Chicken Divan Recipe – Low Carb and Gluten Free

This easy recipe for a decadent “cheesy” chicken broccoli casserole has become one of my favorite classic comfort dishes to make on busy weeknights or to prep ahead for grab-and-go dinners. I usually whip up two of these cozy, crave-able low carb chicken divan bakes at once and stash one in the freezer as the ultimate backup meal for hectic days. This wholesome one-pan wonder is such an easy dinner solution that checks all the boxes. Loaded with protein-packed chicken, vibrant broccoli florets and a lusciously rich dairy-free mornay sauce, this is incredible weeknight dinner fare. I’ve served oozing spoonfuls of this clean yet indulgent casserole to skeptical friends who can’t believe it’s totally dairy-free, and they always ask for the recipe! With its shortcut ingredients like readymade cauliflower rice and rotisserie chicken, this great recipe comes together with barely any hands-on effort. Satisfying, nutritious and downright delicious, my family just devours this nourishing take on classic chicken divan. It’s the ultimate cozy, veggie-laden comfort food that never disappoints!

Healthier Ingredients

Unlike traditional chicken divan loaded with parmesan cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cream cheese or even heavy cream, this lighter version focuses on anti-inflammatory ingredients to build a lusciously clean yet creamy sauce, avoiding inflammatory canned cream of chicken soup or flour-thickened cheese sauce. Healthy fats like avocado oil plus protein-rich chicken broth lend a foundation of flavor. Thick, luxurious coconut milk stirred in provides ample body without compromising digestive ease. And for subtle richness reminiscent of cheese, nutritional yeast offers savory depth and velvety texture without any actual dairy. Finally, brightness from lemon cuts through the velvetiness. Losing dairy doesn’t mean losing certain bold flavors. These nutrient-dense paleo-approved additions let this AIP/Paleo Chicken Divan still impress with its smooth, vivid and satisfying sauce made from only healing ingredients.

Unlike a traditional mornay with its reliance on inflammatory dairy ingredients like heavy whipping cream, butter, and cheese, this recipe innovates to create the classic velvety essence using healthier paleo alternatives. Taking advantage of the richness of coconut cream and savory nuttiness of nutritional yeast instead perfectly replicates the texture and binding quality of heavy cream and cheese to produce a smooth, luscious gluten- and dairy-free “mornay sauce” you can feel good about enjoying.

Low Carb Chicken Divan Casserole

By swapping out traditional rice for tender riced cauliflower, the net carbs decrease significantly in this classic comfort dish while retaining every bit of creamy satisfaction. Cauliflower is a stellar low-carb stand-in that bulks up this luscious chicken divan bake minus the added starches. Coupled with anti-inflammatory coconut milk and bone broth instead of flour-laden sauces, this innovative version leans into nutrient-packed vegetables and dairy-free flavor. Yet thanks to velvety nutritional yeast, you would never suspect this mornay sauce was lighter! This riced cruciferous twist on traditional chicken divan really enhances nutrition without sacrificing the indulgent flavors of a cherished family favorite. It’s the best of comfort cuisine with a clever healthy makeover!

Riced Cauliflower

While I prefer to buy my riced cauliflower already prepared at the store because it is such a time saver.  You can easily make cauliflower rice in a food processor by following these steps:

  1. Break or chop the cauliflower into small florets, removing most of the thick stems.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets into a large food processor fitted with the regular blade attachment. Do this in batches if needed to prevent overcrowding.
  3. Pulse several times until the cauliflower breaks down into tiny granules with a fine, rice-like texture. Move cauliflower around with a spatula as needed.
  4. Take care not to overprocess into mush and work in small batches. Stop pulsing as soon as you have evenly small cauliflower “grains” resembling the size of rice kernels or quinoa.
  5. Transfer the finished cauliflower rice to a storage container. Repeat with remaining florets.
  6. Use for recipes in place of traditional rice. It will keep refrigerated for 5-7 days.

The food processor makes fast work of breaking the cauliflower down into rice-sized pieces by simply pulsing. It’s an easy mess-free way to prepare light, grain-free cauliflower rice at home.

Steamed Broccoli

Add 1-2 inches of water to a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Cover and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add your desired amount of broccoli florets to the steamer basket, spreading them out in an even layer.

Reduce heat to medium, cover pot, and steam the broccoli for just 2-3 minutes until slightly softened but still crisp and vibrant green. You don’t want to overcook the broccoli at this point since it will bake further in the casserole. Light steaming is just to soften it a bit and warm through.

