Huntington chicken casserole is a delicious mix of chicken and pasta in a cheese sauce that is topped with bread crumbs and baked to perfection. It is easy to make and the perfect comfort food.
This is a unique dish that is amazing! The sauce is made similar to our mac and cheese, but with less cheese and no heavy cream.
The noodles cook in broth to add extra chicken flavor to the casserole. The breadcrumbs add some texture and flavor as well.
We don't usually like breadcrumbs on mac and cheese, but on the Huntington chicken casserole they are delicious!
Chicken - We prefer to use chicken breasts here, but you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs.
Chicken broth - The broth you use will determine if you need to add salt and how much. We usually use unsalted and add salt, if you use regular you will need to adjust the amount of salt used.
Pasta - I recommend using a smaller pasta like small shells or elbows for best results.
Cheese - We use half cheddar and half gouda (sometimes Colby Jack), but you can use your favorite cheese as long as it melts smoothly.
Milk - You can use half and half in place of the milk. We use whole milk and have not tested it with a lower fat milk. You can use a lactose free milk, we have tested it using Fairlife.
Breadcrumbs - They are the topping on the Huntington chicken. You can use more or less here and we recommend Italian seasoned, but you can use your favorite.
Flour - No substitutions recommended.
Butter - It is used with the flour to thicken the sauce, no substitutions are recommended.
Oil - We use olive oil, but you can use your favorite. It is for frying the chicken pieces.
Salt and pepper - This is to taste and the salt may need to be adjusted depending on the broth you use.
Garlic - Garlic powder is best.
Making Huntington chicken casserole
There are a few steps that are pretty simple. It takes about 20 minutes to prep but they are easy steps.
The chicken and pasta
Just like our old fashioned hamburger casserole, the meat and pasta get cooked before going in the casserole. The pasta needs to be cooked for the best texture and taste. The chicken gets cooked first to be sure it is fully cooked.
Cook the pasta over medium to medium high heat in the broth until it is al dente. You want it to simmer but not boil rapidly so you do not lose too much liquid. We add the salt to the broth to cook the pasta in. You can taste the casserole before baking and add more salt if needed.
Set aside and do not drain. It's ok that there is extra broth, it adds extra flavor to the Huntington chicken casserole.
While the pasta is cooking, cook the chicken in a 3 quart sauce pot stirring often for about 4-5 minutes. Cook it until it is no longer pink, it might take an extra minute or 2. We use olive oil, but you can use your favorite oil.
Once the chicken is done, remove from pan and set aside. Do not drain the sauce pot.
The sauce is similar to a mac and cheese where we make a roux first.
Add the butter and flour to the sauce pot that was used for the chicken. Cook over medium heat stirring often for 1-2 minutes, until it is combined and thick.
Slowly pour in the milk while stirring constantly. Once all the milk is added and there are no big lumps cook for about 2 minutes stirring often, until it has thickened and it is smooth. Do not boil the milk mixture.
Add in the pepper and garlic powder, stir well. Drop shredded cheese in a handful at a time, stirring each time until it is melted before adding more. Repeat until all the cheese is melted, remove from heat.
The assembly of the Huntington chicken casserole is really simple at this point!
Pour the pasta and any remaining broth into the cheese sauce. Add the chicken into the sauce mixture and stir well.
At this point it is best to taste it to see if you need to add more seasonings. Remember the breadcrumbs will add a little bit more seasoning, but not a lot.
Pour into a 3 quart baking dish, we use a 13x9 dish. Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. You can use more or less then we did.
After your Huntington chicken casserole is assembled, it is ready to bake.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Do not cover the casserole, bake it uncovered.
Everything is cooked before adding so you are baking it until it is hot through. The breadcrumbs will be browning on top and the sauce will be bubbling on the sides of the dish when it is ready.
Remove from the oven and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
Frequently asked questions
Yes you can make it ahead of time and put it in the fridge to bake later in the day. Do not put the breadcrumbs on until right before baking. I don't recommend making it any earlier then a day before. Cook times will need to be adjusted, heat until it is hot and bubbly.
I do not recommend it. We haven't tried it, but most often things with milk and cheese do not always freeze well.
If stored in the fridge promptly, it should last 3-4 days after it is cooked.
Huntington Chicken Casserole
- 2-3 Tablespoons oil we use olive oil
- 1½ pounds chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
- 4 cups chicken broth see notes
- 2 cups elbows or small shells uncooked
- 1 cup breadcrumbs We use Italian seasoned
- 2 cups fresh shredded cheese cheddar, gouda or Colby Jack
- 1 cup milk or half and half
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon salt see notes
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
- Bring the broth and salt (if adding) to a gentle boil. Stir in the pasta and cook over medium - medium high heat until al dente. Cook the chicken and sauce while broth is heating and pasta cooks. Once pasta is cooked, set aside and do not drain (any extra broth goes in the casserole.)4 cups chicken broth, 2 cups elbows or small shells, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the oil and chicken pieces to a 3 quart sauce pot. Cook over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes stirring often. Cook until chicken is cooked and no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside, do not drain the pot.2-3 Tablespoons oil, 1½ pounds chicken breasts
- Add the butter and flour to the sauce pot the chicken was cooked in. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes, until it is completely combined and thickened.2 Tablespoons butter, 2 Tablespoons flour
- Slowly pour the milk in while stirring constantly. Once all the milk is added and it is blended together with no large lumps, cook for about 2 minutes stirring often until it is thickened. Do NOT boil the milk mixture. Cook over medium heat.1 cup milk
- Mix in the pepper and garlic powder.Add in the cheese a handful at a time, mixing it well each time you add it. Once the cheese is all mixed in and melted, remove from heat.¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 2 cups fresh shredded cheese
- Stir the pasta along with any extra broth into the cheese sauce. Mix the chicken in and stir well.Taste it to see if you want anymore seasoning.
- Pour into a 13x9 baking dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top.1 cup breadcrumbs
- Bake at 400° for about 25 minutes. The breadcrumbs will be starting to brown and the sides will be bubbling.Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.