Chicken and Rice Casserole proves that basic can be beautiful. Creamy sauce enveloping nutty brown rice, juicy bites of chicken, and vegetables, this timeless meal is a classic that’s too fantastic to fuss.

A spoon serving chicken and rice casserole from a baking dish

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While I am all for a fresh twist on an old favorite (the curry spices in this Instant Pot Chicken and Rice and the southwest spin on this Mexican Chicken and Rice make these recipes special), sometimes what we need is a dish at its most old-fashioned self.

This old fashioned chicken and rice casserole isn’t wild.

It won’t blow your mind with never-before-thought-of flavors or tectonic levels of spice.

And that is exactly the point.

This is comfort food at its most pure.

It’s creamy and carby. A warm hug for a cold evening.

A plate of cheesy chicken and rice casserole

Reasons to Love Chicken and Rice Casserole

Chicken and rice casserole has extreme crowd appeal.

  • From picky teens to choosy toddlers to exacting adults, it’s hard not to love a tender chicken dish with creamy rice and cheese.

It hits every food group in a single pan.

  • Veggies, whole grains, and protein. The gang is all here!

It’s healthy.

  • This recipe is made with simple ingredients and lightened-up with everyday swaps like milk and Greek yogurt.
  • It skips the “cream of soups” and pre-mixed seasoning packets.

It’s adaptable.

It’s easy.

  • Cook your brown rice in advance and you can stir this together in a snap.
  • Frozen veggies make it quick and easy (less chopping!).
  • Want to speed it up even more? Use store-bought rotisserie chicken or precooked shredded chicken.

It’s budget friendly.

  • Making recipes with rice is an excellent way to stretch your servings and your dollar.
  • Frozen vegetables have all the nutrition of fresh, but usually are more affordable and perfectly portioned. This recipe uses frozen mixed vegetables, which typically contain peas, carrots, corn, and green beans.

The Best Chicken and Rice Casserole from Scratch

The key to making the best chicken and rice casserole is to use real-deal ingredients.

Ditch the Campbell’s chicken and rice casserole—you don’t need cream of celery, chicken, or any other soup.

Trust me, homemade is easy and SO much better.

Want a Sunday dinner chicken and rice casserole? It’s all about the from-scratch love!

Tip!

For more family-friendly healthy rice casserole recipes, don’t miss this vegetarian Broccoli Rice Casserole, Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole, and the Butternut Squash Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole in my cookbook.


The Ingredients

  • Chicken Breast. As far as lean protein goes, chicken is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. It works famously in casserole recipes like this one and is easy to prepare. I make a shredded chicken and rice casserole (see FAQ for cooking suggestions), but diced chicken, shredded store bought rotisserie chicken, boneless skinless chicken thighs, or even cooked ground chicken would work too.
  • Cooked Rice. To boost this casserole’s nutrition content, I chose to use long grain brown rice (a brown and wild rice mixture will also work) over a white or basmati rice. Brown rice is a good source of fiber and magnesium; I’m all for healthy carbohydrates. It’s slightly chewy texture and slightly nutty flavor make it extra tasty in this recipe too.

Ratio of Rice to Chicken

For chicken and rice casserole, I prefer a 1:1 ratio of rice to chicken (equal amounts). This ratio is significantly greater than recipes like the Campbell’s chicken and rice casserole, which are closer to 2:1 (double the amount of rice as chicken).

Having a greater amount of chicken makes the casserole more filling by providing extra protein, upping the health factor we’re after.

A casserole dish with easy chicken and rice casserole
  • White Whole Wheat Flour. Helps thicken the sauce, binding the casserole and creating the ideal casserole consistency.
  • Chicken Broth. Adds savoriness and forms part of the casserole sauce.
  • Milk. I used nonfat milk, but you can use any you have on hand.
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables. An ultra easy and quick way to bulk the veggie content in this casserole. Most mixes typically contain corn, peas, carrots, and green beans.
  • Greek Yogurt. For creaminess and a healthy boost of protein. You can use either 2% or full-fat Greek yogurt. I don’t recommend using fat free, as it curdles more easily.
  • Cheeses. A blend of sharp cheddar and Mozzarella is the move. Both melt to gooey, cheesy perfection.
  • Dijon Mustard. Elevates the cheesiness and adds zip, a little trick to making chicken and rice casserole less boring. You can’t taste it specifically; rather, it helps the dish pop. (This Homemade Hamburger Helper uses it too).
  • Dried Thyme. For homey, herby flavor.

SUBSTITUTION

Dried basil can be used for a rich, nutty, aromatic flavor. Italian Seasoning can also be used. I wouldn’t recommend using dried rosemary for this dish.

The Directions

Onions and garlic in a pot
  1. Sauté the onion and garlic in a Dutch oven or large, sturdy-bottomed pot.
Onions and garlic with flour in a Dutch oven
  1. Stir in the flour.
A sauce being stirred in a pot
  1. Pour in the broth and milk, stirring constantly to make the casserole sauce. Let simmer until thickened.
Cheesy chicken and rice casserole being stirred
  1. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vegetables, yogurt, half of the cheddar, mozzarella, Dijon, and thyme.
Chicken and rice casserole in a Dutch oven
  1. Add the chicken and rice.
Chicken and rice casserole in a baking dish with cheese
  1. Transfer everything to a casserole dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top with the remaining cheese.
  2. Bake chicken and rice casserole at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes (no need to cover with aluminum foil). Broil to brown the top. Garnish with herbs, let rest for a few minutes, then ENJOY!
A white plate with chicken and rice casserole

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover chicken and rice casserole in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm casserole in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, cook and shred the chicken and cook the rice. Refrigerate both in separate airtight storage container or plastic-wrapped bowl until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

You can also fully assemble the unbaked casserole up to 1 day in advance. Cover tightly and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.

