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Gluten Free Chicken Divan

This Gluten-free Chicken Divan delivers broccoli florets and succulent chicken in a rich, creamy, and incredibly cheesy casserole. Served over fluffy rice, mashed potatoes, or gluten-free egg noodles, this healthier spin on a classic is guaranteed to please even the pickiest palates. Keto modification included. 

gluten free chicken divan casserole in a white baking dish with a spoon scooping out a serving

The chicken divan casserole is a time-honored chicken, broccoli, and cheese dish named after the Divan Parisien Restaurant in New York City, where it was invented. My daughter, however, insists it’s called chicken divan because “it’s divine,” and I must say, I wholeheartedly agree.

This gluten-free version of chicken divan is just as rich and flavorful as any classic recipe you’d find in mid-century cookbooks. Imagine a casserole made with crisp-tender broccoli and morsels of melt-in-your-mouth chicken drenched in an ooey- gooey béchamel sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. YUM!

I used gluten-free flour, gluten-free breadcrumbs, half a block of extra sharp white cheddar cheese, and a few other simple changes to the classic recipe to suit my family’s tastes. As a result, this casserole does not taste healthy or gluten-free at all. Win!

The best part? You can make a low-carb version by swapping the breadcrumbs with crushed pork rinds and a few minor changes (see variations section). I mean, is there anything more keto than a creamy broccoli, cheese, chicken, and pork rind casserole? Probably not. Let’s cook!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s gluten-free and keto-friendly without deviating far from what you’d expect from traditional chicken divan.
  • It’s perfect for weeknight dinners, potlucks, and entertaining. You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and bake it before serving. 
  • This recipe is written for uncooked chicken breasts, but this is also an excellent way to repurpose leftover chicken (and turkey!). 
  • This gluten-free chicken casserole is kid and adult-approved!
  • It’s made with real food ingredients, so NO cream of “something” soup.

Ingredients You’ll Need

ingredients for chicken divan on a counter top measured out for preparing
  • Broccoli – Feel free to grab a bag of pre-cut fresh broccoli florets to save yourself from the prep work.
  • Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts chopped into bite-size pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper. See the FAQs for how to make this with leftover chicken. 
  • Olive oil and butter – Yes, you should use both. Olive oil (or EVOO) coats the skillet and prevents sticking, while butter adds rich flavor.
  • Garlic and onion – This aromatic duo adds deep, savory flavor. Fresh garlic is non-negotiable. As for the onion, I used sweet Vidalia, but you can also use yellow onion. 
  • All-purpose gluten-free four – I like King Arthur brand all-purpose flour, but feel free to use any gluten-free blend you’ve had success with. 
  • Chicken broth – This is the flavorful liquid base of the cheese sauce.
  • Milk – Milk brings a creamy element to the sauce. You can use whole or 2% milk. For a keto variation, use cream.
  • Dry sherry cooking wine – Sherry adds incredible flavor, but if you can’t find it, a dry white wine like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc will do the trick. 
  • Cheddar cheese – I used extra-sharp white cheddar, but use any cheese you like (gruyere, fontina, swiss, etc.) Most importantly, use cheese shredded directly from the block for the creamiest consistency and best flavor.
  • Parmesan – Again, shredded directly from the block is best here. 
  • Gluten-free breadcrumbs – Use store-bought plain gluten-free breadcrumbs, or try making your own with gluten-free bread. 
  • Olive oil cooking spray – Spraying the top of the casserole with oil (or drizzling with melted butter) keeps the breadcrumbs from burning. Instead, they become perfectly crisped and toasted. 
  • Salt & Pepper– for seasoning the cream sauce.

How To Make Chicken Divan

Step 1: Blanch broccoli. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli florets, and cook until the color turns dull to bright green. Immediately strain the broccoli in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain, pat dry, and set aside. 

Step 2: Brown chicken. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season chopped chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then add to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink and browned on all sides. Transfer the chicken from the skillet to a clean plate, and set aside.

Step 3: Sauté aromatics. Returning to the same skillet, heat butter and more olive oil. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and onion and cook until soft and fragrant. Sprinkle in flour and stir until the onions are fully coated.

Step 4: Make cheese sauce. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the milk and sherry, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly until smooth. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir half the cheddar cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

collage photo of blanching broccoli in a pot, sauteing chicken, onions, and making the cream sauce

Step 5: Assemble the casserole. Arrange the broccoli in a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Pour half of the cheese sauce over the top. Next, add the browned chicken in an even layer, followed by the remaining cheese sauce. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese, grated parmesan, and gluten-free breadcrumbs. Spritz the breadcrumbs with a bit of olive oil spray. 

four photos in a collage of assembling chicken divan: broccoli in a dish, topped with cream sauce, topped with chicken, then more sauce and cheese


Step 6: Bake the casserole. Transfer the baking dish to your 350°F preheated oven, and bake until the sauce is hot and bubbly, the cheese is melted, and the breadcrumbs are golden (30 minutes). Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve hot!

a baked chicken divan casserole in a white dish with a napking and serving spoon

Recipe Tips

  • If you like your broccoli with a toothsome, al dente texture, simmer the florets for no longer than 30-60 seconds before submerging them in an ice bath. 
  • If you prefer soft broccoli, simmer the florets a few minutes longer.  
  • In a pinch, frozen broccoli florets are an option. Thaw the bag in the fridge and dry the florets very well. Skip blanching. Instead, add the pieces directly to the casserole dish. 

Variations

Add more veggies – A reader mentioned adding mushrooms with the onion and garlic, which sounds delicious. You can also build on the savory flavors with other aromatic veggies like finely diced carrots, leeks, celery, and shallots.

Add a kick of curry – Yellow curry powder wasn’t always a standard in chicken divan recipes. However, many modernized versions include 1-3 teaspoons of curry powder in the cheese sauce. It adds a sweet and earthy dimension with a subtle heat.


Make keto chicken divan
Sans breadcrumbs, this casserole is relatively low carb. For an even lower carb, keto-fied version, use crushed pork rinds instead of breadcrumbs (or omit them altogether) and substitute the milk with heavy cream and leave out the flour or reduce to 1-2 tbsp. If you want to thicken the sauce a bit more just add a little more grated parmesan. Serve over a bed of baby spinach, cauliflower rice, or spiralized zucchini noodles. 

Make Ahead and Storing

Storing: After cooling, keep chicken divan casserole leftovers in a shallow, glass container in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze in individual portion-size freezer-safe containers for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave. 

Make ahead: The night before or the morning of, you can completely assemble the casserole and then pop it into the oven 30 minutes before mealtime.  

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this recipe with leftover chicken?

Absolutely. You can use any cooked chicken, including chopped or shredded rotisserie chicken. Add cooked chicken to the skillet once the onion is soft and fragrant (so immediately before adding the flour and starting on the sauce). Got too much turkey? Make turkey divan instead!

What do you serve with chicken divan?

This gluten-free chicken divan is a satisfying main course on its own and served with practically any side dish. For dinner parties, I like serving this casserole with crusty gluten-free dinner rolls, a simple green salad, and something starchy, like mashed potatoes, gluten-free egg noodles or spaghetti noodles, white rice or brown rice, or baked potatoes. 

More Chicken Casseroles You’ll Love

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overhead photo of a baked chicken divan casserole with a serving spoon carving out a serving
close up of a spoonful of chicken divan in a casserole dish

Gluten-Free Chicken Divan {Keto Option}

This Gluten-free Chicken Divan delivers broccoli florets and succulent chicken in a rich, creamy, and incredibly cheesy casserole.
4.67 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 352kcal
Author: Amee

Ingredients

  • 8 cups broccoli florets
  • 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 24 oz boneless chicken breasts chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, for seasoning chicken and more for seasoning the cream sauce *see directions
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4-5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 small sweet Vidalia onion chopped very fine
  • 1/4 cup all purpose gluten-free flour I used King Arthur brand
  • 1 cup chicken broth or chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk you can go with whole milk or 2% here.
  • 2 oz dry sherry cooking wine you can use white wine, but sherry give this dish great flavor!
  • 8 oz extra-sharp white cheddar
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
  • avocado or olive oil cooking spray

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch for 1-3 minutes. *see notes
  • Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well, pat dry, and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chopped chicken until no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
  • Add the butter and remaining olive oil to the skillet. When butter is melted, add the garlic and onion and cook until soft. Sprinkle the flour and whisk until smooth. Stir in broth, milk, and sherry and bring to a boil while whisking.
  • Remove from heat and stir in half of the cheddar cheese, and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. I use about a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper.
  • Arrange the blanched broccoli in a casserole dish and pour half of the sauce over the broccoli.
  • Arrange the chicken on top and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese, grated parmesan and top with breadcrumbs.
  • Spray a little oil on top.
  • Bake 30 minutes, serve hot.

Notes

  • If you like your broccoli with a toothsome, al dente texture, simmer the florets for no longer than 30-60 seconds before submerging them in an ice bath. 
  • If you prefer soft broccoli, simmer the florets a few minutes longer.  
  • In a pinch, frozen broccoli florets are an option. Thaw the bag in the fridge and dry the florets very well. Skip blanching. Instead, add the pieces directly to the casserole dish. 
Make keto chicken divan – Sans breadcrumbs, this casserole is relatively low carb. For an even lower carb, keto-fied version, use crushed pork rinds instead of breadcrumbs (or omit them altogether) and substitute the milk with heavy cream and leave out the flour or reduce by half. If you want to thicken the sauce a bit more just add a little more grated parmesan. Serve over a bed of baby spinach, cauliflower rice, or spiralized zucchini noodles. 

Nutrition

Calories: 352kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 398mg | Potassium: 734mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 994IU | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 334mg | Iron: 1mg
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Amee Livingston
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2 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I was looking for a low carb chicken/broccoli recipe that wasn’t based on canned “Cream of…” soup. This was good. I added mushrooms to the onion (I used scallions because that’s what I had) and garlic saute to bump up the veges. Against my better judgment I precooked the broccoli as directed in the recipe – I will not do that again as it turned our too watery and soft. A half hour in the oven is more than sufficient to cook it through. However, my husband loved it so I will definitely be making this again. Thanks!

4.67 from 9 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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