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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. Substituted cheddar for swiss, used rotisserie chicken leftovers. Really good, chicken divan is my husband’s favorite meal and he loved it. So did my son. Maybe
    use more flour next time, mine was watery too, probably because I used frozen broccoli
    Sprinkled paprika over it before baking too.

  2. Delicious recipe!
    I added mushrooms along with the sauted chicken breasts and substituted shredded cheddar cheese for the Swiss cheese but sprinkled fresh parmesan on top. 
    Loved the taste of the sherry in this. After tasting the sauce, I added a little more sherry.
    Simply delicious and will make this healthy version again.

  3. Just made this and am undecided if I will make again. The flavor is good but very watery. Next time I will use rotisserie chicken (too much work to sauté the chicken) and use a smaller casserole dish. 

  4. My husband and I love the “lightened up” versions of our favorite dishes and the Chicken Divan didn’t disappoint! I was looking for a creative way to use some leftover turkey breast and found this recipe in my search. I served it with a tossed salad for a complete meal….hubby says it’s a keeper!

  5. I have been making this for a few years and it always turns out great!t For those of us who grew up eating this casserole, if yours had a slight curry taste (my childhood version did) just add a bit of curry powder to the sauce mixture.  Thank you, Gina, for a lighter version of an American classic!