Poppy seed chicken is a favorite creamy casserole topped with buttery Ritz crackers. We serve our chicken poppy seed casserole over cooked rice. Made with few ingredients, this recipe is an easy family dinner!
I've been making this poppy seed chicken for a very long time and it is still one of our favorite easy casseroles. Over the years I've perfected the recipe, creating the BEST and easiest method. Served over white rice and a side of broccoli, weeknight dinner is done and ready. Winner winner chicken dinner!
Why We Love this Classic Recipe
You may have seen poppy seed chicken recipes from Paula Deen and the Pioneer Woman, but I am the biggest fan of my own recipe. My version is a hot creamy chicken casserole with a buttery cracker topping and poppy seeds. It is rich and dreamy!
I love adding this dinner recipe as a regular rotation to our meal plan for many reasons:
- This chicken casserole meal is cheap. The ingredients are few, simple and very inexpensive. I typically have everything on hand.
- Poppy seed chicken is EASY. When I have shredded chicken in the freezer from my monthly prepping, it's ready to quickly mix into the casserole. If I don't have chicken in the freezer, I can grab a Rotisserie from the store and quickly pull the meat.
- The sour cream mixture is just TWO ingredients. Sour cream and cream of chicken soup. Add salt and pepper, too, of course.
- My kids love it. This is my oldest's favorite meal and he requests it for his birthday dinner every year.
Ingredients for Easy Poppy Seed Chicken
(full printable recipe at end of this post)
I like to focus on recipes with simple ingredients from the grocery store or already in your pantry. Below are the ingredients to make this poppy seed chicken recipe.
Here's what you need:
- Cooked chicken - You can buy a Rotisserie chicken and pull the meat, or plan ahead and store shredded chicken in your freezer. I try to prep shredded chicken once a month either by boiling chicken breasts or using the Crock Pot. I then store it in freezer bags in 2 to 3 cup portions to it's ready to use in my favorite shredded chicken recipes.
- Cream of chicken soup - The basis for making this the easiest recipe ever.
- Sour cream - The tangy-ness of the sour cream is important here. Don't skimp on it.
- Ritz crackers - For that crisp buttery topping we all love.
- Poppy seeds - Don't skip them. Surprisingly, those tiny little specks really add a rich flavor to this dish.
- Melted butter - This will marry the crackers and poppy seeds together.
- Salt and pepper, to taste - For the filling only. The topping is salty enough from the crackers!
How to Make Poppy Seed Chicken
Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the step-by-step instructions on how to make the casserole and buttery ritz cracker topping. The general steps are as follows:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9x13 baking dish.
- Mix soup, sour cream, and chicken in large bowl.
- Spread mixture in baking dish.
- Bake 20 minutes.
- Crush the crackers.
- In a medium bowl, combine the crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter.
- Remove chicken dish from oven.
- Evenly sprinkle crackers over the chicken mixture.
- Bake an additional 10 minutes.
- Serve hot over rice.
Chicken - You can buy a rotisserie chicken and pull it apart, but I highly recommend prepping the best shredded chicken so it's ready in your freezer when you want poppy seed chicken for dinner!
Sour cream mixture - The measurements in the recipe below are very forgiving. You can add as much or as little of the soup and sour cream to your liking. The basic rule is using even amounts of soup and sour cream. I love a creamy poppy seed casserole, so I tend to add a little more sour cream.
Veggies - We like this basic recipe, but try adding vegetables to the filling mixture. You might want to add more sour cream and soup if you do to keep it creamy. I suggest canned corn, peas, or frozen bag of mixed vegetables partially steamed.
Buttery Ritz Cracker Topping - I crush the crackers while they're still in the sleeves. (Make sure you do this over the mixing bowl.) You can also place the crackers into a plastic zipper bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Poppy seeds - Poppy seeds add a rich flavor to the cracker topping, but if you happen to not have them on hand and no time to run to the store, the chicken dish is good enough without. But, just know, the poppy seeds do add a depth of flavor.
Make-Ahead or Freeze
The prep time and total time for this recipe is short, so there really is no point assembling it ahead, however, I do suggest making sure you have the shredded chicken ready ahead of time. I do not recommend freezing poppy seed chicken because the cracker topping will become soggy.
How to Cook Chicken
We serve our poppy seed chicken over white rice, and with a vegetable side such as green beans, broccoli, or peas and carrots. It's even easier when using a bag of frozen vegetables steam-able in the microwave!
Try these other side dishes with your poppy seed chicken dinner:
Made this recipe?
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Photography by Lindsay Evers
This article was originally published April 14, 2007 and most recently updated in February 2022 with new photos and improved recipe tips.
Poppy Seed Chicken
- 10 oz. cream of chicken condensed soup
- 1 ½ cups sour cream
- 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
- salt and pepper , to taste
- 2 sleeves Ritz crackers , crushed
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- ½ cup unsalted butter , melted
- Cooked white rice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x13 casserole dish.
- In a large bowl, mix soup, sour cream and chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Spread mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss together the crushed crackers and poppy seeds. Stir in the melted butter and evenly coat.
- Remove casserole from the oven. Evenly spread the crackers over top. Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
- Serve hot over white rice.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only and does not include salt/pepper or white rice.