This easy recipe for freezer-friendly poppy seed chicken casserole is made with homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup and shredded chicken breasts. It's one of my favorite casseroles!
Have you ever had or heard of Poppy Seed Chicken? Chances are that if you're from the South, this dish is is a staple for you at potlucks, large gatherings, ladies' luncheons, and your go-to casserole when you need to take a meal to someone. I know I've made it for people dozens of times and everyone always loves it. It's basically Southern comfort food at it's finest! If you aren't familiar with this casserole, Poppy Seed Chicken features creamy chicken filling topped with buttery cracker crumbs and crunchy poppy seeds that and baked to bubbly, golden-brown perfection.
- Chicken - I like to use poached boneless skinless chicken breasts of chicken breasts cooked in the Instant Pot for this recipe. You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken or these Simply Perfect Roast Chicken Breasts.
- Cream of mushroom soup - I think the flavor and texture of poppy seed chicken is amazing when I make a simple homemade condensed mushroom soup. I've included the recipe for this below, but you can also use canned condensed soup.
- Sour cream - reduced-fat sour cream is what I typically buy for this recipe. I've never tried using Greek yogurt as a substitute, but if you do, be sure to buy 2% or full fat.
- Dijon mustard - a teaspoon of Dijon is all you need to add some nice depth of flavor to the chicken mixture.
- Ritz crackers - the whole wheat version is my favorite choice for this recipe.
- Butter - sometimes I will use real butter, and sometimes I'll use vegan butter to cut back on saturated fat. You will only need 4 tablespoons.
- Poppy seeds - while poppy seeds do not really add flavor to recipes, they do add visual interest and a slight crunch.
The first step in making this recipe is to shred some cooked chicken breasts. The fastest and simplest way to do this is with a stand mixer. Put the chicken breasts in the mixer bowl and use the paddle attachment on low speed to shred the chicken for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed until the chicken is uniformly shredded.
Next, just add the mushroom soup, sour cream, and Dijon straight the bowl of shredded chicken. Use a rubber spatula to fold it all together.
Once the chicken mixture is spread into a greased baking dish, you can either top with the cracker butter mixture and poppy seeds for baking or freeze it. To freeze poppy seed chicken, leave off the cracker topping and poppy seeds and cover the dish tightly with a layer of plastic wrap and then foil. Thaw the frozen casserole in the fridge overnight before topping and baking as directed.
I like to serve the following sides with this recipe:
- Steamed broccoli
- Everyday Springtime Salad
- Simple Kale Salad
- Simply Perfect Roasted Asparagus
- Shaved Asparagus Salad
- Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
If you'd like to use your poppy seeds in some other dishes, you may enjoy any of the following:
- Olive Oil Grapefruit Cake
- Kentucky Hot Brown Sliders
- Strawberry Wild Rice Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
- Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Fresh Raspberry Glaze
For more freezer-friendly meals, you can view my top 10 freezer-friendly meals. These will help you build out a successful meal-prep strategy if that is your goal.
Are you ready to make some Poppy Seed Chicken? Let me know how it turns out for you!
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Poppy Seed Chicken
For the condensed cream of mushroom soup (recipe slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven):
- 1 ⅓ cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ⅔ cup 1% milk
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup finely-chopped fresh baby Bella mushrooms (5-6 mushrooms)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
For the poppy seed chicken:
- 5 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 2-3 large chicken breasts) **see notes
- 1 (16-ounce) container reduced-fat sour cream
- 1 recipe (above) homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup OR two (10.5 ounce) cans reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ cups finely crushed whole wheat Ritz cracker crumbs (about 1 ½ cracker sleeves)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I sometimes use Earth Balance vegan butter spread for this)
- 1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray a shallow 2 quart baking dish or 6 (8 ounce) ramekins with cooking spray. Set aside.
- For the condensed cream of mushroom soup:
- Add the stock to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. While the stock is heating, whisk the milk and flour together in a small bowl. Once the stock comes to a boil, slowly whisk the flour and milk mixture in while pouring in a steady stream. Whisk in the mushrooms and seasonings. Reduce heat to a low boil and cook, stirring continuously, for about 3 minutes for the mixture to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes before adding to the recipe or chill until ready to use (you can store in the refrigerator up to 1 week).
- For the poppy seed chicken:
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray a shallow 2 quart baking dish or 6 (8 ounce) ramekins with cooking spray.
- Combine chicken, sour cream, mushroom soup, and Dijon mustard in a large bowl. Stir until well incorporated. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish(es).
- Add the melted butter to crushed crackers and stir to combine. Evenly sprinkle this mixture over the top of baking dish. Sprinkle poppy seeds evenly on top of cracker mixture.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the casserole is golden brown and bubbly.
Pin this, pretty please!