Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti is one of the most delicious recipes you can cook for your family. It is Comfort Food with a capital “C”! There are a lot of recipes out there for this tasty dish, but most contain cream soups and processed cheese. The version I am sharing with you here requires neither of those two ingredients, but it still delivers big on flavor!
My version of Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti is not only easy to make, but it contains all-natural ingredients! It is loaded with creamy flavor and is a very family-friendly casserole to make. This tasty dish appeals to youngsters and adults alike, I guarantee!
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE CHEESY CHICKEN SPAGHETTI
With the exception of the chicken stock base, there is nothing here but simple, all natural ingredients. If you have your own homemade chicken stock to use, so much the better!
|1 pound spaghetti noodles|
|1/2 TBS oil|
|1 medium onion, peeled and chopped|
|1 red bell pepper, trimmed and chopped|
|2 cups cubed cooked chicken|
|Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste|
|½ tsp chili powder|
|3 TBS butter|
|3 TBS all-purpose flour|
|2 cups whole milk|
|1 cup chicken broth|
|2 ½ cups grated strong cheddar cheese, divided|
|Chopped parsley to garnish|
HINTS AND TIPS TO MAKE THE BEST CHEESY CHICKEN SPAGHETTI
Follow my handy hints and tips to make the best cheesy chicken spaghetti ever!
- Read the recipe through several times to familiarise yourself with ingredients and equipment needed. This gives you the opportunity to pick up anything you might not already have in the house. It can also help to prevent you from making any costly errors when it comes to putting it together.
- Gather all of the ingredients you need to make the recipe and any equipment needed before you begin. This helps to ensure you do not leave anything integral out of the recipe.
- I have used leftover roasted chicken breast for this. In my opinion, it is the best meat for this casserole. If you do not have any leftover cooked chicken, then you can poach several boneless, skinless chicken breasts ahead of time to use. Simply place them into a saucepan, cover with cold lightly salted water, and bring to the boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them cool in the water until you can comfortably handle them with your hands, and then remove and dice.
- I like to break my spaghetti in half or into even shorter pieces for this recipe. If it is just my husband and myself, breaking it in half works well, but if there are children in the house, shorter lengths are better and easier for them to manage.
- Cook the spaghetti in a large pot filled with lots of lightly salted boiling water. Allow the water to come to a full boil before adding the spaghetti, stirring to keep the strands separate. Make sure there is ample water so that the spaghetti has plenty of room to move around. This also helps to prevent the strands from sticking together.
- Cook the spaghetti only to al dente, according to the package directions.
- Drain the spaghetti well and then rinse under cold running water to remove any excess starch. If you are worried about it sticking together while you do the rest of the dish you can toss it with a small amount of vegetable oil, however, I find that re-rinsing it under cold running water usually unsticks any that might be stuck together. (Make sure you drain it really well!)
- Toss your chicken with seasoning and the chilli powder to coat it completely with the flavours.
- To chop the onion, peel, cut in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a secure cutting board and then make cuts along the length of it at ¼ inch intervals, keeping it secure at the root end. Using your knife make horizontal cuts down the length of the onion, again at ¼ inch intervals. You now have the perfect ¼ inch dice!
- To trim and cut a bell pepper perfectly (see above photo), trim off the top and bottom ends. Using a sharp knife remove the centre with the seeds. Make one cut down the length of the pepper and fold it open Trim off the ribs. Cut into 3 or 4 equal pieces. Lay the pieces on top of each other and cut into strips. Hold the strips together and cut into small dice.
- Do not let your butter burn when melting it in the skillet. Add the flour as soon as the butter begins to foam. Whisk them both together and cook for a further minute to cook out any flour flavour.
- Whisk in the liquids slowly and thoroughly. Whisk constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens. This helps to prevent lumps from forming.
- Often when adding salt and pepper to a sauce the pepper will clump and you will get little lumps of pepper throughout the sauce. To prevent this from happening, keep a mixture of salt and pepper to use in sauces. Using this helps to keep the grains separate.
- Grate your own cheese for this recipe. You do not need to use strong cheddar, but I find it to be the cheese which gives the best flavour.
