This easy recipe starts with a box of macaroni and cheese and becomes a main dish casserole with the addition of diced cooked chicken and frozen-thawed vegetables. The casserole is topped with buttery breadcrumbs and then is baked to homemade perfection. Sprinkling on some shredded Cheddar cheese before the breadcrumb topping adds a bit more flavor and texture but is not necessary.
This is a quick and easy meal to prepare with convenience foods, but if you are not a fan of condensed soup, replace it with about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of white sauce or a seasoned bechamel sauce made with part chicken broth. Use leftover cooked chicken or a rotisserie chicken in the dish, and whatever frozen vegetables your family likes. You can also use a package of the deluxe-style macaroni and cheese in place of the regular.
- 1 package (12 ounces) Kraft Velveeta shells and cheese
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 2 to 3 cups cubed, cooked chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (thawed)
- 2 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper or pimiento
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup soft fresh breadcrumbs tossed with 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
- Lightly butter a 2- to 2 1/2-quart baking dish or spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cook the shells as directed on the package. Drain, return to the saucepan or a large bowl and add the cheese mixture, cream of chicken soup, and the diced chicken.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet or saute pan. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the thawed vegetables and red pepper or pimiento to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer.
- Combine the sauteed vegetables with the pasta and chicken mixture; taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Top with shredded cheese, if using, and the buttered breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned and the casserole is bubbling around the edges.
- Serve this easy all-in-one dish with a simple tossed salad or sliced fresh tomatoes, along with hot biscuits.
Additional Comforting Chicken Recipes
If you are looking for more all-in-one chicken dishes, give one of these recipes a try. Creamy chicken casserole with cheddar cheese and vegetables is a rich, layered dish complete with chicken, vegetables, and breadcrumbs in a creamy sauce. Chicken and rice casserole couldn't be easier—just put all of the ingredients in a dish and bake. And for something as satisfying but perhaps a little lighter, this spicy Cajun chicken, and pasta will please the whole family.