This chicken spaghetti recipe from scratch is baked to perfection with a Tex-Mex twist! It's cheesy, creamy, comforting, and uses everyday ingredients.
Loved chicken and Rotel? Try my Creamy Southwest Chicken recipe next.
Why you'll crave it
This chicken spaghetti with Rotel tomatoes is just really good family-friendly comfort food. It's got lots of melty cheddar cheese, making it the ideal chicken casserole for those picky eaters in your life.
This version is made from scratch and has no canned soup, but it's still totally simple to throw together (and tastes so much better). Rotisserie chicken saves prep time so that you can get this casserole in the oven fast. This is a wonderful make ahead recipe, and it also feeds a crowd.
Ingredients for it
- Spaghetti - the classic pasta variety for this casserole
- Olive oil and butter - for sautéing
- Onion and garlic - use any kind of onion, but we like Vidalia (sweet) onion best. For mincing the garlic, this garlic press makes it simple since you don't need to peel the cloves.
- Bell pepper - for some crunch! Any color is fine. I chose green.
- Flour - for thickening the sauce
- Chicken broth - to infuse more savory taste
- Heavy cream - to make this casserole extra rich and comforting
- Tomatoes - a can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies provides the perfect kick! It's not spicy and just has a slight heat in the original variety.
- Chili powder - for a little more warmth and flavor (also not spicy)
- Cheddar - use a good-quality sharp cheddar cheese since it's a key component. Always grate your own for maximum freshness and quality and since it'll melt better. I use this grater, and it only takes me a few minutes to grate the 2 cups of it.
- Chicken - pick up a rotisserie chicken for ease, or use up any leftover or Cooked Chicken you have on hand
How to make chicken spaghetti
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Start by boiling the spaghetti. Meanwhile, in a skillet, sauté the onions and bell pepper until softened, then add in the garlic and flour, followed by the chicken broth and cream. Once the flour has completely dissolved, stir in the Rotel tomatoes and chili powder.
Cook for a few minutes until thickened, then stir in the cheddar and cooked chicken along with salt & pepper to taste.
Add the drained spaghetti to a 9x13 baking dish, then toss with the chicken and sauce mixture from the skillet.
Top with the remaining cheddar, and cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes until hot and melty. Broil for a few minutes if desired, and enjoy!
How to make it ahead
- You can definitely make chicken spaghetti ahead of time. Prep it until just before the baking step, cover it tightly with aluminum foil or a lid, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To bake, you may need to give it additional time since it's starting out cold.
Substitutions and variations
- I've only tested this as written, so substitute any ingredients at your own discretion. For example, subbing the cream for milk may yield a thinner sauce that doesn't work as well and isn't as rich.
- Original Rotel has a touch of heat, so if you don't want even a little bit of spice, I'd use Mild Rotel. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or some hot sauce if you do want this to be spicy, however!
- If you don't have Rotel, sub with regular diced tomatoes and a 4 ounce can of diced green chilies.
What to serve with this recipe
- This pasta casserole is a hearty meal, so I like to make a side salad dressed with my Olive Garden Salad Dressing or this Chipotle Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing for a kick.
- If you're craving something more decadent, pair it with a big slice of this Extra Cheesy Garlic Bread or breadsticks!
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will last 3-5 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat in the microwave, oven, or on the stove over a low heat. Add a splash of cream if it's a bit dry.
- This isn't the type of recipe that freezes well because of the cream since it doesn't always come out right when thawed, but you're welcome to try if that's the only option!
Will you make this for your next spaghetti dinner? Talk to me in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you if you made it in your home or have any questions.
- 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 medium onion chopped finely
- 1/2 green or red bell pepper chopped small
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1 (10 fluid ounce) can Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies with juices
- 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar divided
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used rotisserie)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
- Boil a salted pot of water for the spaghetti and cook it 1 minute less than the package directions indicate. Meanwhile, prep all the recipe ingredients.
- Drain the spaghetti then add it to a greased 9x13 casserole dish.
- Add the oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Once it's hot, add the onions and peppers and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute (keep stirring).
- Whisk in the chicken broth and cream and ensure there's no flour lumps.
- Stir in the Rotel and chili powder. Let the sauce cook for 3-4 minutes (it should be slightly thickened, but don't let it get too thick!).
- Turn the burner off and stir in half of the cheddar.
- Stir in the chicken and add a bit of salt & pepper.
- Transfer the skillet contents to the baking dish and toss with the spaghetti.
- Top with the remaining cheddar and cover the casserole dish with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and broil for a few minutes if you wish to brown the cheese.
- Makes about 6 adult-size portions. It'll feed more if kids are eating or if you serve it with something like a salad and/or breadsticks on the side.
- As written it does have a touch of heat, so use Mild Rotel if spice is at all a concern (it really isn't that spicy, though).
- 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.
THIS WAS VERY GOOD. THE PERFECT AMOUNT OF SPICE FOR US. WONDERFUL COMFORT FOOD ON A CHILLY EVENING.
Wonderful!! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know, Karen!
I tried this for the first time tonight and it is delish!! My whole family loved it…it will definitely be in my regular rotation…perfect for a fall night!
Woo hoo!! That makes me happy!! Thanks so much for your 5-star review, Sarah! 😀
Cindi Brookes says
This is one of our favorite pasta dishes! The Rotel adds a delicious flavor to the creamy, cheesy sauce.
I'm so happy you like it, Cindi! Thanks for letting me know! 🙂
M Walker says
Quick and easy to make!! Perfect for a busy weeknight dinner!! We used the spicy Rotel based on request from my daughter. Love Saltandlavender recipes. Give this one a try!!
I'm so glad you liked it!! Thank you for taking the time to write me a review. 😀
Ein Dekoherzal in Bergen says
ICH LIEBE ALLES MIT HÜHNCHEN::::
WÜNSCHE NOCH EINEN SCHÖNEN ABEND
bis bald die BIRGIT aus TIROL