I’ve been making this Cheesy Chicken Zucchini Bake a lot lately. Doesn’t it look delicious? It’s my main dish version of the side/vegetarian dish that Ali of Nourishing Meals made a while back.
When I saw her recipe for Zucchini Bake, with almond flour and olive oil combined for a ricotta-type taste, I decided to make it for our subsequent support group meeting. Everyone loved it—whether dairy free or not.
A few nights later, dinnertime was approaching and I had no idea what I was going to cook. Yep, that’s right … I don’t always plan my dinners.
I’m not the type who runs out to the grocery store though, because as much as I love food, I hate going to the grocery store. So I shopped in my freezer and refrigerator.
I looked in the freezer for any meat or fish item that I could cook quickly. I pulled out some chicken tenderloins—basically boneless chicken breasts cut into smaller slivers for quicker cooking. I really had no idea how I’d prepare them at the time.
Then the refrigerator yielded the following items that seemed like the makings of a dinner: a few zucchini left from my purchase to make Ali’s recipe, a little pizza sauce left in a jar from making Flourless Pizza, and some grated cheese that remained from making tacos. There were more onions in the pantry as well, of course.
Suddenly, the idea for this casserole dish was born. Mr. GFE was only slightly surprised that I’d pulled a rabbit out of the hat, so to speak.
The man is spoiled. He’s come to expect great things from me when I just throw some things together. (Most of the time that works out …)
When Son came home from college recently to pick up some items, we were both at work. He found the last of the Cheesy Chicken Zucchini Bake leftovers. He called me at work and started talking animatedly about the dish.
I wasn’t sure at first if he liked it or hated it. He was using some of his generation’s lingo, which made no sense to me. Oh, no, I thought. There were onions in the dish and he doesn’t really like onions.
I hesitantly asked for a translation on his terms, i.e., if he liked it, and he replied, “It’s awesome, Mom.” He added, “You know how much I love zucchini.”
He added that he didn’t mind the onions, because the combination of flavors tasted so good and the onion flavor was “not too strong.” Success!
By the way, you can replace the almond flour with some bread crumbs if you’d prefer. If you eat dairy, you can also replace the almond flour with some Parmesan cheese or even skip the almond flour AND olive oil and use some actual ricotta cheese. Some tomato slices in the mix would be very tasty, too.
Be creative and use what you have on hand. Note that while it looks like I used a whole lot of cheese as topping, I actually used very little.
If you add the cheese to any dish towards the end of the cooking time, you can use a lot less and it will still be soft and delicate, so to speak.
If you decide to top the chicken with a little more almond flour versus cheese for a dairy-free version, you may want to place the dish under the broiler a minute or two to ensure adequate browning.
Now your dinner is complete … all in one dish. Savor!
Cheesy Chicken Zucchini Bake Recipe
Cheesy Chicken Zucchini Bake
This Cheesy Chicken Zucchini Bake is one of our favorite meals. It's naturally gluten free and has an easy and equally delicious dairy-free option.
- extra virgin olive oil, about ¼ cup in total
- 2 – 3 zucchinis, sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced and cut into crescent pieces (either sweet or yellow will work)
- blanched almond flour, about ½ cup in total
- seasoning of your choice (I used pizza seasoning, which is similar to Italian seasoning, but a little zestier), about one tablespoon
- chicken tenderloins (or boneless chicken breasts cut in half; as many as you like)
- sauce of your choice (e.g., pizza, marinara), about 1/3 cup
- grated cheese of your choice, if desired, about 1/3 cup (or more if you like) OR a little more almond flour for dairy-free version
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
- Drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish (or similar).
- Add layer of zucchini (half of what you have sliced).
- Add layer of onions and sprinkle with seasoning.
- Sprinkle almond flour over the onions. (A couple of tablespoons will work.)
- Repeat layering once (or until your ingredients are used up).
- Top with chicken tenderloins.
- Spoon sauce over tenderloins evenly. Drizzle a little more olive oil over sauce-covered chicken.
- After 30 minutes of baking, sprinkle cheese (or a little more almond flour) over sauce-covered chicken. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until done. Note: If you use almond flour as topping on the sauce-covered chicken, you may want to put dish under broiler for a minute or two to ensure browning.
Inspired by Nourishing Meals.
See additional substitution notes in my post.
