Homemade Chicken Curry Casserole Even Better than Your Mom’s

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

This freezer-friendly, curried chicken and broccoli casserole is fully homemade. No canned soups or packaged mixes in this Chicken Curry Casserole. Just good, real food. 

curried chicken and broccoli casserole in green dishes

So, casseroles get a bad rap. They’re considered dated, unhealthy, unhip.

The reality, though, is that casseroles can be delicious. Many casseroles will pluck at the chords of nostalgia in your heart and have your mouth watering just at the mere mention of their names.

Chicken Curry Casserole is one of those casseroles.

Though not a true Indian curry, this layered dish of juicy chicken and tender broccoli, luxuriating in a bath of a homemade curried cream sauce is divine. Served over rice alongside a few more veggies it’s not only delicious, but also not unhealthful, either.

Fun fact: This was often my birthday dinner as a child.

dinner plate with curried chicken casserole

Chicken Curry Casserole

If you’ve got any vintage church cookbooks on your shelf, chances are there are more than a few versions of Chicken and Broccoli Casserole or Chicken Curry Casserole. Originally the dish was called Chicken Divan.

Chicken Divan is a chicken casserole made with broccoli and Mornay sauce, invented in NYC over 60 years ago. Then the canned soup companies got a hold of it and made it over into all kinds of things, under the guise of “it’s too hard for the average home cook to make her own sauce.”

Talk about unhip.

We can do it, can’t we folks?

Instead of using canned cream soup, I make my own white sauce and doctor it up just the way mom did with mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder. It sounds odd, I know, but it’s so delicious!

This casserole is very customizable. There are likely so many versions of it out there because folks have difference preferences.

My sister makes it without mayonnaise on principle. (She doesn’t like mayo.) My husband prefers it with less sauce. One son prefers it with less cheese.

If you make it into small individual sized casserole dishes, you can customize each person’s dish.

dinner of chicken curry casserole

What kinds of casseroles are there?

There are dozens of casserole recipes out there, ranging from mac and cheese to lasagna, enchiladas to pot pie. Chicken and Broccoli Casserole is a classic with variations including the addition of rice or curry powder.

How do you make a casserole healthy?

A basic casserole includes a sauce, mix-ins (like noodles, rice, or protein), and a topping, such as cheese or buttered breadcrumbs. On every level you have options to make your favorite casserole a little healthier:

  • use whole grains instead of simple carbs
  • focus on lean proteins instead fattier ones
  • use less cheese
  • spray the bread crumb topping with oil instead of dousing it in butter
  • make your own white sauce instead of buying the canned varieties.

How do you make Chicken Curry Casserole?

One of the beauties of Chicken Curry Casserole — besides how delicious it tastes — is that it comes together super quickly.

  1. Prepare your ingredients. Cook and chop the chicken. Shred the cheese. Prepare the “Cream of” soup, if you’re using homemade. Steam the broccoli. Measure out the other things.
  2. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish or single-serve gratin dishes with cooking spray.
  3. Spread the broccoli florets in the pan. Layer on the chicken.
  4. Whisk together the soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder in a large mixing bowl. Pour this mixture over the chicken and broccoli in the prepared dish.
  5. Sprinkle the top with the cheese.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle this mixture over the cheese layer.
  7. Bake immediately or cover and refrigerate or freeze.

How do you freeze a casserole?

Freezing a casserole is super simple. Making several casseroles at one time and freezing the extras is a great habit to get into as it helps you stretch your time and money investments and gives you a night off cooking at a later date.

Remember that cold food freezes more quickly and has a lower chance of developing ice crystals for freezer burn, so be sure to use chilled ingredients for best taste and texture at serving.

Assemble the casserole, cover, label, and store in the freezer. Voila! Super simple.

If the ingredients are not already cold when you assemble the casserole, place the prepared dish in the refrigerator for several hours before storing in the freezer. 

How do you serve a frozen casserole?

For best taste and texture, it’s usually best to thaw the casserole completely prior to baking. Transfer the frozen dish from the freezer to the refrigerator for safest thawing. A casserole may take 12 to 36 hours to thaw, depending on the temperature in your refrigerator.

You can bake a frozen casserole straight from the freezer, however, you will need to increase the cooking time and watch out for cold spots. Start by adding 30 minutes to the cooking time, after which you should check it every 15 minutes until hot and bubbly throughout.

For extended cooking times, it’s best to bake the casserole covered, so as not to overbrown the top before the filling is cooked. Bake uncovered near the end of the cooking time.

stack of frozen casseroles

How to make this dish inexpensively

All the recipes on Good Cheap Eats are already pretty affordable. However, there are some strategies you can use to make this particular recipe more economical:

Tools I Use for This Recipe:

serving dishes of curried chicken casserole

0 from 0 votes
Homemade Curried Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 
This freezer-friendly, curried chicken and broccoli casserole is fully homemade. No canned soups or packaged mixes in this Chicken Curry Casserole. Just good, real food. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, chicken and broccoli, chicken and broccoli casserole, chicken casserole, chicken curry, chicken curry casserole, curried chicken casserole
Servings: 8
Calories: 381 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a pot on the stove, the microwave or a vegetable steamer, cook the broccoli until crisp-tender. Arrange the broccoli on the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Layer the chicken over the broccoli.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine the soup, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and curry powder. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
  5. Top with the grated cheese.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and butter. Mix well and sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly, the cheese is melted, and the crumb topping is toasted.
Recipe Notes

Note: If freezing, allow the casserole to cool slightly. Wrap, label, and chill in the refrigerator before freezing. To bake, thaw completely before baking.

