This from-scratch recipe for chicken tetrazzini is a comfort food pasta dish your entire family will love. This American classic is full of tender rotisserie chicken (of course you can use leftover turkey), savory sauteed mushrooms, and pasta all nestled and baked in a creamy homemade mushroom sauce. A generous layer of gooey cheese on top adds all you need for a complete dinner.
Make an Old Fashioned Casserole for Dinner
If you’ve ever eaten institutional turkey tetrazzini, you might not be a fan. It was a staple in the cafeteria when I was in college and I’m not sure anyone ever ate it. (I’m definitely showing my age here – I am envious of the food courts on college campuses now)
However, chicken tetrazzini when made with a homemade mushroom sauce is absolutely delicious. It’s a lot easier to make chicken tetrazzini than turkey tetrazzini, except around the holidays when you might have leftover turkey. You can use either in this recipe and won’t be able to tell the difference.
My chicken tetrazzini recipe differs from most recipes because I don’t dump in a can of mushroom soup. Instead, I spend about 10 minutes making a sauce from scratch. I encourage you to give this easy homemade cream of mushroom soup recipe a try. When you see how easy it is and how much better it tastes, you’ll skip the canned version.
Once you make the flavorful sauce, add rotisserrie chicken (or roast some chicken breasts in the oven – so easy) and layer this with cooked spaghetti noodles in a casserole dish. It’s then baked so that all the flavors can be absorbed into the pasta and then it’s topped with cheese for a gooey finish.
If you have some that are not cheese lovers, all the cheese is on top so you can leave a portion without cheese and make everyone happy. (your welcome Natalie!)
This is an old-fashioned recipe like creamy tuna noodle casserole, that is so much better than what you may have grown up with due to the homemade sauce. It’s still simple enough to make on a busy weeknight. Total prep time is 15 minutes- it takes longer than that to get fast food!
Just like chicken noodle pasta or ranch chicken pasta casserole, pasta casseroles are filling enough to feed a hungry crowd and are favorite casseroles for kids and adults alike. It makes 6 very large servings, or stretch it out for 8 and serve it with a corn and cucumber salad, a spinach and strawberry salad, or roast some asparagus.
This recipe can be prepped ahead and frozen for another day, making it perfect for meal planning or gifting in a meal train.(your friends will love to get this casserole) Serve with crusty rolls or some cream cheese biscuits on busy weeknights for a classic comfort food meal that takes just a couple of minutes to put together.
Can I use this recipe to make Turkey Tetrazzini?
Yes! You absolutely can! You can simply replace the chicken with shredded turkey (perfect way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers!) and make the recipe as directed, and you can replace the chicken broth with turkey broth as well. It’s a versatile recipe so you can easily use whatever leftovers you have on hand.
Reasons to Try this Casserole
- Blend of convenience and from-scratch goodness: This recipe comes together in minutes but doesn’t rely on pre-packaged ingredients.
- Made from simple ingredients: Rotisserie or leftover chicken, pasta, broth, mushrooms, cream, cheddar cheese… it’s everything that’s easy and delicious in one recipe.
- Can be made ahead: One of my favorite things about this dinner is that you can prep it and freeze or refrigerate it, then bake it fresh on another day.
How to make homemade cream of mushroom soup?
Just like homemade cream of chicken soup, making cream of chicken soup from scratch is unbelievably simple to do and only takes about 5 minutes. To make homemade mushroom soup, you can simply saute mushrooms and onions, add flour and seasonings, whisk in broth until it’s hot and thickening up, then whisk in some cream or half and half. It’s that easy! See below for the full recipe.
Cheesy Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe Ingredients
- Spaghetti Noodles – Bucatini pasta also works nicely. Any pasta you have on hand will work, but long, thin noodles are the traditional way to make this cheesy pasta bake.
- Sliced mushrooms – Small button mushrooms work perfectly for this recipe. Wash and gently dry them before slicing.
- Chicken broth – You can use homemade broth, or pre-made broth from the grocery store. I recommend broth as it has more flavor than stock, but either can be used.
- Half and half – Whole milk or a combination of skim milk and cream will work when all you have is heavy cream. Half and half is my go-to for sauces, it makes it decadent without going overboard. If you want this creamy, don’t use skim milk, it will taste fine but won’t have that creamy texture that I love.
- Cooked chicken – You can use leftover baked chicken, a rotisserie chicken, or leftover turkey.
- Cheddar cheese – If you want gooey cheese, grate your own, pre-shredded will not melt as well.
- Pantry Staples: onion, butter, flour, onion powder and garlic powder.
How To Make an Old Fashioned Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole
Step 1: Cook the pasta.
Boil the spaghetti in a large pot of salted water until it’s almost done, but it’s still a bit chewy in the center. It will continue to cook in the oven when you bake your casserole.
Step 2: Make the sauce.
While your pasta cooks, make the sauce. Start by melting butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the cleaned and sliced mushrooms and onions and cook until soft, usually about 3-5 minutes. Add the flour, and then seasoning and whisk it together and allow it to cook for about a minute. The flour will thicken your sauce, but you need to cook it with the butter first to remove the raw flour taste.
Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking constantly until the sauce gets thickened and bubbly. This usually takes about 3 minutes. Add the cream and whisk again. Finally, add the cooked chicken and stir the sauce together.
Step 3: Assemble the casserole.
Place half of the pasta on the bottom of your casserole dish. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over the top. Repeat by adding another layer of the remaining pasta and top with the rest of the chicken mixture.
Step 4: Bake.
Set the casserole in the oven uncovered and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the top of the casserole with cheddar cheese. Place it back in the oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. Let sit for about 10 minutes to set, then serve.
How to Store Leftovers
In the fridge: Once your casserole has cooled to room temperature, cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, or place the leftovers in an airtight container. Your leftovers should be good for 2-3 days.
In the freezer: Place the casserole in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 2-3 months. I love Souper Cubes for freezing casseroles in individual servings. Allow the casserole to thaw in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
How to reheat: Reheat using your oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the leftovers in an oven-safe dish. Cover it with foil and heat until hot through, about 10 minutes. You can also use the microwave.
How do I make this ahead?
This is a great make-ahead dinner whether you want to cook it tomorrow or even next month. Go ahead and make the recipe, right up until you put it in the oven. To store in the fridge, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to eat, let the casserole sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to warm to room temperature. Bake as directed.
You’ll want to add this to your dinner rotation, it will make it much easier to decide what to fix for dinner and leftovers are amazing.
More Family Favorite Casserole Recipes Everyone Loves
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Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe with Rotisserie Chicken
- 8 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta
- 4 ounces mushrooms about 1 cup sliced
- 1 small onion about 1 cup diced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup half and half
- 3 ½ cups chicken cooked and shredded
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese grated
- Cook pasta in salted water until almost done but still a touch chewy in the middle. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350º and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, or coat with butter.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and add onions and mushrooms. Cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder and whisk for about a minute. Slowly add chicken broth, whisking constantly until thickened and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Add cream and whisk to combine. Add cooked chicken and stir together.
- Place half of the pasta on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over the top. Add the remaining pasta and top with the rest of the chicken mixture.
- Bake for 20 minutes, remove and top with cheese, bake an additional 5 minutes and melted and bubbly.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You will need an entire rotisserie chicken for this recipe.
- If you don’t have half and half, you can use a mixture of cream and skim milk.
- When you’re adding the broth and cream to your sauce, add them slowly and whisk constantly. This helps eliminate lumps from forming in your sauce.
- You can use leftover turkey or roast your own chicken.