Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan from scratch is about to become your favorite chicken casserole!

This Chicken Divan is the BEST ever with no canned soups or mayo!  Just layers of juicy chicken and tender broccoli in the most flavorful rich, creamy cheese sauce all topped with golden crispy panko.  This Chicken Divan is a quick and easy casserole perfect for all those busy nights and you can prep it entirely ahead of time and bake until warm and bubbly at dinner time!  

Chicken Divan Recipe Video

a forkful of chicken divan casserole with chicken, broccoli and panko

Did you grow up on Chicken Divan?!  Chicken Divan was one of our family go-to dinners and my FAVORITE dinner my mom made growing up.  In fact, whenever it was my birthday and I got to request my special “birthday dinner,” it was always Chicken Divan.

When I told my sister I was posting a Chicken Divan From Scratch Recipe, she said, “Oh yum! Chicken Divan is still my kids’ favorite.  Daniel just requested it for his birthday dinner.”  And so, the delectable tradition continues.

Well, almost.  I’ve given this classic Chicken Divan recipe a fresh spin with plenty of flavor and a sauce you will want to faceplant into.  So, let’s get to it.

top view of easy chicken divan in a blue casserole dish with a silver spoon and some of the casserole gone

What is Chicken Divan?

Chicken Divan was created in the 1930s at the Divan Parisian Restaurant (thus the name!) at the Chatham Hotel in Manhattan and has since become an American classic.

Chicken Broccoli Divan is essentially a quick and easy chicken casserole that is characterized by a layer of steamed broccoli followed by a layer of chopped cooked chicken and topped with a rich and creamy sauce.

The first Chicken Divan was made with a Mornay Sauce  – a béchamel sauce with shredded or grated Gruyère cheese.  Later versions (like the one I remember from the 80s/90s), however, was often made with cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup mixed with milk, sour cream and/or mayonnaise and cheddar cheese.

Chicken Divan toppings range from panko to Ritz crackers to stuffing to cornflakes.

The reason there are so many Chicken Divan variations?  It doesn’t get better than cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole!

side view of a serving of creamy chicken divan with mashed potatoes in a black bowl with a gold fork

Chicken Divan Recipe

There is just something so satisfying, so comforting, so outrageously delicious about Chicken Divan.  I personally think it’s a texture thing.  Chicken Divan hits all the right notes.  You have tender broccoli and juicy chicken blanketed in a creamy sauce with crispy buttery panko all over a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes to cradle every bite.  So that’s, tender, juicy, creamy, crispy and fluffy.  I’m drooling all over again.

Of course, this symphony of textures would fall flat if there wasn’t enough flavor, and trust me, I’ve seen some very bland Chicken Divan recipes out there.  My from scratch Chicken Divan recipe, my friends, is not one of them.

This is NOT your mother’s Chicken Divan.  No offense mom. There’s no doubt that this from scratch Chicken Divan is still rich, but it’s a lightened-up version without the canned soup or mayonnaise that still hits all the right notes – and then some.  It is irresistibly creamy, cheesy, comforting perfection.

chicken divan from scratch with creamy sauce

What Goes In Chicken Divan?

