I, Fanny Slater, have never personally opened, used, or otherwise piloted a can of creamed soup in my entire life.
What held your tuna and noodles together, you ask? What thickened your Thanksgiving green beans, you wonder?
Well, here it is: I was raised in a non-casserole family. And I’m not ashamed.
In the new-age, professional culinary world, making almost everything from scratch and solely using fresh ingredients is a given. It’s expected.
Growing up, however, when you’re the one kid who’s never seen a real-life frozen lasagna or eaten vegetables out of a bag, you’re the odd one out.
Especially in the South where I’m from, using shortcuts or pre-packaged ingredients is as common as making hush puppies from scratch. But my parents are anything but Southern. And that’s just not how they like to eat.
Our Thanksgiving spread consisted of every course being constructed from the ground up. The potatoes were baked, sliced, scooped, and re-stuffed. The fresh cranberries melted into a mountain of orange zest and vanilla.
And the green beans?
They were delicately sauteed with garlic, butter, kosher salt, and dill.
So you can imagine the delighted look that spread across my doofy face the first time I tasted a decadent, traditional “green bean casserole.”
It was 2001 and I was watching my high school boyfriend’s mom prepare the classic holiday side dish. As I watched the gloppy soup mixture creep and slide its way over the sliced beans, I was less than enthusiastic.
Once all of the components had melded together, I had my first bite of the smooth, savory green bean and mushroom medley. And it was in that moment I realized: cream-of-whatever soup was something I could get down with.
In my own way.
I began experimenting with made-from-scratch versions, and found dozens of different uses for the velvety concoctions (not to mention, eating them on their own). Speaking of – for you creamy chicken soup lovers out there, this homemade version is wildly easy to throw together.
When it comes to a hearty, comforting dinner, this particular baked chicken recipe takes full advantage of homemade cream of mushroom soup. It starts by making a velouté.
Sounds fancy. It’s not.
Almost all good things in life (well, in the kitchen at least) start with a roux. A roux is essentially equal parts fat and flour. I like to use butter because, well, Julia’s always watching.
Pours out a stout gin martini for my homegirl.
After making the roux, things could go a few different ways. For this recipe, warmed chicken stock is vigorously whisked in to create a rich, luxurious velouté. More simply put: we’re making gravy.
And as “cream” is in the name after all, heavy cream is added for the win.
I don’t know about you, but the words “baked chicken” sound like something bland to me. But when you add a silky, homemade mushroom sauce, sharp cheese, and crispy, buttery cracker crumbs, all is right with the world.
I think Julia would agree.Print
Craving a comforting blend of chicken, cheese, and mushrooms? This creamy baked chicken with a crispy cracker topping will hit the spot.
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, diced
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, warmed
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup finely crushed Ritz crackers
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Season 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and place in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Season the chicken on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture, and shake to remove any excess. Set aside on a plate.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter and swirl to coat the pan. When the butter begins to foam and sizzle, add the chicken breasts and sear until golden brown on each side (but not all the way cooked through), about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking or casserole dish and arrange in a single layer.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then add the onions and mushrooms and saute until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk, stirring often, until the flour begins to melt into the mushrooms and onions and turns a light blonde color, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly pour in the warm chicken stock, whisking vigorously, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom, and making sure there aren’t any lumps. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce has slightly reduced and thickened, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Pour the creamy mushroom sauce over the chicken breasts and evenly top with the cheese and crushed crackers. Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.
- Remove cover and continue to bake until the chicken is cooked through, the cheese is melted, and the cracker crumbs are golden brown, about 5-10 more minutes.
- Divide the chicken and sauce among plates and garnish with parsley before serving.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Stovetop/Baking
- Cuisine: Main Course
Keywords: chicken, mushroom, cheddar
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Season and Prep Chicken Breasts
Season 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and freshly cracked pepper, and then season the chicken on both sides with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, shaking to remove any excess. Set the floured chicken breasts aside on a plate.
Step 2 – Sear the Chicken
Sear the chicken breasts until they are golden brown on each side but not cooked all the way through, for about 2 minutes per side.
Arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer in a baking or casserole dish. Turn the heat down to medium-low.
Step 3 – Chop the Onions and Mushrooms, Warm the Stock, and Start the Roux
This part of the recipe calls for making homemade cream of mushroom soup, which is essentially a velouté sauce with mushrooms and onions added. If you’re looking for a shortcut, you can substitute one small (10-ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup.
Chop the onions (with no crying!) and the mushrooms.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. When it begins to foam and lightly sizzle, add the onions and mushrooms and saute until very fragrant, for about 30 seconds.
Sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 2 tablespoons flour.
To create a roux, cook while stirring often with a whisk, until the flour begins to melt into the mushrooms and onions and turns a light blonde color. This will take about 2 minutes. You want to cook the raw flavor out of the flour, but be careful not to let it brown.
Step 4 – Add the Stock to the Roux and Whisk
Warm the chicken stock in a small saucepot over low heat, or in the microwave.
Slowly pour the stock into the roux, whisking vigorously as you pour. Scrape up any brown bits – or fond – from the bottom of the pan, and make sure there aren’t any lumps. This is the beginning of a velouté sauce.
Step 5 – Simmer the Sauce and Whisk in the Cream
Simmer the sauce, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t scorch on the bottom, until it has reduced and thickened, for about 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream.
Step 6 – Crush the Crackers, Chop the Parsley, and Layer the Chicken
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Place the crackers in a resealable storage bag and use a rolling pin or a heavy pan to crush them into fine crumbs. You can even try one of our homemade cracker recipes for extra fun flavor, like our cheddar buckwheat or our parmesan rosemary crackers!
Chop the parsley.
Pour the creamy mushroom sauce over the chicken breasts, and evenly top everything with the grated cheese and crushed crackers.
Step 7 – Bake
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, or with an oven-safe lid if you have one. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the cover and continue baking until the chicken is cooked through, the cheese is melted, and the cracker crumbs are golden brown, for about 5-10 more minutes.
Divide the chicken among plates and garnish with the parsley.
Creamy Baked Chicken: Take Two
Since the creamy mushroom mixture in this recipe is a cinch to stretch, why not double the whole recipe and freeze the leftovers for a rainy day?
Or a snowy day. Or a sunny day. Or an average Tuesday. You never know when you’re going to crave succulent bites of baked chicken smothered in an earthy mushroom sauce.
If you’re looking for another chicken and mushroom recipe, but with the carbs from the crackers, try our balsamic chicken recipe instead!
And for even more flavorful chicken dinners you can whip up in no time, add these recipes to your list of weeknight staples to try next:
- Sunflower Seed Spinach Pesto Grilled Chicken
- Instant Pot White Wine Braised Chicken
- Savory One-Pan Roasted Spiced Chicken with Vegetables
I dig the meaty flavor of cremini mushrooms for this sauce, but I like to occasionally substitute earthy, buttery shiitakes to amp up the volume. Share your mushrooms of choice in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 26, 2010. Last updated July 18, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”