Originally published October 20, 2009; updated August 10, 2019.
That looks really tasty! I’d have to use another flour in place of the almond (since I’m allergic to nuts), but i think that should be an easy change. Yummy!
Raye Ann says
I am allergic to dairy and my nephew is allergic to nuts. A lot of the time I use ground sesame seed or sesame mill with a pinch of salt for my cheese sub. Since I have never really been able to find sesame mill I make it myself using a coffee grinder.
Hey, Raye Ann–Welcome to gfe! Thanks so much for sharing that tip on using sesame seed or mill and using a coffee grinder! That’s two tips in one—very helpful for all who need dairy-free and nut-free alternatives. If you try your substitution in this recipe, please let us know how it turns out. 🙂
Hope to see you here at gfe again—thanks so much for taking the time to comment!
SnoWhite–Hi there! If you do dairy, you could use some dairy. Otherwise, I think you might be able to make a white sauce using non-dairy milk. I’m sure google would turn up some options. Also, Kelly at The Spunky Coconut makes a lot of non-dairy sauces that are super creamy using cashews.
Hope that helps!
You can definitely make alfredo sauce,or bechemel using almond or coconut milk,I do it all the time. Start with butter or olive oil,add flour, then add the almond or coconut milk and simmer until it’s as thick as u’d like.
Hi Maria–Welcome to gfe! Yes, I’ve done that in other recipes here (like Pot Pie, for example) and just “on the fly” to create a random dish here and there. You’re right; it’s very easy to do with either almond milk or coconut milk. I like this dish because the sauce is created on its own while baking. 😉
An excellent combination. And it does look delicious. Parmesan for me.
Chicken Tenderloin. I gotta remember that one.
H.Peter–Glad you like the looks of this one! Parmesan is a really good choice to use when layering the zucchini and onions. 🙂 I think they came up wiht the name chicken tenderloin because it just sounds so much more appealing than say something like skinny pieces of chicken breasts. 😉 The smaller pieces are really great in this recipe. Just make some chicken tenderloins of your own using kitchen shears and boneless chicken breasts. 😉
Jennifer R. says
Shirley, that does look yummy!! I bet if you lived closer to Wegman’s, you would enjoy going to the grocery store (I sure do!!). Yesterday, they were out of organic kale, and I talked to someone in the produce department and he would put in a special order for me. I will pick up tonight (while Kyle is at soccer practice). Love that service! (Guess I should wait to see if it’s actually in before I rave too much about Wegman’s).
Hope you are having fun at the POM tour! I’ve seen your picture on another blog — LOL!!
Hey, Jennifer–I don’t know … I have a hard time parting with large sums of money and negotiating tons of people and parking shortages, too. LOL I’m so glad they put in a special order for you … I like that kind of customer service!! Instead of our produce assistants who don’t even know what figs are. 😉
LOL on seeing me elsewhere … I’ll upload some pics to Facebook later perhaps. 🙂 This has been an incredible experience! Today we flew over the orchards, toured the orchards and picked pomegranates, etc. Just very cool. Great folks!
Diane-The WHOLE Gang says
YUM!!! This looks so good. I wonder how different it would taste without the cheese. That cheese looks so amazing. It makes me want to eat cheese. Now I have to go find chicken in my freezer too. I might have to make this for lunch. Thank you for sharing it on Friday Foodie Fix!
Diane–No, no cheese for you … remember how it makes you feel (and know I can identify with that … hence less cheese here). Try one of the substitutions offered in these comments … Raye Ann’s sesame see or mill cheese sub or a non-dairy Alfredo sauce as topping in place of the cheese. And, please let us know if it works out for you. Oh, now that I’m re-reading your comment, maybe you already tried it … hmmm, let us know.
This sounds really yummy! I’m sure it is something my family will like. Thanks for the recipe.
Hey Linda–Thanks so much. 🙂 I hope your family will like it. Not too many ingredients, but a great combo and very easy!
Looks positively terrific. I’ll sub in AP flour–I’m sure it will be the same, right?
Hey Nance–Subbing AP flour works great for baking recipes (like treats), but in this recipe, I’d just substitute some Parmesan or Romano cheese since you eat dairy. I bet that would be really tasty! The topping cheese can be any kind … cheddar, a Jack combo, etc.
