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Easy and Cheesy Chicken Macaroni Casserole

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!

Chicken macaroni casserole in glass baking dish.

If there’s one thing I love it’s pasta and cheese!

Macaroni and cheese is such a classic dinner for kids, but the stuff from a box just doesn’t have that homemade taste.

This chicken macaroni casserole recipe is the best of both worlds: a kid-friendly dinner with a taste that’s not processed or fake.

Plus, it’s so quick and easy to make, you’ll find yourself wanting to ditch the box stuff for this dinner instead.

FAQs

Chicken macaroni bake on a wooden spoon.
What meat is good in mac and cheese?

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, Spam and if you’re really adventurous (and fancy), you could even do a seafood mac with lobster or crab.

What can I use if I don’t have a casserole dish?


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!

Should a casserole be covered while baking? 

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.

What do you serve with macaroni?

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!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Chicken macaroni casserole ingredients on a white table.

PREHEAT your oven to 350 degrees.

COOK 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni according to package directions. DRAIN once done.

Cooked macaroni in a pot.

In a 2-quart saucepan, MELT 1 tablespoon butter, then ADD in 1/4 cup finely chopped onions and cook until soft. Next, STIR in 1 can cream of chicken soup (or one of these cream of chicken soup substitutes), 1/2 cup milk and a generous dash of pepper, until smooth.

Cheese sauce in a pot.

ADD drained macaroni, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 can (12.5 oz.) chunk chicken, drained to the pot and mix well.

Cheesy macaroni mixture in a pot.

POUR mixture into a 7×11 quart casserole dish.

Dish of unbaked chicken macaroni casserole.

BAKE at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Once done, remove the casserole from the oven and TOP with 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Return to the oven and BAKE for 2-3 minutes more until the cheese melts.

Shredded cheese on baked macaroni.

Recipe Tips and Substitutions

Chicken and macaroni casserole in baking dish with spoon.

If you don’t like onions (like me and most kids!) you can substitute 1-2 teaspoons of onion powder for the chopped onion. Just add the powder into the melted margarine and stir until combined.

This chicken and macaroni casserole gets its flavor from the pepper, so don’t be shy with your shakes!

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 oz. 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 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.

More Like This

Chicken and macaroni bake in a glass baking dish.

Need more pasta dishes? You’ll love these!

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!

Chicken macaroni casserole in glass baking dish.

Easy and Cheesy Chicken Macaroni Casserole

The Ashcroft Family Table
Elevate your macaroni and cheese with this Cheesy Chicken Macaroni Casserole featuring creamy chicken sauce, elbow pasta, and lots of cheese!
4.42 from 12 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 271 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 10.5 ounce can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Generous dash of pepper
  • cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 12.5 ounce can chunk chicken, drained

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain once done.
  • In a 2-quart saucepan, melt margarine 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 7x11 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.
  • Bake for 2-3 minutes more until the cheese melts.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 14gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 563mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g
Keyword chicken and macaroni bake, chicken and macaroni casserole, chicken macaroni bake, chicken macaroni casserole, macaroni casserole recipe, macaroni cheese chicken casserole
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Pinterest graphic with text and a spoon full of chicken macaroni casserole.
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