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Creamy Chicken Casserole (Paleo, Whole30 + Dairy-Free)

This creamy chicken casserole is made with spaghetti squash so it’s grain-free and also happens to be dairy-free! It’s one of the most flavorful Whole30 recipes we’ve ever made and the perfect casserole for meal prep. You’ll love the creamy, cheese-like sauce filled with artichoke hearts and some basil for an extra flavor punch!

Creamy chicken casserole served in bowl with fresh basil garnish and striped napkin.

Creamy + Dairy-Free

Don’t you worry, this creamy chicken casserole lacks nothing in the creamy department! We keep it dairy-free by using mayo, and you can even get an egg-free mayo if you are avoiding eggs. We love Primal Kitchen Egg-Free Mayo. Either way, you’re going to love the creamy, velvety sauce and you won’t even miss the dairy. Promise.

Creamy chicken casserole served in bowls with fresh basil garnish and striped napkin.

Nutritional Yeast For That Cheesy Flavor

The cheesy flavor of the creamy sauce comes from nutritional yeast, and if you haven’t played much with it yet you’re going to really enjoy doing so. And just in case you read the word yeast and got scared…it is an inactive yeast, which means there is no live yeast that might cause issues with yeast or bacteria growth if you are working to correct that. In addition, nutritional yeast is also a good food source of Vitamin B and folate, so beyond the cheesy taste it is has some great health benefits!

Creamy chicken casserole collage. One image in cast iron skillet with fork scooping a bite out. The other image is in the cast iron skillet with serving spoon and also served in two bowls with fresh basil garnish.

Meal Prep Saves The Day

One of our favorite meal planning and prep tricks is to make a big dinner on Sunday. We are already going to cook, so it’s not really extra work. We just like to make it a larger meal, so we start the week with leftovers in the fridge for either lunches or dinner on a busy weeknight. It is seriously a no-brainer and one of the easiest ways to start the week with a little extra breathing room.

Creamy chicken casserole served in a bowl with fresh basil on top.

Other Tasty Casseroles To Try

Your Turn To Try Our Creamy Chicken Casserole

Plan to make this creamy chicken casserole next weekend so you have tasty leftovers in the fridge to help get you through your busy work week. Leave a comment below and let us know how it goes. Also, take a pic to share on Instagram! Tag us @realsimplegood, and give us a follow if you don’t already! We would love to stay connected!

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Creamy chicken casserole in cast iron skillet with fork scooping a bite out.


Creamy Chicken Casserole (Paleo, Whole30 + Dairy-Free)

4.66 from 26 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Servings: 8
This Paleo + Whole30 Creamy Chicken Casserole is made with spaghetti-squash so it's grain-free, gluten-free and the creamy, cheese-like sauce is dairy-free!
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Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt & pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 can artichoke hearts, roughly chopped (14.5 oz can)
  • 1 cup mayo use egg-free if needed - we love Primal Kitchen Egg-Free Mayo
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast we love Bob's Red Mill
  • 3 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (plus more for topping)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
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Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400℉.
  • Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place it cut side down on one of the pans.
  • Place chicken thighs on the other pan and sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Place both pans in the oven to bake. Remove chicken after 20-25 minutes or when completely cooked through. Remove chicken and cover with another plate or foil to keep warm.
  • Allow squash to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.
  • Chop artichoke hearts, spinach, basil and mince garlic. Add all of the sauce ingredients to bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Chop the chicken thighs into small strips or bite-sized pieces.
  • When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool enough to handle. Scrape the flesh out into a cast iron skillet or casserole dish, using a fork to create strands of squash noodles. 
  • Add the chicken and sauce to the spaghetti squash noodles. Mix well to incorporate everything. 
  • If you need to warm up the casserole, either place your cast iron skillet over medium heat to warm for 5-6 minutes (stirring occasionally) or place your casserole dish in the oven at 400° F for 15-20 minutes, until everything is heated through.
  • Sprinkle with additional basil and serve.

Notes

If desired, you can split up the cooking of the squash and the chicken (if you'd like to cook the squash in advance).
To do this, simply roast the squash at 400° F for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool, scrape the squash noodles into a container and refrigerate. 
When you want to make the recipe, broil the chicken to cook it faster. Broil for 6-8 minutes per side, until it is cooked through. 
Follow other recipe instructions as noted to make the sauce, combine the ingredients and heat the casserole in the oven at 400° for 20 minutes.
Tried this recipe?Take a picture and tag @realsimplegood so we can see it!
Creamy Chicken Casserole (Paleo, Whole30 + Dairy-Free)

26 thoughts on “Creamy Chicken Casserole (Paleo, Whole30 + Dairy-Free)

  • This has been in my weekly menu now for a couple of weeks consecutively…it’s really good. I use rotisserie chicken and I microwave my squash. I take all ingredients and put them in my crockpot on low for 1.5 hours to heat the casserole up. This has been working really well (once everything is cooked…ie. the squash). Using the crockpot allows me to get the nice heat through without turning on my oven in the summer heat.
    This casserole reheats well too! The creaminess is really yummy – especially after a long evening training session. Going to start doubling it.

    • That’s so great it’s been working well for you! Love the crockpot idea for the summer time, too! It’s been so hot here – we might have to give that a try. Thanks for taking the time to come back and share! 🙂

  • If I substitute pasta for the spaghetti squash in this Creamy Chicken Casserole recipe, how much spaghetti should I use?

    • I’m just guessing that the spaghetti squash makes about 6 cups of cooked “noodles”. So whatever that equivalent is is spaghetti noodles would be my suggestion. Hope this helps.

  • I made this as a Christmas dish option for my Paleo guests…and it was a hit. I did omit the yeast, however, and the pepper for my AIP needs. Plus, I used chopped kale instead of spinach. Turned out fantastic even with these changes. I will make again. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

      • Did you add the spinach and basil while cooking and then freeze, or cook everything else and add those in when you reheated?

        • I added the day of, no more than a few hours before to avoid wilting. I have prepped this a day or two ahead and left in fridge in a big covered bowl, then mixed in spinach and basil a few hours before, which may require hands as it is thick. I cooked (longer cooking time). I then froze in portions, which worked great. I have not frozen prior to cooking, but I imagine similar results. If freezing prior to cooking, I recommend the same, but maybe in a big zipper bag or container of your liking, freeze, thaw when ready, mix in the spinach and basil, and add more cooking time. It may help to let the casserole stand at room temp for a bit. Freezing after cooking is amazing for this dish!

        • I prepped a couple of days ahead and left it in a big covered bowl in fridge. Three hours before cooking, I mixed in the spinach and basil, placed in greased casserole, and cooked with a longer cooking time. I then portioned and froze it.

  • If I prepped all of this ahead of time and waited to add the spinach and basil (afraid it will wilt), then mixed it all day of, how much should I increase the cooking time and should the temperature be adjusted?

  • Could boneless, skinless chicken breasts be substituted for the thighs? I have tried hard, but am not a fan of thighs. Thanks!

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