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Make this cheesy Chicken Noodle Casserole from scratch with simple, wholesome ingredients. The egg noodles, vegetables and tender chicken come together in a creamy sauce with a buttery Ritz cracker topping. Add a salad and corn muffins or biscuits for an easy dinner any night of the week!

Overhead image of chicken noodle casserole from scratch in a white casserole dish with red trim

Chicken Noodle Casserole from Scratch

It might require a few extra minutes of prep time, but making this Chicken Noodle Casserole without canned soup yields a cozy, down-home comfort food supper that is worth every bit of effort! It’s a basic dish that can be tweaked in a variety of ways to suit your family’s taste preferences and schedule. Use leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken or baked chicken — anything goes! The kids will go crazy for the creamy, cheesy dish that’s finished with a buttery, crunchy Ritz cracker topping!

Which Chicken to use for a Chicken Pasta Bake?

You’ll need cooked chicken for this recipe, and a variety of options will work. Pick the most convenient method for you:

  • Boiled and Pulled Chicken: Boil about 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs until cooked through (about 20 minutes). When cool enough to handle, chop or pull the chicken. You can use as little as ¾ lb. of meat — whatever you have on hand. You’ll need a total of about 2 cups (more or less) shredded. I find that 1 lb. of chicken breasts yields about 2 cups of pulled chicken, but there’s some flexibility here — it doesn’t need to be exact.
  • Rotisserie Chicken: This is a great shortcut! Purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, shred the meat, and use in the recipe as instructed.
  • Leftover Chicken: If you have leftover grilled or baked chicken from a previous meal, put those extras to good use in this casserole.
  • Canned Chicken: Yep, you can even use canned chicken in this casserole!

What’s a good substitute for cream of chicken soup?

I’ve got nothing against a creamy casserole that comes together in minutes with help from cans of condensed cream of chicken soup. That said, sometimes it’s worth spending a few extra minutes in the kitchen to make a dish from scratch — just like Grandma’s!

Here, you’ll whisk together a roux (with butter and flour), and then add chicken broth and milk. This process only takes a few minutes, and it creates a rich, creamy, flavorful substitute for cream of chicken soup.

Which pan to use?

I recommend baking this casserole in a 9-inch square dish or in another 2 ½-quart dish (like some 11 x 7-inch pans). If you want to feed a larger crowd, double the recipe and bake the casserole in a deep 9 x 13-inch pan.

Overhead image of cheesy chicken noodle casserole from scratch on a wooden table with a serving on a white plate

How to make Chicken Noodle Casserole – No Soup

This old-fashioned chicken and egg noodle recipe tastes a lot like a cross between chicken noodle soup and a creamy chicken pot pie filling. It’s total comfort food that the whole family will enjoy!

Ingredients for Cheesy Chicken Noodle Casserole

  • Egg noodles
  • Butter
  • Carrots, onion and celery
  • Garlic
  • All-purpose flour
  • Milk
  • Chicken broth
  • Thyme
  • Chicken
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Frozen peas
  • Ritz crackers

Step 1: Cook Noodles

Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the package instructions, just until al dente. For wide egg noodles, this should only take about 5 minutes. Drain.

Cooked egg noodles in a saucepan

Step 2: Prepare Cream Sauce

Sauté the vegetables and garlic, make a roux with flour and butter, and then whisk in the milk and broth. Let the mixture bubble and thicken for a few of minutes, then add the thyme and season with salt and pepper.

Cream sauce with vegetables in a large cast iron skillet

Step 3: Stir Together

Add the cooked noodles, chicken, cheese and frozen peas to the vegetables and sauce. Toss to combine, and then transfer to the baking dish.

Process shot showing how to make chicken noodle casserole from scratch

Step 4: Add Ritz Crackers

In a small bowl, stir together the crushed Ritz crackers and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the top of the casserole.

Buttered Ritz cracker crumbs in a small bowl

Step 5: Bake

Pop the dish into a 350 degree F oven, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes — or just until it’s heated through, bubbly and golden brown on top.

Close up overhead shot of chicken noodle casserole from scratch

What goes well with Chicken and Noodles?

