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A simple take on classic comfort food! This quick and easy chicken tetrazzini is a family-friendly casserole that can be made ahead of time for busy nights, or tossed together in about 20 minutes. Serve the creamy, cheesy chicken and pasta with a crisp green salad, alongside oven-roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, or with a basket of fluffy buttermilk biscuits.

An easy chicken tetrazzini recipe served in a white pasta bowl on a dinner table

You can’t beat an easy chicken casserole for busy weeknight meals. Chicken tetrazzini is an old-fashioned favorite, which comes together with basic ingredients and minimal hands-on prep. You can make it in advance if that’s more convenient, or stir it together just before you pop it in the oven. The cozy dish is rich, hearty, and totally delicious!

Traditional Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe

If you’re not familiar with this American classic, a traditional chicken tetrazzini recipe is typically made with diced chicken and pasta, and sometimes added vegetables (like mushrooms or peas) in a butter or cream sauce. The sauce may include cheese, and often features a bit of wine or sherry.

Is Tetrazzini Italian?

While tetrazzini originated in the United States, it’s named after an Italian opera singer: Luisa Tetrazzini. This chicken tetrazzini recipe is entirely American, though!

Why is it called Chicken Tetrazzini?

It is widely believed that sometime between 1908 and 1910, Ernest Arbogast, the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California, created chicken tetrazzini as a tribute to the opera singer, Luisa Tetrazzini. She made her American debut there at the Tivoli as Gilda in Rigoletto on January 11, 1905.

What Makes this Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe Easy

This recipe is easier than many other versions of the dish for a few reasons:

  • The creamy sauce doesn’t require any cooking. You don’t need to make a roux from scratch, or thicken a sauce on the stovetop. Instead, simply stir together shortcut ingredients like condensed cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups, sour cream, melted butter, and chicken broth.
  • You don’t need to cook the chicken. Start with the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, so that boiling the pasta is the only prep.
  • There are no veggies to chop or sauté. Sure, you could stir in a can of mushrooms or a handful of frozen peas, but this simple recipe doesn’t require anything extra. No dicing and cooking onion in a skillet, no peeling and mincing garlic, and no parboiling broccoli florets.

If you can boil noodles, then you can make this simple casserole!

Whisking together sauce for casserole

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for the ultimate chicken tetrazzini. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Pasta: pick a long noodle, such as linguine or spaghetti.
  • Butter: we prefer the flavor of salted butter in this sauce, but unsalted butter is also fine.
  • Condensed cream of mushroom soup and condensed cream of chicken soup: the creamy base for the sauce. You can mix it up and use other flavors of condensed soup if you like. For instance, swap out the mushroom soup for cream of celery soup.
  • Sour cream: thickens the sauce, adds a touch of tangy flavor, and provides a rich, creamy mouthfeel.
  • Chicken broth: to thin the sauce. Use a low-sodium variety if you prefer a less-salty dish.
  • Chicken: I use the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken for a convenient and flavorful shortcut, but you can also cook your own chicken at home to use in this recipe. See my notes below for those instructions.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
  • Cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese: for an ooey, gooey, cheesy topping!
  • Parsley: the chopped fresh herbs provide a fresh, bright, colorful finishing touch on the dish.
Adding chicken to a white mixing bowl

Which Chicken to Use

While it’s possible to cook raw chicken in a casserole, 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 ½ lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs until cooked through (about 15 minutes). When cool enough to handle, chop or pull the chicken into bite size pieces. You’ll need a total of about 3 cups shredded. I find that 1 ½ lbs. of raw chicken breasts yields about 3 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. One large rotisserie chicken should yield about 3-4 cups of meat.
  • 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.
Sprinkling cheese on top of a casserole

How to Make Chicken Tetrazzini

The ultimate chicken tetrazzini recipe is creamy, decadent, and most importantly — easy!

  1. Boil the pasta, then drain.
  2. Whisk together the creamy sauce.
  3. Add the cooked pasta and the chicken to the sauce.
  4. Pour the chicken mixture into a greased 13 x 9-inch or deep 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with the cheddar and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake the casserole in a 350°F oven, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes. The filling will be hot and the cheese will melt.
  7. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, and serve!
Square overhead shot of a dish of chicken tetrazzini

What to Serve with Chicken Tetrazzini

A traditional chicken tetrazzini recipe pairs nicely with any of the following sides:

Square overhead shot of a bowl of chicken tetrazzini

Preparation and Storage

  • This is a great make-ahead dinner. You can assemble the casserole up to 24 hours in advance and keep it covered with foil or plastic wrap in the fridge until ready to bake. When ready to bake, allow the dish to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30-60 minutes.
  • Leftover chicken casserole will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • How to Reheat: If reheating an entire casserole, cover the dish loosely with foil and bake in a 350°F oven until warmed through (about 20-30 minutes). Individual portions can be reheated in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Can you freeze chicken tetrazzini?

You can freeze the casserole before baking. Wrapped tightly, the assembled casserole will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, let the dish sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30-60 minutes before baking, and then bake according to the recipe directions.

