Entree/ Poultry

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini, Mema’s way.

Mema was my husband’s mother (and Mema to grandkids and great grandkids) and all of us always had our favorite things we wanted her to make for us for holidays/birthdays/special occasions.

As a kid, my husband would beg for his “own” date nut roll when his mom was making them to give to friends at Christmas. My kids always liked her chex mix and there were always cans of the mix ready when we went to visit.

I remember going to GA’s house for dinner one night when we were dating back in high school and his mother had made chicken chow mein and he kept saying you are really going to like this and I did and I still make it years later.

Other favorites were her pimento cheese, pecan rolls, white beans and cornbread. Everyone had their favorites and she would gladly make them for their special day. And, at Thanksgiving she always wanted the same thing – cranberry relish, cornbread dressing (of course cornbread), giblet gravy (who doesn’t like giblet gravy) and sweet potato casserole. My family now is divided on whether to put marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes. I’m sure Mema used the marshmallows.

So when it comes to Chicken Tetrazzini I always think of her recipe first. I know it has canned soups in it and a lot of people don’t use soups in recipes any more but if I want a creamy “Mema style” chicken tetrazzini, I’m always going to make this recipe and think of her.

Seems like a lot of healthy cooking recipes don’t include the addition of canned soups and probably for a reason – high in fat and other stuff. BUT, when you are making a family favorite that was your mother’s, grandmother’s, favorite aunt’s and you want that memory of having it with them, then make it exactly as they made the recipe. Where would green bean casserole be without canned mushroom soup? 

If you have some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving give this recipe a try. I’ll be making a “from scratch” version of chicken tetrazzini and I will be posting it also and you can compare the two recipes. Only thing is — you never had our Mema’s Chicken Tetrazzini.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Peach Tart with Raspberry Sauce is one of my favorite “pretty quick” desserts.

Not many ingredients for this dish.

After sautéing the celery and onions add in the soups and stir until they are melted.

then add in the cheese and pimento and I usually add some chicken broth to thin. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add in the chicken, either chopped or shredded.

I add in about 1/4 cup of Sherry; Mema did not.

Mema always served her tetrazzini over white rice.

I like the tetrazzini over spaghetti also.

Chicken Tetrazzini


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 c. celery sliced thin or small dice
  • 1 c. onion chopped small dice
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup undiluted
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup undiluted
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz. jar chopped pimentos drained
  • 2 1/2-3 lb. chicken cooked, boned and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Hot cooked rice or spaghetti


  1. Cook the chicken in water until tender and falling off bone. (I add some extra celery and onion to the water while cooking the chicken.)
  2. Saute the celery and onion in the 2 tablespoons of butter until tender. Add the soup, cheese, pimento, chicken, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Blend well. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. If the tetrazzini is too thick, thin with some of the chicken broth.
  3. Serve over rice or spaghetti.
  4. Serves 6-8.

Recipe Notes

I decided to add 2-3 tablespoons of sherry to the recipe.

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