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Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole is classic comfort food filled with chicken, vegetables, creamy cheese sauce, pasta and topped with crumbled buttery crackers. A meal everyone is sure to enjoy.
My son does NOT like traditional Italian casseroles. Lasagnas, baked zitis and noodle casseroles with red sauce….he turns his nose up to all of those. I’m always hesitant to serve Braden casseroles because of that. But this one? He loved.
Chicken tetrazzini casserole is a great meal to have in your recipe collection. It is one of those wonderful go-to recipes when you have no idea what to make for dinner. Sometimes I just stare into my refrigerator trying to think of what everyone will eat and this is one of my main backup meals. All three kids love it along with my husband. They usually lick their plates clean. Cheese, chicken and pasta casseroles are always a winner in my house.
Tetrazzini is named after an Italian opera singer, Luisa Tetrazzini. This dish may have been created at a hotel where Tetrazzini stayed for extended periods.
So what is in a chicken tetrazzini casserole? It has a pasta base, creamy Parmesan sauce, chicken, peas and mushrooms. The top is generally sprinkled with bread crumbs or cracker crumbs and then the casserole is baked to a golden brown.
This tetrazzini recipe calls for fettuccine but spaghetti or angel hair pasta will work fine. Before I place the pasta in the boiling water to cook, I break them in half. It makes it a little easier to eat once the dish is complete.
While the pasta is cooking, brown the chicken chunks in some butter over medium heat. I like to cut my chicken up into small chunks, again for easier eating. Once it has cooked through, remove the from skillet.
Add more butter to skillet and cook mushrooms, onion and thyme. Cook these until slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the skillet and begin your cream sauce.
**Family Friendly Tip: So what if your kids don’t like mushrooms? Leave them out. I don’t care for mushrooms either and this casserole is delicious even without them!**
To make the cheese cream sauce, whisk together flour and butter over medium heat. Slowly add milk and chicken broth. If you drizzle this in slowly it will help to prevent a “clumpy” sauce. You want this mixture to thicken up a little before adding the cheese. Once it has thickened, add Parmesan cheese.
**Pro Tip: Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese melts the best. Buy a block of cheese and shred it finely with a cheese shredder. Add the cheese to the warm sauce slowly, stirring with each addition.**
Combine pasta, vegetables, and cream sauce and pour into a prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with extra Parmesan and some crushed butter crackers. Bake at 400º Fahrenheit until the top is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Easy as that!
Yes! This family friendly tetrazzini is sure to become a staple. While you are at it, make two and freeze one.
Put the casserole together but don’t sprinkle the cracker crumbs on. Wrap the casserole in plastic wrap (use a 9×13 foil pan for ease), then wrap again with foil. Freeze for 2-3 months.
Remove the casserole from the freezer at least a day before you’d like to bake it. The casserole works best if it is mostly thawed. Bake as the recipe states. You may need to bake longer if the casserole is still slightly frozen. Just remember…the casserole just needs to be heated through since the chicken was already cooked.
Although this tetrazzini casserole is a one dish dinner (since it includes meat, pasta and veggies), we like to serve this casserole with a side salad and mashed potatoes. The creamy tetrazzini sauce pairs so well with a scoop of creamy mashed potatoes. It’s the ultimate in comfort food!