Leftover Ideas

Turn a Sunday chicken and rice casserole into leftovers for the entire week! Give leftovers new life by stuffing the filling into bell peppers. Follow the instructions for prepping the peppers in my Stuffed Peppers recipe, bake the peppers without any filling at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, then stuff each pepper with warmed-up leftovers.

What to Serve with Chicken and Rice Casserole

Whether you’re serving chicken and rice casserole for two or for a crowd, these easy sides will pair nicely:

Easy traditional chicken and rice casserole on a plate

Recommended Tools to Make Chicken and Rice Casserole

  • Baking Dish. A classic, high-quality baking dish that you’ll have forever.
  • Dutch Oven. Can be used for so many different recipes.
  • Spatula. This heat-resistant spatula is incredibly versatile.

The Best Casserole Dish

This baking dish is both beautiful and functional. It comes in an array of color options and is dishwasher-safe too.

A spoon serving chicken and rice casserole from a baking dish

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Cheesy, creamy, carby, chicken-y.

I wouldn’t have my healthy chicken and rice casserole any other way!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Make Gluten Free Chicken and Rice Casserole?

To make this recipe gluten free, swap the white whole wheat flour for a 1:1 gluten free flour substitute.

What’s the Best Way to Cook the Chicken Breasts?

While you can cook raw chicken with rice in a casserole, you’ll need to use pre-cooked chicken for this recipe. I recommend using one of the following simple recipes to make this shredded chicken and rice casserole: Instant Pot Chicken, Crock Pot Shredded Chicken, Baked Bone In Chicken Breast, How to Cook Shredded Chicken (stovetop edition). You can also swap diced Air Fryer Chicken Breast, Baked Chicken Breast, or Grilled Chicken Breast.

Can I Use White Rice Instead of Brown Rice?

While I prefer to use brown rice for the grains in this dish, its added health benefits and texture, you can swap cooked white rice if you prefer.

Can I Put Uncooked Rice in a Casserole?

You can put uncooked rice in a casserole only if the recipe was designed for it, because you want to make sure the rice has enough liquid and is going to cook through; for this recipe, the rice is cooked first. If you’re looking for a chicken casserole with uncooked rice, check out this Crockpot Chicken and Rice Casserole and this Instant Pot Chicken and Rice.

Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken and Rice Casserole?

Yes! Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Chicken and Rice Casserole

4.75 from 4 votes
Creamy chicken and rice casserole is comfort food at its best! Juicy chicken, brown rice, and veggies in an easy sauce, it's healthy and scrumptious.

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 50 mins

Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast* (about 3 medium breasts)
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice or wild and brown rice blend
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic about 2 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
  • 1 (14-ounce) can reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup nonfat milk or milk of choice
  • 16 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup 2% Greek yogurt or full-fat do not use fat free as it is prone to curdling
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese divided
  • 1/2 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Chopped fresh parsley or thyme for serving

Instructions
 

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9×13 or similar casserole dish with nonstick spray.
  • In a Dutch oven or similar large, sturdy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is softened and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and adjust the heat as needed so that the onion softens but does not brown. Stir in the garlic and let cook 30 seconds.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the top. Cook and stir constantly for at least 1 full minute, until the flour is turning brown and no white bits remain.
  • Slowly pour in the broth and milk, stirring constantly to prevent any lumps. Pause as needed to break up any lumps. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat and let gently bubble until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Adjust the heat as needed so that the liquid retains a rapid simmer.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vegetables, Greek yogurt, half of the cheddar cheese, mozzarella, Dijon, and thyme until smooth.
  • Stir in the shredded chicken and cooked rice.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
  • Bake the chicken and rice casserole until the cheese is melted and the casserole is hot, about 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil, then continue cooking until the cheese is lightly browned, about 3 additional minutes, watching carefully so that the cheese does not burn. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parsley or thyme. Let rest 5 minutes, then serve hot.

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8)Calories: 365kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 27gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 66mgPotassium: 436mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 3216IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 246mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. This was pretty good. It was easy to make with things that are always on hand. I used wild rice and extra garlic but otherwise followed the recipe exactly and found it a bit bland. Next time I would add more spices and I am not sure what else but the base was great.4 stars

  2. This is a great recipe that the whole family will eat. I used cooked frozen brown rice and rotisserie chicken which made this recipe really simple. My kids normally won’t eat brown rice but they gobbled this up! Her description of the recipe is accurate… this isn’t a wild recipe with lots of spices… this is why I made it because kids tend to be more sensitive to spices I figured it would be a dish they would like too, and they did! There was enough left over for me to freeze for another night which is always an added bonus!! I will be adding this to our rotation for sure.5 stars

  3. My family loved this recipe!
    There are a lot of similar recipes out there I have tried out but this was honestly the best and most delicious I have tried. My entire family including my picky kiddos ate it up and requested it for lunch the next day! Thank you Erin!5 stars

  4. Looks and sounds absolutely delicious. Trying to decide if this would work with frozen cauliflower rice as we are both diabetics and rarely eat “real rice” any more. Erin, would you have any suggestions?

    1. Hi Cindy! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, but you could probably give it a try with the cauliflower rice. I’m thinking it would need to be unfrozen for this recipe and you may need to use 3 cups. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  5. Excellent dish! Especially if you utilize the leftover chicken and rice, so you don’t have to spend time to cook them. Just took out of the oven!5 stars