Okay – Yum. I need some zucchini now, please =D.
Hi Lauren!–Go get some zucchini from a friend’s garden or in your closest produce section. 😉 Enjoy!
Alisa - Frugal Foodie says
Oh yum! I am all about almond flour and nuts in general lately 🙂
Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free says
This looks so yummy – it’s chilly and raining in Dallas today and this looks like great comfort food – even though it’s so darn good for you.
I love your creative GFE recipes – always winners. Thanks so much for linking to Slightly Indulgent Mondays!
Amy–I was glad I flew out a day later from CA, so I didn’t have to fly through DFW in the rain. I don’t much like flying in anything other than clear skies. Rain is great for comfort food like you said though.
Thanks for the gfe love! 😉 I’ve been loving Slightly Indulgent Mondays and I’m really looking forward to the Holiday Food Fest in November and December. 🙂
This looks really great! I don’t like going to the grocery store either. But I’ve joined a co-op, Azure Standard, that delivers my groceries and health food items once a month. I’m loving that!
Christina–Hey there! Oh my goodness, I am so soooo jealous regarding your grocery and health food delivery! Of course, you love it, lucky girl. 🙂 But, I want that, too … wanngggggg ….
I’ve got to try baking zucchini like this!
Hey Jenn–Yes, you should … I think you’d really love it! 🙂
This looks great! I’m always in search of a new way to make chicken interesting. I’ll have to try this. Thanks Shirley.
Hey Brian!–Thanks so much. I agree … I’m always on the lookout for new chicken recipes. I’m glad I was “in a bind” and both necessity and remembering Ali’s recipe allowed me to come up with this dish. It has so many variations, too. 😉
Thank God for blogs. I was going to make zuchini bread but saw this dish. It’s cooking now, but I’ll have to add some Parmesan to the cheese on top. I forgot it on the veggies… Dairy is one of the few things I can still eat. (I’m still prone to drama over the no grains except rice or ginger. Had a baby and my system has gone out of whack.)
Thanks so much for the recipe. It smells delicious.
would almond meal work instead of almond flour?
Hi Holly–Welcome to gfe! 🙂 In this recipe, almond meal should work just fine. Usually almond flour is required over almond meal when a really fine consistency is needed. That’s not critical in this recipe. Hope you enjoy the dish! Please report back if you get a chance. 😉
Thanks for another winner! The pan is nearly empty already. We used salsa as our sauce (cheddar for the boys, I stuck with the almond flour topping for my portion), and it was tasty. Next time I’m going to try the marinara with mozzarella daiya. It’s a great way to use zucchini!
Yippee, Brandae! I love your current version and the sounds of your planned version. 🙂 Son and I really enjoyed this dish earlier this week. I put a lot more zucchini in than the original recipe called for, but it worked out just fine. I also added a little of that Majestic Garlic Spread that I’m so addicted to for the cheesy look and flavor. 😉 I added cheese to hubby’s portion right before I served it. That approach worked well for us.
Thanks for letting us all know about your success and tweaks, dear!
THIS LOOKS AND SOUNDS VERY YUMMY!! THERE’S A PRIVATE PRODUCE STAND JUST UP THE ROAD FROM ME AND HE IS SELLING ZUCCHINI RIGHT NOW! LOOKS LIKE I WILL HAVE TO GIVE HIM A VISIT TODAY AND MAKE THIS FOR DINNER TONIGHT! THANKS AND HAVE A GREAT DAY!! 🙂
Hi Gail–Welcome to gfe! 🙂 I do believe (*hope*) you will love this recipe! 😉
Oh my! Thank you for this recipe. I’m still getting used to the dairy free thing. I find it harder than getting rid of gluten. I do miss my cheese! Ah well.. Giving up gluten and dairy has helped me gain more appreciation for the vegetables I always had problems with.. so I know I am healthier as a result. Just trying to find lots of yummy alternatives.
Hi Marianne–So good to see you again! The dairy-free thing is far more challenging to me as well. This recipe is great without the cheese though. And like you said it is wonderful to really enjoy those unadorned foods. I’ve made a good number of recipes with natural dairy-free alternatives, like coconut milk, almond milk, nutritional yeast, etc. 😉
Best of luck on kicking dairy to the curb for good…to both of us! 🙂
Thank you 😀 I’ll be looking through your recipes!