  • Chicken:  I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts but you are welcome to use chicken thighs instead.  You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken but still toss it with the seasonings per recipe instructions. You will need about 3 cups cooked shredded chicken if you go this route.
showing how to make best chicken divan recipe by cooking chopped chicken in a pan
  • Broccoli:  I always use fresh broccoli.  I don’t recommend frozen broccoli because it has a tendency to end up watery and mushy instead of tender.  To save a little time, you can purchase bags of broccoli florets, just make sure you chop up any extra large pieces so the florets are all roughly the same size.
chopped broccoli florets on a white cutting board easy chicken divan recipe
  • Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup:  My homemade cream of chicken soup is epic.  It starts with a roux then you whisk in chicken broth, and milk whisked with cornstarch to create a wonderfully thick sauce.  You want the sauce to seem a little on the thick side because it will thin out some in the oven.  To this luscious sauce, we stir in chicken bouillon, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce onion powder, garlic powder, dried parsley, ground cumin, and pepper.  It is velvety, seasoned bliss.
top view of creamy mornay sauce for chicken divan in a blue saucepan
  • Cheese.  I use freshly grated Parmesan for its salty bite and cheddar for it is sharp richness.  Please only use freshly grated cheeses because the pre-shredded varieties don’t melt nearly as well – especially Parmesan.
  • Sour Cream.  Sour cream is a must in my book for the slightly tangy classic Chicken Divan taste.  I use ½ cup but you are welcome to use even more.  Full fat sour cream melts easier than nonfat, but you can certainly use nonfat with this knowledge.  For full disclosure, I have not tried this Chicken Divan recipe with Greek Yogurt.
  • Panko.  Don’t skip the panko crunch, it is one of my favorite parts!  Panko is a style of Japanese bread crumbs that is fluffier and bakes up much crispier than bread crumbs.  It is located with the other breadcrumbs at the grocery store.  I used Italian style panko (meaning it is seasoned with Italian seasoning), but you can use plain panko as well.
showing how to make chicken divan from scratch by toasting panko topping in a skillete

How To Make Chicken and Broccoli Divan

Step 1 – Season Chicken:  Chop your chicken into bite size pieces then season them with salt, pepper and paprika while still on the cutting board.   Make sure you dab your chicken of excess moisture before adding the seasonings so they stick well and so your chicken will sear instead of just steam – this is especially true if you are using frozen, defrosted chicken which will release excess moisture.

showing how to best chicken divan recipe by tossing chopped raw chicken with salt, pepper and paprika on a white cutting board

Step 2 – Steam Broccoli:  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat until very hot.  Add the broccoli and sauté for 30 seconds. Add ½ cup chicken broth, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam broccoli until tender but not limp, about 2 minutes. If you like your broccoli on the softer, more fall-apart side, then steam closer to 3 minutes.

showing how to make chicken divan by steaming broccoli in a blue skillet

Take care you drain your broccoli well before transferring it to a 9×13 casserole dish or the excess moisture can make your sauce watery.

showing how to make easy chicken divan by adding steamed broccoli to a casserole dish in a single layer

Step 3 – Cook Chicken:  To the now empty skillet, melt one tablespoon butter (may sub olive oil) over medium heat. Increase heat medium high and add chicken in a single layer and sear for one minute without moving then continue to cook and stir chicken until cooked through.  Take care not to overcook your chicken because it is also going to bake in the oven.

up close of cooking chopped chicken in pan showing how to make chicken divan without cream soup

Evenly layer chicken on top of broccoli.

showing how to make easy chicken divan by layering chicken on top of broccoli in a 9x13 casserole dish

Step 4 – Make Sauce:  To the same skillet (don’t wipe out), melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Whisk in flour then cook, while stirring for 1 minute.  Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in chicken broth and 1 cup of milk.  Whisk cornstarch with remaining cup milk and add to skillet followed by Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, chicken bouillon and all spices/seasonings.

showing how to make hommade cream of chicken soup for chicken divan by whisking together milk, chicken broth and seasonings

Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly then reduce heat to a simmer, whisking often until thickened.

showing how to make easy chicken divan by adding chicken broth and milk to a pan to make mornay sauce

Remove from heat and whisk in ½ cup sharp cheese until melted followed by Parmesan cheese until melted. Whisk in sour cream until blended.

showing how to make from scratch chicken divan by adding cheese to homemade cream of chicken soup

showing how to make from scratch chicken divan by making mornay sauce in a blue pan

Step 5 – Layer:  Pour sauce evenly over chicken and broccoli.  It will seem like a lot of sauce but trust me, it is just right.  No one wants dry Chicken Divan!

showing how to make chicken divan by pouring creamy sauce over chicken and broccoli

Top with remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese followed by panko.

