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A classic Southern chicken zucchini casserole is the perfect way to enjoy the bounty from your summer garden! The cheesy chicken and veggie filling is topped with a buttery cracker crumb topping for the ultimate family-friendly dinner.

Overhead shot of a white dish full of chicken and zucchini casserole.
Table of Contents
  1. What is a squash casserole?
  2. Ingredients for Chicken Casserole with Zucchini
  3. How to Make Zucchini Chicken Casserole
  4. What to Serve with Chicken and Zucchini Casserole
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Chicken Zucchini Casserole Recipe
  8. Southern Chicken Zucchini Casserole Recipe

We can never have too many squash and zucchini recipes — especially during the height of the summer growing season. That’s why I’ve taken my wildly popular side dish, Southern squash casserole, added some hearty chicken, and turned it into this easy dinner!

What is a squash casserole?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll probably get a different answer every time! A squash casserole is something that just about every seasoned home cook has prepared at least once, and there are about a zillion different ways to do so.

In the South, you’ll find that a zucchini or yellow squash casserole normally includes:

  • cooked summer squash (either zucchini, yellow squash, or both), often combined with onions and red bell peppers (or pimientos);
  • cheddar cheese;
  • a creamy binder (typically either sour cream, mayonnaise, condensed cream of chicken soup, or a homemade roux-based cream sauce);
  • and a buttery crumb topping (Ritz crackers are the key).

A winning combination! We’ve added tender, shredded chicken into the mix for some extra, satisfying protein. Of course, if you want to keep it vegetarian, you can just follow this traditional recipe.

Chicken and zucchini casserole on a plate.

How many cups is one zucchini?

This cheesy chicken and zucchini casserole calls for 1 pound of zucchini. That is equivalent to about 2 medium zucchinis, which equals about 3 cups of packed, sliced zucchini. Zucchini can obviously grow to a wide range of sizes; however, so I always recommend weighing or measuring your zucchini before assembling the casserole.

It’s also important to make sure that you slice the zucchini into even rounds. I like to use a mandoline slicer for this task, because it’s FAST. Just be careful that you don’t get your fingertip in that mandoline (been there, done that)!

Do you peel zucchini before cooking?

No, you do not need to peel the zucchini before cooking. The skin on a summer squash is not too tough, and it softens even more when cooked.

Sauteing vegetables in a cast iron skillet.

How do you cook zucchini?

Once the vegetables are evenly sliced, you’ll need to cook the zucchini before baking the casserole. Some folks like to boil the zucchini first; however, I find that it’s easier to sauté the zucchini with the onion and the bell pepper in one big skillet on the stove top.

This only takes about 10 minutes, and it ensures that your vegetables are tender in the finished dish. Plus, it adds an extra layer of flavor, thanks to the butter, salt, and pepper that you add with this step!

And since many of our summer gardens include a bounty of yellow squash (in addition to zucchini), I’ll go ahead and anticipate another question that you might be asking right now:

Is yellow squash like zucchini?

Yes! They are not the same vegetable; however, they are similar and can be used interchangeably in this recipe. Feel free to substitute yellow squash in most zucchini recipes, or use a combination of the two vegetables to total 3 sliced cups. Your Southern chicken casserole will be delicious — no matter which type of squash you have on hand!

Stirring together filling for chicken casserole with zucchini.

Ingredients for Chicken Casserole with Zucchini

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make this easy zucchini chicken casserole. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Butter: I prefer salted butter, which adds flavor to the dish, helps to sauté the vegetables, and combines with the Ritz cracker topping to help it turn crisp and golden brown.
  • Zucchini: you’ll need a total of about 3 cups sliced, or about 1 lb. Feel free to substitute with yellow squash if that’s what you have.
  • Onion and red bell pepper: additional veggies that bulk up the casserole and add flavor, texture, and color to the dish.
  • Salt and pepper: enhance the other flavors in the casserole.
  • Eggs: a couple of large eggs give the casserole structure and help it set so that the filling isn’t too watery.
  • Cheddar cheese: every Southern casserole needs cheese! You can substitute with other good melting cheeses, such as Monterey Jack, Colby, mozzarella, and Gruyere.
  • Sour cream and mayonnaise: the base of the casserole’s creamy filling, which binds all of the ingredients together.
  • Chicken: you’ll need about 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken. I use a store-bought rotisserie chicken for great flavor and quick-prep, but you can boil your own boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs at home, if you prefer.
  • Ritz crackers: combined with melted butter, the crushed crackers add buttery flavor and a crunchy texture to the dish.
Process shot showing how to make chicken zucchini casserole.

How to Cook Chicken for a Casserole

While it’s possible to cook a casserole with raw chicken, 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 10-15 minutes). When cool enough to handle, chop or pull the chicken.
  • 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. One very large rotisserie chicken should yield about 4-5 cups of meat, and you can freeze any extra to use for another dish.
  • Leftover Chicken: If you have leftovers from a previous meal, put those extras to good use in this casserole.
  • Canned Chicken: Yep, even canned chicken from the pantry will work in this recipe.
Adding cracker crumb topping to chicken zucchini casserole.

