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This jalapeño popper chicken casserole transforms a classic appetizer into a cheesy keto casserole everyone loves! It’s not too spicy hot because jalapeños mellow as they cook. And you can make this dish ahead using leftover turkey or chicken; make a double batch (in two casserole dishes) so you have dinner set for another night too!

close up top view of cheesy chicken jalapeno casserole with bacon

I know by this point you’re probably sick of being bombarded with every manner of Thanksgiving recipe, but I come bearing a little inspiration on what to do with leftover turkey after the big day. (And this goes for leftover roast chicken too! But don’t wait for leftovers to make this delicious casserole; it’s also great with rotisserie chicken, or you can cook up any chicken you have on hand.)

I realize every family has a few staple recipes using leftover turkey that absolutely have to get made every year. Maybe it’s your grandma’s Turkey Barley Vegetable Soup, Turkey Tetrazzini, Turkey Pot Pie, or even the world’s best Turkey Sandwiches with Cranberry Sauce. But I’d wager that even after you make your family’s favorite leftover turkey recipe, you’ll still be left with turkey to spare and that’s where a few fresh ideas are always welcome.

At my house we usually like to do one meal of leftovers as another Thanksgiving dinner, so basically, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, squash or sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey, and gravy. But after the second full Thanksgiving dinner, we all tend to get a little bored with it, and so I try to reinvent our leftovers into completely new meals.

dinner spread of keto chicken casserole

This meal is just about as different from a classic Thanksgiving turkey dinner as you can get, other than the fact that there’s turkey in both. Here I pulled inspiration from a classic appetizer: jalapeño poppers!

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a fan of spicy-hot food, but I’ve always enjoyed the flavor of poppers. The addition of cream cheese here mellows the heat of the jalapeños, and their heat level chills out as they cook. Also, feel free to add more or less jalapeños to suit your own preference.

close up front view of plate of chicken jalapeno popper casserole

Chicken Jalapeño Popper Casserole Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

jalapeno popper chicken casserole ingredients
  • Unsalted butter – To sauté the vegetables and grease the casserole dish.
  • Onion, celery, and garlic – Onion and garlic add savory aroma and depth of flavor, and celery is a good low carb vegetable to make it more filling. However, if celery isn’t your thing, feel free to omit it here!
  • Cream cheese – To keep this casserole keto friendly, we don’t thicken it with flour or cornstarch. Instead, we use a cream cheese base for the sauce, which results in a rich, creamy casserole.
  • Heavy whipping cream – To thin out the sauce a little, while keeping it creamy.
  • Chicken stock – This thins out the sauce so it has the perfect “cream soup” texture. Use a good quality chicken stock or broth to bump up the flavor, but water will also work in a pinch.
  • Salt and black pepper – These pantry-staple spices add a ton of flavor.
  • Cooked chopped or shredded chicken – Leftover chicken, leftover turkey, or rotisserie chicken all work well. Or you can cook and use any chicken you have on hand!
  • Sharp cheddar – For the best flavor and texture, buy a block of cheddar and shred it yourself. In this recipe, we mix cheese into the filling, and sprinkle it on top.
  • Jalapeños – You can’t have jalapeño popper casserole without jalapeños! You can slice the jalapeños into circles, cut them into strips, or even dice them small. To reduce their heat, you can remove and discard the seeds. If you’re worried about the level of spicy heat, you can reduce the amount of jalapeños used, but know that they will mellow as they cook.
  • Scallion – This adds mild onion flavor.
  • Beef bacon – My preference is beef bacon, but you can use any type of bacon you like; cook it until crispy and then crumble it. (Or you can leave it out if you prefer.)

Instructions

Make the Cream Cheese Chicken Filling

how to make creamy filling for jalapeno popper chicken casserole
  1. Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and celery, and cook until softened but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, chicken stock, salt, and black pepper, and cook until the cream cheese is melted into the sauce, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the chicken and 1/3 of the shredded cheddar.
  4. Stir to combine.

Assemble and Bake the Casserole

how to make chicken jalapeno popper casserole
  1. Spread the chicken mixture evenly into a greased casserole dish.
  2. Spread the sliced jalapeños and half of the sliced scallion evenly across the top. 
  3. Bake (uncovered) until warm, about 15 minutes at 400F. Sprinkle the remaining 2/3 of the shredded cheddar, the remaining half of the sliced scallion, and the crumbled bacon evenly on top. 
  4. Return to the oven to bake (uncovered) until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. If you want to brown the top a bit, broil briefly (stay with it under the broiler because it can burn fast).

