Dairy-Free Chicken Spaghetti (veggie-loaded, too!)
This creamy gluten-free and dairy-free chicken spaghetti recipe is veggie-loaded and great for meal prep and leftovers. It’s the chicken spaghetti you remember from childhood but healthy-fied and made allergy-friendly!
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The Pioneer Woman, y’all… I have big, googly heart eyes for her.
Ree was the first food blogger I ever followed. Like, religiously, followed.
I subscribed to her newsletter, bought her cookbooks, read her hilarious novella Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, and made her recipes regularly. Truthfully, I credit my beginnings as a food blogger to P-Dub.
She showed me that it’s possible to make a living off of a love of family and good food. Thanks, PW!
Her first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, remains one of my favorite cookbooks (and I have MANY on my shelf).
My family fell in love with PW’s chicken spaghetti recipe circa 2009. Even after we’d mostly healthy-fied our diet and lifestyle, I found myself splurging on cream of chicken soup so I could occasionally make that chicken spaghetti.
Yet, as the years have passed, splurges like that just haven’t felt good. I don’t mean they’re “bad” or “wrong” — I don’t believe in using words like that when it comes to food.
It’s just… the more you clean up your diet, the less you want the crap that dirtied it up to begin with. Like cream of chicken soup. Hence, I haven’t had creamy, comfort food chicken spaghetti in nearly 10 years. 🙁
And then, I eliminated dairy from my diet.
When I Cut Dairy, I Really Cut Dairy
In November 2018, I discovered that dairy was my primary food intolerance.
An intolerance isn’t like a sensitivity (that can be healed) or a food allergy. Read more about sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances here.
It’s a forever thing. If you’re intolerant to dairy, then you’ve always been intolerant and you always will be intolerant. Now, whether you have symptoms or not is another story.
To be fair, I had no symptoms while eating dairy that went away after eliminating it.
Mainly, I believe that I was fortunate enough to discover my dairy intolerance BEFORE any real damage was done. Despite not having symptoms, I chose to listen to science and eliminate it anyway — as a preventative measure. And, I do believe I am better off for it!
I took a simple, at-home blood test, called the Carroll Evaluation, to determine my primary and secondary intolerances. The most common intolerances are dairy, meat, potatoes, sugar, egg, and fruit.
When I eliminated dairy, I truly eliminated dairy. No more raw milk, raw cheese, ferments made with whey, whey protein powder, fermented dairy such as kefir and cream cheese, butter, or ghee.
Yes, at first, it was quite difficult. However, I chose to see it as a fun challenge — to copycat my favorite dairy-containing recipes to be dairy-free without sacrificing flavor or that fatty, creamy element dairy adds.
My elimination of dairy foods sparked the creativity for me to create cauliflower cream — my best kitchen discovery EVER — and dairy-free versions of chowders and soups, queso dip, ice cream, enchiladas, buttercream frosting, hot chocolate, pudding, and more!
And now? I’ve created a dairy-free chicken spaghetti that is just as creamy and “cheesy” as PW’s original recipe!
Dairy-Free Chicken Spaghetti… REALLY?!
Yes, really! I pinky promise you’re gonna love this dairy-free chicken spaghetti recipe!
I hope to post more comfort food casseroles like this because they are perfect for meal prep and leftovers — ie. uncomplicated Real Food.
This Dairy-Free Chicken Spaghetti doesn’t involve making dairy-free cream of chicken soup or using store-bought dairy-free “cheese” (which is FULL of crappy ingredients anyway). Instead, it has a “cheesy” sauce made entirely of veggies!
To add a slightly acidic, cheese-like flavor, I used non-fortified nutritional yeast and apple cider vinegar. The yellow-orange color comes from cooked carrots blended into the sauce.
This recipe has some added cruciferous veggies — broccoli and kale — that PW’s original didn’t have. But, adding veggies is a very “Lindsey thing”. I’m always looking for ways to veggie-load our meals!
This Dairy-Free Chicken Spaghetti is meat + veggies + pasta in one dish. I don’t even make side dishes when I serve this for my family. If you like, add a salad or side of steamed or roasted veggies.
Dairy-Free Chicken Spaghetti in 4 Steps
Ok, full disclosure: this dairy-free chicken spaghetti recipe is a tiny bit more complicated than my usual recipes. Yes, it cooks in one pan, but the different components — chicken, sauteed veggies, spaghetti, and cheese sauce — are made separately and then combined.
