This Million Dollar Chicken Casserole recipe is pure comfort food. Turn tender shredded chicken thigh meat into a creamy, cheesy chicken casserole topped with crushed Ritz crackers.
Table of Contents
- Why You’ll Love This Million Dollar Chicken Casserole
- Why is it Called Million Dollar Chicken?
- Variation Ideas
- What You’ll Need
- How to Make Million Dollar Chicken
- Tips for the Best Chicken Casserole with Ritz Crackers
- Serving Suggestions
- How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- Can I Freeze Million Dollar Chicken?
- More Casserole Recipes
- Get the Recipe
This easy chicken casserole recipe is pure comfort food. Made with tender chicken thighs cooked in your Instant Pot, a slice of this cozy dinner idea just hits all the right notes. Shredded chicken meat is combined with cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and cheddar cheese before being mixed with cream of chicken soup and a handful of spices. Crushed Ritz crackers are sprinkled on top with unsalted butter, creating an irresistibly crunchy, buttery crust on top of the creamy chicken base. Sound delicious? It is!
Why You’ll Love This Million Dollar Chicken Casserole
- Easy. Your instant pot will cook the chicken thighs for you, then all you have to do is mix up the casserole ingredients and pop everything in the oven.
- Creamy & flavorful. Every bite of this chicken casserole is rich and creamy thanks to the cream cheese, sour cream, and cream of chicken soup. A handful of seasonings perfectly balance the flavors in every bite.
- Hearty + satisfying. Thanks to the tender chicken meat, a variety of cheeses and the crunchy Ritz cracker topping, this simple chicken casserole fills bellies and leaves everyone feeling satisfied.
- Perfect way to use leftover chicken. If you have leftover chicken meat and want to turn it into a completely new meal, this casserole is the perfect idea. You can use any kind of cooked chicken. Just shred it up and follow the recipe as directed.
Why is it Called Million Dollar Chicken?
This chicken casserole is called “million dollar” chicken because it tastes like a million bucks. If you were served this recipe at a fancy restaurant you’d think it was filled with expensive ingredients to achieve that rich and creamy flavor, but nope! All you need is pantry staples and some buttery Ritz crackers to make this simple casserole recipe.
I usually make this chicken casserole as described here, but every now and then I like to mix things up. Here are some of my favorite variation ideas:
- Crispy bacon – Cook up some crispy bacon, let it cool, then chop it up and add it to the chicken base before adding the Ritz cracker topping.
- Rice – You can add up to 1 cup of cooked rice to this recipe to make it even heartier. White rice and brown rice both work.
- Broccoli – Add up to 1 cup of cooked and chopped broccoli.
- Potatoes – You can also add up to 1 cup of cooked and chopped potatoes. I have actually been known to add leftover breakfast potatoes to this dish. Super tasty!
What You’ll Need
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need to make this chicken casserole with Ritz crackers. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.
For the Instant Pot shredded chicken thighs
- Chicken thighs – Boneless and skinless
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt + black pepper
- Chicken stock
To Assemble the Million Dollar Chicken
- Whipped cream cheese – I prefer whipped cream cheese because it blends easily with the other ingredients and you don’t have to wait for it to come to room temperature.
- Sour cream – This adds a subtle tang to the chicken base. You can also use Greek yogurt.
- Cottage cheese
- Condensed cream of chicken soup
- Shredded cheddar cheese – You can also use Sargento’s shredded Mexican cheese blend.
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Seasonings – Garlic powder, onion powder and dried oregano
- Ritz crackers
- Unsalted butter
- Scallions – Just the greens, for an optional garnish.
How to Make Million Dollar Chicken
Are you ready to make this cozy, creamy chicken casserole recipe? Here’s how to do it:
Make the Shredded Chicken Thighs
- Season the chicken. Add the chicken thighs, sea salt, ground black pepper, and olive oil to the bowl of an Instant Pot. Stir to coat the chicken in the olive oil and seasoning.
- Add remaining ingredients. Add the onion, garlic, and chicken stock and stir to mix.
- Cook. Seal the Instant Pot and set it to cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. When the cook time is up, allow the pressure to naturally release.
- Shred. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken from the pressure cooker to a cutting board.Shred the chicken with two forks and set it aside.
Assemble the Chicken Casserole and Bake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine creamy ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whipped cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese until well incorporated.
- Add the condensed cream of chicken soup. Mix to combine.
- Add remaining ingredients except the topping. Add the shredded cheddar cheese, the Instant Pot shredded chicken, sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano to the mix. Stir to combine.
