This Chicken Noodle Casserole tastes rich and decadent but is made with whole wheat pasta, kale, chicken and peas. A super flavorful dinner that is nutritious and comforting.
Last week I dropped off a baking dish of this chicken noodle casserole to my neighbors who just had their second baby. It was like a magic wand that cured all the hard stuff about having a newborn—if only for a minute or two while they were in food heaven.
I saw her the next day and she shouted me down from across the street to thank me and say how good it was. “It was so flavorful!” she exclaimed. And it’s true.
This comforting casserole has a mouthwatering combination of whole wheat pasta, cream, two kinds of cheese, chicken, and tender vegetables. It’s chewy and creamy with an irresistible crunchy panko-parmesan crust.
- Whole wheat pasta like penne or small shells
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil or butter
- Heavy cream
- Dried sage leaves
- Red pepper flakes
- Black pepper
- Parmesan or white cheddar cheese
- Rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast
- Frozen peas
- Panko bread crumbs
How To Make This Chicken Noodle Casserole
Boil pasta. Heat the oven to 400°F and grease the casserole dish. I use a 4-quart casserole dish like this one, but mine doesn’t have a lid. You could also use a 13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook 4 minutes less than the package directions say. It will cook the rest of the way in the oven.
Drain pasta and set aside.
Make the sauce. Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat (or melt butter if that’s what you’re using). Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until they become translucent, but not browned. Add the kale and season again. Sauté until the kale wilts then lower to medium heat and add cream, sage, red pepper flakes, the 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Bring this mixture to a simmer then stir in the Fontina and half the Parmesan. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted then turn off the heat.
Add pasta and chicken. Stir in the pasta, peas and cooked chicken. Keep stirring until everything is coated well in the sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
Time saving tip:This would be great and ready to eat at this stage if you wanted to skip the baking part.
Make topping. In a large bowl combine the panko and remaining shredded parmesan cheese.
Bake! Evenly sprinkle the panko-parmesan topping over the pasta then bake uncovered until lightly golden and bubbling, about 30-35 minutes.
Enjoy! Let the chicken noodle casserole cool for 10 minutes before digging in. Then spoon onto plates and be prepared to be in heaven.
Chicken Casserole FAQ’s
Can I make this ahead? Sure! Prepare up to the baking stage, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove plastic wrap, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered the last 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Reheating leftovers in the microwave is easy!
What other veggies would be good? You could add blanched or frozen carrots or broccoli (or both!) or sauté some chopped celery with the onions. It’s a great place to use leftover sautéed broccoli if you have it.
How do I cook chicken breasts instead of using rotisserie chicken? Lay the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and roast in the 400°F oven until browned and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool, then shred.
More Comfort Food Recipes You’ll Love!
- Homemade Egg Noodles Soup
- Vegetable Pot Pie with Herb Drop Biscuits
- Penne with Spicy Vodka Sauce
- Instant Pot Carnitas Tacos (from our sister site, ¡Hola! Jalapeño)
- Easy Beef Barley Vegetable Soup
- Beef Stir-Fry with Mushrooms
- Chicken Chili with White Beans and Hominy (again, from ¡Hola! Jalapeño)
A Better Chicken Noodle Casserole Recipe
Forget the cream of chicken soup and Ritz crackers. This chicken casserole is full of wholesome ingredients and packed with flavor. When you try it, let me know how it went! Share a photo and tag me on Instagram using @katesbestrecipes so that I can see (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating)! Also, sign up for my weekly recipe newsletter so you never miss a thing.
Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole
- 1/2 pound whole wheat pasta like penne or shells
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow or white onion small dice
- 4 cups chopped kale
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 4 ounces Fontina shredded
- 4 ounces shredded Parmesan, divided
- 1 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken, like rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup panko
- Heat oven to 400°F. Grease a 4-quart baking dish. Bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook 3 minutes short of al dente, drain pasta.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent then add kale, season again and cook until kale is slightly wilted.
- Lower heat to medium-low and add cream, measured 3/4 teaspoon salt, sage, pepper flakes, and measured 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then stir in all the Fontina and 2 ounces of the Parmesan. Keep stirring until cheese is melted then turn off the heat.
- Stir in pasta, chicken and peas. Toss until well coated. Taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper then pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Combine panko and remaining 2 ounces shredded Parmesan in a medium bowl and sprinkle this mixture over the top of the casserole.
- Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 30-35 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes, then enjoy!
In support of this small business, Kate’s Best Recipes earns revenue in a few different ways. Several sponsored posts are published each month. I also earn an affiliate commission on the sales of products I link to— there are a few of those links in this post. I only feature items I genuinely love and personally use on a regular basis. This commission is an arrangement between the retailer and Kate’s Best Recipes (readers never pay more for products). This income allows me to run the site. Thank you for reading!