Creamy Chicken Pasta Casserole is a simple, yet comforting recipe for baked pasta made with tender pasta, juicy chicken, and a homemade creamy sauce.
At my house, this chicken pasta casserole is known as Amish Chicken and ranks as one of my favorite recipes for leftover rotisserie chicken. It is creamy, hearty, and delicious! I love pairing it with Roasted Broccoli or Green Beans Almondine for a delicious, easy family meal.
While not a complicated or sophisticated dish, the simple creamy sauce, noodles, and shredded chicken, come together to create classic comfort food that appeals to the pickiest of eaters. Yet the addition of thyme and wine elevates this dish enough to please the more sophisticated palates--AKA the adults.😉
In fact, this recipe for chicken and pasta casserole is from my old childhood. My mom has been making this recipe for decades--for her family of 6 picky eaters and to take to those in need of a comforting meal because it is a dish EVERYONE loves.
And while making this Chicken and Pasta Casserole without canned soup does take a few extra minutes, this dish is still incredibly easy to make and the results are well worth the added effort.
Notes on Ingredients
- Pasta: Select a pasta that has curves or ridges, like a corkscrew, rotini, or cavatappi noodles. They will trap the chicken and sauce, making the casserole much more flavorful in every bite.
- Cooked Chicken: Use any leftover cooked chicken you have on hand, such as Roasted Chicken Breasts, Instant Pot Chicken, or leftover Rotisserie Chicken.
- Chicken Stock: Use low-sodium store-bought or homemade chicken stock.
- Wine: Dry white wine adds dimension and sharp, acidic notes to this casserole which helps to cut through the richness of the cream sauce. Feel free to replace the wine with additional chicken stock if you don't care to cook with wine.
- Milk: Use fat-free milk for a lighter casserole or whole milk or half and half for a richer casserole.
- Thyme: I love adding a bit of fresh thyme to really enhance the casserole. Feel free to omit it if you don't care for the flavor of thyme, or use dried thyme leaves. Do not use ground thyme, as the flavor is not the same.
- Parmesan Cheese: Be sure to use freshly grated parmesan cheese for the best flavor.
How to Make Chicken Pasta Casserole
- Cook the Pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Once boiling, heavily salt the water, add the pasta, and cook it for 1 minute less than the package directs. Once the pasta is cooked, drain, but DO NOT rinse the cooked pasta. You need that starch on the outside of the noodles to help the sauce adhere to the noodles.
Once you drop the pasta in the boiling water, proceed to make the creamy sauce while the pasta cooks.
- Prepare the Roux. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour to form a thick paste known as a roux. Let this mixture cook for 1 minute. This will help the sauce NOT to taste like raw flour.
- Thicken the Sauce. Slowly, whisk in white wine and chicken stock, and cook for 3-5 minutes, whisking often, to thicken the sauce.
- Flavor the Sauce. Once thickened, whisk in the milk or cream, parmesan cheese, and seasonings and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, or until the sauce is combined and gently simmering.
- Add the cooked pasta, along with the cooked chicken to the cream sauce and toss well to evenly coat the chicken and pasta with the creamy sauce.
- Pour the chicken noodle mixture into a greased 9x13 or 2-quart baking dish.
- Top the casserole with parmesan cheese.
- Bake the casserole until bubbly and the cheese is slightly browned.
Once slightly cooled, any leftover Chicken and Pasta Casserole can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Keep in mind you may want to add a splash of milk or broth before reheating, as the pasta will absorb the extra moisture as it sits.
Preparing the Casserole in Advance
If you would like to get a jump start on dinner, you can prepare this chicken casserole up to baking and refrigerate it for up to 48 hours in advance or freeze the unbaked casserole for up to 3 months.
To prepare the casserole up to 48 hours in advance, prepare the casserole as directed up to baking. Allow the casserole to cool slightly, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and then refrigerate it for up to 48 hours. When ready to bake, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Allow the casserole to sit at room temperature as the oven preheats to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until warmed through.
To freeze the unbaked casserole, prepare up to combining the sauce, pasta, and chicken. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then transfer to a large freezer gallon-sized bag or a greased disposable casserole pan and cover tightly with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To prepare the casserole from frozen, defrost for 12 hours in the refrigerator and bake at 350 degrees F covered for 1 hour, and then uncover and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the dish is bubbly and warmed through.
- Add Vegetables: If desired, add 2 cups of defrosted peas or steamed chopped broccoli florets to the pasta along with the sauce and chicken. Bake as directed.
- Add Mushrooms: Saute sliced button or baby portabella mushrooms in melted butter, for 3-4 minutes before adding the flour to form the roux. Once the mushrooms have softened, proceed with the recipe by adding the flour to the pan and forming the roux. Alternatively, add 1 can of sliced mushrooms that have been drained to the casserole when adding the cooked chicken and pasta to the sauce.
- Using Whole Grains: I have made this casserole many times with whole wheat pasta with fantastic results.
- Lightened-Up: To cut back on the fat and calories in this recipe, use cooked chicken breasts instead of dark meat, use skim milk instead of whole milk or cream, and use half the amount of parmesan cheese.
- Decadent Version: For a super creamy, rich casserole use whole milk or half and half, and top this casserole with additional shredded Parmesan cheese.
More Family-Favorite Chicken Casseroles
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Creamy and Cheesy Chicken and Rice
- Buffalo Chicken Casserole
- Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole
I hope that this Creamy Chicken Casserole becomes a family favorite, just as it has at my house! I would love to hear how you enjoyed this meal in the comments. Be sure to leave a review!
Creamy Chicken Pasta Casserole
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dry white wine or additional chicken stock
- 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup milk or cream
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese plus more for topping
- 8 ounces dried noodles like corkscrew, cavatappi, or rotini
- 2 cups cooked chicken diced or shredded
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Salt the water well and then add in the pasta of your choice. Cook for 1 minute less than the package suggests. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse. Set aside to add to the casserole.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour to form a thick paste (a roux) and cook for 1 minute to cook off the raw flour taste.
- Add in the wine (or chicken stock), while whisking, and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Cook off the alcohol for 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in the chicken stock. Add in the thyme, salt, and pepper to season the sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a medium-low simmer.
- Add the milk and cheese to the sauce, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and warmed through.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, sauce, and chicken together. Pour into the prepared casserole pan. Top with additional parmesan cheese if desired.
- Bake for 20- 25 minutes until the top of the casserole is browned and the dish is fully warmed through.
This post was originally posted in 2015 and updated in 2023.