Classic cassoulet can take days to make but this simplified, healthier version of that iconic French provincial dish comes together in about an hour with all the flavor! This Easy Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet is great as a casual weeknight dinner or perfect for impromptu entertaining!
Why This Recipe is a Keeper!
Ten years ago around this time, I was about to take a two-week trip through France with a group of personal chefs. We all met up in Paris, but because of a train strike, it took us a little longer to get to our destination in the South of France. When we finally arrived in Carcassonne, the first meal we had together that was iconic French was cassoulet. The restaurant owner informed us that each cassoulet takes three days to make!
The flavor was amazing and I savored every bite! Ever since I’ve been smitten with cassoulet but who has three days to make one dish?
Besides the time it takes, the other downside to a classic cassoulet (at least where I live) is most of the ingredients like duck, duck sausage and tarbais beans have to be ordered from specialty suppliers–all which come with hefty price tags.
This Easy Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet:
- Uses ingredients found in any grocery store or which you may already have on hand like budget-friendly chicken thighs, smoked sausage and canned white beans.
- Is healthier than the classic version!
- Tastes as though it took forever to make, but can be on your table in about an hour!
Let’s make it!
What is cassoulet?
Simply put, cassoulet is a meat-enriched bean casserole. The beans typically used are Tarbais but any white bean such as cannellini or Great Northern works.
It originated as simple peasant farmhouse fare in the Languedoc region of southern France. Peasants, facing starvation during the Hundred Years’ War, were said to have thrown whatever they could find—beans, duck, sausage and other odds and ends into a pot to create a stew. Since then, it has morphed into a rich, elaborate, complex dish that can take days to make.
It’s named for the deep, round earthenware pot called a cassole in which it is baked. The combination of ingredients such as duck confit, cured meats, sausages, game and the beans are first cooked separately then combined in the cassole followed by a crunchy breadcrumb crust. Although elaborate, this process makes cassoulet a great make-ahead dish.
Recipes vary from cook to cook in that region because historically, it was made with whatever they had available.
How to make Easy Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet:
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this cassoulet recipe along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.
- Chicken Thighs: Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You could also use chicken breasts but chicken thighs will have more flavor and are more budget-friendly.
- Smoked Sausage: I used regular pork smoked sausage which is slightly different than kielbasa but kielbasa will also work. If you don’t consume pork, use turkey, chicken or beef sausage.
- White Beans: Use either canned cannellini beans (white kidney beans) or Great Northern beans. Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans as the liquid they’re canned in can be quite salty.
- Dry White Wine: Always use a wine that you would enjoy drinking. I typically use an unoaked chardonnay. Non-Alcoholic Substitute: Use ½ cup water and 1-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar. (White wine vinegar has a trace amount of alcohol.)
- Gather and prep all the ingredients
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and cook in olive oil until no longer pink (to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees).
- Transfer to a plate and let cool to the touch.
- Refresh the olive oil and cook the onion and celery until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add the fresh herbs and spices and give it a stir.
- Add the wine and tomato paste and cook briefly.
- Add the sausage, beans and broth.
- Shred the chicken, stir it in and heat through.
- MAKE AHEAD: Can be made 24 hours ahead to the point of adding the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate until needed then combine the breadcrumbs with olive oil, sprinkle over the top and bake. Add at least an additional 10-12 minutes to the cooking time.
- Top with breadcrumbs…
- And bake!
Chef Tips and Tricks:
- If possible, always “cook” tomato paste as I did in this chicken and sausage cassoulet recipe. Doing so changes the aroma and taste of the paste. The result is a cooked rather raw flavor, less bitter, sweeter with greater depth.
- Use day-old or older bread to make the breadcrumbs. Because the bread is dry, it will be easier to get them crumbly in the food processor.
Frequently Asked Questions:
–A green salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette
—Arugula, Egg and Asparagus Salad with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette
—Cider Vinegar Braised Cabbage Wedges
—Roasted Cabbage Steaks with Mustard Vinaigrette
—Mediterranean Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes
—Skillet Charred Green Beans with Goat Cheese Chipotle Butter
—Roasted Green Beans with Tomato Caper Relish
Cassoulet is probably the ultimate make-ahead dish! Get it prepped to the point of adding the breadcrumbs then refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Add the breadcrumbs then bake.
Cassoulet is a French stew made with meat and beans while a casserole is a type of dish that is cooked slowly in an oven. A basic cassoulet contains meat like pork, duck, goose and white beans while casseroles contain ingredients like beef, chicken, fish and/or vegetables, a binder such as rice or pasta and a crunchy or cheesy topping.
Easy Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet is perfect for a casual dinner or an easy way to impress guests!
What do you eat with cassoulet?
- A green salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette
- Green vegetable
- French bread
- Arugula, Egg and Asparagus Salad with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette
- Cider Vinegar Braised Cabbage Wedges
- Roasted Cabbage Steaks with Mustard Vinaigrette
- Mediterranean Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes
- Skillet Charred Green Beans with Goat Cheese Chipotle Butter
- Roasted Green Beans with Tomato Caper Relish
More easy French-inspired chicken recipes:
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Easy Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet
- ½ cup olive oil - divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs - approximately 1 pound
- 1 medium onion - finely chopped
- 1 large stalk celery - or 2 small, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme - or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper - optional
- 1 large bay leaf
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 7 ounces smoked sausage such as kielbasa - turkey or pork, quartered lengthwise then sliced into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 cans (15-ounce each) cannellini beans - or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ¼ cup chicken broth - preferably low-sodium
- 1 ½ cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper on both sides and place smooth side down in the preheated pan. Cook undisturbed for 6-7 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary so thighs cook evenly. Flip when edges are opaque and lightly browned and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until cooked through to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees. Transfer to a plate and let cool to the touch. Do not wipe out the skillet and keep it at medium-high.
- While the chicken is cooling, add 2 tablespoons of oil then add onion and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5-6 minutes or until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds or until fragrant.
- Stir in the thyme, allspice, cayenne if using and bay leaf.
- Add the wine and tomato paste and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
- Add the sausage, beans and broth. Bring to a simmer.
- Shred the chicken, letting the bean, sausage and vegetable combination simmer while you shred.
- Add the chicken, heat it through and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
- Smooth the top of the cassoulet.
- Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle over the top.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden and the sides are bubbling.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.