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Easy Dairy-Free Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

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This Dairy-Free Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole is so comforting but much healthier than the original! Loaded with vegetables, healthy protein, and absolutely no dairy, it’s practically paleo and has a delectable flavor. You can top this classic casserole with whatever crackers you have on hand, or skip the crackers altogether. Ready in 30 minutes!

Poppy seed chicken casserole

This post was originally published on December 1st, 2020.

❀️ Healthy Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole Recipe

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole was one of the most delicious casseroles growing up, however, it was always absolutely loaded with a ton of butter, sour cream, and canned soup and THEN topped with ritz crackers. It was a junk food dream, and I always loved to dig into this southern comfort food at potlucks! Food coma? Check.

Being a little more conscientious these days on my food intake, I decided to see if I could make a creamy poppy seed chicken casserole without sour cream, and healthier. Much healthier. It. Worked.

This delicious comfort casserole is:

  • Such an easy recipe even though it’s made from scratch
  • Dairy-free & gluten-free
  • Paleo & whole30 friendly (make some compliant crackers or skip them entirely)
  • Low carb if you skip the crackers (32g net carbs) or use a low carb alternative like pork rinds or even cheddar cheese.
  • Ready in just 30 minutes
  • Loaded with healthy ingredients like veggies
  • Has an amazing, creamy sauce
  • The whole family will love it as it’s kid-friendly (I’m pregnant, baby approved)
  • A great way to use up leftover chicken
paleo Poppy seed chicken casserole with rice

πŸ—οΈ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

The full ingredients and amounts are listed below in the recipe card.

  • Chicken: I used both chicken breasts and chicken broth to really bring out the flavor. I diced my chicken for ease, however, you could use leftover rotisserie chicken if you need to use it up.
  • Almond milk & coconut cream: This adds a little creaminess to the sauce and makes it taste richer. You can substitute the almond milk for another dairy free milk of choice.
  • Tapioca starch: This thickens up the sauce to help the texture become soupier. It works so well!
  • Vegetables: Something different from the original! I loaded this healthy poppy seed chicken casserole with onion, zucchini, yellow carrots, and a little garlic.
  • Herbs: Sage & rosemary are the flavor stars of this dish! Chicken just goes so well with these herbs, adding more to the “chicken soup” flavor. I also added some garlic powder and onion powder to amp up the chicken flavor.
  • Crackers: Use whichever crackers you have on hand, or skip them entirely. I used ritz in these pictures (pregnant and wanted that buttery ritz cracker topping, what can ya do) but gluten-free or paleo crackers are great too!
  • Poppy Seeds: Despite the name “poppy seed chicken casserole” the poppy seeds are entirely optional – they don’t enhance the flavor at all, but they are quite fun to look at!
.

πŸ₯£ How to make Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole Without Cream of Chicken Soup

  1. Cook the vegetables & chicken: Firstly, in a large pan, cook the diced vegetables and chicken until they are soft and cooked through, along with the herbs and salt.

2. Make the “chicken soup”: Secondly, in a medium saucepan on the stove (medium heat), add the almond milk, coconut cream, and stock. Next, remove a few spoonfuls of the liquid and add it to the tapioca starch in a small bowl and stir well. Add the tapioca liquid to the pot and stir consistently until it starts to bubble and thicken.

3. Assemble: Next, it’s time to assemble! Start with the chicken mixture and veggies: add them to the base of the casserole dish and then top it off with the “chicken soup”.

4. Optional: Sprinkle poppy seeds over the top of the casserole and then top with crushed crackers if desired. Melt one or two tablespoons of butter in a pot (you can use the empty one for the “chicken soup”) and pour the melted butter over the crackers. You can substitute the butter for ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil.