Step 6 – Bake:  Cover Chicken Divan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

top view of chicken divan from scratch in a blue casserole dish with a silver spoon and some of the casserole gone with mashed potatoes on the side

How to make extra crispy panko topping

You are welcome to add your panko to the top of your Chicken Divan and bake per instructions and then broil, but the end result always leaves me wanting crispier panko.

To get the ULITMATE buttery, crispy panko topping, I use the technique I use in my Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese – because it is million dollar delicious.

First, melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden brown.   This will give you the most spectacular crispy panko once baked on top of you Chicken Divan every time.

up close of a serving of chicken divan with broccoli and chicken with mashed potatoes in a black bowl with a gold fork

Chicken Divan Recipe Variations

You can adapt this Chicken Divan to make other chicken casserole recipes.

  • Veggies: You can swap the broccoli out for other veggies such as asparagus, zucchini cauliflower or peas.
  • Cheeses: You can mix up the cheeses with Gruyere, pepper Jack, etc. to create a different flavor profile.
  • Seasonings: You can swap some of the seasonings out for Cajun spices to mix things up.
a spoon in easy chicken divan casserole with creamy mornay sauce

CAN I PREPARE CHICKEN DIVAN AHEAD OF TIME?

Absolutely!  Unlike pasta casseroles which can become less creamy if assembled ahead of time because the pasta soaks up the sauce – Chicken Divan is PREFECT to assemble ahead of time and will just become more flavorful.

To make Chicken Divan ahead of time, assemble the casserole according to recipe instructions up to the point of baking. Cover Chicken Divan with foil and refrigerate.

When ready to bake, let Chicken Divan sit on the counter while the oven preheats.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated through, and bubbly around the edges.

an up close serving spoon of chicken divan casserole with chicken and broccoli

How Do you Reheat Chicken Divan?

To reheat Chicken Divan in the oven, cover the casserole with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

You can reheat individual servings of Chicken Divan in the microwave with excellent results.  I sometimes add a splash of milk to the casserole before reheating and then mix it in so it emerges just as creamy as the first day.

Can I Freeze Chicken Divan?

Yes!  This Chicken Divan is super convenient to double when making so you can serve one for dinner now and have one for later.

Can I Freeze Chicken Divan?

Yes!  This Chicken Divan is super convenient to double when making so you can serve one for dinner now and have one for later.

To Freeze Chicken Divan:

  • Make and assemble according to directions up to the point of baking. You can add the panko if you want the casserole 100% assembled OR for crispier panko, toast and add it right before baking.
  • Let Chicken Divan cool completely (not from baking but from the warm sauce).
  • Wrap casserole securely with plastic wrap, then with aluminum foil.
  • Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to eat, thaw Chicken Divan in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
top view of a serving of best chicken divan with mashed potatoes in a black bowl

WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE?

I like to serve Chicken Divan with mashed potatoes or Chicken Divan with rice – both are fabulous.   You could also serve it with quinoa, cauliflower rice and even pasta.

To complete your meal, serve Chicken Divan with a big green salad, bread and fruit.  If you want some additional side options, it would be wonderful with my Perfect Fruit Salad or Winter Fruit Salad, Wedge Salad, Fluffy Dinner Rolls or Cheesy Pull Apart Pesto Bread.

Looking for more Chicken recipes?

up close of a serving of chicken divan with broccoli and chicken with mashed potatoes in a black bowl with a gold fork

Want to try this Chicken Divan Recipe?

