Poppy seed chicken is a classic southern casserole dish made with layers of tender chicken, creamy sauce, buttery crackers and poppy seeds. It's simple to whip up and a dish the whole family will love!Jump to Recipe
Recently, I met the sweetest couple from Nashville while on a cruise with my hubby. We sat next to them each night at dinner and always had fun conversations about everything from farming, supply chain, kids, and (of course) food! On the last night of the trip, Cindy brought me two handwritten recipes - one of them being this delicious Poppy Seed Chicken recipe. (How sweet is that?!)
As soon as I tried her recipe, I couldn't wait to share it! Poppy seed chicken is a popular southern comfort food typically served as a main dish alone or over mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.
What I Love about Poppy Seed Chicken
- First off, it's easy to make with low prep time, especially if you have leftover chicken to use up. It's quickly becoming a staple for us on busy weeknights.
- It's a recipe that has so many variations and easy substitutes (see ingredient list below).
- It can be made ahead of time for those busy nights you don't have much time for the kitchen.
- This recipe is a great freezer meal (see how in recipe notes below).
Ingredients Needed (Amounts in the recipe card below)
- Chicken - You can use leftover grilled and diced chicken, shredded chicken, rotisserie chicken or simply bake/broil three large chicken breasts.
- Cream of Chicken Soup - You can swap this out for cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup, if needed.
- Sour Cream
- Saltine Crackers - Buttery Ritz crackers will work, too.
- Butter - I use salted butter, but you can opt for unsalted butter.
- Poppy Seeds - Though the poppy seeds make this casserole so distinct and beautiful, they're not entirely necessary and can be omitted.
How to make Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole
Prepare the Chicken. If you've got leftover chicken already cooked and diced or shredded, you're ready to go! If you're starting off with raw chicken, here's what I recommend: Boil the chicken breasts in water for about 20 minutes, let cool for a few minutes, then dice or shred and place into the casserole dish.
Make the Creamy Sauce. All you've gotta do is stir together the sour cream and cream of chicken soup. Then spread it over the chicken.
Make the Topping. Ahhh the buttery crushed crackers are the best part! Place the crackers in a resealable baggie and use a rolling pin to crush them up OR pulverize in a food processor. Add the melted butter and mix until well-combined. Sprinkle the cracker mixture over the casserole.
Sprinkle with poppy seeds, bake and enjoy!
Let cool then cover with plastic wrap (or store in an airtight container) and refrigerate for up to 5 days. It's better on the first day or two as the crackers will begin to soak up the moisture and lose their crispiness!
- Make it cheesy! Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on the casserole before you add the cracker topping.
- Add veggies! Sprinkle a green vegetable over the chicken, if desired. Frozen peas, green beans or broccoli are all great options.
- Boost the flavor! To the chicken soup and sour cream mixture, add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Make it an extra creamy casserole! Use 2 cans of cream of chicken soup instead of just one.
- Add rice! Make it a full meal-in-one by spreading 2-3 cups of rice on the bottom of the casserole dish. If you do so, I'd recommend doubling the chicken soup and sour cream mixture.
- Lighten it up a bit! Use light sour cream, low-sodium chicken soup and decrease the topping amounts to 1 sleeve of crackers and ½ cup of butter.