“Cheesy” Chicken Casserole

Main Dishes

paleo chicken casserole

Chicken casserole – Paleo style!

Cheese doesn’t agree with me, and I think that is a tragedy indeed. Because I LOVE cheese, especially melted cheesy dishes. My mom makes this baked chicken dish with a mayonnaise and sour cream sauce and the whole thing is covered in melted cheese. It is divine but unfortunately my digestive tract cannot handle all of that cheesy glory. I created this dish to fill the void when I crave Mom’s cheesy chicken casserole.

Paleo chicken casserole, one-pot meal and only 5 minute prep time!Since I haven’t had cheese in ages, I my taste buds may be a bit skewed… I think this tastes cheesy, but it is not intended to replicate the exact flavor and texture of a real cheese casserole. Because that would be impossible. The main idea here is that it’s a creamy paleo chicken casserole. And it’s delicious.

There are a few special ingredients here that create this Creamy Paleo Chicken Casserole. First is butternut squash. It lends a creamy texture and a golden color reminiscent of cheddar. An easy way to prepare butternut squash puree is by throwing your squash in the crockpot – here’s how! Second is coconut cream, which makes this dish silky with just a touch of sweetness. You can use the substitutes I list for the coconut cream, if you want. Finally, Herbamare seasoning, which you can find here or at most health food stores, packs a punch of flavor without the work of chopping fresh herbs. It is an organic  seasoning salt that contains sea salt and gently dehydrated herbs. You can substitute your favorite seasoning salt. I also love Real Salt’s All-Purpose Seasoning Salt, which you can find here. I get mine from that Amazon link because I haven’t been able to find in my health food store.

If you want just a few extra minutes of prep, top the casserole with toasted coconut. Yum.


Look at that bite, in all of its cheeseless glory!

paleo chicken casserole

“Cheesy” Chicken Casserole

Yield: Makes about 3-4 big servings (I like to double the recipe for leftovers!)

“Cheesy” Chicken Casserole

Feel free to use your choice of vegetables, such as steamed carrots, in place of the peas. I love the peas in this recipe, but they are not technically paleo. This recipe is Autoimmune Paleo Friendly if you use coconut oil in place of ghee and omit the peas.


  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (approximately, you can use more)
  • 1 1/3 cups cooked and mashed butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (the thick stuff from the top of a can of coconut milk. Don't shake the can) OR substitute yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup ghee or butter or coconut oil (coconut oil will impart a stronger coconut taste)
  • 1 cup thawed green peas
  • 1 tsp. Herbamare seasoning salt (find here) or Real Salt Seasoning Salt (find here) or your favorite seasoning salt
  • 1 - 2 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg's)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut for the topping


  1. Put everything in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the peas are warmed through and everything is melty and creamy. Top with toasted coconut, if desired.
  2. If you want, toast the coconut in a skillet over medium heat. Stir until golden and toasty which will take just a few minutes.
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  1. Michaela says

    It’s funny that you use butternut squash. The first time I had your butternut squash flat breads (which I LOVE! Thank you!), I thought, “These taste cheesy.”

    With dairy no longer my friend, I’m very excited to try this!

  2. Emily says

    This looks delicious! I miss cheese so much (I’m on the GAPS Diet and can’t tolerate it either). Definitely making this soon. What about using nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt instead of Herbamare?

  3. Chris says

    Hello Lauren. By butternut squash do you mean butternut pumpkin? In Australia some foods have different names. BTW Love your recipes and health tips. I have been passing them on to as many people as will listen. The black pepper ,fennel and ginger cookies make great ‘dunkers’ with a cup of tea!

  4. says

    How interesting! This sounds delicious. I would probably add in some nutritional yeast like someone suggested above, but I’ve made a dairy-free, butternut squash-based cheese recipe before too and it turned out surprisingly spot on taste wise :)

  5. Jean Ghantous says

    Yay, a non-dairy recipe for a creamy entree that does NOT contain cashews or nuts! Which makes it perfectly low oxalate for families like mine:). Thank you!

  6. Jennifer L. says


    I’ve been trying to sign up for your newsletter to get a free a copy of your cookbook, but I never receive the email to confirm my subscription. Also tried signing up via your FB page, but that doesn’t go through either. Can you please help? Would like to try out that recipe book and get your updates. Thank you!

  7. Melissa says

    I’m allergic to poultry, wheat, and eggs, so I love this and think I’ll substitute the chicken with pulled pork or brisket. I’ve been craving Mac & cheese with BBQ pulled pork ever since my “farewell to food” fest pre-elimination.