This creamy casserole goes well with any of the following sides:

Make Ahead

This is the ultimate prep-ahead meal to get dinner on the table quickly and easily — even on busy nights. Assemble the casserole, wrap tightly, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before baking. When ready to bake, allow the dish to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before putting it in the oven.

Can Chicken Noodle Casserole be frozen?

Freeze the chicken casserole before baking. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, cover with foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, allow the dish to come to room temperature on the counter for at least 30 minutes, and then bake according to recipe instructions. The creamy sauce is less likely to “break” when thawed if you give it time to come to room temperature (don’t put the frozen or cold casserole directly in the oven), and if you use full-fat milk instead of skim milk.

Storage

The leftover baked casserole will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat the casserole in a 350 degree F oven, covered, just until warmed through (about 20-30 minutes). You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave for about 1 minute.

Front shot of a serving of cheesy chicken noodle casserole from scratch on a white plate

Recipe Variations

  • Double all of the ingredients and bake the casserole in a deep 9 x 13-inch dish to serve a larger family.
  • Try other good melting cheeses in this casserole, such as Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby, Colby-Jack, Mozzarella or Gruyere.
  • For an extra cheesy casserole, use 2 cups of grated cheese. You can also omit the cheese entirely if you prefer.
  • Add more herbs to the sauce for extra flavor. Try parsley, oregano, basil or chives.
  • Don’t have Ritz crackers? Substitute with crushed potato chips, crushed Corn Flakes cereal mixed with melted butter, or other buttery crackers (like Keebler Club crackers).

Tips for the Best Chicken Noodle Casserole Recipe

  • Cook the pasta just until al dente (tender, but with a firm bite). The pasta will continue cooking in the hot sauce in the oven, so you don’t want it to be mushy or overdone.
  • Use pre-cooked chicken (not raw meat) in this casserole. Take advantage of leftovers from another meal, a store-bought rotisserie chicken, canned chicken, or boil your own chicken at home.
  • There’s no need to thaw the peas before adding them to the dish. Just stir them in while they’re still frozen — this will help them stay nice and green in the casserole (rather than turning brown and mushy).
  • If you’d like to include other larger vegetables in the casserole (like broccoli florets), steam them in the microwave so that they’re tender before you add them to the dish. Sautéed mushrooms would also be a nice addition.
Overhead shot of cheesy chicken noodle casserole in a white baking dish on a wooden table

More chicken and noodle recipes that you might enjoy:

Overhead image of chicken noodle casserole from scratch in a white casserole dish with red trim

Chicken Noodle Casserole

4.85 from 13 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 people
Calories 419 kcal
Make this Chicken Noodle Casserole from scratch for a simple, easy dinner that the whole family will love!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¾ cup Ritz cracker crumbs (about 15 whole crackers)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking dish (or other 2 ½ -quart baking dish) with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions, just until al dente. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet or Dutch oven, sauté carrots, celery, onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of the butter until soft (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Add 3 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and stir over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the flour and whisk until blended. Gradually add the milk and then the chicken broth, whisking constantly. Continue whisking and cooking until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl (or in the same pot if it’s large enough), combine the sauce with the cooked noodles, chicken, cheese, and frozen peas. Transfer to the prepared dish.
  • Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Combine the melted butter with the Ritz cracker crumbs. Sprinkle buttered crumbs over top of the casserole.
  • Bake the casserole (uncovered) for about 20-25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Notes

  • Cook the pasta just until al dente (tender, but with a firm bite). The pasta will continue cooking in the hot sauce in the oven, so you don’t want it to be mushy or overdone in your casserole.
  • Use pre-cooked chicken (not raw meat) in this casserole. Take advantage of leftovers from another meal, a store-bought rotisserie chicken, canned chicken, or boil your own chicken at home.
  • There’s no need to thaw the peas before adding them to the dish. Just stir them in while they’re still frozen — this will help them stay nice and green in the casserole (rather than turning brown and mushy).
  • If you’d like to include other larger vegetables in the casserole (like broccoli florets), steam them in the microwave so that they’re tender before you add them to the dish. Sautéed mushrooms would also be a nice addition to the casserole.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the casseroleCalories: 419kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 23gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 641mgPotassium: 416mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 2628IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 227mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: cheesy, Chicken Noodle Casserole, chicken noodle casserole from scratch
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Hi! I love the wealth of extra tips and details that you took extra time to add! They make this grand recipe so doable and adaptable! Three cheers! It is very helpful. I have very little time and much less expertise, This is a perfect resource for me & I can’t wait to check out your other Wonderful recipes! I Also appreciated the walkthrough on creating the sauce from scratch. My mother made it; I’ve been too busy to learn! Now is the time! Thanks again! 🙂