- Toss the chicken, cooked onions/peppers, cheese, and spaghetti together in a large bowl before stirring in the sauce. Let the sauce cool somewhat before stirring it in.
- Cover the top of the casserole with a thick and even layer of cheese. This helps to prevent the spaghetti from drying out in the oven.
HOW TO MAKE CHEESY CHICKEN SPAGHETTI
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain well, rinse and drain again. Set aside.
Toss the chicken together with some salt and pepper to taste and the chili powder. Set aside.
Chop your onion and red pepper into a small dice.
Grate your cheese. I use the large holes on a box grater.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook until soft without colouring, stirring often. Scoop out into a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
Add the butter to the skillet. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute to cook out the flour taste. Slowly whisk in the milk and the chicken broth. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Remove from the heat.
Toss the seasoned chicken together in a bowl with the peppers and onions, the spaghetti, the sauce and 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Mix all together well.
Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter a large shallow baking dish. Pour the spaghetti mixture into the dish. Smooth over and then top with the remaining cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot, garnished with chopped parsley if desired.
SUGGESTIONS FOR SERVING CHEESY CHICKEN SPAGHETTI
With such a flavor-filled delicious casserole you will want to keep any sides you choose to serve with it simple. I always make sure my dinner plates or pasta bowls are heated so that the food stays hot while we are waiting for everyone to be served. (Do warn your family that the dishes are hot.)
I always like to serve this with a delicious side salad. A mix of lettuces and baby greens, with chopped tomatoes, green onions and other vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing is perfect on the side.
Warm crusty bread with lots of sweet butter goes very well.
Garlic bread, rolls or crisp breadsticks are also nice with this delicious casserole.
This is a very adaptable casserole to make for your family. If they are not fond of bell peppers, you can stir in some drained and chopped canned tomatoes, which are lovely. You can also use a dash of green pepper instead of the red, or even a mix of colored peppers. Add a splash of hot sauce to the cream sauce if your family enjoys spicy food! You can also add a few herbs such as crushed pepper flakes (for heat) and dried thyme or oregano for even more flavor. Remember always that cheese is quite salty, so do make sure you use any salt judiciously!
Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti is quite easy to freeze. Double the recipe if you want and freeze any extras in single-sized portions in airtight plastic containers. You can also break it down into two casseroles, wrapping and freezing one for another time. This casserole will keep for up to three months in the freezer if properly wrapped.
To reheat, thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight, add a few TBS of milk or chicken stock to keep it from drying out when reheating and cover with foil.
Cover any leftovers and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but it really tasted best if eaten within 3 days. I would not keep it for any longer than 4.
This Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti casserole is a lovely filling and simple meal that everyone in my family loves. It is a recipe which I turn to time and time again because of its beautiful flavours, versatility, and ease of preparation. I think you will enjoy it as well!
- 1 pound spaghetti noodles
- 1/2 TBS oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, trimmed and chopped
- 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ tsp chili powder
- 3 TBS butter
- 3 TBS all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 ½ cups grated strong cheddar cheese, divided
- Chopped parsley to garnish
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain well, rinse and drain again. Set aside.
- Toss the chicken together with some salt and pepper to taste and the chili powder. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook until soft without colouring, stirring often. Scoop out into a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
- Add the butter to the skillet. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute to cook out the flour taste. Slowly whisk in the milk and the chicken broth. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Remove from the heat.
- Toss the seasoned chicken together in a bowl with the peppers and onions, the spaghetti, the sauce and 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Mix all together well.
- Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter a large shallow baking dish. Pour the spaghetti mixture into the dish. Smooth over and then top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot, garnished with chopped parsley if desired.
Marie Rayner is a retired Chef, freelance writer, recipe developer, food blogger, and Cookbook author. She makes her home in Chester, UK, where she lives with her husband, Todd, and their much beloved English Cocker, Mitzie. Her motto is “Life is far too short to eat bad food,” and her goal is to share delicious and easy recipes which anyone can enjoy and cook in the comfort of their own home.