A classic Southern staple enjoyed everywhere; with pulled apart chunks of chicken, in a sour cream, Parmesan and cream of chicken sauce with crunchy poppy seeds and rich, buttery Ritz cracker topping.
I came across a recipe for this dish in a Southern magazine, although there are many variations of it. This one does not use condensed, canned soup.
People have been bringing Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole to church potlucks and holiday gatherings for years.
It's a really delicious tasting dish, and I am always here for anything saucy served over rice.
This casserole dish is part of a long list of condensed soup-based casseroles that started circulating in the 1950's. We still love them all today, and this one is one of the most popular.
Instead of the canned, condensed soup, it's very easy to make that base of the dish from scratch and have it come out tasting just as good.
Sauté some finely minced veggies (that basically disappear in the sauce) with butter, and add some flour to the pan to create the roux.
This will be what thickens it. The flour mixture will quickly turn into a loose paste.
Add the stock, vinegar, herbs and seasonings.
Let it simmer for a bit where it will reduce slightly, and the flavors will come together.
Once the thick and creamy base of the sauce has simmered, remove the pan from the heat.
Stir in the shredded cheese, sour cream, poppy seeds and shredded chicken.
While the cheeses are melting, make the crumb topping.
Crush the crackers in a bag until they are small crumbles.
Add them to a bowl with the butter and microwave until the butter is melted. Stir the melted butter with the crackers until they're evenly coated.
Pour the contents of the pan into a 13x9 inch casserole dish, or one of similar size. Any shape will do.
Sprinkle the buttery cracker crumbs evenly over the top and bake the casserole at 400 degrees until the edges look golden, toasty, and the casserole is bubbling at the edges.
Chicken poppy seed casserole is best served with steamed rice.
It's the traditional way, and most people say it's the most delicious.
However, you could also serve it with steamed vegetables or pasta.
If you serve it with something other than rice, share it with other readers in the comments below.
Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole
- 2 baked chicken breasts pulled apart or shredded into pieces
For the Topping
- 1 ½ cups crushed butter crackers
- 4 tablespoon butter ½ stick, melted
Cream of Chicken Soup Base
- 4 tbsp butter
- ½ onion minced
- 1 stalk celery minced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ cup flour
- 32 oz chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon thyme fresh or dried
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- salt and pepper to taste optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Salt and pepper chicken breasts and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through; pull into pieces.
- In a large skillet, add half stick (4 tablespoons) butter and minced vegetables and saute on medium high heat until softened.
- Add flour and whisk until it forms a paste like consistency and all lumps are gone.
- Pour in stock and thyme and whisk until smooth. Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Remove skillet from heat and stir in shredded cheese, sour cream and poppy seeds.
- Stir occasionally and let cheeses melt while you work on the crumb topping.
- Crush crackers into crumbs by placing the crackers in a large zip lock bag and smashing with a rolling pin.
- In a small bowl, add crushed crackers, and butter; microwave 30-60 seconds until butter is melted and stir to evenly coat the crumbs.
- Pour skillet into a 13x9 inch casserole dish.
- Sprinkle buttery cracker crumbs evenly over the top.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.
- Serve with steamed rice.
- Bake chicken breasts before hand and pull them apart into chunks, or use leftover rotisserie chicken or other chicken to equal 2 cups.
- You can substitute a similar sharp cheese for the Parmesan cheese.
- Use fresh or dried herbs.
- If you make the sauce base in an oven-safe skillet such as a cast iron skillet, then you can use that to bake the casserole in without having to pour it into a separate casserole dish.
- Best served with steamed white rice but can substitute veggies, brown rice or noodles.