What is Chicken Divan made of?

What is Chicken Divan made of? Chicken Divan, a dish with roots tracing back to the Divan Parisien Restaurant in New York City, has stood the test of time. Originally served as a sophisticated dish in the 1950s, it quickly became popular across America due to its delightful combination of flavors and textures.

But what exactly makes Chicken Divan so irresistible? It’s the blend of tender chicken, fresh broccoli, and a creamy, cheesy sauce that creates a harmonious taste experience. Moreover, this dish’s versatility allows for numerous variations, catering to different tastes and dietary preferences.

Chicken Divan is more than just a casserole; it’s a piece of culinary history that continues to bring comfort and joy to dinner tables. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, this dish is straightforward to prepare, ensuring that everyone can enjoy its savory goodness.

Ingredients of Chicken Divan

What is Chicken Divan made of?


The chicken in Chicken Divan is the primary protein and adds a substantial element to the dish. The types of chicken cuts commonly used include:

Chicken Breasts: These are popular due to their lean nature and ease of shredding after cooking.

Chicken Thighs: While slightly fattier, thighs are more flavorful and tender, making them an excellent choice for those seeking richer taste.

Preparation methods:

Grilled: Grilling the chicken adds a smoky flavor and a slightly charred texture, enhancing the dish’s overall complexity.

Boiled: Boiling is a straightforward method that keeps the chicken moist and tender. This method is often used when the chicken will be shredded.

Shredded: Shredding pre-cooked chicken (either grilled or boiled) ensures that it distributes evenly throughout the casserole, allowing every bite to be filled with its savory goodness.


Broccoli is the essential vegetable component in Chicken Divan, providing a contrasting texture and a burst of color.

Fresh Broccoli: Preferred for its crisp texture and bright, vibrant color. Fresh broccoli retains more nutrients and a slight crunch even after cooking.

Frozen Broccoli: A convenient option that saves time. It is usually pre-blanched before freezing, which means it cooks faster but can sometimes be softer in texture.

Preparation and cooking tips:

Blanching: Quickly boiling the broccoli for a couple of minutes and then plunging it into ice water helps maintain its bright green color and crisp-tender texture.

Steaming: This method preserves the nutrients and prevents the broccoli from becoming waterlogged. It’s a gentle cooking process that keeps the broccoli tender yet firm.

Creamy Base

The creamy base is what makes Chicken Divan rich and comforting. The primary ingredient used is cream of chicken soup, which provides a smooth, flavorful foundation.


Cream of Mushroom Soup: Adds an earthy flavor and is a great option for those who prefer a different taste profile.

Cream of Celery Soup: Offers a lighter, slightly peppery flavor that can complement the other ingredients nicely.


Cheese is a critical component that adds creaminess and a savory depth. The types of cheese commonly used include:

Cheddar Cheese: Known for its sharp and tangy flavor, cheddar melts beautifully, creating a gooey, cheesy topping.

Gruyère Cheese: This Swiss cheese is rich and creamy with a slightly nutty flavor, adding a gourmet touch to the dish.

Quantity and method of incorporation:

Cheese is typically added both in the sauce and as a topping. This ensures that the creamy texture is distributed throughout the dish while also creating a golden, bubbly crust on top. Generally, about 1 ½ cups of shredded cheese is mixed into the sauce, and an additional cup is sprinkled over the casserole before baking.

Additional Ingredients

These ingredients enhance the dish’s flavor and help achieve the desired consistency:

Mayonnaise: Adds a creamy texture and a slight tang that balances the richness of the cheese and soup.

Lemon Juice: A splash of lemon juice brightens the flavors, cutting through the creaminess with a bit of acidity.

Butter: Used to create a roux, butter adds richness and a smooth, velvety texture to the sauce.

Flour: Combined with butter, flour helps to thicken the sauce, ensuring it clings to the chicken and broccoli perfectly.

By understanding these key ingredients and their roles, you can see why Chicken Divan is such a beloved dish. Each component plays a crucial part in creating the harmonious blend of flavors and textures that make this casserole a true comfort food classic.

Variations and Substitutions

Common Variations

Substituting Broccoli with Other Vegetables

While broccoli is the traditional vegetable in Chicken Divan, other vegetables can be used to give the dish a new twist. Options include:

Cauliflower: A great low-carb alternative that has a similar texture to broccoli.

Asparagus: Adds a slightly sweet, tender-crisp bite.

Spinach: Offers a different texture and pairs well with the creamy sauce.

Peas and Carrots: For a colorful, sweet addition that kids might love.

These substitutions can be mixed and matched to suit your taste preferences or whatever you have on hand.

Different Types of Cheeses

Although cheddar and Gruyère are the most common cheeses used in Chicken Divan, other cheeses can also be incorporated to change the flavor profile:

Parmesan: Adds a salty, nutty flavor and a slightly crispy topping when used on top.

Monterey Jack: Melts beautifully and has a mild, buttery flavor.

