Italian Chicken Casserole is a low-carb meal made with chicken thighs, couscous, red bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella, and basil. This baked casserole is a one-hour dish that can easily be made ahead of time and baked when you’re ready to eat.
What is Italian Chicken Casserole?
This Italian chicken casserole is keto-friendly which makes it perfect for the whole family even if you’re trying to follow a special diet. There’s no need to make two meals for dinner. With the tomatoes, mozzarella, and chicken, it’s a dish everyone will love.
You can make this dish earlier in the day and then put the baking dish in the fridge until dinner time. This is such a relief sometimes because let’s face it, dinner is the most chaotic part of the day. The kids are home from school, energy is high, the dog needs to be walked, and you want to sit down with a cold drink. This casserole is perfect for days like this.
- 1 1⁄2 pound (750g) chicken thighs, sliced: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs work best here so you don’t have to pull bones out when you’re eating.
- 2 tablespoon olive oil: Any neutral oil will work in this recipe.
- 1 1⁄4 cup couscous: Pearl couscous is best since the grains are larger and chewier. You can also use traditional couscous if you have it.
- 1 bell pepper, chopped: Red bell peppers go nicely with the other flavors.
- 1 red onion, chopped: Red onions are flavorful and taste great in Italian dishes.
- 1 cup tomato sauce: Tomato sauce brings all the flavors together.
- 3 1⁄3 cup (100g) fresh spinach: You can also use frozen spinach if it’s not in season.
- 1 1⁄2 cup chicken stock: Use the best chicken stock you can find or make your own.
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella: Low-fat shredded mozzarella can be found in the dairy aisle in the grocery store.
- 2 teaspoon dry basil: You can use dried basil or fresh basil if it’s in season and you can find it at the store or you have a pot of it growing at home.
- salt and pepper: A little seasoning goes a long way.
- cherry tomatoes: The cherry tomatoes are added to the top before baking caramelized and roast in the oven.
- mozzarella balls: Shred the fresh mozzarella with your fingers before placing it on top of the casserole.
How to make Italian Chicken Casserole:
Here’s a brief overview of how to make this dish. See the recipe card below for the specific recipe instructions.
1. Preheat the oven.
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions and peppers for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add in chicken pieces and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Mix in couscous, seasoning, and pour chicken stock and tomato sauce on top.
5. Cook for 3-4 minutes then stir in spinach until wilted.
6. Transfer couscous mixture into the baking pan, top with tomatoes and mozzarella.
7. Bake at 190C/375F for 15 minutes.
Tips for success:
Here are a few tips for success and variations you can try to make this the best Italian chicken casserole you've ever had.
- If you can’t find couscous or aren’t familiar with it, you can substitute rice instead or leave it out altogether.
- This casserole has no cream of mushroom soup which is a definite plus and makes it healthier.
What types of meat can I use in this dish?
If you’d rather not use thighs, you can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked ground chicken, or cooked ground turkey. Any of these would have great flavor with the rest of the ingredients.
What other vegetables can I add?
To make this chicken casserole even healthier, you can add extra veggies. Try mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes, asparagus, green beans, butternut squash, or kale. You can also mix and match to make the combinations you think would be best.
How can I make this chicken casserole in a crockpot?
It’s easy to make this dish in a slow cooker. If you need your oven for something else or if it’s been a while and you want to pull out your crockpot, you can use it to make this casserole. All you have to do is cook the onions, chicken, couscous, and tomatoes in the pan per the directions and then pour the mixture into the bowl of the crockpot. Place the lid on, set it to cook for four hours on high, and stir in the spinach at the end before serving.
How to store:
Store any leftover casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat it in the microwave with 30-second increments until it’s hot all the way through.
To freeze the entire casserole, wrap it in aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Label it with what it is, how to cook, and the date. Labeling will help you remember later. Remember that if you cook it from frozen, it will take longer to cook in the oven without thawing first. Keep the foil on until the last 30 minutes of cooking so the top can brown.
What other types of cheese can I use in this dish?
If you’d like to try some different kinds of cheese with this casserole you can try cheddar, Colby jack, pepper jack, Monterey jack, gruyere, Havarti, or parmesan.
Can I make this casserole dairy-free?
Yes, it’s easy to alter this dish so that it’s dairy-free. All you need to do is not add the shredded or fresh mozzarella cheese. It will still taste great and won’t upset your stomach.
What can I serve with Italian chicken casserole?
You can serve chewy french bread, roasted vegetables, crunchy green salad, or whole wheat dinner rolls with this dish.
- 1 1⁄2 pound (750g) chicken thighs, sliced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1⁄4 cup couscous
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 purple onion, chopped
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 3 1⁄3 cup (100g) fresh spinach
- 1 1⁄2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 2 teaspoon dry basil
- salt and pepper
- cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls for topping
- Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions and peppers for 3-4 minutes.
- Add in chicken pieces and cook for 10 minutes.
- Mix in couscous, seasoning, and pour chicken stock and tomato sauce on top.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes then stir in spinach until wilted.
- Transfer couscous mixture into the baking pan, top with tomatoes and mozzarella.
- Bake at 190C/375F for 15 minutes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 314Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 587mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 20g