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Chicken Divan, Lightened Up

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This Chicken Divan makeover is the BEST with no canned soups or mayo!  Just layers of tender chicken breast and broccoli in a flavorful creamy cheese sauce topped with golden breadcrumbs. Your family will thank you for this!

This Chicken Divan is an easy made from scratch casserole, perfect to prep ahead for those busy nights. Prep it ahead then pop it in the oven until cheesy, warm and bubbly at dinner time!  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.

Chicken Divan was created in the 1930s at the Divan Parisian Restaurant in Manhattan, and since has become an American classic. While most recipes call for mayonnaise, canned soup, and a lot more fat, this recipe has been significantly lightened up to maintain it’s flavor without all the added fat.

You can make this quicker by using leftover chicken, 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. I served this with a green salad on the side to make this a complete meal.

Chicken Divan, Lightened Up

4.75 from 12 votes
This Chicken Divan makeover is the BEST with no canned soups or mayo!  Just layers of tender chicken breast and broccoli in a flavorful creamy cheese sauce topped with golden breadcrumbs.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 1 hr
Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 1 2/3 cup


  • 1-1/2 lbs broccoli florets, (3 large heads) chopped
  • olive oil spray
  • 24 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts, (from 3)
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp shallots, minced (onions would work too)
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 2 oz dry sherry, white wine would work
  • 6 oz reduced-fat Swiss cheese, shredded or chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs


  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with olive oil spray.
  • Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper, to taste.
  • Pound the thicker end of the chicken breast to make it even on both sides. Heat a grill pan over medium-low heat, spray with oil and cook the chicken until browned, and 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.
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and oil until melted and then add garlic and shallots.
  • Sprinkle the flour and whisk until smooth. Stir in broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt, milk and sherry and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in half of the Swiss cheese.
  • Arrange the broccoli in a casserole dish and 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.

Last Step:

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Serving: 1 2/3 cup, Calories: 336 kcal, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Protein: 34.5 g, Fat: 12 g, Fiber: 4 g


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235 comments on “Chicken Divan, Lightened Up”

  1. I now Gina posted this YEARS ago… but I had to comment…this is great! Chicken Divan was very popular when I was growing up and I have been looking for a more “grown-up” less “soup from a can”, healthier version. This version touches all the nostalgic places for me.
    Suggestions: In my area, curry powder was typically part of the dish…so if you grew up with it that way…add curry powder to the sauce mixture! Thank you, Gina!

  2. For those of you looking for low fat Swiss cheese, Swiss Lorraine or Alpine Lace in the deli can cut you a chunk to grate.. Boar’s Head is a good choice. At our cheese counter in Kroger, Jarlsberg Lite is another
    great option sold in a block.
    Hope this helps…

  3. Avatar photo
    Lydia Eversole

    Can this be made ahead and frozen? We are taking a 10 day RV trip and I’m trying to make meals in advance so I can just  heat them up.
    Any ideas for “make ahead ~ freeze and reheat” would be most welcome!

  4. Pingback: Skinny Chicken Broccoli Casserole (Chicken Divan) Recipe – 5 WW Freestyle SmartPoints

  5. My husband and I loved this!!  My kids both said it was “fine” but did eat a serving.  Mine turned out watery on the bottom as well.
    I couldn’t find low fat shredded swiss, so I used regular, which made the points value 8 freestyle points per serving.  Where can you find low fat swiss?  I would love to get the points down because it was so super yummy!

  6. This is a delicious recipe! I love that it is made from scratch–higher calorie or not. I actually think this is a decent amount to eat as well. I skipped any additional bread or other carb option, and just paired it with a green salad.

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  8. Pingback: Skinny Chicken Broccoli Casserole | Weight Watchers Friendly Recipes

  9. This was great, I would for sure make again. I used regular cheddar instead of the Swiss and used oatmeal instead of the bread crumbs. Next time I will add soy sauce and some hot sauce like some of the others have suggested.

  10. I think the water is from the chicken, because it is sliced. I’ve been making Chicken Divan with whole chicken breasts for years and never had this problem. If you take the chicken breasts out of the pan and slice it, you can see all of the juices escaping, and I believe it continues to happen in the oven.  After getting three pairs of thumbs down from my family, I will continue to make my old recipe. It may be the only one in my recipe box with cream of chicken soup, but it’s a family favorite.  

  11. Made a half recipe. Left the broccoli to drain for quite a while. I didn’t have any issues with soupy. I forgot the Sherry. I wanted the calories a little bit lower per serving, so I only used one ounce of cheese and no parm or bread crumbs. Added one teaspoon of curry. Instead of layering, I just mixed it all up in the sauce pan and put in a dish to bake. I am planning on eating this throughout my next six in a row rotation. Thank you for a healthful recipe.

  12. Where do you find reduced fat swiss (either blocks or shredded)? Or what brand? I am unable to find any reduced fat swiss that's not slices….which are hard to shred.

  13. My husband made this last night and it was really good. There was quite a bit of water at the bottom, so I am not sure if the broccoli should have been patted out after steaming? But the flavor was great. Would make again.

  14. Ok, I know this post is 4 1/2 years old but I have to tell you-

    My hubs said he thinks this is the BEST casserole he has ever eaten in his life!! This is HIGH praise as he is a lover of all carbs, so a casserole (to him) has pasta, potatoes, rice, bread, or some combo of all them!
    And to be 100% percent honest, I never really cared for Chicken Divan the "traditional" way. This is way better! Thanks so much. I'm making it for the second time now for Sunday Dinner. What I do is on Saturday, he grills the chicken and I chop and blanch the broccoli, and make the sauce and put everything in Tupperware containers. Sunday I just layer it in the dish and bake after church, so easy! Perfect. I also think you could switch it up a bit if you had the notion– different cheese, or ham instead of chicken, or green beans instead of broccoli…the possibilities are endless. 🙂

    Have a great day, Gina!

  15. I made this tonight and it was super watery. I followed the recipe exactly so I'm not sure what I may have missed? The flavor is fantastic but I was sad. I ended up using a turkey baster to suck the juice out and will thicken it tomorrow and add it back in.

  16. That's funny, I compared the nutritional information on this recipe to the nutritional information on the original recipe, which calls for cream of broccoli soup and regular cheese (not low fat), and the original recipe has less calories. This may very well be a more flavorful version, but it is not "lightened up."