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. You can top it with whatever crackers you have on hand, or skip the crackers altogether. Ready in 30 minutes!
Healthy Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole Recipe
Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole was one of the most wondrous dishes growing up, however, it was always absolutely loaded with tons 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 it at potlucks! Food coma? Check.
Being a little more conscientious these days on my food intake, I decided to see if I could make poppy seed chicken casserole without sour cream, and healthier. Much healthier. It. Worked.
This delicious and nearly paleo poppy seed chicken casserole from scratch is:
- 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
- Ready in just 30 minutes
- Loaded with veggies
- Kid-friendly (I’m pregnant, baby approved)
This poppy seed and chicken casserole also keeps in the fridge really well, and is better the second (or third!) day!
Ingredients for healthy poppy seed chicken casserole
The full ingredients and amounts are listed below.
- Chicken: I used both chicken breasts and chicken stock to really bring out the flavor.
- Almond milk & coconut cream: This adds a little creaminess to the sauce and makes it taste richer.
- 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.
- Crackers: Use whichever crackers you have on hand, or skip them entirely. I used ritz in these pictures (pregnant and wanted ritz, 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!
How to make Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole Without Soup
- 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 pot 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 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 and veggies: add them to the bottom of your casserole tray, and then top it off with the “chicken soup”.
4. Optional: Sprinkle poppy seeds over the casserole and then top with crackers if desired. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a pot (you can use the empty one for the “chicken soup”) and pour over the crackers.
5. Bake! Finally, bake the paleo poppy seed chicken casserole at 175ºC/350ºF for 15 minutes.
Serve: Serve on its own, with rice or with mashed potatoes, sprinkled with more poppy seeds if desired.
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?
Here are a few ideas, depending on your diet and preferences:
- 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 look good!)
- Pork crackling
- Paleo crackers (plenty of recipes out there)
- Skip it! You can totally leave the topping out.
What goes with Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
Here are a few options I would recommend:
- Rice (this is what I did)
- Mashed Potatoes (this is what I wanted, ha)
- Cauliflower or broccoli Rice
- Spaghetti Squash
- Roasted vegetables
- Butternut Squash/acorn squash filled with the casserole
More easy dinner recipes you will love:
- The BEST Paleo Ramen Recipe
- Lahanodolmades (Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)
- Thai Coconut Soup with Shrimp
- Easy One Pot Gumbo
- Vegan Keto Smoky Chili
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Chicken & 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
- 2.5 cups almond milk, 710ml *see notes
- 1/2 cup coconut cream, 118ml *see notes
- 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
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 150 g crackers, crushed
- 2 tbsp butter, ghee or refined coconut oil, melted
Chicken & vegetables
- Spray the frying pan lightly with oil if needed.
- 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.
- Add the almond milk, coconut cream, and chicken stock to a pot.
- Remove some of the liquid (a few tablespoons should work) and mix it in a small bowl with the tapioca flour. It should be liquidy and easy to pour.
- Add the tapioca mixture back to the main pot.
- Add the salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
- Cook on a medium heat until the sauce thickens and then remove from the heat.
- Add the chicken and vegetables to the bottom of the casserole dish or sheet pan.
- Pour the "Chicken Soup" over the vegetables and mix well.
- Sprinkle the poppy seeds over everything.
- Top with crushed crackers (optional).
- Pour over melted butter (optional).
- Bake for 15 minutes at 175ºC/350ºF.
*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.
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!