Crispy Leftover Chicken and Shells

4.81 from 89 votes

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Leftover chicken recipes are pretty popular in our home because we eat a lot of chicken recipes. This is the number one favorite of our boys. 

You can make this delicious casserole for about $1 per serving, and it will taste great the next day, too!

Bowl of baked pasta shells with chicken casserole in the background.

🍲 What is this?

We make a lot of leftovers recipes and this one shows you how to use leftover chicken for another meal. It’s not only good tasting and fast, but it’s also darn affordable.

You can make this easy casserole for about $5.00 and well under $1.00 per serving. As my dad used to ask, “How do you like those apples?!”

It doesn’t matter if the original poultry was fried, roasted, barbecued, or even from the rotisserie.

This is the best way to use leftover chicken! Any kind – even our smoked whole chicken! It’s also a good way to use cooked diced chicken.

A bowl of pasta garnished with parsley.
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You probably won’t find this leftover chicken recipe at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Lucky for us, our boys are O.K. with that.

🥘 Ingredients and Notes

Other than the meat, this easy family meal has just a few ingredients. Because it is a casserole, you can use your imagination pretty freely. If you want to add a bag of mixed vegetables to this, your kids won’t even know the difference!

For the Pasta – Shells work great for this leftover chicken recipe, but you can also use the tubular rigatoni like what we use in our best mac and cheese.

Cream Soup – You can also use cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup in this recipe.

For the Cheese – Use whatever you have on hand. Parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella all work for this casserole.

For the Milk – 2% or whole milk works best for this casserole. Anything less takes away from the creaminess of it.

A pan of baked pasta.

🔪 How to make it

The steps to making this leftover chicken recipe are short and sweet. Another bonus to using good leftovers.

Other than the ingredients, all you need is a 9 x 13-inch casserole pan, a mixing bowl, wooden spoon, and some measuring cups.

Stirring leftover chicken and other ingredients in a mixing bowl.

1. Cook and drain the pasta shells as directed. Then combine all the ingredients with the meat in a large mixing bowl.

2. Stir it all together.

Side by sider comparision of an unbaked leftover chicken casserole and one that is baked.

3. Transfer the ingredients to a greased 9 x 13 casserole pan.

4. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes.

For a saucier and creamier dish, add an extra 1/2 to 1 cup of milk to the pan before it goes into the oven.

A fork full of pasta and chicken casserole.

Our whole family loves this leftover chicken recipe. Because it is a recycled meal, we are getting a twofer. Of course, this makes it even better!


Variations and substitutions

Bowl of ftover chicken casserole.
  • Use whatever kind of leftover poultry that you have on hand.
  • Use your favorite cheese in this leftover chicken recipe, or whatever you have on hand.
    • Mozzarella cheese works great for a mild and light flavor.
    • Cheddar cheese will add a little more savory flavor to this leftover casserole.
    • Parmesan cheese will give it a bit of an Italian flare.
  • To make it extra creamy, substitute the milk for heavy cream or half and half.

Common questions

How do you store leftover chicken?

Make sure it is cooled and then sealed and wrapped in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Never allow poultry to sit at room temperature for over 2 hours.

How long is leftover chicken good for?

It should be tossed out after 3 or 4 days in the fridge. If it starts to smell or look funky, throw it out. To reheat this, follow the same directions for when reheating alfredo sauce.

Can I freeze this casserole?

You can freeze this leftover chicken recipe for up to 6 months. Use plastic wrap to seal it before placing it in the freezer Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight, the day before you bake it.

What to serve with it

This is a meal all by itself, but if you want to add a side dish or two, consider some of the following easy side dishes:

More leftover chicken recipes

Be sure and see our entire collection of easy dinner recipes.

If you’re a fan of leftovers, be sure and read how to reheat enchiladas; they can taste even better the next day! Speaking of leftover and enchiladas, you’ll want to check out our leftover steak recipe for enchiladas!

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Crispy Leftover Chicken and Shells Casserole

4.81 from 89 votes
If you have ever wondered what to do with leftover chicken, this easy and fast kid-friendly recipe is a Godsend!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Yield: 8 servings


  • 16 oz. chicken, coarsely cubed
  • 16 oz. pasta shells
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese
  • 1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F°
  • Grease a 9 x 13 casserole pan.
  • Prepare pasta as directed, drain.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cube leftover poultry. Add grated cheese, soup, milk, breadcrumbs and pasta.
  • Stir mixture thoroughly then evenly distribute in prepared casserole dish.
  • Bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown on top.



You can add fresh or dry herbs to this leftover chicken recipe, depending on your preferences.
  • Basil
  • Oregano/Italian seasoning
  • Thyme
Remember, oven temperatures may vary. The casserole is done when it is brown and bubbly.
Use cream or half and half instead of milk, for a creamier casserole.


Calories: 449kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 68mg, Sodium: 260mg, Potassium: 302mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 320IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 202mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Entree
Cuisine: Comfort food
Tried this recipe?Mention @plattertalk or tag #plattertalk!
This recipe has been updated from the original post of March 3, 2016.

Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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  1. 5 stars
    We really enjoyed this. I added 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and green peas. I also topped it with bread crumbs.
    Will definitely make again.

    1. Hi Paula. You can freeze this for up to 3 months. To reheat, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake as directed.

  2. How many ounces is the can of condensed cream of chicken/mushroom soup? Mine comes in a 12 oz carton…is this the equivalent of the can in this recipe?

  3. Wow, this is extremely yummy. Hubby’s not much into casseroles but loved this as well. Thanks for sharing.

  4. you have an metric conversion chart that who disappears only if i join whit my e mail , i joined once , twice
    i dindn’t the close button … it is annoying…

  5. I am making this right now…with my leftover rotissire chicken I used cheddar cheese because I love cheddar..30 minutes away from something really good. Thanks for this recipe

    1. Leigh, I think you will agree, this is the perfect use for leftover rotisserie chicken; hope you enjoyed!