauce will thicken more in the oven.
- Take the skillet off the heat and stir in half of the cheddar cheese (stir until smooth).
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and broccoli, then toss and spread it in an even layer.
- Top the casserole with the remaining cheddar, followed by the parmesan.
- Add the panko breadcrumbs to the bowl that has the melted butter and stir until they're evenly coated in butter.
- Top the casserole with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. If you want the topping to be a little darker, broil it for a few minutes (watch it carefully).
- Let the casserole sit for 5 minutes prior to serving.
- Serves 6-8 depending on portion size/what it's served with.
- See blog post for info on substitutions, make ahead tips, storage, and step-by-step photos.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.