  8. says

    Wow, this looks amazing!
    And believe it or not I have everything at home to make it, even the cooked chicken. This will be either lunch or dinner tomorrow, can’t wait to try!

  9. Mrs G says

    I made this today and it was really delicious!
    I used some old chicken from a soup and I bought a butternut squash just for this. It was really a good lunch. Usually I do not like pumpkin or squash in such a large amount, but I loved this dish.

  10. Irene says

    Made this tonight with the nutritional yeast but had no idea how much to use. Obviously didn’t use enough as it didn’t taste ” cheesy” at all. It was still good, will try again. Any suggestions on how much?

  11. Victoria says

    I watched a video where the gal opened the bottom of a coconut milk can and poured out the liquid. What was left in the can was all the cream! Just thought I’d share that!

  12. ksymena says

    I tried making this however, by accident I ordered the creamed coconut that you recommend and do not have coconut cream. Can I substitute the creamed coconut for the coconut cream? This is all new to me, I have never cooked with anything coconut but would like to expand my culinary skills and heal at the same time. Thank you so much for all the wonderful resources.

  13. GMWill says

    I just purchased four of those coveted cans of Trader Joe’s legal pumpkin. I’m pretty sure one could use that instead of the butternut squash. Save some time, and lower carbon footprint as well. What say you? Thanks!

  14. Talmage says

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!
    I used broccoli instead of chicken for a delicious plant-based meal. Added a smidge of almond milk to increase wetness.
    If I had a hand mixer, I think the texture would’ve been perfect to mimic cheese. It’s really tough to get that smoothness by hand.
    Fantastic recipe!

  15. Jean says

    This is a bowl of decadent deliciousness! When I want it extra cheesy and comforting I throw in 2-3TB of Nutritional Yeast in addition to the Herbamare and then crumble a toasted lard or onion herb biscuit on top. It’s super satisfying and filling. Thanks for another winning dish :)

  16. Krista says

    Sadly, this was way too coconuty for my family. I’m going to use butter instead of coconut oil next time to see if that helps cut back on the coconut flavor, and I’m going to put in a lot more chicken.

  17. Ann says

    I loved this! I do agree with some suggestions above. I added 1T nutritional yeast. I might bump it to 2. I agree it would be great with broccoli. However, it’s a great base to start. Add mushrooms if you like? One question, yours looks MUCH creamier than mine – did you add cauliflower? Mine was very yellow & looked just like squash…it was delish & creamy tho!!

  18. Cpw says

    I agree with another poster that I have no idea how you came up with this, but I am so glad you did! I am going through yet another phase of being completely addicted to this. I often sprinkle some sunflower seeds on top for crunch. So good!

  19. Mrs H says

    This is amazing. And child approved. Toddler approved, even :) I added carmelized onion and doubled the recipe for my family of 5. Every one of your recipes i’ve tried works, is tasty and quick! Love your recipes, thanks so much! We’ve been blessed by your story and your continuing work to share better health.

      • Leah says

        This was delish! It also tasted just like cheese to me, but seems how I have been on SCD for awhile maybe my tastes are a little off too! Thank you so much for all of your recipe’s, they have really made this diet so much easier. I don’t miss processed food at all anymore!

  20. Stacy says

    OMG. This was one of the best paleo dishes I’ve made this year! Thank you for such a delicious recipe…you rock!

  21. Veronique says

    OMG! Speechless! This is absolutely amazing. Found it on Pinterest, pinned it and made it that very night! I love it. Great recipe! Can’t wait to make it and share it on the holidays! Or the potluck I have coming up at work! Thank you!

  22. Amanda says

    Love this recipe! Thank you Lauren! I made a few subs just to make up for what I didn’t have on hand and it turned out great! Sweet potato for the squash, broccoli for the peas and added caramelized onion and roasted garlic (pureed into the coconut milk), and then topped with some yellow beet kraut and avocado! It was so delicious! In laws are coming soon, so this is a great family meal recipe to rescue us!

  23. Cathy says

    Love your website and your recipes! I’m trying to sign up for your newsletter but it keeps saying “please enter a valid email address”. I’m putting in the only one I have that seems to work everywhere else in the world – why doesn’t your newsletter like me? Can you send me your newsletter?

    Thanks a bunch. Keep up the great work!

  24. trudi says

    hi, i love the sound of this recipe but looking at the herbmare ingredients …. it is basically poison to me being totallty intolerant to all allium…. is there anything you would suggest could be used instead?

  25. Lauren says

    I don’t have Herbamare on hand so used garlic salt and about 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, which made a nice substitute.

