This chicken tetrazzini recipe from scratch has spaghetti tossed in an irresistible creamy garlic sauce, tender chicken, and three kinds of cheese! It's straightforward to make.
For another total comfort food meal, try my Chicken Gloria or Chicken Parmesan Meatballs next.
Why you'll love it
Chicken tetrazzini is a nostalgic pasta bake that you'll probably remember from your childhood. It's creamy, cheesy, and loaded with chicken and mushrooms. My three cheese version has cream cheese, parmesan, and mozzarella. It's heavenly!
Our kitchen much prefers making chicken tetrazzini completely from scratch. It's still pretty easy to make without condensed soup here, and we wouldn't have it any other way for that crave-worthy homemade taste your family deserves.
What does chicken tetrazzini mean?
- While this chicken casserole was reportedly named after the Italian opera singer Luiza Tetrazzini, this is definitely a very American dish.
What you'll need
- Pasta - we're using the classic choice of spaghetti
- Olive oil and butter - for sautéing
- Onion and garlic - tasty aromatics. I like Vidalia (sweet) onions.
- Chicken - two boneless/skinless chicken breasts (about a pound of them, give or take). You could use chicken thighs instead.
- Italian seasoning - it comes in a single jar and packs a punch of concentrated herb flavor
- Mushrooms - I use cremini, sometimes labeled as baby bellas, but white mushrooms work too
- Chicken broth - for moisture and more savory goodness
- Heavy cream - to make it next-level luscious
- Cheese - our trio is cream cheese, parm, and mozza. Grate your own since it tastes and melts better.
Can I use rotisserie chicken instead?
- For a shortcut, use 3-4 cups of cooked/rotisserie shredded chicken and add it in during step 7.
- You could even use turkey meat if you prefer, like if you've got leftover Roast Turkey from Thanksgiving!
How to make chicken tetrazzini
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Prep your ingredients, and cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than package directions. Sauté the onion, then add in the seasoned chicken. Once almost cooked, remove the chicken to a plate. Cook the mushrooms along with the garlic and Italian seasoning.
Add the cream cheese, broth, and cream. Simmer while stirring until the cream cheese has melted and it thickens up a little. Return the chicken to the pot, and add in the drained spaghetti. Toss to coat everything.
Transfer it to a 9x13 baking dish, and then top with the mozzarella and parmesan. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, and then broil for a few minutes until the cheese is nicely browned. Let it rest for a few minutes, and enjoy!
Tools for this recipe
Check out Natasha's favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!
- I prefer to grate my own parmesan cheese and always keep a block in my fridge. I use this cheese grater.
- You'll need a 9x13 baking dish for this recipe.
- Easily mince the garlic with a garlic press. You don't even have to peel the cloves beforehand.
- I use my favorite cooking spoon for the stirring part of this recipe!
Substitutions and variations
- I recommend sticking to spaghetti for this recipe since different types of pasta absorb liquid differently, but if you've only got another long pasta shape on hand (like linguine or bucatini), then you could try that.
- Try subbing half or all of the chicken broth with dry white wine.
- We've only tested using heavy cream and the liquid ratios as listed. A substitution would likely end up with too thin of a sauce.
- If you're really not a mushroom fan, you could leave them out. Try peas instead of or in addition to the mushrooms.
Can I make chicken tetrazzini ahead?
- You sure can. Follow the recipe up until the baking step, cover the baking dish tightly in foil, and freeze it for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, either let it thaw in the fridge first or bake from frozen.
- Bake at 350F with foil loosely covering it until the broiling step. Timing will vary depending on your oven, baking dish, and whether it's frozen or not, but 40 minutes is a good starting point. You may need to let it stand a bit longer (10+ minutes) after baking if there's lots of excess liquid.
What to serve with chicken tetrazzini
- Since it's pretty rich, you might enjoy a salad to balance it out. I love this Super Simple Parmesan Arugula Salad or spring mix with my Homemade Olive Garden Dressing.
- I also serve it with freshly baked bread or Cheesy Garlic Bread if you're going all out!
Leftovers and storage
- This is one of those dishes that's best day one. The leftovers will still be tasty but also a bit drier than when it's first made.
- Store in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Reheat on a low heat in the microwave or stove until warmed through.
- I don't recommend freezing leftovers of creamy pasta dishes in general.
More tasty casserole recipes
Questions about this creamy cheesy chicken tetrazzini recipe that the blog post didn't answer? Let me know in the comments below. Be sure to leave me a star rating and review! You can also find me on Instagram.
Three Cheese Chicken Tetrazzini
- 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 2 uncooked chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 7 ounces cremini or white mushrooms sliced
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 8 ounces cream cheese (a block of Philly) softened
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Prep steps: I recommend prepping all ingredients for this recipe prior to getting started. Microwave the cream cheese for 20-30 seconds so it gets very soft (or leave it on the counter for a couple hours). Season the chicken with salt & pepper after you cut it up. Preheat 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 2 minutes less than indicated on the package (it was 9 minutes for the brand I used). Once it's cooked, drain it and set it aside.
- Meanwhile, add the oil, 1 tablespoon of the butter, and the onion to a pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Add in the chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes or until it's almost cooked through (don't overcook). Transfer the chicken to a plate (don't worry if there's some onions left in the pot).
- Add the garlic, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the Italian seasoning, and the mushrooms to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have released their water and it's mostly cooked off.
- Increase the heat to high and add in the chicken broth, cream, and cream cheese (I cut it into smaller pieces first). Cook for 5 minutes, stirring nearly constantly to help the cream cheese melt in. Don't cook the sauce for longer because then it will get too thick and the pasta will end up dry.
- Turn the heat off and add the chicken back to the pot, along with the cooked and drained pasta. Give it a good stir.
- Transfer the pot contents to a 9x13 baking dish and arrange it in an even layer. Sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese, followed by the mozzarella.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes and then broil for a few minutes until the top has browned a bit (watch it carefully).
- Let it sit for about 5 minutes once you take it out of the oven. I recommend using a spatula to "cut" the pasta like you would lasagna so it's easier to eat and everyone gets some melted cheese on top of their portion.
- You can use cooked/rotisserie chicken instead if you wish (follow the recipe as normal but skip step 4 then add 3-4 cups of the cooked chicken in step 7).
- 12 ounces spaghetti is 3/4 of a pound (16 ounce) package.
- 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.
Barb English says
I made this for my husband, daughter and son in law and three grandkids. They devowered it and said it was the best thing I’ve made in a long time! The kids loved it and they’re really picky!
This is a keeper and a definite favorite!!
That makes me so happy!! 😀
Loved this BUT I will change it up a bit next time. Boil pasta al dente...cook chicken til brown. Put it in 9x13 mixed with pasta as recipe says with cheese on top but JUST broil til cheese starts to brown. (No need to bake for 30 min at all, it just dries up the pasta!)
Can't his recipe be made ahead?
There's a "make ahead tip" in the blog post under the "recipe notes & tips" section.
Melanie Durbin says
I love Chicken tetrazzini. I have to make for 8 to 10 people tomorrow. One Question how much does it make?
Hi Melanie! So, I based the recipe card nutrition info on a total of 6 servings (the nutrition info being for one portion). I basically went for a decent-sized portion vs. a smaller one, but it's quite subjective really. I'd say it could serve up to 8 depending on what else you serve it with/how hungry people are. It's a 9x13 pan, and it's quite rich, so if you've made similar dishes before, you may be able to gauge whether you'll need to double it using two pans (and have leftovers) or if you're good with just the one.
I made this for dinner yesterday and it was a hit with my husband and his buddy. I used a rotisserie chicken that I had on hand and I also added a bag of frozen peas. You know it’s good when the guys get seconds! I would make this again for sure.
Made this today and so good. I used a rotisserie chicken since I had just gone to Costco, and I did the half wine half broth recommendation…completely delicious! I made it with roasted broccoli on the side. Will definitely make again!
Yay!! I'm so pleased you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to write me a review!
Thank you!! 🙂
Baylee Hundley says
Hi there! Could I do whole wheat spaghetti noodles? Or should I stick with regular noodles? Thanks!
I think that should be fine 🙂
I’m headed to bed craving this dish & can’t wait to prep it when I wake up! When I made this a month ago, I used bucatini and will probably do that again! Make sure to grate your Parmesan on first before you layer the mozz like she says, or you may get a hard-to-slice-through crust that didn’t brown in the broiler properly like I did. Thank you for a new favorite recipe!
Soooo creamy and delicious! We used a rotisserie chicken, added spinach, and topped with crushed red pepper. You were right - fresh grated Parmesan is worth it! Will definitely make this one again!
Yay! I'm so glad you tried the fresh parm 🙂
Cassandra Dyk says
This was SO Delicious!!! My mom makes this and with covid I haven’t seen her all year and it just reminded me of home. Thank you..
Aw I'm glad to hear that, Cassandra. XO
Ok, I’ve tried some other Pinterest recipes for chicken tetrazzini that use “cream of soups” and while my kids enjoyed it, they were very much blah and usually salty. This recipe is luxury comfort food. The Escalade of comfort foods, if you will. My whole family LOVED it. It’s so easy. It’s so good. You cannot go wrong with this recipe.
"Escalade of comfort foods" -- I love that!! Thanks so much for the great review. So happy you all enjoyed it!
Anne M. says
Saw this recipe today and made it for dinner following the instructions exactly. It’s so good! I highly recommend. Broiled for two minutes and kept a close eye so it didn’t burn. It is very rich, so a greens salad on the side with a lemon vinaigrette paired well. If you’re looking for a reason to “treat yourself,” definitely give this recipe a try!
So happy you enjoyed it, Anne! Appreciate your review. 🙂
Fantastic recipe! I made it for dinner tonight, simply irresistible. I didn't have chicken so I substituted it for salmon. Thank you!
Love that idea! So glad it worked out ♥️
My only mistake was broiling it too much (90 seconds,) otherwise, it’s a great meal. Even the burned bits added a delicious finish.
Easy to eat. Next time I’ll add in bits of a salt ham with the chicken. 🙂
I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for commenting!