Chicken Spaghetti

When it’s time to eat, Chicken Spaghetti is comfort food that delights everyone. This easy recipe is a heavenly combination of noodles, chicken, and red peppers in a creamy sauce, with lots of melted cheese.

Chicken spaghetti being scooped out of a green casserole dish.

For us Midwesterners, this recipe is a delicious blast from the past. It’s popular for potlucks, last-minute dinners, and kids just gobble it up. Other versions use canned cream of mushroom or chicken soup, but I prefer a homemade, 3-ingredient creamy sauce that’s made right in the pan.

The greatest part about this recipe is that you probably already have the ingredients to make it. It’s ready to devour in under an hour and the chicken stays tender and juicy without ever drying out.

There are lots of variations and optional ingredients, so take a peek in your fridge and see what you have to work with. Chances are it’ll slide into your weekly rotation in no time.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled chicken spaghetti ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Spaghetti: There’s no law saying you can’t make baked chicken and noodles with some other type of pasta, either.
  • Chicken: I always use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but this recipe will take what you give it, whether that’s chicken breasts, leftover rotisserie chicken, or even leftover turkey.
  • Chili powder: A blend of ground chiles to give the casserole a little something-something. If you don’t have it, make a chili powder substitute with cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. While that’s happening, sauté the onions and bell pepper in a Dutch oven or skillet with some olive oil over medium-high heat.
    Various vegetables being cooked in a silver skillet.
  2. As soon as they’re softened, add the chicken, chili powder, and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is golden brown on the outside, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then move everything to a bowl and set aside.
    Chicken chunks and vegetables in a silver pan.
  3. Return the skillet to the stove, and melt the butter. Then whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, until the flour just begins to brown. Quickly pour in the milk and chicken broth and whisk over the heat until it forms a sauce. This should take 3 to 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. After that, add half of the shredded cheese, the chicken and vegetables, and the pasta back into the pot. Give it all a good stir so the sauce and cheese covers the noodles.
    Chicken spaghetti sauce in a silver pan with a whisk resting in it.
  4. Pour the whole pot into a baking dish or casserole, and scatter the rest of the cheese over the top. Bake at 400 degrees until the casserole is hot and the cheese is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes.
    Chicken spaghetti in a green baking dish before being baked.
  5. Once you take it out of the oven, let it stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley, or extra cheese, or a pinch of red pepper flakes, whatever floats your boat.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Season at every step: I like to salt and pepper at several stages, just to layer the seasoning and make the flavors really pop. If you don’t season the sauce, the casserole will be bland.
  • Cover with foil to prevent over-browning: Since everyone’s oven is a little different, place a layer of foil overt the casserole to protect the cheese from burning.
  • More vegetables: Add or substitute the vegetables as you see fit. Try sliced button mushrooms, canned green chilies, Ro-Tel, scallions, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli florets, green olives, black olives, or diced celery.
  • Dairyland: Try Monterrey Jack, Swiss, a little creamy goat cheese, Velveeta, or a spoonful or two of sour cream.
  • Crumb topping: If you love crunch, add toss bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or even cornflakes in melted butter and sprinkle on top of the casserole before baking.
  • Spicy: If you crave spicy foods, add diced jalapeños or serranos to the sauce with the chicken, and serve with plenty of hot sauce on the side.
  • Make ahead: Make up to 2 days before you need it; just cover it and store in the fridge.
  • Freezer: Just cover, wrap, and freeze the casserole. Thaw overnight in the fridge and bake in a 400 degree oven until hot.

A serving of chicken spaghetti on a gray plate.

More delicious casseroles:

Chicken spaghetti being scooped out of a green casserole dish.

Chicken Spaghetti

When it's time to eat, Chicken Spaghetti is comfort food that delights everyone. This easy recipe is a heavenly combination of noodles, chicken, and red peppers in a creamy sauce, with lots of melted cheese.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 556kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti (see note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces (see note 2)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (see note 3)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
  • Minced fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 9 to 10 minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken and chili powder and season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Cook until chicken is golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer chicken and vegetable mixture to a bowl.
  • Return the Dutch oven to medium-high heat and melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and chicken broth and cook until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Do not skip this step or your casserole may be bland!
  • Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese. Add cooked spaghetti and chicken and vegetable mixture and toss until well combined. Transfer to a 3-quart or larger baking dish and top with remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  • Bake until hot and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes (a chicken piece should register 165 degrees on an internal thermometer). Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Notes

  1. Spaghetti: There's no law saying you can't make baked chicken and noodles with some other type of pasta, either. Grab rotini, penne, ziti, or whatever you've got!
  2. Chicken: I always use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but this recipe will take what you give it, whether that's chicken breasts, leftover rotisserie chicken, or even leftover turkey.
  3. Chili powder: A blend of ground chiles to give the casserole a little something-something. If you don't have it, make a chili powder substitute with cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
  4. Season at every step: I like to salt and pepper at several stages, just to layer the seasoning and make the flavors really pop. If you don't season the sauce, the casserole will be bland.
  5. Cover with foil to prevent over-browning: Since everyone's oven is a little different, place a layer of foil overt the casserole to protect the cheese from burning.
  6. More vegetables: Add or substitute the vegetables as you see fit. Try sliced button mushrooms, canned green chilies, Ro-Tel, scallions, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli florets, green olives, black olives, or diced celery.
  7. Dairyland: Try Monterrey Jack, Swiss, a little cream cheese, Velveeta, or a spoonful or two of sour cream.
  8. Crumb topping: If you love crunch, add toss bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or even cornflakes in melted butter and sprinkle on top of the casserole before baking.
  9. Spicy: If you crave spicy foods, add diced jalapeños or serranos to the sauce with the chicken, and serve with plenty of hot sauce on the side.
  10. Make ahead: Make up to 2 days before you need it; just cover it and store in the fridge.
  11. Freezer: Just cover, wrap, and freeze the casserole. Thaw overnight in the fridge and bake in a 400 degree oven until hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 556kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 461mg | Potassium: 523mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1196IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 299mg | Iron: 2mg
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  1. Jan

    I made this for supper tonight because I got the recipe from being on your email list this morning. Such a wonderful dish. Thanks Megan.5 stars

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