  26. Mary says

    First off, I really like your blog and your recipes!

    However, I did just make this one for the first time. My honest impression is that it isn’t “cheesy” or “creamy” at all. I followed the recipe 100%, subbing out coconut cream with full-fat yogurt (which you indicated could be done). I let it simmer for over 8 minutes. Nothing creamy at all. Instead, it was more like a bowl of chicken/squash casserole…not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you. The flavors were very good. I added cayenne on top of the seasoning to give it some kick. I plan to eat the rest tomorrow (allowing the flavors to mingle overnight).

    For those who thought it is too coconut tasting (is there such a thing?), use yogurt. It balances out the coconut oil. But you may want to add 3/4 cup yogurt to create the creaminess that the photos here show. Actually, I bet it’s really creamy with sour cream!

    Either way, thanks again for all your recipes, Lauren!

  27. Erin L says

    Thank you for this delicious recipe! I love casseroles in the winter, and I am so excited to find one that is easy to make and paleo! Wishing you great health in the new year.

  28. Donna says

    Made this tonight. My husband does not care for peas so I used missed veggies and he said it was really good. I made a double batch so we have lunch tomorrow.

  29. Jennifer says

    I wonder if you could use red palm oil instead of coconut oil. It has a buttery taste and might not impart such a “coconutty” taste. Thoughts?

  30. Mary says

    Love this. Made it last night and just told my husband it was a chicken casserole with cheesy goodness, didn’t mention one thing about the butternut squash. He’s not paleo. I only tell him what’s in something if he asks

  31. Jenn V. says

    This creamy “cheese” sauce is nothing short of amazing. I added 1.5 Tbsp nutritional yeast. So yummy, thank you!

  32. Stacey C. says

    Made this tonight and my son fell in love with it! My husband and I thought the coconut flavor was over powering though. Do you know of an alternative to the coconut oil that would still work well? We have to stay dairy free.

  33. Jodi B. says

    A friend emailed this recipe, and I made it for my husband per the recipe. He said it tasted really good, but it didn’t have the saucy, creamy texture we thought it would. We made it tonight with shrimp, and we put the cooked squash in the Vitamix with the whole can of coconut milk, and all the other ingredients (except chicken and peas).. Then we heated it in the stove, and when it got to a simmer, we put in the peas and shrimp for five minutes. It was the most amazing thing I’ve eaten in a long time, almost like a soup, and made so much “sauce” that my husband scooped some out for his leftover chicken casserole from the night before. The “sauce” would be great as a soup even with no shrimp, chicken or peas, and I think it would also be great over spaghetti squash, broccoli, zucchini noodles, etc. it is funny how it looks like a cheese sauce and the coconut cream and oil give it a similar mouth feel to cheese sauce. I put a few spoons of nutritional yeast in top. What a great recipe, thanks so much for posting it. We’ll be trying the flatbread next!

  34. Sophia says

    I tried this with Greek yoghurt and added some baby kale, it was so good! Will definitely make again, thanks Lauren :)

  35. Danielle says

    I made this twice over the weekend, it was so incredible!!!! I loved how rich the flavours were and how it felt like I was eating something with a thousand calories but I didn’t have to feel about it because it wasn’t heavily calorie laden! I added mushrooms and garlic to mine and it was delicious. I really can’t say enough about this dish :)

    • Danielle says

      Also, I didn’t use the apple cider vinegar or the shredded coconut, and I omit the peas because I’m doing whole30

  36. Jay says

    This is excellent! I used canned pumpkin puree to make it easier. I didn’t put the coconut on it. Our family loved it! I gave my husband this to take to work. Apparently he panicked after he ate a few bites because he’s lactose intolerant and it was so cheesy/creamy that he thought I put cream in it! So yeah, it tastes cheesy!

  37. Sheeva says

    I make this recipe using cultured butter and 24-hour cultured creme fraiche and it seriously tastes identical to cheese! Even my partner who is not on the GAPS diet agrees it tastes like cheese. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times since discovering it last month with different veggie combos- thank you!

  38. Mike says

    Is this freezeable? I am looking for dishes that are freezable….that won’t be too watery when you thaw them

  39. Libby Ipson says

    I just made this and it was delicious!! I only added enough coconut oil to coat the pan, and I pureed the coconut milk and squash in the blender before adding it to the pan. Turned out nice and creamy and tasted wonderful :) Thank you so much for sharing!

  40. Laura says

    Thank you so much for this! I also omitted the coconut cream and used broccoli instead. I didn’t have your seasoning, but I added some garlic and onion and I was so happy to have comfort food :)

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