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Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole is an easy, savory dinner that everybody loves! With buttery Ritz crackers crumbled on top of a creamy base of tender bite-size chicken pieces in a poppy seed sauce, this satisfying casserole is a comfort food favorite.
Whether it’s this poppy seed chicken casserole, spaghetti chicken casserole, or cheesy chicken, broccoli & rice casserole, our family always loves this comforting kind of dish. It’s perfect served with oven roasted broccoli on the side.
When I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, creamy chicken casseroles like this made a regular appearance at our dinner table. And I continue to make them for my own family because the recipes stand the test of time. Kids and adults both love poppy seed chicken casserole and scarf it right up.
When it comes to most recipes, I almost always make things completely from scratch, including the cream of chicken soup base. But I have to admit, this is one of the rare cases where I just feel like there is something about the recipe that demands the can of soup.
Poppy seed chicken is a recipe that I tend to throw together in a jif when there are a million other things going on and I just need to get something on the table without too much effort. And in that case, I have no shame in resorting to a can of cream of chicken soup and a rotisserie chicken.
If I’m real ambitious and planning ahead, I will even defrost some chicken breasts from the freezer and bake or boil them to use in the casserole too.
If you have never tried poppy seed chicken casserole before, it has a wonderful, savory flavor with fantastic texture contrasts between the creamy sauce loaded with delicious poppy seeds and the crunchy buttery Ritz cracker topping. Everybody will want second helpings!
How to Make Poppy Seed Chicken
- To make poppy seed chicken, you need about 5 cups of cooked chicken. Rotisserie chicken works great and cuts your prep time significantly. But you can also just boil or bake chicken breasts to have on hand for a recipe like this. Chop the cooked chicken into bite-size pieces then set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce. Mix up the contents of a can of cream of chicken soup with some sour cream, parmesan cheese, dried parsley, a little garlic powder, pepper, and of course, poppy seeds. Then add the chicken and stir until it is evenly coated. Transfer the creamy chicken mixture to a large 9×13″ baking dish.
- While I’m getting the chicken ready, I usually hand one of my kids a rolling pin and a bag of Ritz crackers and ask them to smash the crackers for me. Then I dump the crushed crackers into a bowl with melted butter and stir them together for an easy, buttery topping that adds flavor and texture to the casserole.
- Sprinkle the buttery crushed crackers over the chicken filling, then slide the poppy seed chicken casserole into a 350 degree F oven to bake for 35 to 40 minutes until it’s hot and bubbly. The crushed cracker topping will toast slightly and provides a wonderful contrast to the creamy sauce and tender chunks of chicken beneath!
Can you freeze poppy seed chicken
Yes! Poppy seed chicken is a great meal to make to have on hand in the freezer or to give to a friend who is going through a hard time or just had a baby.
Just make the poppy seed chicken up through adding the Ritz cracker topping, but don’t bake it. Instead, cover tightly with plastic wrap, then freeze for up to 1 month. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before topping with the buttery Ritz cracker topping and baking.
How to reheat poppy seed chicken
If I’m reheating a single portion, I will just do it in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes until hot all the way through.
But if I’m reheating larger amounts, I think the best way to reheat poppy seed chicken is to do it in the oven. Just cover it with foil this time to keep moisture in and let the leftover casserole heat in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes until hot.
How to cook chicken breasts for casserole
When I’m making weeknight casserole dishes like this poppy seed chicken, I like to cook the chicken in advance so I can easily throw everything together. If I’m really in a rush, sometimes I will even just use a rotisserie chicken from the store to save time.
My two favorite methods for cooking chicken breasts to use in a casserole are to either boil the chicken or bake it.
To boil chicken breasts: Add however many chicken breasts you want to cook to a large pot, then cover with water and season the water with a handful of salt and a tablespoon of pepper. Bring the water to a gentle boil and cook until the chicken breasts reach 165 degrees F when tested with a digital meat thermometer. The amount of chicken you are cooking this way will alter boiling time, but for 4-5 medium-size chicken breasts it usually takes around 10-15 minutes once the water begins to boil for them to be done.
To bake chicken breasts: Sprinkle chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper, then bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. They are done when they reach 165 degrees F when tested with a digital meat thermometer. I like to do a bunch all at once to have one hand for other recipes throughout the week.
What to serve with poppy seed chicken
Poppy Seed Chicken is delicious served over rice, pasta, or even mashed potatoes. We also love to serve it with a green vegetable like roasted or steamed broccoli, asparagus, green beans, or brussels sprouts.
Because it’s such a creamy casserole, I also think it goes really well with a fresh green salad.
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- 5 cups cooked chicken, sliced into bite-size chunks
- 2 cans cream of chicken soup
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 1/2 sleeves)
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- Preheat oven heat to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, Parmesan, poppy seeds, parsley, garlic powder, and black pepper. Stir, then add the cooked chicken and stir again until the meat is evenly coated in sauce. Transfer to a 9x13-inch baking dish.
- In a separate bowl, combine the crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter with a fork. Sprinkle over the chicken mixture.
- Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes until the cracker topping is golden brown and the filling is hot all the way through and bubbling around the edges.
- For the cooked chicken, you can boil chicken breasts in water or broth for 15-20 minutes until cooked through, or bake chicken breasts in a 400 degree F oven until they register an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when tested with a digital meat thermometer, about 20 minutes. Or just use a rotisserie chicken from the store.
- Serve over rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes with a green vegetable on the side.
- You can freeze the assembled, unbaked poppy seed chicken without the cracker topping for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before topping with the buttery cracker topping, then bake like normal.
- Adapted from All Recipes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 604 Total Fat: 45g Saturated Fat: 20g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 20g Cholesterol: 157mg Sodium: 1033mg Carbohydrates: 22g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 4g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 28g