Pin it to your CHICKEN, CASSEROLE or DINNER Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

a forkful of chicken divan casserole with chicken, broccoli and panko

Chicken Divan

This Chicken Divan is the BEST ever with no canned soups or mayo!  Just layers of juicy chicken and broccoli in the most flavorful rich, creamy cheese sauce all topped with golden crispy panko.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 tsp EACH salt, pepper, paprika
  • 1 16-20 oz. bag broccoli florets
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth divided
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp EACH onion pwdr, garlic pwdr, dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese divided
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Panko Topping (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • While the chicken is still on the cutting board, dab with a paper towel then toss with ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon paprika. Set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat until very hot. Add the broccoli and sauté for 30 seconds. Add ½ cup chicken broth, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam broccoli until tender but not limp, about 2 minutes. Transfer broccoli to prepared pan in an even layer.
  • To the now empty skillet, melt one tablespoon butter (may sub olive oil) over medium heat. Increase heat to medium high and add chicken in a single layer and sear for one minute without moving chicken then continue to cook and stir chicken until cooked through. Evenly layer chicken on top of broccoli.
  • To the same skillet (don’t wipe out), melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour then cook, while stirring for 1 minute. Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in remaining 1 ½ cups chicken broth and 1 cup of milk. Whisk cornstarch with remaining 1 cup milk and add to skillet followed by Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, chicken bouillon and all spices/seasonings.
  • Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly then reduce heat to a simmer, whisking often until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in ½ cup cheddar until melted followed by Parmesan cheese until melted. Whisk in sour cream until blended. Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli and spread into an even layer. Top with remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese.

Panko topping:

  • Melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over cheese. Cover Chicken Divan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted.
  • Serve Chicken Divan over mashed potatoes or rice.

Notes

Don't miss the "how to make" recipe video at the top of the post!
  • Prep Ahead:  Assemble the casserole according to recipe instructions up to the point of baking. Cover Chicken Divan with foil and refrigerate. When ready to bake, let Chicken Divan sit on the counter while the oven preheats.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated through, and bubbly around the edges.
  • Chicken:  Take care not to overcook your chicken because it is also going to bake in the oven. You are welcome to use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken but still toss it with the seasonings per recipe instructions. You will need about 3 cups cooked shredded chicken if you go this route.
  • Broccoli:  I always use fresh broccoli.  I don’t recommend frozen broccoli because it has a tendency to end up watery and mushy instead of tender.  Take care you drain your broccoli well after steaming before transferring it to a 9x13 casserole dish or the excess moisture can make your sauce watery.
  • Cheese.  Please only use freshly grated cheeses because the pre-shredded varieties don’t melt nearly as well - especially Parmesan.
  • Sour Cream.  I use ½ cup but you are welcome to use even more.  Full fat sour cream melts easier than nonfat, but you can certainly use nonfat with this knowledge.  For full disclosure, I have not tried this Chicken Divan recipe with Greek Yogurt.
  • Panko.  Don’t skip the panko crunch, it is one of my favorite parts!  You are welcome to add your panko directly to the top of your Chicken Divan without toasting first and then broil at the end of baking, but it will NOT get as crispy.  This method always leaves me wanting crispier panko.  Toasting your panko first is gold.

To Freeze Chicken Divan:

  • Make and assemble according to directions up to the point of baking. You can add the panko if you want the casserole 100% assembled OR for crispier panko, toast and add it right before baking.
  • Let Chicken Divan cool completely (not from baking but from the warm sauce).
  • Wrap Chicken divan securely with plastic wrap, then with aluminum foil.
  • Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to eat, thaw Chicken Divan in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

©Carlsbad Cravings Original

Never miss a Carlsbad Cravings Creation:

Facebook / Instagram /  Pinterest / Twitter  

CRAVE MORE RECIPES HERE

dinner-ideas-650-final

Looking for more Dinner Recipes? 

Best Lasagna

a slice of traditional lasagna with layers of ricotta, noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan with fresh parsley garnish on a white plate

Honey Mustard Chicken with Potatoes and Green Beans

top view of baked Honey Mustard Chicken and potatoes with green beans

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde  Chicken

Million Dollar Baked Penne

This Million Dollar Baked Penne has been a family favorite for decades!  We serve it at all our family gatherings because its SO good, so easy!  The homemade sauce is incredible and the hidden layer of creamy/cheesiness is to live for! 

