Creamy, cheesy, and crazy delicious! Made with juicy chicken breasts, tender broccoli florets, and a from-scratch curry sauce, meaning no canned soup! It’s then topped with buttery cracker “crumbs” and served over rice. It can be made with or without curry powder, but I HIGHLY you try it with curry. Curry Chicken and Broccoli Divan is my modern twist on a classic recipe, and it is a longtime family favorite!
Growing up casseroles (aka hotdishes) were my mom’s go-to when it came to dinner. Probably because casseroles are hearty, flavorful and easy to make. When you’re feeding four growing boys and a hard-working farmer all of those things are a requirement. Although we ate casseroles similar to this one in my younger years, it wasn’t until we took a trip to Idaho to visit family friends that this Curry Chicken and Broccoli Casserole became a staple in our home.
Being that I was very young when we visited Idaho, I only remember a few key details about our trip: exploring caves, soaking in natural hot springs, and the delicious food they made for us! There were 3 meals that made my eye lights up and my stomach very happy: corn casserole, pizza pasta bake, and, you guessed it, Curry Chicken and Broccoli Divan. Candy was the name of the sweet women who made us these tasty meals, and she even sent us home with recipe cards.
Following that trip, we frequently made Curry Chicken and Broccoli Divan, but we always made it with canned cream of chicken soup, as the recipe called and as a lot of casseroles and hotdishes are made. But, I like to add modern twists to my recipes and avoid canned soup when possible (but sometimes canned soup is all you have time for and that’s OK!). So although the basics of the recipe remain the same, I swapped out canned soup for an amazing homemade version! I also upped the amount of curry powder in the recipe because it adds so much flavor! If you’re not a curry fan, you can certainly leave it out, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how delicious the subtle curry flavor is. My brother, Derek, has been saying for years that he’s not a fan of this recipe or of the flavor of curry, but I insisted that he try my version with homemade sauce, and he actually LIKED it. He even went back for a second serving! So don’t knock the curry till you try it.
Ingredients in Curry Chicken and Broccoli Divan.
Chicken breasts. I use chicken breasts because they’re tender and juicy, and I almost always have them in the freezer, but you can also use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. If you stick to the original recipe with chicken breasts, you will cube and cook the chicken prior to adding it to the casserole dish.
Broccoli. I like to use fresh broccoli, but you can also use frozen if it’s all you have on hand. Just keep in mind that frozen broccoli will release water as it cooks, so the sauce may end up a little thinner. But, I have also made this casserole with frozen broccoli and it still turns out, in fact, it’s how my mom makes it.
Butter & flour. The homemade sauce starts by melting butter in a saucepan and adding flour to create a roux. This will thicken your sauce.
Milk & chicken broth. This is the base of the sauce.
Cheddar cheese. What’s a casserole without cheese? Not one I wanna eat 😉 Cheese is mixed into the sauce and sprinkled on top of the casserole before baking. I always recommend freshly grating a block of cheese because it melts much better.
Mayonnaise. Because mayo makes everything taste better (well just about everything). It adds another level of creaminess to the homemade sauce.
Curry powder. In my opinion, this is a key ingredient. If you’re skeptical, you can start by adding a small amount (1/2 – 1 teaspoon) and gradually add more to taste.
Onion & garlic powder. My two favorite seasonings.
Ritz crackers. Crushed up Ritz crackers mixed with melted salted butter is perfection. Sprinkle the cracker “crumbs” over the casserole before baking, and you’ll be left with a crunchy, salty, buttery topping that adds a delicious crunch to the casserole.
Rice. There’s nothing better than white rice when it comes to serving up Curry Chicken and Broccoli Divan.
Soy sauce. You might be wondering what the heck soy sauce is doing in the list of ingredients, but trust me, it adds an amazing salty flavor to the sauce and perfectly ties the casserole and rice together. It’s a must. Don’t skip it.
To make the casserole ahead of time.
You can prepare the majority of this casserole up to 2 days ahead of time. To do so, cook your broccoli and chicken and make your sauce. Add these ingredients to your casserole dish, cover tightly with tinfoil, and place in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to bake the casserole, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter while you preheat your oven. During this time, you can also prepare your cracker “crumbs” and sprinkle them on top of the casserole along with the grated cheese. While the casserole bakes, cook your rice.
More Casserole (aka Hotdish) Favorites.
Curry Chicken and Broccoli Divan
- 6 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 broccoli heads)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts, thawed and cut into bite-size pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 5 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup flour
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (more or less to taste)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (reserve 1 cup for sprinkling on top of casserole)
- 1 sleeve crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 ½ cups crushed crackers)
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- white rice
- soy sauce
Broccoli & chicken
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add broccoli florets; season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes then add ½ cup water to the skillet, cover with a lid, and let steam for about another 2 minutes or until broccoli turns bright green is slightly tender (it will cook more in the oven). Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- To the same skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook for 7-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together until a paste forms; let cook for one minute.
- Gradually add the chicken broth while continuing to whisk. Bring to a slight boil so the sauce can thicken. Gradually add the milk while continuing to whisk. Bring the sauce back to a boil until thickened.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, mayonnaise, and 1 cup of cheese.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter and crushed crackers until combined.
Assemble & bake
- Add the cooked broccoli to a 9×13 inch casserole dish and top with the cooked chicken. Evenly pour the sauce over the top of the broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese and then the crackers crumbs.
- Cover with tinfoil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the casserole starts to bubble. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes until the crackers are golden.
- Serve warm over white rice and top with soy sauce – it's key!