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Chicken Tetrazzini is made with creamy béchamel sauce, tender chicken, and pasta, all baked under a crunchy crumb topping.  This simple casserole is ready in under an hour or can be made ahead or frozen.

Chicken tetrazzini in a white baking dish.

A classic chicken casserole with American roots, this recipe used to be made with a couple cans of soup. Below you’ll find an updated version that’s fresh, absolutely delicious, and completely made from scratch. The recipe makes a lot, so you might just have leftovers.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for chicken tetrazzini.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Bread: Or substitute 1 ½ cups bread crumbs for the sliced, toasted bread. Combine with the butter as directed in Step 1.
  • Salt and pepper: If you don’t season the sauce before you add back the noodles, your casserole will be bland! Taste the sauce and season it until you LOVE IT. Now’s a good time to add hot sauce or red pepper flakes if that’s your thing.
  • Spaghetti: Any pasta will do, but I prefer a long-stranded pasta: linguine, or fettuccine, snapped in half while uncooked for easy serving.
  • Chicken: Leftover rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken from the weekend, or poached chicken, shredded or cut up.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Tear the slices into 2-inch pieces. In a food processor, process the pieces until finely ground. In a small bowl, add bread crumbs and melted butter and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.
A food processor full of bread crumbs.
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 to 9 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
Spaghetti noodles being rinsed in a colander.
  1. Return the same large pot to medium-high heat and melt butter until foaming. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
Onions and spices being cooked in a silver stock pot.
  1. Stir in flour and cook until golden, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Whisk in broth and half and half. Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk until sauce thickens, about 1 minute longer. 
Chicken tetrazzini sauce in a silver stock pot.
  1. Remove from heat and whisk in Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired. Do not skip this step or your casserole may be bland!
Chicken tetrazzini sauce in a silver stock pot.
  1. To the pot with sauce, add cooked pasta, chicken and frozen peas, and toss to combine. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumb topping. 
Unbaked chicken tetrazzini in a white casserole dish.
  1. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping has browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
Chicken tetrazzini in a white baking dish.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 2 quarts of casserole, enough for 8 servings, 1 cup each.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: This casserole can be made up to two days ahead. Assemble it, pour it into the baking dish, but don’t add the breadcrumbs or bake. Instead, wrap it up and store it in the fridge. add the breadcrumbs when ready to bake.
  • Freezer: Just cover, wrap, and freeze it before baking. Thaw overnight in the fridge and bake in a 400 degree oven until the temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Cover with foil to prevent over-browning: Since everyone’s oven is a little different, place a layer of foil overt the casserole to keep the breadcrumbs from burning if needed.
  • More vegetables: This recipe is nothing if not versatile. Sauté some mushrooms alongside the onions, if you like. In place of peas, add a couple handfuls of baby spinach or thinly sliced leeks.
Chicken tetrazzini in a white baking dish.

Recipe FAQs

What does “tetrazzini” mean?

“Tetrazzini” means prepared with pasta and a white sauce served au gratin (“au gratin” means sprinkled with bread crumbs or cheese, or both, and browned).

How to Make Rotisserie Chicken

Learn how to make rotisserie chicken at home with my super simple spice rub (4 ingredients plus salt & pepper). Or, recreate that same delicious flavor for your next oven-roasted chicken!

1 hour 15 minutes
View Recipe

More must-make casseroles

Chicken tetrazzini in a white baking dish.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini is made with creamy béchamel sauce, tender chicken, and pasta, all baked under a crunchy crumb topping. This simple casserole is ready in under an hour or can be made ahead or frozen.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 8 servings (1 cup each)
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 336

Ingredients 

For the topping:

  • 2 slices high-quality sandwich bread lightly toasted (see note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted

For the casserole:

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (see note 2)
  • 8 ounces spaghetti broken in half (see note 3)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • hot sauce to taste, optional (see note 2)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken chopped or shredded (see note 4)
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions 

  • Tear the slices into 2-inch pieces. In a food processor, process the pieces until finely ground. In a small bowl, add bread crumbs and melted butter and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.
  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 to 9 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
  • Return the same large pot to medium-high heat and melt butter until foaming. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
  • Stir in flour and cook until golden, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Whisk in broth and half and half. Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk until sauce thickens, about 1 minute longer. 
  • Remove from heat and whisk in Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired. Do not skip this step or your casserole may be bland!
  • To the pot with sauce, add cooked pasta, chicken and frozen peas, and toss to combine. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumb topping. 
  • Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping has browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Bread: Or substitute 1 ½ cups bread crumbs for the sliced, toasted bread. Combine with the butter as directed in Step 1.
  2. Salt and pepper: If you don’t season the sauce before you add back the noodles, your casserole will be bland! Taste the sauce and season it until you LOVE IT. Now’s a good time to add hot sauce or red pepper flakes if that’s your thing.
  3. Spaghetti: Any pasta will do, but I prefer a long-stranded pasta: linguine, or fettuccine, snapped in half while uncooked for easy serving.
  4. Chicken: Leftover rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken from the weekend, or poached chicken, shredded or cut up.
  5. Yield: This recipe makes about 2 quarts of casserole, enough for 8 servings, 1 cup each.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Make ahead: This casserole can be made up to two days ahead. Assemble it, pour it into the baking dish, but don’t add the breadcrumbs or bake. Instead, wrap it up and store it in the fridge. add the breadcrumbs when ready to bake.
  8. Freezer: Just cover, wrap, and freeze it before baking. Thaw overnight in the fridge and bake in a 400 degree oven until the temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 336kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 19gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 349mgPotassium: 387mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 606IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 135mgIron: 2mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. A must make! I’m thawing chicken right now. What if, once the sauce has bubbled for a couple of minutes, then you sprinkled the breadcrumbs on top until they browned? That may alleviate the over browning problem without the foil tent.
    That’s how I do cheese toppings that I want stringy but not chewy from browning.
    Me, I’d likely use Panko crumbs for a better crunch. :-)5 stars