This is not your regular macaroni and cheese dinner. My Cheesy Chicken Macaroni Casserole features a creamy chicken sauce, elbow macaroni, and lots of gooey cheese!
Macaroni and cheese is such a classic dinner for kids, but the stuff from a box just doesn’t have that homemade taste.
Switch it up and try my chicken macaroni casserole and see what your family thinks!
This recipe works because it’s:
- Quick and easy to make. You’ll find yourself wanting to ditch the box stuff for this dinner instead.
- Great for the holidays. Macaroni and cheese is a classic side dish for holiday dinners, and this recipe takes it to another level with the addition of chicken.
- The best of both worlds. it’s a kid-friendly dinner with a taste that’s not processed or fake.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cook 1½ cups elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain once done.
In a 2-quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter, then add in ¼ cup finely chopped onions and cook until soft. Next, stir in 10 ounces of canned cream of chicken soup, ½ cup milk and ½ teaspoon of pepper, until smooth.
ADD drained macaroni, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 12.5 ounces of drained chunk chicken, to the pot and mix well.
POUR mixture into a 7×11 quart casserole dish.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Once done, remove the casserole from the oven and TOP with ½ cup shredded cheese, and ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs if desired. Return to the oven and BAKE for 2-3 minutes more until the cheese melts.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
If you don’t like onions (like me and most kids!) you can substitute ½-1 teaspoon of onion powder for the chopped onion. Just add the powder into the melted butter and stir until combined.
This chicken and macaroni casserole gets its flavor from the pepper, so don’t be shy!
If you don’t have straight cheddar cheese, you can use a blend with Colby and Monterey Jack.
I love a lot of chicken in this mac and cheese casserole, but if you don’t have a large can of chunk chicken, you can use two smaller 5 ounce cans, or even 1 if you prefer.
Speaking of chunk chicken, some of you may think the stuff is gross, but don’t knock it until you try it! I love using chunk chicken in my rotini pasta salad or chicken salad and especially this dish. It’s affordable and makes great food storage.
The original direction calls for the dish to bake for 30 minutes. If you’re short on time, 20 minutes is just fine too.
Try these substitutes if you’re out of an ingredient and still want to make this casserole:
More Like This
Looking for more yummy casseroles? You’ll love these!
- Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
- Chicken Zucchini Casserole with Stuffing
- Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- Creamy Mushroom Swiss Chicken Bake
Chicken! It’s a great way to add protein and flavor to mac and cheese in a way that’s super kid-friendly.
If you’re looking for a great recipe, just check out my chicken macaroni casserole below.
You could also do mac and cheese with leftover pulled pork, ham, or Spam, and if you’re really adventurous (and fancy), you could even do a seafood mac with lobster or crab.
If you don’t have a casserole dish, there are a few alternatives you can try.
The first option is a cast iron skillet. These thick and sturdy pans are oven-friendly and can go right from sautéing to baking. Just be careful with the cook time as they will cook your food more quickly.
You could also try using a Dutch oven. These heavy bottom pots are another sauté-to-oven option that can hold a lot of food.
If you happen to have a large, oven-rated sauté pan, that could work, too. Just be sure it can withstand the baking temperature!
As a last resort, a disposable foil baking pan will also do the job and makes for easy clean up!
Yes and no!
If you’re making a casserole dish with precooked grains (rice, pasta, etc.), you will generally leave the casserole uncovered. You do not need to cover this macaroni recipe as the pasta is cooked beforehand.
However, if you’re making a dish with uncooked grains, you definitely need to cover it and make sure it’s a tight, secure fit. You want to trap all the moisture inside so the grains have a chance to soften during cook time.
If you want your dish to be a little crisp on top, you can remove the cover for the final minutes of cooking or broil on low for a minute or so, afterward.
Macaroni goes great with a side salad, a side of veggies or fruit.
My family loves this BLT salad with avocado and this delicious zucchini and yellow squash casserole.
Any fruit that’s in season will work great, too!
I hope your family loves this delicious chicken macaroni casserole! If you make it, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!
And if you’d like to get a 4-week meal plan featuring my recipes, just enter your email in the form above and you’ll get it straight to your inbox!
Easy and Cheesy Chicken Macaroni Casserole
- 1½ cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup finely chopped onions, or ½-1 teaspoon onion powder
- 10.5 ounces cream of chicken soup
- ½ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 12.5 ounces canned chunk chicken, drained
- ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain once done.
- In a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter and cook onion until soft.
- Stir in soup, milk, and pepper until smooth.
- Add drained macaroni, 1 cup cheese, and chicken and mix well.
- Pour mixture into a 7×11 quart casserole dish.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and top with 1/2 cup shredded cheese first, and then breadcrumbs, if desired.
- Bake for 3-5 more minutes until the cheese melts and the breadcrumbs are browned.