This Healthier Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Bake is a healthier version of a Pioneer Woman classic — completely homemade with no cream soups! It’s an easy make ahead and freezer friendly meal. Includes how to recipe video
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I swear at least once a week, I look around my house in dismay at my lack of bookshelves. If I have a “bad habit”, it’s book hoarding.
I hoard cookbooks, I hoard novels, I hoard my old University textbooks and the books I used for teaching high school. I probably even have some books from my high school days in some random box in the basement.
A few weeks ago, I took a good, hard look at my bookshelves and decided it was time for a purge. I let go of a bunch of cookbooks that I hadn’t ever really cooked from, and probably wouldn’t be any time soon.
There was a time in my life when I had hours to spend cooking, just for fun, and I loved it. But these days are not them. The times they are a-changing (and the faster my girls grow, the faster this change seems to come).
So I gave a bunch of cookbooks away, and became really determined to take more time to cook for fun this year. I want to cook from my favorite cookbooks more, and get a little crazy and try some new things every once in a while.
I had a Pioneer Woman cookbook on the shelves that I hadn’t yet cooked from, but I just couldn’t bear to part with yet. I feel like Ree and I would get along just fine — she seems so down to Earth and I love her classic, family friendly recipes!
When I came across this one, it jumped out at me. I loved the idea of it, but I don’t ever cook with canned soup these days. I also took out a few things and added in a few of our favorite veggies, and it was a hit. What I love about this casserole (and most casseroles), is how easy they are to make ahead.
In this spaghetti bake, everything can be prepped completely ahead of time, and you just pop it in the fridge to bake later or the next day. There’s no work, so it’s perfect for a Sunday dinner or on a busy weeknight (I feel like I use the term “busy weeknight” in every.single.blog.post but seriously, friends! Children and life = chaos).
Feel free to mix up the veggies or seasonings and adjust to your family’s tastes — whatever floats your boat!
Watch the recipe video:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- ½ green bell pepper, chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- 375g (about 3¾ cups) whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 1.5" pieces
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 3 cups 1% milk
- 3-4 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast (about 3 breasts)
- 2 cups low fat cheddar cheese, divided
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a 9x13" baking dish.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, green pepper and red pepper and cook until softened. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions until just al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven).
- Add carrot, salt, paprika, pepper, garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in flour until completely absorbed. Add milk and cook, stirring often, until thickened.
- Stir in cooked spaghetti, chicken, and 1 cup cheddar cheese.
- Spread into baking dish, top with remaining 1 cup cheese and bake 20-30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve.
**Note that nutrition information is calculated on ⅙ of the casserole dish -- that is a pretty large serving! If you have a smaller appetite or are serving with a side salad, your calorie count will be significantly lower.