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Curried Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Amount Per Serving
Calories 381 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Fat 31g48%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 400mg17%
Potassium 539mg15%
Carbohydrates 16g5%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 1213IU24%
Vitamin C 137mg166%
Calcium 189mg19%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post

Comments

  1. it took me a long time to realize my mom’s curried chicken wasn’t really curry after all too! this sounds delicious 🙂

  2. erin wright says

    We make this! But we call it chicken divan. One of my all time favorites; especially when made the day before, refridgerated, then cooked.

    • I did a lot of research on Chicken Divan when I did the freezer book. It often doesn’t have curry powder. Does yours?

      • Leslie T says

        I grew up with this same recipe, and my mom also called it Chicken Divan. She used frozen broccoli and cream of chicken soup of course, but the curry in the sauce was always there. The lemon juice is important, too. She always served it with crescent rolls to mop up any sauce left on the plate. When I used to make this for my veggie-hating kids, I’d make 1/3 of the pan with extra chicken and no broccoli. I”ve also made this with cooked basmati rice in the bottom, along with peas (or green beans) and called it Bombay Chicken Casserole. Yum…now I’ve gotta make this soon!

      • Erin says

        yup, but it’s from an older cookbook that i don’t even have. it’s a photocopied page. i love that yours is made with no cream of whatever. i love to make my own cream of soups too! my husband was so surprised that it tastes better than campbells. We love your blog : ) My grandma emails me every year to ask where i get the streusel topped pumpkin pie recipe : )

    • MimiG says

      My youngest son asked for this every year on his birthday growing up. His wife makes it, but doesn’t like curry, so for him, it’s not the same. I make it for him (with curry) and freeze in smaller portions and he’ll come by every now and then and get one out of the freezer for work.
      I had not made my own soup, will definitely be trying this more up to date, fresher recipe!

  3. Lizzy says

    I made this, but I added some shredded potato (aka hashbrowns) that I par boiled before adding. (I didn’t have enough time for a full bake, and everything else was hot, so I just cooked the potatoes, too.) We loved it, but I’m going to have to add more curry powder! Actually, I automatically doubled the curry powder, and I STILL have to add more curry powder. Ha! I love my curry! Anyway, thanks for the recipe! I’ve never made anything like this and the kids ate it up so well. I was very pleased. I was also glad I hid the potatoes inside since for some reason my kiddos don’t like potatoes.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Sounds yummy! Did you still do the rice?

      • Lizzy says

        No, just to keep it a little simpler in the kitchen for me, I didn’t make rice that night. That would have gone well, though, since rice is an absolute hit in my house.

  4. I love chicken curry, but my hubby doesn’t so this is the perfect meal for my lunches all week as I can re-heat portions just for me.

    I’ve never made it casserole-style with the buttered bread crumbs. I usually just make it with rice. I like the idea of trying something new, so thanks so much for sharing your recipe. I”m sick right now, so this would be the ultimate comfort food.

    Pinning!

  5. Love the polka-dot dishes! 🙂

  6. Sandi says

    Not how I remember Chicken Divan, but neither how I have ever made “curry” before. I had to modify it slightly for what I had. I used two chicken breasts that had been in the freezer for much too long, so I diced them up and browned them to use. I used a bag of frozen broccoli since I did not have fresh. I had a single potato that was in dire need of using, so I chopped it really small and heated it up with the broccoli and layered it on the bottom of the pan. With that cooking time and the baking time plus being chopped so small, it cooked up perfectly. I actually had a can of cream of mushroom, not sure why (probably a canned food drive that didn’t get actually donated) that was languishing as I never use that type of thing any more so that got cleared out of the cabinet. I so rarely use mayo that my jar was significantly past the Best By date and was going to get tossed. However, it turned out to be exactly one cup left in there, so poof! Since I like curry, I doubled the portion to 1 tsp. I served it over some whole grain blend left overs I had in the fridge, and baked some baguettes getting freezer burnt. So basically, this turned out to be the perfect pantry challenge dinner for me tonight, even if it is March instead of January! For the amount it made, though, I think I will use an 8.5×11 pan next time instead of a 9×13. It seemed a little sparse spread over the bottom. I can also see putting the rice on the bottom of the pan so it can soak up sauce while it is cooking.

    Now I’m going to go slice the cheesecake I found in the freezer and top it with my fresh strawberries. 🙂

  7. Katieliz says

    Made this tonight. It’s been years since I had the chicken divan my mom used to make when we were growing up. I always really liked it. I like this even better!! It’s amazingly good. I left out the curry since that wasn’t part of my childhood flavor memory 🙂 and I subbed in crushed saltine crackers for the panko. Perfection. My kids didn’t go for it, but I don’t care. I’ll be making it again.

  8. katieliz says

    Do you freeze this before or after baking? If after, do you take it out a little early? Thanks.

  9. Lori says

    Thanks for posting about this recipe over on Instagram. My family raved about it. I served it with rice. Delish!

  10. Lerue says

    In your receipe it says one batch homemade celery soup do you make the soup first ?

    • Yes. You can make a big batch of the homemade celery soup and then freeze it so that you can save steps next time.

Share Your Thoughts

*