Perhaps a little bit retro, this one-dish chicken macaroni casserole is pure comfort food in a pan. Chicken and pasta combine with peas and pimentos in a simple sauce made with cream of chicken soup and milk. The pimientos add some color and depth of flavor to the sauce mixture, and a buttery crumb crust finishes this casserole perfectly. The shredded cheese is optional but adds a creamy texture and a nice taste.
For even faster preparation, use a rotisserie chicken or fully cooked packaged refrigerated chicken strips to make this dish.
- 8 ounces uncooked macaroni
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (thawed, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
- 1 cup milk
- 1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimientos (drained)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Optional: 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese or a Cheddar-Jack blend
- 1 cup soft breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Heat the oven to 400 F. Grease a 2 1/2-quart casserole dish.
- Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water 2 to 3 minutes less than the package directions. Drain thoroughly.
- Combine cooked macaroni, chicken, peas, soup, milk, pimientos, salt, and pepper in the prepared casserole dish and gently mix well.
- If desired, sprinkle with shredded cheese.
- In a small bowl, toss breadcrumbs with melted butter; sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the breadcrumb topping is lightly browned and the filling is hot and bubbling.
Tips and Variations
This recipe calls for soft breadcrumbs instead of dried; the packaged dried breadcrumbs are too fine to use as a topping for this casserole whereas freshly made soft breadcrumbs can be a bit chunkier. Once tossed in the melted butter, they turn crisp and golden in the oven. To make your own soft breadcrumbs, take fresh or a day or so old bread and process in the food processor until small (but not fine) crumbs form.
If you have a full loaf (or more than you need for this recipe), you can turn it all into breadcrumbs and freeze them in freezer bags. This way, you'll have breadcrumbs on hand to use for casseroles, meatloaf, meatballs, and other dishes.
If you would rather not use the condensed soup, you can replace it (and the 1 cup milk) with 2 cups of medium white sauce made with half milk or cream and half chicken stock. And feel free to swap out the macaroni for other pasta shapes such as mini penne, farfalle (bow ties), fusilli (corkscrew), and orecchiette (ear-shaped). You can also add other vegetables to this casserole—try mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, and even corn.
You can make this recipe vegetarian by eliminating the chicken and swapping out the cream of chicken soup for cream of mushroom. Add a few more vegetables to keep the casserole hearty while adding extra nutrition.
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Total Fat||44 g|
|Saturated Fat||23 g|
|Unsaturated Fat||13 g|
|Dietary Fiber||5 g|