Mozzarella: Provides a stretchy, gooey texture, making each bite delightfully cheesy.

Mixing cheeses can also enhance the flavor complexity and ensure a rich, layered taste.

Using Yogurt or Sour Cream Instead of Mayonnaise

For those looking to lighten up the dish or prefer different flavors, yogurt or sour cream can be used in place of mayonnaise:

Greek Yogurt: Adds a tangy flavor and a creamy texture with the added benefit of extra protein.

Sour Cream: Offers a rich and tangy profile similar to mayonnaise but with a slightly lighter texture.

These alternatives still provide the necessary creaminess and work well in the sauce.

Healthier Alternatives

Low-Fat or Dairy-Free Options

For a healthier version, you can substitute some ingredients to reduce the fat content or accommodate dietary restrictions:

Low-Fat Cheese: Still melts well and provides a cheesy flavor without the extra calories.

Dairy-Free Cheese: Plant-based cheeses have improved in flavor and meltability, making them a suitable substitute for those avoiding dairy.

Coconut Milk: A dairy-free alternative to cream soups, it adds a subtle sweetness and rich texture.

These substitutions help maintain the dish’s creamy and satisfying nature while being mindful of health needs.

Gluten-Free Substitutions for Flour

If you need a gluten-free version, consider these alternatives for making the roux:

Rice Flour: Works well as a thickener and has a neutral flavor.

Cornstarch: An excellent thickener that doesn’t alter the flavor or texture of the sauce.

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour: A direct substitute for regular flour in making a roux.

These options ensure that those with gluten sensitivities can still enjoy a classic Chicken Divan.

Low-Sodium Soup Alternatives

For a heart-healthier version, using low-sodium soups can significantly reduce the salt content:

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup: Allows you to control the salt and use fresh ingredients.

Low-Sodium Canned Soups: Available in most grocery stores, these options help maintain the dish’s flavor without the extra sodium.

This change makes the dish more suitable for those monitoring their salt intake.

Exploring these variations and substitutions not only makes Chicken Divan adaptable but also ensures it can meet a variety of dietary preferences and needs. Whether you’re looking for a healthier version or want to try new flavors, there’s a Chicken Divan for everyone.

What is Chicken Divan Made Of

Preparation Methods

Step-by-Step Guide

Pre-cooking the Chicken

Start by preparing your chicken. If using chicken breasts or thighs, you have a few options for cooking:

Grilling: Preheat your grill to medium-high. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then grill for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked. This adds a smoky flavor that can elevate the dish.

Boiling: Place the chicken in a pot of boiling water seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Boil for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. This method keeps the chicken moist and tender.

Shredding: After cooking, let the chicken cool slightly before shredding it with two forks or chopping it into bite-sized pieces. Shredded chicken ensures even distribution throughout the casserole.

Blanching or Steaming the Broccoli

To prepare the broccoli:

Blanching: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook for 2-3 minutes until bright green and tender-crisp. Immediately transfer the broccoli to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

Steaming: Place the broccoli in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam for 5-7 minutes until tender. Steaming preserves more nutrients compared to boiling.

Making the Creamy Sauce

In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add 3 tablespoons of flour and whisk continuously for about 1 minute to form a roux.

Gradually whisk in 2 cups of cream of chicken soup (or your chosen alternative). Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken.

Add 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and 1 ½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese (or a mix of cheeses). Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth and creamy.

Assembling the Casserole

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large baking dish, arrange the blanched or steamed broccoli in an even layer.

Spread the shredded or chopped chicken evenly over the broccoli.

Pour the creamy cheese sauce over the chicken and broccoli, spreading it out to cover all the ingredients.

Sprinkle an additional cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top for a bubbly, golden crust.

Baking Instructions and Tips

Place the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.

For a crispy topping, you can add a mixture of breadcrumbs and melted butter on top before baking.

Allow the casserole to cool for a few minutes before serving to let the sauce set slightly.

Tips for the Perfect Chicken Divan

  • Ensuring Even Cooking
    • To avoid overcooked or undercooked components, ensure the chicken and broccoli are cooked to the right level before assembling the casserole. Pre-cooking them adequately ensures they will cook perfectly during the baking process.
  • Achieving the Right Consistency for the Sauce
    • If the sauce seems too thick, you can thin it with a little milk or chicken broth. If it’s too thin, continue cooking it on the stove until it reaches the desired consistency. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but still pourable.
  • Avoiding Common Mistakes
    • Don’t overcook the broccoli before baking, as it will continue to cook in the oven. Keep it tender-crisp to maintain some texture.
    • Ensure the sauce is well-seasoned before pouring it over the chicken and broccoli. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice if needed.

With these preparation methods and tips, you’re well on your way to making a perfect Chicken Divan. Whether you’re cooking for a family dinner or a potluck, these steps will help you create a delicious and satisfying dish that everyone will love.

