Cheesy Chicken Casserole – Lighter

Oh my goodness, here’s a new family favorite, and I don’t say that lightly…This cheesy chicken casserole with pasta was scrumptious!  Normally I shy away from casseroles with LOTS of cheese, since I know the cheese is loaded with saturated fat and calories, but this casserole, with lightened up ingredients, was so good, no one would know the difference.  My hubby raved over it, and I already can’t wait to make it again, SERIOUSLY.

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What’s also nice is that it’s made with ingredients you probably already have on hand, especially if you’re like me, and tend to keep cooked, chopped or shredded chicken breasts in your freezer for quick dinners!

Here’s all it takes to make this yummy lightened up cheesy chicken casserole:

  • 4 cups cooked and drained pasta (I like Penne rigate or Cavatappi)
  • 2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast (or could use leftover Rotisserie)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter or butter spread (I use Smart Balance)
  • 2 teaspoons minced dried onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced jarred garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups regular shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Optional: Pinch of salt and pepper

Prepare your chicken breasts however you like to cook them, then dice enough for 2 cups.
Boil, drain and rinse your pasta.

Then in a large frying pan, melt your butter, add garlic, onion and flour, while whisking.

Then add milk and sour cream, and continue whisking.  Move pan off the heat, and lightly whisk in 2 1/2 cups of the cheese and the red pepper flakes.  If you like, add salt and pepper to taste.  In our house we add the salt and pepper at the table.

Stir in pasta and chicken, until it’s coated with the cheese mixture.  Now pour into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish, and  cover with aluminum foil.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, then remove foil and top with the leftover 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese and bake for 5 more minutes, uncovered.

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Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.

Cheesy Chicken Casserole – Lighter, Joyful Homemaking

Cheesy Chicken Casserole Lightened Up

Print Recipe
Prep Time:20 mins
Cook Time:30 mins
Total Time:50 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked and drained pasta I like Penne rigate or Cavatappi
  • 2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast or could use leftover Rotisserie
  • 3 Tablespoons butter or butter spread I use Smart Balance
  • 2 teaspoons minced dried onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced jarred garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups regular shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Optional: Pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Prepare your chicken breast however you like to cook it, then dice enough for 2 cups.
  • Boil, drain and rinse your pasta.
  • Then In a large frying pan, melt your butter, and then add garlic, onion and flour while whisking.
  • Then add milk and sour cream and continue whisking. Move off the heat and lightly whisk in 2 1/2 cups of the cheese and the red pepper flakes.
  • If you like, add salt and pepper to taste. In our house we add the salt and pepper at the table.
  • Stir in pasta and chicken, until it’s coated with the cheese mixture.
  • Now pour into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, then remove foil and top with the leftover 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, and bake for 5 more minutes uncovered.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.
Servings: 4

 

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Be ready to make this again and again, because it’s going to be a new family favorite!  🙂

Modified to be lighter from Paula Deen

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4 Comments

  1. February 16, 2017 / 4:52 pm

    Oh this looks delicious! I went ahead and saved it! I can’t wait to try it!

  2. June 26, 2017 / 11:13 am

    This recipe looks like the ultimate comfort food! Will definitely be making this very soon 🙂

  3. helenfern
    February 18, 2018 / 12:01 pm

    This looks totally delicious! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party.

  4. February 25, 2018 / 6:05 pm

    That looks delicious! I have never thought to add chicken to a macaroni and cheese dish.. I bet it’s tasty.

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