Elevated Chicken Divan Recipe

Chicken divan is a retro dish that's oh so midcentury "moderne," although it's not as French as its name might imply. Instead, it was first created at a New York restaurant sometime in the '30s or '40s. The original recipe was never disclosed, but the main ingredients included chicken breasts, broccoli, parmesan cheese, and white sauce — hollandaise, bechamel, or something along those lines. While a few home cooks trying their hand at chicken divan in the '50s and '60s may have taken shortcuts involving canned cream of something-or-other soup, or package-mix hollandaise, recipe developer Stephanie Rapone tells us "I like to make the sauce from scratch instead of using canned cream soup."

Rapone has also tweaked the classic version of chicken divan, saying she likes to add "a touch of curry powder," while replacing the Parmesan with cheddar and gruyere. She says these alterations "elevate the flavors a bit." This makes for a dish she calls "comforting, without being too heavy," and, as she notes, you get both meat and vegetables with chicken divan, so all you'll need to do is add a starch like rice, potatoes, or egg noodles to turn it into a complete meal.

Gather the ingredients for chicken divan

Don't be scared off by the lengthy list of ingredients here, as most of them are simple household basics. For the chicken itself, you're using the pre-cooked kind (leftover rotisserie chicken would work well), and Rapone tells us "It doesn't matter if you use dark meat, white meat, or a combination." You also need broccoli, an onion, cheddar and gruyere cheeses, butter, milk, sour cream, chicken broth, olive oil, flour, salt, and the ever-versatile panko bread crumbs. And of course you'll need several different spices: pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and curry powder. Although Rapone specifies madras curry here, she says "Any yellow, mild, Indian-style curry powder will work," but warns that Thai or Jamaican curry won't be as good in this dish.

Prepare the produce

Preheat the oven to 400 F, then chop up the broccoli into bite-size pieces (no need to worry too much about the aesthetics as it will all be covered under sauce and cheese). Coat the broccoli with the oil, and sprinkle it with ½ teaspoon salt, then roast the pieces for 5 minutes. 

As the broccoli cooks, peel and chop the onion into a fairly fine dice as it will be used to make the white sauce.

Make the white sauce

Melt 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter over medium heat, then sauté the onion with the remaining salt for a few minutes, until it starts going brown around the edges. Stir in the flour and the spices until you have a thick paste with bits of onion. 

At this point, stir in the broth a bit at a time and keep stirring until the sauce starts to thicken. Now add the milk, again doing so slowly and continuing to stir all the while. Keep stirring the sauce, and cook it until it's as thick as your average gravy. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream along with about half of the grated cheese (both types).

Bake the casserole

Arrange the chicken and broccoli in a 9x13-inch casserole dish, then cover them with the white sauce. Sprinkle the sauce with the remaining cheese. Melt the rest of the butter, then stir this into the breadcrumbs and sprinkle those over the cheese. Bake the casserole for 18-20 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the crumb topping appears golden-brown.

Once your chicken divan is cooked, be sure to eat it all up within a few days because it does not freeze well. As Rapone cautions, "The cream sauce can tend to separate when reheating [the casserole] from frozen."

Elevated Chicken Divan Recipe
5 from 27 ratings
This classic casserole may seem like something straight out of a '50s kitchen, but with a few tweaks, this elevated chicken divan may become a new favorite.
Prep Time
Cook Time
broccoli and chicken on fork
Total time: 45 minutes
  • 1 ½ pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ yellow onion
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon madras curry powder
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
  • ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Coat the broccoli with the oil and ½ teaspoon salt and roast it for 5 minutes in the oven.
  4. Peel and chop the onion and grate the cheeses.
  5. Melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
  6. Saute the onion with the remaining salt until it starts to brown.
  7. Stir the flour and seasonings into the onions until a thick paste is formed.
  8. Stir the chicken broth into the onions a bit at a time.
  9. Cook the sauce, stirring constantly until it thickens.
  10. Pour in the milk, a little at a time, and stir until the sauce has the consistency of gravy.
  11. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the sour cream and half the grated cheese until smooth.
  12. Arrange the chicken and broccoli in a 9x13-inch pan and cover them with the sauce.
  13. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining cheese.
  14. Melt the remaining butter and stir it into the breadcrumbs.
  15. Sprinkle the crumbs over the casserole and bake it for 18-20 minutes, until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbling.
Calories per Serving 480
Total Fat 31.6 g
Saturated Fat 16.6 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 125.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 18.7 g
Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
Total Sugars 5.3 g
Sodium 778.8 mg
Protein 31.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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