How to Make Zucchini Chicken Casserole

This chicken zucchini casserole always wins rave reviews, and is a great way to use up some of those fresh summer veggies! The detailed directions are included in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  • Sauté zucchini, onion, and bell pepper in butter in a large skillet. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Whisk together eggs, cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in a large bowl.
  • Add the vegetable mixture and the chicken.
  • Transfer to a greased 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish or other 2-quart casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle buttery cracker crumbs in a single layer over top.
  • Bake in a 350°F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the filling is set and the topping is golden brown.
Square overhead shot of chicken zucchini casserole in a white dish.

What to Serve with Chicken and Zucchini Casserole

Pair the casserole with any of these easy sides:

Overhead shot of a spoon in a dish of chicken zucchini casserole

Preparation and Storage Tips

Leftover zucchini chicken casserole will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days; however, I find that it starts to get a bit soggy and watery, so this is not ideal. The casserole can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Can you make chicken casserole with zucchini ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the casserole in advance, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours until ready to bake. Let the dish sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before it goes in the oven. If the inside of the casserole is still cold, you will likely need to extend the baking time by a few minutes.

Chicken casserole with zucchini on a blue and white plate.

Recipe Variations

  • Use yellow squash instead of zucchini, or try a combination of the two.
  • Swap out the cheddar and use other good melting cheeses, such as Colby, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or Gruyere. A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese would also be good.
  • Add fresh herbs, if available. Parsley, thyme, oregano, fresh basil, and chives would all be great! Make it spicy with the addition of cayenne or red pepper flakes.
  • Instead of crushed Ritz crackers, combine dry stuffing mix with melted butter for a flavorful topping. Other good options included crushed Corn Flakes cereal or seasoned panko breadcrumbs.
  • Cooking for a larger group? Double all of the ingredients and bake the casserole in a 9 x 13-inch pan. You’ll likely need to add about 5 minutes to the total cooking time.
Overhead shot of chicken casserole with zucchini in a white dish on a wooden table.

Tips for the Best Chicken Zucchini Casserole Recipe

  • Use a handheld mandoline slicer to cut the zucchini. This makes the process really fast, and it also ensures that all of the zucchini rounds are an equal width and cook in the same amount of time. You can see a list of our favorite mandoline slicers in this post.
  • Grate the cheese by hand, rather than using a bag of pre-shredded cheese. The blocks of cheese that you grate at home tend to melt smoother into the dish.
  • Weigh or measure your zucchini so that you’re sure to use the correct amount. Zucchini can vary greatly in size, so you might need anywhere from 2-3 smaller zucchini to 1 large zucchini. I prefer small zucchini, if available, because they are typically more flavorful, tender, and have smaller seeds.
  • I use salted butter in this dish. If you prefer unsalted butter, you might like to add a little bit more salt to the cracker topping and to the filling.
  • You do not need to drain off any liquid from the vegetables with a colander. Just stir everything together!
Close overhead image of chicken zucchini casserole in a white dish.

More Popular Zucchini Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of chicken zucchini casserole in a white dish.

Southern Chicken Zucchini Casserole

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 534 kcal
A flavorful summer casserole made with chicken, zucchini, other fresh veggies, plenty of cheese, and a buttery Ritz cracker topping!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 lb. zucchini, unpeeled and sliced (about 2 medium zucchini, or 3 cups sliced)
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cups cooked shredded or diced chicken
  • ¾ cup crushed butter crackers (I used 18 Ritz crackers)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley, basil, or other herbs

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion, and bell pepper to the skillet, cooking and stirring for about 10 minutes (or until vegetables are tender). Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Sauteing vegetables in a cast iron skillet.
  • Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Add the zucchini mixture and the chicken; stir gently to combine. Season with about ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
    Stirring together filling for chicken casserole with zucchini.
  • Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
    Process shot showing how to make chicken zucchini casserole.
  • In a separate bowl, combine crushed crackers with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle buttered cracker crumbs over top of casserole.
    Adding cracker crumb topping to chicken zucchini casserole.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until casserole is set and topping is golden brown. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or basil, if desired.
    Overhead shot of a white dish full of chicken and zucchini casserole.

Notes

  • Use a handheld mandoline slicer to cut the zucchini. This makes the process really fast, and it also ensures that all of the zucchini rounds are an equal width and cook in the same amount of time. You can see a list of our favorite mandoline slicers in this post.
  • Grate the cheese by hand, rather than using a bag of pre-shredded cheese. The blocks of cheese that you grate at home tend to melt smoother into the dish.
  • Weigh or measure your zucchini so that you’re sure to use the correct amount. Zucchini can vary greatly in size, so you might need anywhere from 2-3 smaller zucchini to 1 large zucchini. I prefer small zucchini, if available, because they are typically more flavorful, tender, and have smaller seeds.
  • I use salted butter in this dish. If you prefer unsalted butter, you might like to add a little bit more salt to the cracker topping and to the filling.
  • You do not need to drain off any liquid from the vegetables with a colander. Just stir everything together!

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the casseroleCalories: 534kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 35gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 199mgSodium: 517mgPotassium: 684mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1849IUVitamin C: 61mgCalcium: 287mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: chicken and zucchini casserole, chicken casserole with zucchini, chicken zucchini casserole, zucchini chicken casserole
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
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. Jo Walters says:

    5 stars
    OMG! I was concerned it might be too bland, boy was I wrong!! Delish!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, Jo! We’re so glad you enjoyed it!