Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini
Creamy, cheesy, and comforting Chicken Tetrazzini made with juicy pieces of chicken and noodles baked in a homemade easy from scratch creamy white sauce with garlic butter mushrooms and topped off with shredded cheese and crunchy buttery panko, then baked to perfection.
What is Chicken Tetrazzini?
While the name Tetrazzini may sound very Italian, this dish is actually a creamy cheesy American baked pasta casserole dish that includes shredded chicken, or leftover Turkey, sautéed mushrooms and peas that are all tossed together in a decadent and delicious creamy sauce. Everything is emptied into a baking dish and topped with cheese and buttery panko crumbs and baked until bubbly, gooey and hot.
Why you will love this recipe:
- This recipe is always a huge hit with family and friends. I mean what’s not to love about pasta, chicken, mushrooms, onions and garlic in a smooth creamy cheese sauce that is topped with another generous portion of cheese and baked to melted perfection.
- There is nothing complicated about this recipe. It has simple ingredients and simple instructions so even the novice cook can master this dish.
- I am not a big fan of cream of anything soup. So this version of the recipe does not use cream of mushroom soup. It is a fresh yet easy made from scratch recipe that you will love.
Ingredients for Chicken Tetrazzini
Here’s a basic list of what you’ll need, as always, you can find the full printable recipe in the recipe card below.
- Linguine Pasta – or any other similar shape pasta (spaghetti, fettuccini)
- Butter & Olive oil: I like to use a combination of both but one or the other works too
- Flour: - I used all purpose flour but a good 1-1 gluten free flour will work too
- Milk: I like to use whole milk but any milk will work
- Cream: I use heavy cream but for a lighter cream sauce you can use light cream or substitute it with more milk
- Chicken Broth: or you can use water with bouillon
- Seasoning: I like to use thyme and oregano but you could use Italian seasoning too. I like to also use some fresh parsley for garnish and for serving
- Cooked, Shredded Chicken – you can shred from a rotisserie chicken or cook your own. This dish is a great way to use up leftovers whether it’s chicken, turkey, ham, or sausage. Choose whatever meat you like and add it into the sauce (make sure it’s pre-cooked before you add it).
- Cheese: I like to use a good white cheddar because it add loads of flavour but any type of shredded cheese combination would work just fine for the top of your tetrazzini. Shredded Mozzarella cheese, cheddar, or provolone are some of my other favorites! I used 1 cup for the filling and 1 cup for the topping - if you want it cheesier I recommend adding more to the topping ALONE not the pasta as it will change the texture of the sauce.
- Peas: I used frozen and thawed peas - I also make sure they are well drained and even pat them dry with a paper towel - to avoid adding extra Moisture to the pasta bake
- Panko: I love the contrast in texture with the delicious buttery panko / and creamy pasta. But this is optional to add
Recipe notes and helpful tips
- Remember to cook pasta slightly al dente and drain, rinse with cold water and drain well. Rinsing it with cold water in this case (not usually recommended unless your making pasta salad) will prevent the sauce from clinging to the pasta too much - if that makes sense - ensuring a really cream sauce - but not overly thick and over absorbed and gummy by the time the pasta bake comes out of the oven.
- I used already cooked rotisserie chicken but you can use poached, baked or even grilled chicken. Cut it into small bite size cubes.
- For a lower fat version use whole milk in place of the cream.
- I use a white cheddar and sharp cheddar but you could also use a little parmesan, gouda or Monterey Jack.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze in a heavy duty freezer bag for up to 2 months.
- Reheat leftovers in the microwave for 1 minute intervals until heated through.
Can Chicken Tetrazzini be Made Ahead?
Chicken tetrazzini can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. The entire dish can be assembled pre-bake with cheese on top (except for the buttered panko, tightly wrapped in foil and refrigerated until ready to use. When ready to serve, uncover casserole, top with buttered panko and bake for about 30 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and golden brown on top.
Can Chicken tetrazzini be frozen?
Chicken tetrazzini can be frozen for up to 2 months. The entire dish can be assembled pre-baked (including the buttered panko), tightly wrapped in foil and stored in the freezer until ready to use. When ready to serve, bake covered casserole in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and golden brown on top.
Tips and Tricks for Chicken Tetrazzini Success
- Use a store-bought rotisserie chicken to save yourself a bunch of time or leftover Turkey.
- Try using bucatini instead of linguine so the pasta is not only coated in sauce, but filled with sauce from the inside out!
- The creamy sauce should still be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, but expect it to be a thinner sauce, than a typical bechamél. The sauce will thicken when it bakes. So don’t worry about coking the sauce unit it’s super thick.
- Don’t be alarmed at the amount of sauce the recipe makes; you need a lot of sauce to ensure you don’t end up with a dry gummy pasta bake!
Chicken Tetrazzini Variations
- Mix it up with a variety of mushrooms like shiitake, porcini and oyster.
- Make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken and increasing the amount of mushrooms. You can also add other vegetables into this dish like broccoli florets and sautéed bell peppers.
- Although we love using panko, try topping the dish with crushed buttery ritz crackers or oyster crackers!
- A long strand pasta is more traditional, but if you prefer a shaped pasta, feel free to use a shorter pasta. We just recommend using something like fusilli or penne which picks up lots of the creamy sauce.
Other chicken recipes you will love:
- 1 lb 16 oz linguine or spaghetti or other long pasta
- 3½-4 cups cooked chopped chicken or 2 lbs of chicken thighs or chicken breast cooked and chopped (or you could use leftover rotisserie chicken or Turkey)
For the Creamy Sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for greasing baking dish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12oz button or cremini mushrooms sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk ( I use full fat)
- 1 cup heavy cream, (or sub more milk)
- 2 cups chicken stock/broth (or water + 2 stock cubes)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¾ cup frozen peas thawed and patted dry
- 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese, divided
For panko topping (optional):
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
For the Pasta
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water to al dente then drain, rinse with cold water and drain, and set aside
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13” casserole dish or spray with non stick spray and set aside.
For the Sauce
- Sauté veggies: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil over med high heat in large pot or deep skillet. Add mushrooms onions and garlic, cook for 5-7 minutes until everything is softened and mushrooms are golden
- Add flour & milk: Turn heat down to medium. Add flour. Stir for 30 seconds. Add milk and stir for a few seconds until thickened.
- Add cream and broth: Stir in stock, and cream, and season with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture heat up and cook, stirring often until the sauce thickens enough so you can draw a path on the back of the spoon. No need for it to be super thickened as it will thicken as it bakes.
- Add cheese ,peas & pasta: Remove from heat and stir in half the cheese, the chicken, peas and the pasta. Toss to mix, taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
- Toast Panko (if using): In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and toss together with panko. Toast stirring for a couple of minutes until golden. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bake: Pour pasta mixture into a 9 x 13” pan, smooth surface. Top with remaining cheese then Panko crumb mixture if using. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbly. Broil for the last 1-2 minutes if needed to get nice and golden.
- Serve hot out of the oven and enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze in a heavy duty freezer bag for up to 2 months. Make ahead and freezing details in post above
- Reheat leftovers in the microwave for 1 minute intervals until heated through.