Did you eat a lot of casseroles growing up?
Cause I sure ate A LOT of chicken noodle casserole when I was a kid, and honestly, it was never my favorite. My brothers LOVE my mom’s recipe for chicken noodle casserole and it’s crazy easy to make, so when we were kids, dad would make it probably every other week. It was pretty much a hit with every kid that walked through our house, but I was just never crazy about it because of all the pre-packaged ingredients.
I know I have explained this before, but I was the oddest child. I actually did not like junk food and in general, I really wanted to eat healthy foods. So chicken noodle casserole just was not my thing.
For years and years, I tried to make healthier versions and failed miserably. My brothers where utterly annoyed with me and I felt pretty defeated…and then…I just gave up for a while. I went back to making mom’s recipe to make everyone happy.
The people pleaser in me never stops wanting to please.
So yes, I gave up for a while, but then last week, I had a thought. What about adding zucchini and swapping a few things in for this and that and adding some other things and yada, yada, yada.
My brain. it’s just a mess.
And guys, one try and I knew I had a winner, like a real winner, this casserole is so good. It passed the mom test (not the brother test because oddly non of them are around at the moment) and that sealed the deal for me. Seriously, this recipe = family casserole perfection.
Perfection I tell ya! YES.
Best part is that it’s also the easiest dinner to make, and I really mean that! AND no one ever needs to know about those 3 cups of grated zucchini. It can be our little secret!
Speaking of secrets, the key to this recipe is the grated onion, it’s what adds all the flavor. Even if you are not an onion fan, which NO ONE in my family is, I highly recommend adding the onion. Mom, who despises any and all onions had not a clue they were in here. She is going to read this and be in shock. Muahahaha…I told you onions are not all bad!
Ok and also important, the gouda cheese. Mom’s casserole recipe does not call for cheese. BUT, I took out a few canned goods that really added a lot of flavor, so the cheese just replaces those flavors with better (non-processed) flavors…cause cheese rules…
I know what you are thinking, didn’t she say this was healthy??? Well, I said healthier, and to me, it is. This casserole is like 100% healthier than mom’s version, so I am pretty happy with it, but yes, there is some butter, bread and cheese.
Don’t hate…just love (cause you know you love those ingredients, and hey, new research says they may even be good for you).
Plus, that full cup of greek yogurt and three cups of zucchini make up for anything in here that could possibly be considered, well, slightly indulgent.
Got to love my logic, right?!? 🙂
In all seriousness, this healthier chicken and zucchini noodle casserole is a great, quick, and easy family meal. You literally add all the ingredients to a baking dish, mix them together and bake. Prep time is maybe fifteen to twenty minutes and bake time is forty-five, so dinner in an hour with forty-five minutes of leisure time.
Yes, I’ll take that!
And if you want, you can prepare the casserole in advance and then just pop it in the oven before dinner. Perfect for busy nights or get togethers!
Loving it more and more!!
Healthier Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Casserole.
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories Per Serving: 509 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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- 3 cups grated zucchini about 3 medium zucchini's
- 6-8 slices thick whole grain bread*
- 3/4 pound boneless skinless, chicken tenders, diced
- 1/2 of a small onion grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 1 carrot grated
- 1/2 pound dry egg noodles * about 4-6 ounces, optional
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt + pepper taste
- 1 cup gouda cheese shredded
- 2-3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or more chicken broth
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 6 tablespoons butter melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes. Can sub potato chips Ritz Crackers or even use a mix of all three
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lay a clean kitchen towel on the counter and spread the grated zucchini out in a single layer. Sprinkle the zucchini with a little salt and then cover the zucchini with another clean towel. Let sit at least 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
- To the bottom of the baking dish, add the cubed bread, making sure the bread mostly covers the bottom of the dish. Add the chicken, grated onion, garlic, carrot, dried noodles, thyme, parsley, cayenne and a pinch of salt + pepper. Sprinkle the gouda cheese on top and add the zucchini. Add in the chicken broth (starting with 2 cups), wine, greek yogurt, butter and eggs.
- Using clean hands (I prefer using my hands) or a spatula, mix all the ingredients up until the bread is well moistened and everything is evenly distributed. If the mixture seems dry, add more broth until well moistened. Sprinkle the corn flakes over top the dish, cover with foil and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for 25-30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the casserole is no longer jiggly. Remove and let sit 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve with fresh herbs if desired. YUM!
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*You can use whatever bread you have on hand, but just make sure the bread covers the bottom of your baking dish. I have used beer, brioche and crusty whole grain breads with success! **If you have leftover cooked chicken on hand, you may sub 1/2 cup shredded or diced chicken for the raw chicken. ***Personally, I love the noodles in the dish, but if you want to keep this a bit lighter you can leave them out. I used egg fettuccine noodles. ****Traditionally, my grandma used to top with with crushed potato chips, but I prefer mixing my chips with half cornflakes OR I also love using half Ritz cracks and half cornflakes!
And yes, that crunchy topping? It.Is.The.BESTEST! Dang good!