    1. Hi, Kendra! Thank you so much for your note. It makes me happy to know that the tips are helpful. Good luck with your experimenting! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This looks yummy… I’ll try it for sure! I also love your new updated website!!! Not that I didn’t like the old one, because I did! Anyway, just wanted to say I really appreciate your website full of wonderful recipes.
    Thanks! 🙂

    1. You are so sweet, Tess. Thank you! I always appreciate your kind notes and positive energy! Hope you enjoy the casserole. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Very good classic chicken noodle casserole. Not too ‘goopy’. Individual ingredients are still distinguishable while blending nicely together. Great, complete instructions and great tip to not over-boil the noodles. (I used a 16-oz bag of egg noodles to fill a 9×13 dish, a lot more than the recipe called for.) Also put Parmesan on top instead of crackers.. Thanks for this recipe!

    1. I only have low sodium chicken broth so my question is should I add salt? Looking forward to making it this weekend!

      1. No problem, Lynne! Low-sodium chicken broth is great, since you can just taste the sauce as you go and add as much salt as you like. You’ll definitely want to add some, but the total amount is really going to be a matter of personal preference.

  4. 5 stars
    I just found your site while looking for a recipe to use cracker crumbs. This was delicious and will be added to my go-to recipes. I’ll also be looking for more good recipes on your site. Thanks!

    1. 5 stars
      Delicious! Reminds me of the chicken ‘n’ dumplin’ recipe I use except way easier with the noodles. I forgot the peas but it was still about to overflow my 9×13 when I doubled the recipe… I thought it would be plenty for me and the hubs but we finished it in just a couple days. I really enjoyed the Ritz topping and the thickness from the roux! Thanks for this.

      1. Btw I definitely used more than double the chicken, so that’s why it was so full, but I was still surprised it yielded so much! Not bad but now I know… I’m definitely going to make this again soon!

  5. Really disappointed in this recipe. I followed the recipe closely, but it remained very soupy. The flavor was good, but it looked nothing like the photo. Probably won’t make again. Sorry.

    1. Hi, Georgene! I haven’t had that issue in the past. It sounds like maybe the sauce wasn’t thick enough (didn’t simmer long enough) on the stovetop before you combined everything together. Sorry it didn’t work for you. 🙁

  6. 5 stars
    Really good. My family of five loved it. Sauce was perfect & I followed the recipe as written but left out the peas because kids.

    1. Thanks, Gwen! I’m glad that it worked well for you! My boys don’t love peas either, so I often leave those out too. 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    Easy to follow instructions and very flavorful. I had to add my touch so I added a smidgen of fresh ground nutmeg to enhance the flavor of the cream sauce. Thank you, looking forward to other recipes.

  8. 3 stars
    This dish was bland. I checked to be sure that there wasn’t something I missed, but I had followed the recipe as written. Disappointed.

  9. 5 stars
    Thanks for this well-written recipe that expects to be adapted and changed but can be prepared as directed. It was just what I needed for one of my “Whatever I have” casseroles. It makes a great basis for that, like a master recipe, but it points you in a flavor direction. That’s how I used it this time, but when I have more time I’ll do it with a roast chicken, fresh veg, and make the roux. I don’t normally comment on recipes, but this was spot on.

  10. 5 stars
    I tried this last night and it was a hit; this is now in my family’s rotation of favorite meals, thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  11. Thank you for your quick response. Sorry to bother you again but I do have one more question… Will non-fat milk work?

    1. Hi, Lynne! Yes, it should work fine. A milk with fat in it will yield a richer, thicker, creamier sauce, but the nonfat version is okay if that’s what you have on hand. 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    My husband and I loved this casserole. Directions were easy to follow and it turned out so yummy!
    It is definitely in the comfort food rotation.