Close overhead image of a spoon in a dish of easy chicken tetrazzini

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe Variations

  • Swap out the chicken and use leftover turkey from your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
  • Add some veggies to the casserole. For instance, try some frozen peas, corn, canned sliced mushrooms, sauteed mushrooms, onions, celery, or parboiled broccoli.
  • Any long pasta shape will work. I typically use linguine, but spaghetti or fettuccini are also good options.
  • Use mozzarella cheese instead of cheddar, or substitute with another variety of good melting cheese, such as Colby, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, or American.
  • Stir some fresh herbs into the pasta dish. For instance, try a little bit of thyme or rosemary, or garnish the dish with basil or chives.
  • Add garlic powder or onion powder for even more of a flavor boost.
  • Top the casserole with buttered panko breadcrumbs (or regular bread crumbs), Ritz cracker crumbs, crushed potato chips, or crushed Corn Flakes.
Horizontal overhead shot of a bowl of chicken tetrazzini

Tips for the Best Recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini

  • Boil the noodles in well-salted water. This is your opportunity to really season the pasta.
  • Cook the noodles for 1 minute less than al dente. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven, so you want to slightly under-boil them so that they don’t become mushy after baking.
  • Use the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken for a shortcut. If you prefer to cook your own chicken at home, boil about 1 ½ lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs until cooked through (about 15-20 minutes). When cool enough to handle, chop into bite-size pieces or shred the chicken with forks and use in the recipe.
  • Garnish the casserole with fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, basil, or oregano) for a bright, fresh touch. Sliced green onions or chives are also good!
  • Cooking Just for Two? Cut all of the ingredients in half (using just one can of soup — either flavor is fine), and bake the casserole in an 8-inch square dish. You may need to decrease the baking time by 5-10 minutes to account for the smaller pan.
Overhead image of a vintage pan full of chicken tetrazzini

More Chicken Casserole Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of a bowl of chicken tetrazzini

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 548 kcal
A simple take on classic comfort food! This quick and easy chicken tetrazzini is a family-friendly casserole that can be made ahead of time for busy nights, or tossed together in about 20 minutes.

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces linguine or spaghetti
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) salted butter, melted
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, not diluted
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, not diluted
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream, at room temperature
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 3 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken (such as the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch or deep 11 x 7-inch baking dish; set aside.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Drain.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, condensed soups, sour cream, and broth. Add the chicken and the cooked pasta. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared dish. Top with grated cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Notes

  • Boil the noodles in well-salted water. This is your opportunity to really season the pasta.
  • Cook the noodles for 1 minute less than al dente. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven, so you want to slightly under-boil them so that they don’t become mushy after baking.
  • Use the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken for a shortcut. If you prefer to cook your own chicken at home, boil about 1 ½ lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs until cooked through (about 15-20 minutes). When cool enough to handle, chop into bite-size pieces or shred the chicken with forks and use in the recipe. You’ll need a total of about 3 cups (more or less) shredded.
  • Garnish the casserole with fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, basil, or oregano) for a bright, fresh touch. Sliced green onions or chives are also good!
  • Cooking Just for Two? Cut all of the ingredients in half (using just one can of soup — either flavor is fine), and bake the casserole in an 8-inch square dish. You may need to decrease the baking time by 5-10 minutes to account for the smaller pan.
  • Swap out the chicken and use leftover turkey from your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
  • Add some veggies to the casserole. For instance, try some frozen peas, corn, canned sliced mushrooms, sauteed mushrooms, onions, or celery, or parboiled broccoli.
  • Any long pasta shape will work. I typically use linguine, but spaghetti or fettuccini are also good options.
  • Stir some fresh herbs into the pasta dish. For instance, try a little bit of thyme or rosemary, or garnish the dish with basil or chives.
  • Add garlic powder or onion powder for even more of a flavor boost.
  • Top the casserole with buttered panko breadcrumbs (or regular bread crumbs), Ritz cracker crumbs, crushed potato chips, or crushed Corn Flakes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 548kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 31gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 126mgSodium: 790mgPotassium: 887mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1007IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 313mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: chicken tetrazzini, chicken tetrazzini easy, chicken tetrazzini recipe, easy chicken tetrazzini, recipe for chicken tetrazzini
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!

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Comments

  1. Blair! I need more specifics on boiling boneless chicken pieces. How much water do I need to boil a pound to a pound and a half? Should I have the water boiling before I put in the pieces? How can I tell when the pieces are done?

    I’ve tried a couple of your recipes and I have had a problem getting the chicken when it should be done. I don’t remember you mentioning it before, but I have been putting the chicken in straight from the refrigerator. Should I let it sit out until closer to room temperature? How long would that be? Half an hour, an hour? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Marion! You need enough water to cover the chicken by at least 1-2 inches. That amount will vary depending on the size of your pot. Put the chicken in the pot, then cover with the liquid, and season the liquid with any seasoning/spices that you want. Then bring the liquid to a boil. Once the water boils, it usually takes about 15 minutes to cook through, but this time can vary greatly depending on the size/thickness of your chicken pieces and the temperature of the chicken when you start cooking it.

      Yes, in general, it’s best to let meat come to room temp before cooking it (about 1-2 hours). Hope that helps!

    1. Hi, Elayne! Just about any cheese that you like will work here. Monterey Jack, Colby, Colby Jack, mozzarella…they’ll all be great! 🙂