Cooking for Non-Cooks: Chicken Stuffing Casserole;
Revised to reduce sodium for a better-tasting dish

February 10, 2011Chicken Stuffing Casserole is a tasty and hearty “homemade” dish that is easy for non-cooks to make. It is guaranteed to satisfy everyone, from finicky children to grown-up foodies. It will get gobbled up at potlucks, and freezes well if you like to stock up on homemade meals. Read more »

What to buy: 2 boxes of chicken stuffing; 1 can
of chicken broth; 1 can of cream of celery
soup; 2 cans of cream of chicken soup;
three raw chicken breasts.
It’s very simple: Roasted chicken is combined with boxed stuffing and canned soup and broth, then baked in a casserole.  That’s it. No fuss, little or no measuring, and virtually impossible for a non-cook to screw up. It’s easy to vary by adding your favorite ingredients.

Recipe for Easy Chicken Stuffing Casserole
  1. Rinse and pat dry 3 large raw chicken breasts, and rub with a bit of oil, salt and pepper. Roast uncovered at 350° F for about an hour. Cool; cut into large chunks.
  2. Combine 2 boxes of chicken stuffing with a can of chicken broth, one can of Cream of Celery soup, and two cans of Cream of Chicken soup, lightly folding the ingredients until the stuffing is moist. Add the chicken to the stuffing.
  3. Bake uncovered in a shallow casserole dish at 375° F for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serve with fresh baby peas in light butter, a light beer or white wine. Fruit would make an excellent dessert.

Freeze in well-sealed portion-sized containers. A generous serving can be reheated by defrosting in a microwave for 10 minutes (half level), then heating at full power for 2.5 minutes.

Variations: Cook a whole chicken, and use the meat, both white and dark. Add grated cheddar cheese, broccoli, mushrooms, or other ingredients. Make your stuffing from scratch; cornbread stuffing is our family’s favorite, using regular bread and mom’s skillet-baked cornbread from stone-ground meal. Add fresh chopped celery and onion, if desired; about 1 cup each. Cook the celery and onion slightly in a pan with butter (do not brown). See or for many more variations using your favorite ingredients.

What to buy (revised 4/3/11; see notes below on sodium content and taste):
  • 3 chicken breasts, raw
  • 2 boxes of chicken stuffing (Kraft’s Stove Top Stuffing for Chicken, 25% lower sodium variety)
  • 1 can of chicken broth (Campbell’s low sodium variety)
  • 1 can cream of celery soup (Campbell’s Healthy Request© variety)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup (Campbell’s Healthy Request© variety)
Optional ingredients to buy:
  • Cheddar or Swiss cheese, grated
  • celery
  • onion
  • broccoli
  • white mushrooms
– p.k.

After Words, 4/3/11  |  Today I enjoyed the last of this casserole I made and froze a few weeks ago. It was pretty good, but unfortunately, the enjoyment was not what it could have been. First, the container I froze it in did not seal as well as it should have; I need to purchase better quality freezer/microwave plasticware. Freezer burn and frost were evident in the food.

But the main issue was taste: the dish was far too salty. This is a problem, because I added very little salt when cooking it, except to the chicken just before I roasted it. I’m guessing most of the salt I was tasting came from the boxes of stuffing mix and the cans of soups and broth.

So I encourage you when making this, to avoid too much salt by 1] using low-salt versions of the cream soups and broth; and 2] using the Kraft’s reduced-salt version of their Stove Top Stuffing, which has 25% less salt than the regular version. (Fortunately, this is available in the chicken stuffing variety, which I recommend for this dish.) Go ahead and season your chicken breasts with a bit of salt before roasting; as you will see below, it is the soups, broth and stuffing which are the culprits here.

I usually avoid the low-fat, low-sodium versions of many grocery items, because frankly I don’t think the low-fat items are good for you, and I don’t think the salt content in most items is high enough to pose a health or taste problem. But in this instance, I cannot justify cooking (and recommending) this too-salty recipe when it can be easily improved using low-sodium alternatives.

My pantry is stocked with the shelf-stable ingredients for this dish: soups, broth, stuffing (everything but the chicken). I’m going to compare the labels for you, and see how much salt we can remove from this dish by using low-salt alternatives:

Stuffing: The regular Stove Top Stuffing chicken variety has 430 mg of salt per serving; the whole wheat version in my pantry has 440 mg per serving. The reduced salt version has 250 mg, significantly less.

Soups: The Campbell’s Cream of Celery soup in my pantry is already a lower sodium product, "reduced 25% from prior product," according to the label. One serving has 640 mg of sodium. But Campbell’s Healthy Request line of the same soup has 410 mg per serving, another very significant reduction.

The Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup in my pantry is the regular variety, not a reduced sodium product. It has a whopping 870 mg of sodium per serving. Their Healthy Request variety has 45% less sodium, with 410 mg per serving. Wow.

Broth: My regular Campbell’s chicken broth has 770 mg of sodium per serving. Again, a very high amount. Only 140 mg of sodium are in their low sodium variety, a difference of 85%.

As you can see, it is obvious that my taste objections were no doubt due to the high sodium content of the products I selected. Now, I haven’t examined the differences in fat content in these products; reducing the fat could also affect the taste, but negatively. I will try this dish again (maybe I can return the products I have for the low-salt versions) and report back here with the results.

I hope you will try the improved version of this recipe. It really is a tasty dish, and easy to make. Preparing it the new way takes no more effort; you just have to pick the right products in the store.

I’d love to hear your comments and your versions of this recipe. You can leave them below.

counter for iweb