Recipe: BBQ Chicken Casserole

Recipe: BBQ Chicken Casserole

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Kelli Foster
Oct 10, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When tangy BBQ chicken shows up in our weekly meal plan, my husband's eyes always light up with excitement. But this time — when I told him it was coming in casserole form, that it involved tender riced cauliflower, and was Paleo — his eyes got squinty in the way that only happens when he's skeptical. I, however, knew it would be a hit with him. So when he asked if there was enough for seconds after taking his first bite, I wasn't surprised.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

What This Tastes Like

If you like chicken, BBQ sauce, and cauliflower, this casserole will be right up your alley. Because we're keeping this version Paleo-friendly, it lacks the usual suspects typically mixed into casseroles, like cheese, bread, pasta, and grains. Instead, a few beaten eggs work as the glue that hold this mixture of juicy shredded chicken, tender cauliflower rice, and sauce together, and prevent it from drying out.

Make Your Own BBQ Sauce or Start with Store-Bought

The chicken breast and riced cauliflower may be the main ingredients of this weeknight casserole, but I think we can all agree that it's the BBQ sauce that really makes it sing. This recipe starts off with instructions for a quick homemade Paleo-friendly sauce. Don't be put off by the ingredient list — it appears a little lengthy, but is really quite easy to pull together with pantry basics. But don't fret if making your own sauce doesn't fit with your schedule! A store-bought sauce will work just fine, whether you choose a version that's Paleo-friendly or not.

BBQ Chicken Casserole

Serves 6 to 8

For the sauce:
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the casserole:
Olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
16 ounces riced cauliflower, thawed if frozen
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 medium scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Coat a 9x13-inch or 2-quart baking dish with oil; set aside.

Make the sauce: Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until well-combined; set aside.

Make the casserole: Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken breasts by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part registers 165°F, 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or large plate and use 2 forks to shred the meat while still warm.

Place the cauliflower and eggs in a large bowl and stir until well-combined. Stir in the shredded chicken, onion, 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer. Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce over in an even layer.

Bake until the casserole is set and lightly browned around the edges, 40 to 45 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serve. Drizzle with the remaining BBQ sauce, top with scallions, and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The chicken can be poached and shredded up to 1 day in advance and stored in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Precooked chicken: To skip cooking the chicken, use 2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken instead.
  • Store-bought sauce: Instead of making your own sauce, use 2 1/2 cups of store-bought sauce.
  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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