- Assemble the casserole. Transfer the cheesy chicken mixture to a 9×9-inch baking pan.
- Make the Ritz cracker topping. Combine the crushed Ritz crackers and the unsalted butter in a separate bowl and mix to combine. Evenly distribute the Ritz cracker mixture over the contents of the baking pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Or until the center of your casserole is hot.
- Garnish and serve. You can sprinkle chopped scallion greens on top just before serving as an optional garnish.
Tips for the Best Chicken Casserole with Ritz Crackers
- Use whipped cream cheese. I mentioned this earlier but it’s worth repeating. The whipped cream cheese blends better with the other ingredients and you don’t have to wait for it to come to room temperature. If you decide to use a block of cream cheese, it is important that it is not cold. Otherwise, you will get clumps of cream cheese in your casserole.
- More veggie options. Instead of the broccoli variation idea mentioned above, you could instead use cooked peas, corn, green beans, or even a mixture of all three. Just keep the total amount of veggie add-ins to 1 cup. If you add too many mix-ins your casserole won’t fit in the 9×9 baking dish.
- No Ritz crackers? You can also use crushed pretzels or potato chips (especially Ruffles).
- Need a shortcut? Instead of cooking the chicken thighs from scratch, you can use leftover cooked chicken or even rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.
- Want to make it ahead? You can prepare this chicken casserole the day before, then cover it with saran wrap and store it in the fridge. The next day pop it in the oven and bake as directed. Add a few minutes to the baking time so that the casserole has time to heat all the way through.
- Don’t have an Instant Pot? You can also roast the chicken in the oven. Just follow the directions in my white chicken lasagna recipe, then shred the chicken and use it in this casserole.
I like to serve creamy casseroles like this with a light salad. My absolute favorite is this apple-walnut spring mix salad, but you could also just serve some greens with your favorite bottled salad dressing. Veggies like this roasted broccoli also go wonderfully with Million Dollar Chicken.
If you want to serve something bready on the side, I recommend these buttermilk biscuits or these sweet potato biscuits. These simple cornbread muffins are also a great idea and they’re ready in 20 minutes.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Let your casserole cool, then cover the baking dish tightly with saran wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the fridge. You can also scoop the casserole into airtight containers before storing it in the fridge. It will keep for up to 4 days.
To reheat, simply scoop your desired amount into a microwave-safe bowl and zap until warmed through. I recommend reheating single servings and then stirring halfway through to make sure your food heats evenly.
Can I Freeze Million Dollar Chicken?
Yes, this chicken casserole recipe freezes well. Once you have assembled the casserole, cover it tightly in a few layers of saran wrap plus a couple of layers of aluminum foil. Then pop it in the freezer. It will keep for up to 3 months. When you are ready to eat it, thaw it overnight in the fridge and then bake it as directed. You will need to add some time because the casserole will be so cold.
More Casserole RecipesPrint
Million Dollar Chicken Casserole
This Million Dollar Chicken Casserole recipe is an easy dinner idea you can prep in advance. Tender shredded chicken is turned in a creamy casserole that’s topped with crushed Ritz crackers.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
For the Instant Pot shredded chicken*
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken stock
For the chicken casserole
- 3 ounces whipped cream cheese
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup cottage cheese
- 1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 cups crushed ritz crackers
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Scallions, optional garnish
Make the shredded chicken
- Add the chicken thighs, sea salt, ground black pepper, and olive oil to the bowl of an Instant Pot.
- Stir to coat the chicken in the olive oil and seasoning.
- Add the onion, garlic, and chicken stock and stir to mix.
- Seal the Instant Pot and set it to cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
- When the cook time is up, allow the pressure to naturally release.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken from the pressure cooker to a cutting board.
- Shred the chicken with two forks and set it aside. Discard everything else.
To assemble and bake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whipped cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese until well incorporated.
- Add the condensed cream of chicken soup and mix to combine.
- Add the shredded cheddar cheese, the Instant Pot shredded chicken, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano to the mix. Stir to combine.
- Transfer the cheesy chicken mixture to a 9×9-inch baking pan.
- Combine the crushed Ritz crackers and the unsalted butter in a separate bowl and mix to combine.
- Evenly distribute the Ritz cracker mixture over the contents of the baking pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- If you like, you can finely chop scallion greens and sprinkle them over the top of your casserole for a pop of color.
*If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can roast the chicken in the oven. Check out my white chicken lasagna recipe for instructions. Once the chicken is cooked, shred it and proceed with this recipe.
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Keywords: million dollar chicken casserole, million dollar chicken bake, chicken casserole with ritz crackers
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