Once the broccoli is barely tender, carefully remove the steamer basket and set aside to drain off excess moisture. Add the par-cooked bright green broccoli florets to the other casserole ingredients, ready to be baked into the finished creamy pasta bake.

Simple Ingredients

Frozen cauliflower rice – Thawed tender, low-carb “rice” alternative with cauliflower nutrients to pair with the chicken.  While I prefer the texture of cauliflower rice in this recipe, you could also use brown rice or zucchini noodles.  If using rice, I would partially cook and if using zoodles, I would not cook at all as the casserole will continue to cook the rice and zoodles in the oven.

Chicken breasts – Cubed lean protein, sautéed then simmered in sauce. Adds juicy chicken essence and boosts protein value.  To save times, sometimes I even use rotisserie chicken.

Fresh Broccoli – Pre-steamed broccoli florets add vegetable balance and subtle sweeter brassica flavor. Steaming retains vitamins vs. boiling.

Bag plantain chips – The crushed plantains are used in lieu of potato chips sometimes found in a chicken divan recipe.  The crushed plantains go on top of the casserole give it a delicious crunch.


Avocado oil – High heat oil to sauté shallots/garlic and build sauce base without burning. Also aids nutrient absorption.  You can substitute olive oil if you prefer.

Shallots – Thinly sliced alliums gently cooked to mellow bitterness and draw out sweetness.

Garlic cloves – Minced raw garlic adds signature zing and garlic health benefits. Incomparable fresh flavor, but if you are out of garlic cloves or just looking to save time, you can substitute garlic powder if you would like.

Arrowroot – Thickener that avoids starchy flours/dairy and creates silky sauce texture. Clear when cooked.

Chicken broth – Provides additional chicken flavor plus anti-inflammatory amino acids like glycine. Keeps sauce moist.

Coconut cream – Adds luxurious, dairy-free creaminess and body while bringing out chicken flavor. Provides healthy fats.

Nutritional Yeast – Umami richness and subtle cheesy notes enhance chicken flavor without actual dairy.

Lemon juice – Bright acidity balances rich coconut cream and prevents monotonous flavor.

Salt – Essential for overall flavor enhancement and seasoning balance.

Black Pepper – Bit of spicy contrast adds subtle warmth.  Omit for AIP.


Although not a part of the actual recipe, you could add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes or dijon mustard for some added spice and depth of flavor.

How to make Chicken Divan


Large frying pan 

Large bowl 

Casserole dish

Prepare baking dish – grease a 9×13 baking dish and spread the cauliflower rice evenly on the bottom. Layer the chicken and broccoli. 

Make the sauce – over medium high heat, add the oil and shallots to a large frying pan or large skillet. Add salt and pepper and cook until the shallots are tender. Add the mined garlic and cook for another minute. Sprinkle in the arrowroot and stir to combine.  Add the chicken broth and whisk until fully combined. Add the coconut cream, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.

Top – pour the sauce over the chicken, rice and broccoli. Crush the bag of plantain chips and add those last. 

Bake – bake for about 20-25 minutes. The casserole should be bubbling and the plantain chips will be crispy and brown

Large pan of chicken divan casserole

Chicken Divan Recipe – Low Carb and Gluten Free

Sarah Erickson
A family favorite comfort meal that is low carb and gluten free
Prep Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1-16 ounce frozen cauliflower rice thawed
  • 3 cups cooked chicken cubed
  • 4 cups broccoli steamed
  • 1-4 ounce bag plantain chips crushed


  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 3 shallots sliced
  • 3 garlic gloves minced
  • ¼ cup arrowroot
  • cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 1 TBS ACV
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper omit for AIP


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease 9x 13 baking dish and evenly pour cauliflower rice into dish.
  • Evenly distribute chicken and then broccoli over the cauliflower rice and set aside.
  • Over medium heat, add avocado oil and shallots to a large saute pan. Add salt and pepper Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the shallots are tender.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for another 30-60 seconds.
  • Sprinkle the arrowroot on top of the garlic and shallots and stir to combine.
  • Add the chicken broth and whisk until fully combined.
  • Add the coconut cream, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.
  • Pour sauce over the cauliflower rice, chicken and rice and broccoli already in the baking dish.
  • Finally, evenly sprinkle crushed plantain chips on top.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the chicken divan in bubbling and the plantains are golden brown.


Storage – allow to cool to room temperature. Cover dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Or transfer the chicken divan to an airtight container. 
This could also make a great freezer meal. Store for 2-3 months in the freezer. Thaw completely before baking
Keyword broccoli, casserole, cauliflower rice, chicken, dinner, gluten free, low carb

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply