Overnight Casserole with Chicken or Turkey

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Overnight Casserole is one of the easiest you can assemble. No need to boil the noodles, just stir together all the ingredients and chill overnight. Top with bread crumbs and bake.

Overnight Casserole with Chicken or Turkey | Good Cheap Eats

While I was born and raised in Southern California, I spent my childhood summers in Minnesota and South Dakota, visiting my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As such, my culinary background ranges from Cal Mex-style soft tacos and carnitas all the way to brats and cheesy casseroles.

And I’m totally good with that.

This Overnight Casserole is an updated version of one my Gramma John used to make for our summer potlucks. I remember asking her for the recipe when I was ten or twelve and proceeding to make it many times over once we got home. It’s so simple, it’s not even funny!

Combine a simple sauce with uncooked noodles, cooked chicken, turkey, or ham, and cheddar cubes. Slide the dish into the refrigerator overnight where the noodles soak up the sauce; they later cook in the oven.

Over the last couple months I’ve been experimenting with this dish, substituting Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup for canned and penne for macaroni. My teen boys went crazy for this from the start, calling it a combination of Thanksgiving with Mac and Cheese.

I even tested this by freezing the dish instead of refrigerating it. Well, it is refrigerated as it thaws, but I wanted to know what would happen if I froze the uncooked noodles. Turns out it works out well, just like lasagna with uncooked noodles.

This is a great dish to stir up later this month with Thanksgiving leftovers. So many ways to make this work with those!

  • Make homemade stock from the carcass and use the stock in the Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup.
  • Use leftover gravy instead of the soup. (Psst. Creamed soup is very much like a gravy.)
  • Use leftover turkey as the main protein in this dish.

Overnight Casserole with Chicken or Turkey | Good Cheap Eats

How to make this good and cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. For instance, when I see a great price on pasta, cheese, or chicken stock, I’ll buy lots of them and plan my meals around them.
  • Use a whole chicken! Cooking a whole chicken (or buying one that Costco roasted for you) can be more economical than buying chicken pieces. Plus, you can use the carcass to make homemade stock. You can easily make this dish with turkey when the whole birds go on sale this month.

How I make this recipe easy:

Having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

Overnight Casserole with Chicken or Turkey | Good Cheap Eats

Are you looking for more good cheap eats?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Sandi says

    Question: how saucy is the cooked casserole? We tend to like things like this a little on the soupy side, and in the photo it looks a little dry. I can always just reduce the amount of pasta used or bump up the goopy ingredients if needed, but it is hard to tell if I need to do that.

    • So THIS is why I made this five times in the last two months, trying to get the sauce ratio correct. If you want it very saucy, I would add an extra cup of the cream of chicken soup and/or use macaroni instead of penne. That was too saucy for us. Even making the noodle switch will give you a saucier consistency, so you could try that first. But, yes, this is not overly saucy. Great questions.

  2. Dona Perkins says

    I am soooo going to make this and use French fried onions on top instead of breadcrumbs. I LOVE those fattening little things! <3

  3. LeslieT says

    I’m with you, Dona Perkins…FF Onions are gonna be great on this. I’m going to make it and divide it between 3 small foil pans and freeze, since I usually only cook for one or two.

  4. karen b says

    Ok I make something simular to this but use noodles! I do cook the noodles but not even to al-dent, I do freeze it & its one of our favorite recipes. I will have to try w/out cooking the noodles.

  5. Kelly says

    Does this have to be refrigerated overnight? I have a similar casserole that has uncooked noodles. I just mix it up & bake. But yours makes a bigger amount which I need with 2 college sons home from college!

  6. Tami says

    This looks SO delicious, except we are not big fans of cooked cheddar by itself. It just always seems too oily and flabby without another cheese mixed in. Does the cream soup and broth make the cheddar creamier?

    • To me it seems that the cheddar melts right into the sauce, so I don’t notice it. But, feel free to use your favorite melting cheese instead!

  7. Pat says

    I made this Sunday and it was delicious!!
    I mixed it up Saturday afternoon so it was in the fridge for over 24 hours and the penne pasta soaked up every drop of liquid. I just poured some milk on it and cooked it covered for 30 minutes and took it out and put the french fried onions on top and finished it uncovered.
    It got a thumbs up from everyone here!
    Thanks for the keeper!

  8. Laura Sharp says

    I’ve got extra bread and it’s unhealthy to throw out to the birds so I’m going to definitely going to use the bread as a topping. I thought to put some ripped pieces of bread on top to sop up some of the cream because I do add more sour cream and cream. Then at the end brown some bread cubes to a crunch and put a pinch of spice here and there.. I go a bit on the Italian spice

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