First, you’ll need a cooked whole chicken with the meat taken off the bones. I always meal prep a whole chicken in my Instant Pot on Sundays so I have meat to use in things like casseroles or soups.
Second, you cook spaghetti. Easy, right? (I use gluten-free brown rice spaghetti from Thrive Market.)
Third, while the gluten-free spaghetti cooks, saute some onions and broccoli, adding kale at the end to wilt it.
The cooked spaghetti, chicken, and veggies get combined and wait to be smothered in the “cheese” sauce… which I think is easiest to make in the Instant Pot.
So, fourth, make the Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce in the Instant Pot and blend it together in your blender.
Then, pour 2/3 of the cheese sauce with some bone broth into the pot with the spaghetti, chicken, and veggies. Toss to coat.
Pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan, cover with the remaining cheese sauce, and then add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast on top. Bake 30 minutes and serve!
Yes, a few more steps and dirtying up a few more pots than usual.
But, to have chicken spaghetti after almost a decade without it?? PRICELESS.
FAQs & Substitutions
Can I use wheat-based or bean-based pasta?
Yes, any pasta will work in this recipe. We eat gluten-free, so that’s what we use. I love the price and texture of Thrive Market’s GF pastas. Although bean pasta will work, I don’t recommend using them; here’s why.
Can I use chicken breast or other chicken?
If you don’t have time to meal prep a whole chicken, you can use cooked chicken breast or thighs. Simply chop it up into bite-sized chunks. A real shortcut is to grab a rotisserie chicken at the store and use that meat!
My family doesn’t like cauliflower. Does the cheese sauce taste like cauliflower?
Well, you’re in good company because my family doesn’t love cauliflower either… yet, we eat a crap ton of it! Use very fresh or frozen cauliflower for the least “funk” in the taste. Older cauliflower will have more of a funk than fresh or frozen. Also, make sure to use PLENTY of salt. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon, but I actually used more than that AND we sprinkled it on at the table.
Why non-fortified nutritional yeast?
Fortified nutritional yeast contains synthetic B vitamins (such as folic acid). It’s best to avoid synthetic vitamins, especially B vitamins. With an estimated 50% or more of our population having some variant of the MTHFR mutation — which makes it difficult to metabolize synthetic B vitamins into a bioavailable form — steer clear of synthetic B vitamins unless you are positive no one in your family has MTHFR. Here is the brand of nutritional yeast I love.
Can I freeze this dairy-free chicken spaghetti?
Yep, it should freeze just fine in a glass container or zip-top bag with all the air squeezed out. Use frozen leftovers within a month.
Dairy-Free Chicken Spaghetti
This creamy gluten-free and dairy-free chicken spaghetti recipe is veggie-loaded and great for meal prep and leftovers. It's the chicken spaghetti you remember from childhood but healthy-fied and made allergy-friendly!
Cook the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions, but make sure they are al dente. Drain, rinse, and put back into the cooking pot.
Heat 1 tablespoon avocado oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and saute the chopped onion and broccoli. When the onion is translucent, stir in the chopped kale and cook down until wilted. Remove from heat and scrape into the cooking pot with the spaghetti.
Add the diced or shredded chicken and 1 cup bone broth to the spaghetti pot, too. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce
Add the cauliflower, carrot, and 3/4 cup bone broth to the stainless steel insert of an Instant Pot. Press the Manual or Pressure Cook button, adjust the time to 3 minutes on high pressure, and close the vent.
When it beeps, immediately release pressure.
Transfer the contents of the Instant Pot to a blender and add the remaining cheese sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth.
Pour 2/3 of the cheese sauce into the pot with the spaghetti, vegetables, chicken, and broth. Stir until combined.
Grease a 9" x 13" casserole dish.
Pour the chicken spaghetti into the greased casserole dish and flatten out with a spatula.
Pour the remaining 1/3 cheese sauce over the top and spread out with a spatula.
Sprinkle the top with the additional 2 tablespoons of non-fortified nutritional yeast.
Bake for 30 minutes and serve.
More Nourishing Gluten- and Dairy-Free Comfort Food Recipes…
- Whole30 Instant Pot Fish Chowder
- Paleo & Keto Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Instant Pot Keto Zuppa Toscana
- Keto Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
- Keto Lemon Blueberry Bread
- Instant Pot Cauli-tatoes
- Easy & Spicy Instant Pot Jambalaya
- Dairy-Free Bacon & Green Chile Mac ‘n Cheeze