Easy Southern-Style Chicken Divan Casserole is an iconic, much-loved southern recipe, that has been around for decades. It’s full of crisp broccoli, tender chicken, and the most wonderful homemade cheesy sauce. It’s easy to make and the epitome of comfort food.
In fact, there was a time many years ago when this delicious casserole was served at almost every bridal or baby shower, neighborhood potluck dinner, or church supper. It was also one of the first casseroles that every young southern bride learned to make and have in their arsenal of “company” dishes.
Here’s why you will love this recipe:
- I promise it’s not a stretch to call this chicken divan recipe awesome! It’s quick enough for a weeknight dinner, yet it’s an entree you would be proud to serve guests.
- It can be made up to a day ahead and just popped in the oven when you are ready to eat. And, this recipe with fresh broccoli is quicker and easier than ever because I use a deli roasted chicken to save time.
- Leftovers if you have them are just as good if not better the second day, and an unbaked casserole can be frozen for up to three months.
- I’m betting you haven’t heard of this old reliable and flavorful casserole in a long time, much less served it. That said, I’m hoping to change that because it is truly a tasty and easy casserole to make.
- This recipe serves eight so it’s great for a crowd or a large family. However, if you have a small family like mine, it’s easy to divide up into several smaller dishes and then bake one and freeze the rest.
What is chicken divan?
It’s a decadent casserole filled with succulent chicken and nutritious broccoli and blanketed in a rich cheesy bechamel sauce. And, if that isn’t enough deliciousness for you, it is then topped with crunchy panko, butter, and cheese mixture.
What is bechamel sauce?
This easy broccoli chicken divan is smothered in a dreamy, creamy bechamel sauce made with sharp white cheddar cheese and tangy sour cream. Bechamel is a fancy french term for a white sauce made with a roux. It’s considered a “mother” sauce because it is the basis for so many sauces and includes butter, flour, and milk.
How many calories:
There is no getting around it, this casserole is rich and has a whopping 574 calories per serving, so it is not something you would eat every night of the week. Of course, you can keep the calorie count down by simply having a smaller portion, and it does supply almost half of your vitamin C daily requirement.
Here’s what’s in it:
You will need two large heads of fresh broccoli. You will also need butter, all-purpose flour, chicken broth, and white wine. In addition, you need sour cream, sharp white cheddar cheese, a deli roasted chicken, panko bread crumbs, lemon juice, and salt. Optional, curry powder.
How to make it:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
To cook the broccoli, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, and add two teaspoons of salt. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain. Set aside.
Melt four tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and one teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the broth and wine, whisking the mixture constantly. Cook for about three minutes or until thickened.
Reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream and one cup of the shredded cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the chicken, broccoli, lemon juice, and optional curry powder. Mix well until everything is well combined. Pour this mixture into a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and add it to the panko. Add the remaining one-half cup of shredded cheese. Mix well.
How to bake it:
Sprinkle the panko/cheese mixture evenly over the casserole.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until it is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
If you would rather microwave the broccoli, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and pour 3 tablespoons of water over the top. Cover with a plate and microwave on high for 3 minutes, or until broccoli is crisp-tender.
The secret to a smooth creamy sauce is constant whisking. If you see lumps, keep whisking until you don’t.
If you prefer, you can substitute chicken broth for white wine.
I prefer fresh in this recipe, however, frozen broccoli can be substituted in a pinch. It does not need to be cooked or steamed first. Simply add it to the dish frozen and bake as directed. You will need at least 20 + ounces of frozen broccoli pieces.
If you prefer to cook your own chicken, here is a link to my Easy Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breast recipe. This is what I usually use. Then I save the bones to make the stock.
If you would like to make your own chicken stock, check out my easy homemade chicken stock recipe here. It’s a great way to repurpose leftover chicken or chicken bones so nothing goes to waste.
Some folks like to serve this dish over rice. I usually serve it by itself with a side salad, but I wanted to give you that option.
Easy make-ahead casseroles to feed a crowd:
If you like easy make-ahead casseroles as much as I do, I know you will love these recipes: Chicken Sausage and Wild Rice Casserole, Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu, Savory Chicken Crepes with Mushrooms, Ultimate Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, Not Your Mama’s Chicken Pot Pie, and Chicken Mushroom Marsala Pasta.
★ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and give it a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Easy Southern Chicken Divan Casserole
- 1 chicken deli-roasted, skin, and bones removed, about 3 cups chopped chicken
- 2 large stalks broccoli cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 tsp kosher salt divided
- 6 Tbsp butter divided
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 2/3 cups chicken broth
- 1/3 cup white wine or cream sherry may substitute chicken broth
- 16 oz sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups extra-sharp white cheddar cheese shredded, divided (6 oz)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp curry powder optional
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 2 teaspoons of salt. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Set aside.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the chicken broth and wine, whisking the mixture constantly. Cook for 3 minutes or until thickened.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream and one cup of cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the chicken, broccoli, lemon juice, and curry powder if using. Mix well until everything is well combined. Pour this mixture into a 9x13 baking dish, which has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add the panko and remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Mix well.
- Sprinkle this mixture over the casserole and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
*This recipe was originally posted on August 17, 2017. Republished on May 13, 2020, with expanded directions, and new tips so that you can make this recipe perfectly the first time!