If you haven't heard of crack chicken casserole, you're definitely missing out. This gooey, cheesy, warm spoonful of comfort food spiced with ranch dressing, a can cream of chicken soup, and ranch chicken is hard to stop eating. While crack chicken casserole can be done on the stovetop or in a baking dish, this recipe is so easy you could toss it into a crock pot as well. Without the macaroni, this dish makes a great low carb keto recipe, as it's high in protein and fat.
This casserole is a great main dish to share with the whole family. Casseroles are some of the most delicious recipes because of their versatility less total time spent in the kitchen. Most casseroles are made with some form of pasta, cheese, and seasonings.
What is Crack Chicken Casserole?
According to Stephanie of PlainChicken.com, "Crack chicken casserole is creamy chicken casserole loaded with cheddar, crispy bacon bits and ranch." It's basically a chicken macaroni and cheese kicked up a notch. The "crack" addition to the name plays up just how addicting this meal is, though there is an argument as to why we should find a new adjective to use.
Crack Chicken Casserole Recipe
What makes this recipe perfect for busy weeknights is the various ways to prepare it and the quick cook and prep time. The cooking time for the oven baked version is about 30 minutes, and leftovers store great in an airtight container. While the traditional way to make this dish is baked in a casserole dish in the oven, it is easy enough to adapt to a slow cooker or instant pot version.
Before you begin, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Next, take your cooking spray and coat the bottom of the dish. There's nothing worse than taking your finished product out of the oven, and not being able to get it out of the pan.
Take your boxed macaroni and pour it into a pot of boiling, salted water. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
Preparing the Meat
Next, you'll need to prepare the chicken mixture for the casserole. You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or leftover rotisserie chicken to make this even easier. In your pan, season your chicken with salt and black pepper. When it's fully cooked, remove from pan. You can make cubed or shredded chicken, depending on what you like.
Now comes the best part: cooking bacon. It wouldn't be crack chicken casserole without it! In a pan, add some butter and the diced bacon. If you're looking to cut down on cholesterol, the butter can be skipped since the bacon will fry in its own fat. The bacon adds a nice crunch, so fry until crispy. Remove the cooked bacon from the pan and set aside. Keep the bacon drippings in the pan for optimal flavor.
Some people add veggies to their casserole and some don't. If you want to cut down on your carbohydrates for the day, substituting veggies for pasta would be a great idea. Some popular veggies are onions and green peppers.
Preparing the Cheese Mixture
Now, to the fun part. You're going to make a roux to thicken the sauce. Add flour to melted butter to form a paste. Once you have the paste, stir in milk, ranch seasoning mix, cream of chicken soup, and cream cheese. Some folks prefer sour cream to cream cheese, so the choice is yours.
Once those are mixed, throw in the chicken and optional veggies. At this point you'll add your shredded cheese. The classic version calls for cheddar cheese, but feel free to add any cheese you love.
Voila! Crack Chicken Casserole
To finish this up, top with your bacon and breadcrumbs, then bake for 30 minutes. When your hot bubbling masterpiece comes out of the oven, garnish with green onions.
I know what I'm making for dinner.
- 3 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
- 4 cups shredded chicken
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 1-oz package ranch salad dressing mix
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup chopped cooked bacon
- 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 3 cups milk
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
Cook and drain noodles according to package.
In skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour with whisk to make a roux. Add in milk, ranch seasoning, cream of chicken soup, and cream cheese until combine. Add in shredded cheddar cheese and heat until melted.
Stir in pasta and chicken. Transfer to prepared pan. Top with cooked bacon.
In a small bowl combine crackers and melted butter. Top casserole with cracker mixture and bake until bubbly, about 20-30 minutes.