Slow Cooker Mississippi Pot Roast

showing how to make Mississippi Pot Roast in crock pot with potataoes

Creamy Basil Parmesan Italian Soup

Creamy Basil Parmesan Italian Soup tastes better than any restaurant soup! Super easy and seasoned to perfection bursting with tender chicken, tomatoes, carrots, celery and macaroni enveloped by creamy Parmesan.

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

63 Comments

  1. Tash says

    I made this tonight and it was absolutely amazing!
    Can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow. Thanks for this comforting recipe! Xx

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Tash! I’m so pleased you loved it! Give me all the comfort food! xo

  2. Lisa says

    My family loved this recipe! This is reminscent of the comfort food from my childhood but tastes much better without canned cream of broccoli soup.

    I skipped the paremsan cheese since there was already so much rich dairy. It was still delicious.

    Next time, I will not sautee and steam the broccoli. It was well cooked and I don’t think it was needed. But we will definitely make this again for chilly nights.

    • Jen says

      Yessss, so many memories of Chicken Divan growing up! I’m so pleased your family loved it – hopefully the start of fond memories for them!

  3. JoAnn says

    Made this tonight for dinner, it was delicious!! I will definitely keep this recipe in my rotation!

    • Jen says

      Thank you JoAnn, I’m so pleased it was a winner!

  4. Laura Miller says

    Made this last night and it was amazing. The cheese sauce was the best!

  5. Ashley says

    Made this tonight and it was amazing! I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream, and it was great. It probably would have been thicker if I used sour cream, but my husband and I loved it all the same.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Ashley! I’m so happy you loved this Chicken Divan recipe so much! Thank you also for sharing that it worked well with Greek yogurt, I’m sure readers will appreciate your expertise!

  6. Shanna says

    Hi Jen! I love your recipes! For this one, do you think roasted broccoli would be good instead of steamed broccoli? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Yes! I think roasted broccoli would be tasty as long as it’s cooked until it’s quite tender. Please let me know how it goes!

  7. Ali G says

    Great success making this gluten free. Use Bob’s 1 to 1 gluten free flour and gluten free bread crumbs and my non-gluten free family members loved it! Fantastic recipe! Love not using canned soup!

    • Jen says

      Yesss! I’m thrilled this was a success with gluten free ingredients! I’m sure other readers will appreciate your helpful review, thanks Ali!

  8. Mary says

    I made this recipe last night for the first time, and it WON’T be the last. Made it exactly as written, as I always do when making a new recipe. Delish! Only thing I might change – and it’s simply a personal preference of mine – is to cut the cumin in half and add a bit of curry since that’s what I usually use in chicken divan.

    Oh! One more step-saver I did was to make rice ahead of time and made that my first layer, put about a layer 1/2 deep. Was soooo good! I also froze some for dinner down the road.

    • Jen says

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Mary, I’m so pleased this Chicken Divan will be on repeat! I LOVE your idea of laying with rice on the bottom – brilliant!

    • Catherine says

      Thank you for the tip of adding rice. I made this tonight including about a cup of almost fully cooked rice. It was so good.

  9. Nancy Robbins says

    This was really good! It took more than 20 minutes to prep. My DH wasn’t sure about the cumin, my daughter loved the cumin, and I sprinkled more on top of my mine. I might add a little more mustard next time. Thx!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Nancy, I’m so pleased it was a hit!

  10. Alexa says

    I’m so glad I found you! I had chicken and broccoli in mind for supper, and thought about Chicken Divan, but had no cans of stuff, and had hazy memories of mayonnaise. Your recipe was the best! Had no sour cream on hand but a dollop of yogurt did the trick. Served with jasmine rice and my 2-year-old gobbled it up.

    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Alexa! I’m so pleased this chicken divan hit the spot- definitely a childhood favorite of mine as well! I hope you enjoy exploring my site and hopefully find many new favorites here!

See More Comments