There’s nothing like the bite of a crunchy, salty topping against the cheesy goodness of creamy chicken spaghetti casserole.
I’m all for comfort food, and when I saw The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for chicken spaghetti a few years ago, I thought, “Is there a way to make that better?”
The answer is no. It’s just about perfect the way it is.
BUT, when one craves chicken spaghetti, but one doesn’t necessarily have all the ingredients to make THE chicken spaghetti … one must improvise.
And truly, some of the best recipe twists come from using things I already have on hand, versus traditional menu planning!
Like transforming The Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti into this baked creamy chicken spaghetti—kinda the same, but different.
In this case, I took the original recipe and made a few changes:
Substitute finely diced tomatoes for the pimentos.
It’s fine to grab a can of diced tomatoes from your pantry. But if they’re in-season, pluck a few tomatoes from the vine or visit a local farmers’ market for a basket.
Use whatever “cream of” soup variety you have on hand.
I used cream of chicken and cream of celery soups because that’s what I happened to have in my pantry. I considered making my own Béchamel sauce instead of canned “cream of” soup, but… Yeah. Saving ten minutes felt better.
Don’t skimp on some fresh veg.
I used fresh mushrooms, sliced chunky and then sautéed to brown them a little. Aside from those found in “cream of” soups, I never ever EVER used canned mushrooms. Like, ever. Ew.
Mix it up with broth.
I used half chicken broth and half beef broth because that’s all I had in my pantry, but you could even use vegetable broth and I’m sure it would turn out delicious.
Consider different pastas.
I used whole wheat spaghetti instead of regular. I’m not opposed to regular pasta, but I was out of it, and whole wheat adds a healthier twist. You could also try a different shape—something like shells or ziti would be fun!
Play around with cheeses.
I substituted generous amounts of mozzarella instead of cheddar. Nothing against cheddar—mozzarella just sounded good. And creamier. Mmmm…
Add a topping!
Perhaps the biggest update was the addition of a topping … crushed kettle potato chips! Don’t have potato chips in the pantry, panko or other bread crumbs will definitely work, too. There’s nothing like the bite of a crunchy, salty topping against the cheesy goodness of creamy chicken spaghetti casserole.
For the casserole:
- 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
- 3 cups dried whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 3" pieces
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can cream of celery soup
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
- 1/4 cup diced green onion
- 1/2 cup sautéed sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup finely diced tomato
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
For the topping:
- 2 cups crushed kettle potato chips
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13" casserole dish with butter.
- Bring the broth to a boil and add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain.
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining casserole ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Fold the cooked pasta into the casserole ingredients and then spread the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
- Top it with the remaining mozzarella, followed by an even layer of potato chips.
- Bake the casserole uncovered for 30 minutes or until the sides are bubbly and the top is golden. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Panko breadcrumbs are a great topping alternative to potato chips.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman's recipe for chicken spaghetti.
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