5. Bake! Finally, bake the paleo poppy seed chicken casserole in a preheated oven at 175ºC/350ºF for 15 minutes until the crackers turn golden brown and the casserole is bubbly.

dairy free Poppy seed chicken casserole

6. Serve: Serve on its own, with rice or with mashed potatoes, sprinkled with more poppy seeds if desired.

whole30 Poppy seed chicken casserole

πŸ«™ How do I store this chicken dinner?

Store this dairy-free chicken casserole in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. To reheat it, heat in the oven at 175ºC/350ºF for 20 minutes, or until it is piping hot. Feel free to add extra crackers for that crunch!

❓ What kind of crackers can I use for the crunchy topping?

Here are a few ideas, depending on your diet and preferences:

  • Buttery ritz crackers (the classic, really not good for you)
  • Gluten-free crackers
  • Ryvita (I’d recommend the black pepper one)
  • Low carb crackers (these ones from Gnom-Gnom are good!)
  • Pork crackling
  • Paleo crackers (either store-bought or homemade. This is a great whole30 crackers recipe)
  • Some nuts like crunchy almonds or walnuts
  • Skip it! You can totally leave the topping out.

🍽️ What goes with this Poppy Seed Chicken Recipe

Here are a few options I would recommend:

healthy Poppy seed chicken casserole dinner on a plate

πŸ˜‹ More easy dinner recipes you will love:

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πŸ“– Recipe

Spoon lifting out dairy free poppy seed chicken casserole.

Dairy-Free Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole Recipe

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This dairy-free Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole is so comforting but much healthier than the original! Gluten-free, paleo & whole30 options!

Ingredients

Chicken and vegetables

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 tsp sage, fresh or dried
  • 1 tsp rosemary, fresh or dried

Chicken Soup

  • 2.5 cups almond milk, 710ml (see note 1)
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream, 118ml (see note 1)
  • 1 cup chicken stock, 235ml
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 61g
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, 30g
  • 1.5 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Topping (optional)

  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 5.5oz crackers, crushed (see note 2 for options), 150g
  • 2 tbsp melted butter, ghee or refined coconut oil, or olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF.

Chicken & vegetables

  1. Spray a large frying pan lightly with oil.
  2. Add the vegetables as you cut them: onion, garlic, carrots, and then zucchini. Add the chicken and sautée everything until the vegetables are softer and the chicken is cooked through.

"Chicken Soup"

  1. Add the almond milk, coconut cream, and chicken stock to a medium saucepan.
  2. Remove some of the liquid (a few tablespoons should work) and mix it in a small bowl with the tapioca flour to make a slurry. It should be liquidy and easy to pour.
  3. Add the tapioca mixture back to the main pot.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  5. Cook on medium heat until the sauce thickens and then remove from the heat.

Assemble

  1. Add the chicken and vegetables to the bottom of the casserole dish or sheet pan.
  2. Pour the "Chicken Soup" over the vegetables.
  3. Sprinkle the poppy seeds over everything.
  4. Top with crushed crackers (optional).
  5. Pour over melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil (optional).

Bake

  1. Bake for 15 minutes at 175ºC/350ºF until the crackers are golden brown and the chicken mixture is bubbly.

Notes

  1. Milk: If I don't have coconut cream on hand, or I need fewer calories, I skip the coconut cream and replace it with 1/2 cup of almond milk, making the total almond milk 3 cups instead of 2.5. You can also use another dairy-free milk of choice.
  2. Crackers options:
  • Buttery ritz crackers (the classic, really not good for you)
  • Gluten-free crackers
  • Ryvita (I’d recommend the black pepper one)
  • Low carb crackers (these ones from Gnom-Gnom are good!)
  • Pork crackling
  • Paleo crackers (either store-bought or homemade. This is a great whole30 crackers recipe)
  • Some nuts like crunchy almonds or walnuts
  • Skip it! You can totally leave the topping off.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 552Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 749mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 4gSugar: 22gProtein: 32g

Nutrition information and calculations will vary with the use of different brands or ingredients. These figures are estimates. Please get in touch if you have questions!

Did you make this recipe?

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