This lightened up Chicken Divan made from scratch with no canned soups. Just layers of tender chicken breast and broccoli in a flavorful creamy, cheese sauce topped with golden breadcrumbs.
If you’re looking for a healthier version of this classic casserole dish, look no further! This lighter Chicken Divan is lower in fat and calories, but still full of flavor. Made from scratch with no canned soups. Prep it ahead then pop it in the oven until hot and bubbly at dinner time, your family will thank you for this!! Casseroles are highly requested makeovers, so I try to publish a few new ones each year. Some favorites are Manicotti, Broccoli Mac and Cheese, Shepherd’s Pie, just to name a few. Put in your requests here if you have a favorite.
This healthy version of Chicken Divan is loaded with protein from the chicken, fiber from the broccoli! It’s a popular and comforting American dish perfect for potlucks, family gatherings, or weeknight dinners.
What is Chicken Divan?
Chicken Divan is a classic American casserole that typically features chicken, broccoli, and a creamy sauce. It is believed to have originated in the 1930s at the Divan Parisien restaurant in New York City. The dish is named after the restaurant and the word “divan,” which means a long, low sofa without a back.
The classic recipe for Chicken Divan typically includes cooked chicken, steamed broccoli, a rich and creamy sauce made with lots of mayonnaise, sour cream, or cream of mushroom soup, and a topping of cheese and breadcrumbs. The casserole is typically baked until golden brown and bubbly.
A Healthier Chicken Divan
Today, there are many variations of Chicken Divan. My version uses lighter ingredients, which also has a gluten-free option. To make a vegetarian version, you can use tofu or other chicken substitute.
While most recipes call for canned soup, and a lot more fat, this recipe has been significantly lightened up to maintain it’s flavor without all the added fat.
How To Freeze
- First, make sure that the casserole has cooled completely before freezing. You can either freeze the entire casserole, or portion it into individual servings for easier reheating.
- Next, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and then place it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. Label the container or bag with the date and contents so you can easily identify it later.
- When you’re ready to reheat, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, and then bake it in the oven at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, or until it is heated through and bubbly.
- Note that while freezing can help to extend the shelf life of the dish, it may also cause the texture of the broccoli to become a bit softer and the sauce to separate slightly. However, these changes should not affect the overall flavor of the dish.
You can freeze Chicken Divan for up to 2-3 months or refrigerate for up to 4 days.
What to serve with Chicken Divan
Chicken Divan is a hearty casserole that can be served on its own as a main dish, or paired with some complementary sides to make a more complete meal. Here are some side dish options:
- Rice: Chicken Divan pairs well with rice, which can help to soak up the creamy sauce and add some carbs to the dish. Serve it over white or brown rice, or even a wild rice mix or quinoa.
- Starchy Vegetables: Some starchy vegetables make a great side dish for this chicken casserole. You can serve with baked sweet potatoes, baked potato, herb roasted carrots or air fryer butternut squash.
- Salad: A light and refreshing salad is also a great side. You can try serving a simple side salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, or get more creative with a kale salad, shredded brussels sprout salad, or make salad with a Caesar salad dressing.
- You can make this quicker by using leftover rotisserie chicken breasts, or precooked chicken breasts.
- Can you use frozen broccoli? Yes, of course you can, but nothing beats the flavor of fresh broccoli in my opinion.
More Chicken Recipes
- Ratatouille Baked Chicken
- French Onion Chicken
- Chicken Thighs with Brussels and Sweet Potatoes
- Baked Chicken with Dijon and Lime
- Baked Chicken Milanese with Arugula and Tomatoes
Chicken Divan, Lightened Up
- 1-1/2 lbs broccoli florets, (3 large heads) chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- olive oil spray
- 2 tablespoons light mayo
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 8 ounces each
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup shallots or onion, minced
- 1/4 cup all purpose , or gluten-free flour like cup4cup
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup fat free milk
- 2 ounces dry sherry, white wine would work
- 6 ounces reduced-fat Swiss cheese, shredded or chopped fine
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs , or gluten-free crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with olive oil spray.
- In a large skillet, over medium heat add 1 teaspoon olive oil and garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the broccoli, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of water and cover.
- Let the broccoli cook until tender crisp, 3 minutes. Transfer to the baking dish.
- Pound the thicker end of the chicken breast to make it even on both sides. Brush mayo on the chicken and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Heat the skillet over medium heat, when hot spray with oil and cook the chicken until just about cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side.
- Remove from heat and transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cooled, slice chicken into bite sized pieces.
- Reduce the heat of the skillet to medium heat. Add the butter and remaining oil until melted and then add the shallots and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour cook, stirring about 1 minute. Whisk in broth, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and sherry and bring to a simmer about 1 1/2 minutes on low. Remove from heat and stir in half of the Swiss cheese.
- Pour half of the sauce over the broccoli and mix to coat. Arrange the chicken on top and cover with remaining sauce.
- Sprinkle the remaining Swiss cheese, grated Parmesan and top with breadcrumbs.
- Spritz a little oil on top. Bake 30 minutes, until hot and golden.
300 comments on “Chicken Divan, Lightened Up”
Excellent. Flavorful and light. I had an open bottle of white wine so that’s what I had and I found my chopped onion still on the cutting board after I’d already put it in the oven, but it was still great!
My whole family loves this recipe. It’s delicious. I roast the chicken in the oven with a honey mustard sauce. I don’t use the mayo. I also add a couple of small potatoes. Also,I use regular oat milk. It has the same calories as skim milk. I double the onion and garlic too.
I prep most ingredients in the morning. It’s easier to have everything ready before starting the recipe. I do this with all recipes.
Definitely one of the longer recipes to prep, but turned out VERY delicious! We will be making it again!
Made this tonight, definitely took longer than expected to pull it all together but it was well worth it. Thank you Gina!
Super yummy and flavorful! I used rotissiere chicken, and followed the recipe closely.
Delicious! Though, I did sear the chicken an each side for 2-3 mins, anticipating the chicken would have been too dry if I followed the recipe’s timing. The chicken turned out perfect!
This was a little more labor intensive than I was looking for but it was yummy!
This was the first Skinnytaste recipe that wasn’t successful for me. Prep time was more like an hour for me so I think I was just frustrated that it took so long. Broccoli texture was not good—if I tried again I’d cook an extra couple minutes and add more water; the broccoli was dry. Not sure of the purpose of the mayo on the chicken but the chicken came out dry for me, too. Altogether it was just too time consuming and not very satisfying.
Use with gluten free flour and bread crumbs. Came out perfect.