Storage and Reheating

You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave, or in a 350F oven (covered with foil in the oven).

low carb jalapeno popper chicken caserole on plate with dish in background

Make Ahead

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time. Before baking you can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days, or keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you want to eat it, let it come to room temperature and bake as directed in the recipe card below.

And the recipe is great for meal prep! It’s easy to double so you can whip up two casseroles just as easily as you can whip up one. That way you have dinner set for another night as well!

cheesy bacon chicken jalapeno casserole in baking dish

What to Serve with This Casserole

This dish is a full keto meal in itself.

However, if you want to stretch it or if you want a few keto side dish ideas to pair with it, you can serve this casserole along with steamed broccoli or a nice big green salad and low carb cheddar garlic biscuits.

And if keeping it keto isn’t a concern, you can serve this cheesy casserole with any of the following:

close up top view of cheesy chicken jalapeno popper casserole

Special Diet Friendly

As written, this recipe is naturally gluten free, low carb, and keto friendly.

More Chicken Casserole Recipes to Try

bowl of keto jalapeno popper chicken casserole

Let’s Connect

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Jalapeño Popper Chicken Casserole Recipe

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
This jalapeño popper chicken casserole transforms a classic appetizer into a cheesy keto casserole everyone loves! It's not too spicy hot because jalapeños mellow as they cook. And you can make this dish ahead using leftover turkey or chicken; make a double batch (in two casserole dishes) so you have dinner set for another night too!

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Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for the casserole dish
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery chopped
  • 6 large cloves garlic crushed
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked chopped chicken or shredded chicken (leftover chicken, leftover turkey, or rotisserie chicken work well)
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar shredded, divided
  • 1 cup sliced de-seeded jalapeños
  • 2 scallions green and white parts, thinly sliced, divided
  • 3 slices beef bacon cooked until crispy and then crumbled (or any kind of bacon you like)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly butter the inside of a 1.5-liter casserole dish with butter.
  • Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and celery, and cook until softened but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
  • Add the cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, chicken stock, salt, and black pepper, and cook until the cream cheese is melted into the sauce, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the chicken and 1/3 of the shredded cheddar.
  • Spread the chicken mixture evenly into the prepared casserole dish. Spread the sliced jalapeños and half of the sliced scallion evenly across the top.
  • Bake (uncovered) until warm, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2/3 of the shredded cheddar, the remaining half of the sliced scallion, and the crumbled bacon evenly on top.
  • Return to the oven to bake (uncovered) until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. If you want to brown the top a bit, broil briefly (stay with it under the broiler because it can burn fast).
  • Serve garnished with additional sliced scallion and jalapeños if desired.

Notes

  • Net Carbs: 9g per serving
  • Storage and Reheating: You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave, or in a 350F oven (covered with foil in the oven).

Nutrition

Calories: 535kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 186mg | Sodium: 924mg | Potassium: 582mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1587IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 290mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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14 Comments

  1. The Low-Carb Cheesy Leftover Turkey (or Chicken) Jalapeno Popper Casserole recipe is definitely a keeper! I don’t like turkey leftovers, but this took care of that. I made a couple small changes – added about 1/4 c cooked bacon; didn’t have Worcestershire sauce, so added about 1 T of Dijon mustard instead; didn’t have green onions so just used more diced jalapenos on top (mine were mild). Great recipe for after Thanksgiving!! Thanks!

  2. Please provide the nutritional information. I made it last night and it was great.
    TIA

    1. Vicky, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe! I don’t calculate nutritional information for my food, but there are several free online tools that will help you with this. Calorie Count for one is a pretty useful tool. Hope this helps!

  3. This was delicious!!! We used Turkey. I used a little more cheese than it called for and used Mexican mixed cheese. My family inhaled it. no leftovers…

  4. This was delicious! Definitely a make-again. Thanks!

  5. This looks delicious, but I have a question: this recipe is labeled as gluten free, but calls for 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce is not gluten free, so what did you sub for the gluten free version of the recipe? Or did you just leave it out altogether.

    1. Samantha, I use Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, which is gluten-free (here’s their website where they give more info on their product if you’re interested: http://www.leaperrins.com/products/the-original-worcestershire-sauce.aspx). I know there are other GF Worcestershire sauces on the market, but I really like this one. If you can’t find a GF product in your area, you could always make homemade GF Worcestershire (there are tons of recipes out there if you want to do a quick Google search), or just omit it from this recipe. I use it for depth of flavor, but there’s just a tiny amount in this recipe so it shouldn’t be missed too much. Hope this helps!

  6. Loving all the ingredients, especially the celery. This looks cheesy good and a great way to use up leftovers. Thanks Faith!

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