Serving Suggestions

Accompaniments and Pairings

Suggested Side Dishes

Chicken Divan is rich and flavorful, making it perfect to pair with simpler, complementary side dishes:

Rice: A classic side, rice soaks up the creamy sauce beautifully. Consider using white rice, brown rice, or even wild rice for added texture and flavor.

Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are another excellent choice. Their smooth texture pairs well with the casserole, and they’re great for sopping up any extra sauce.

Garlic Bread: Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, garlic bread provides a delightful contrast to the creamy Chicken Divan. Plus, it’s perfect for mopping up the cheesy sauce.

Salad: A fresh, crisp salad can balance out the richness of Chicken Divan. A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette, or a Caesar salad, adds a refreshing element to the meal.

Steamed Vegetables: Steamed carrots, green beans, or asparagus add more veggies to the plate and a nice variety of textures and flavors.

Suitable Beverages

While we’re not discussing alcoholic beverages, there are plenty of other drink options that complement Chicken Divan:

Sparkling Water: A refreshing choice that can cleanse the palate between bites.

Lemonade: The tartness of lemonade pairs well with the creamy and cheesy flavors of the dish.

Iced Tea: A classic beverage that’s versatile and light, perfect for accompanying a hearty meal.

Presentation Tips

How you present Chicken Divan can make a big difference in its appeal:

Casserole Dish: Serve directly from a beautiful, oven-to-table casserole dish. This keeps the dish warm and allows everyone to see the golden, bubbly top.

Garnish: A sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or chives on top can add a burst of color and a hint of freshness.

Individual Portions: For a more refined presentation, serve the Chicken Divan in individual ramekins or small casserole dishes. This makes it feel special and personalized.

Accompaniment Arrangement: Arrange side dishes around the main course on the table to create an inviting and cohesive meal. Use contrasting colors and textures to make the meal visually appealing.

By considering these serving suggestions, you can elevate your Chicken Divan from a simple casserole to a memorable meal. The right sides, drinks, and presentation can enhance the dining experience and make your dinner truly special.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I freeze Chicken Divan?
    • Absolutely! Chicken Divan freezes well, making it a great make-ahead meal. To freeze, assemble the casserole as directed but do not bake it. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil or a lid and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed, adding a few extra minutes if needed to ensure it’s heated through.
  • How long does Chicken Divan last in the fridge?
    • Chicken Divan can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to keep it in an airtight container to maintain freshness. When reheating, use the oven or microwave until it’s thoroughly heated, ensuring the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  • Can I make Chicken Divan ahead of time?
    • Yes, Chicken Divan is perfect for making ahead. You can assemble the entire dish up to a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to bake, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before placing it in the oven to ensure even cooking.
  • What can I use instead of cream of chicken soup?
    • There are several alternatives to cream of chicken soup that can add different flavors to your Chicken Divan:
      • Cream of Mushroom Soup: Adds a savory, earthy flavor.
      • Cream of Celery Soup: Offers a lighter, slightly peppery taste.
      • Homemade Sauce: Make a simple béchamel sauce by whisking together butter, flour, and milk. Season with chicken broth or bouillon for a similar taste to the canned soup.
  • Is Chicken Divan gluten-free?
    • Traditional Chicken Divan is not gluten-free due to the flour in the roux and the soup used. However, you can easily make it gluten-free by:
      • Using gluten-free flour or cornstarch to make the roux.
      • Choosing a gluten-free cream soup or making your own with gluten-free ingredients.
    • These adjustments ensure that those with gluten sensitivities can enjoy the dish without worry.
  • How can I make Chicken Divan vegetarian?
    • To make a vegetarian version of Chicken Divan, replace the chicken with a plant-based protein like:
      • Tofu: Firm or extra-firm tofu works well. Press it to remove excess moisture, then cut into cubes and sauté before adding to the casserole.
      • Chickpeas: Provide a hearty texture and are a great source of protein.
      • Vegetarian Chicken Substitutes: Many stores offer plant-based chicken alternatives that can be used in place of real chicken.
    • Additionally, use a vegetarian cream soup or make your own with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

These FAQs cover some of the most common questions about Chicken Divan, ensuring you have all the information you need to create a delicious and versatile dish. Whether you’re making it ahead, freezing it for later, or adjusting it to meet dietary needs, Chicken Divan is a flexible recipe that can be enjoyed in many ways.


What is Chicken Divan Made Of

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What is Chicken Divan made of? Chicken Divan is a classic and versatile casserole dish that has stood the test of time. This comforting recipe combines tender chicken, nutritious broccoli, and a rich, creamy sauce, all topped with melted cheese, creating a delicious and satisfying meal that appeals to all ages.

From its origins in the 1950s to its various modern adaptations, Chicken Divan remains a beloved dish in many households. Understanding the main ingredients and their roles, exploring different variations and substitutions, and mastering the preparation methods are all key to making this dish your own. Whether you’re cooking for a family dinner, a potluck, or preparing meals ahead of time, Chicken Divan is adaptable to suit various dietary needs and preferences.

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