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In the event you are in need of a bit of reprieve from the sugar-dusted holiday baking action, I bring you Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Butternut Squash and Cranberries.

Chicken and Wild Rice gluten free Casserole made with Butternut Squash and Cranberries in a dish

Not that I would begrudge you for turning Candy Cane Snowball Cookies and 2 Ingredient Homemade Hot Chocolate into dinner by any means, but I find that priming my cookie intake with a hearty, healthy meal like this seasonal spin on chicken and wild rice casserole helps the sweets settle more pleasantly.

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole from scratch with a wooden spoon in a dish

Further, this chicken and wild rice casserole is wildly delicious—as in, I can’t promise you leftovers, even though you are definitely going to want them for lunch the next day and the day after that and next week too.

I brought a big pan of this chicken and wild rice casserole with butternut squash and cranberries to dinner at a friend’s, and between the four of us, we ate every last scrap, minus the proverbial final few bites that every native Midwesterner is too polite to claim for his or her own.

Thus, I ate those last three bites on our drive home. No shame. Chicken and wild rice casserole with butternut squash and cranberries is irresistible healthy comfort food at its finest (just like this Chicken and Rice Casserole).

If you are looking for an ultra gooey, cream-of-no-one-knows-what chicken and wild rice casserole, I am afraid this isn’t it.

If you are looking for a dinner recipe that’s cozy, wholly satisfying, and healthy enough to leave you wiggle room for that Frosted Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie afterwards, chicken and wild rice casserole is the one.

Ingredients for a Healthy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Let’s examine the exciting happenings inside our casserole dish:

  • Chewy, nutty wild rice brings the whole grain goodness and fill-you-up prowess.
  • Sweet chunks of butternut squash add creaminess and earthly sweetness.
  • Chicken is diggin’ the hang out time with it’s wintertime BFF, wild rice. Plus, lean protein = extra healthy satisfaction.
  • Cranberries get all sassy with their sweet tang.
  • Parmesan cheese melts over all, making the casserole gooey and nutty and just plain wonderful.
rice and squash ingredients for chicken and wild rice gluten free casserole

A sprinkle of savory thyme, and we have just about every cold-weather ingredient I adore coming together into a dynamite healthy dinner that I plan to serve again and again. It doesn’t always work out this well to throw all of your favorite seasonal foods together in a single dish and watch what happens, but this golden time, it did, and I couldn’t be happier.

For other delicious butternut squash recipe ideas, check out my list of Healthy Butternut Squash Recipes.

More Easy and Hearty Casserole Recipes

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole made with Butternut Squash in a dish

Tools Used to Make This Recipe

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Butternut Squash and Cranberries

4.81 from 127 votes
A cozy and filling chicken and wild rice casserole made with butternut squash and cranberries. This easy and healthy chicken dinner is a winner every time!

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 55 minutes

Servings: 6 servings (or 4 smaller servings)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice blend  3 cups cooked
  • tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 small butternut squash about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 cups cubes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme plus additional for garnish
  • 3/4 cup  dried cranberries  I prefer the ones with reduced sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese divided (about 2 ounces)

Instructions
 

  • Cook the rice according to package directions. Drain off any excess cooking liquid and set aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced chicken and sauté until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink on the inside, about 6 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • With a paper towel, carefully wipe the skillet clean. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium. Add the diced squash, onions, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender but still retains some chew, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the thyme, cranberries, reserved chicken, rice, and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake 5 additional minutes, until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh thyme and serve warm.

Notes

  • To freeze: Bake the casserole completely, then let cool to room temperature. Cover it tightly, then freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat, covered, in a 350 degree oven until warmed through.
  • You could also try freezing the casserole unbaked. Again, let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 476kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 26gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 97mgPotassium: 811mgFiber: 6gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 12211IUVitamin C: 27mgCalcium: 155mgIron: 3mg

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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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263 Comments

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    1. Hi Kathy, I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online (myfitnesspal.com is popular). I hope that helps!

    2. We are on a low sodium diet as well. I can estimate based on what I use. The chicken I buy is 80 mg per 4 ounces, Diamond Crystal kosher salt is 280 mg per 1/4 teaspoon which is what I use and I would not use the parmesan. I’d use shredded Swiss or mozzarella or both , or the bagged shredded cheese I like is Swiss and Gruyère is 170 mg for 2 ounces. I don’t count the sodium in fresh vegetables. I’m calculating about 530 mg per the entire casserole so divide by number of servings. Adjust depending on what you use.

    3. My previous calculations mixed apples and oranges ! I figured the chicken per serving but the result for the entire casserole. 1 and 1/4 pounds thighs are more like 400 mg sodium so add 320 mg sodium to casserole total. It’s still pretty low sodium per portion.

    1. Hi Diane! You should be able to do that. I haven’t tried it myself but would love to know how it turns out if you give it a try!

  1. I made this casserole today and it is absolutely delicious!!! I mixed in 1/2 cup of grated Gruyère cheese and thought it was a lovely addition. I made a double recipe and took one casserole to a friend who is undergoing cancer treatment. I divided my recipe into two 9×9 casseroles and froze one. Fantastic recipe!!5 stars

  2. Very tasty… I had one big chicken breast. I cut up 3 Pieces of thick bacon and cooked that up. Greased my casserole dish with some bacon grease. Drained the grease from pan and then cooked my cut up chicken in the dirty pan. After meat was cooked I removed from the pan.I then added 1 teaspoon more of bacon grease. I did not wipe out the pan. Then added the squash and 2 chopped onions. I used 1/4 cup Asiago cheese and 1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese. I was very sad I didn’t have any craisens. Also had to use 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, didn’t have fresh. So good.5 stars

  3. Followed the recipe! Very bland. Before reheating the leftovers I sautéed a minced clove of garlic and added it to a light white sauce. That helped. I am not a fan of Parmesan cheese. I used it anyway.
    Seems like it is hard to find a casserole that doesn’t call for Parmesan cheese.

    I won’t make it again.3 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear that this recipe wasn’t to your tastes, JHP. I (and many other readers) have really enjoyed the flavors in this dish, so I wish it would’ve been a hit for you too!

  4. I’ve made this casserole several times, and it is delicious. It has all the flavors of fall and is perfect when the weather gets crisp.5 stars

  5. Unbelievably good. The only change I made was to use dried cherries instead of the dried cranberries- because I love dried cherries and always substitute them. I’m wondering if I can make it without the cheese for my df daughter.5 stars

  6. I’m planning to try this with already roasted butternut squash cubes. Perhaps I’ll just cut down the oven time to 15-20 minutes in total?

  7. It’s a cold day in Indianapolis, time to fire up the oven and cook up this casserole. One word…YUM! I almost went with brown rice but decided to go with the wild rice and I’m glad I did. It adds a different flavor that really complements the dish. Thanks, Erin, for yet another terrific recipe.5 stars

  8. Absolutely love this recipe! A coworker introduced me to WellPlated a few years ago and since then I’ve purchased Erin’s cookbook and continue to love all of her recipes! This one is such a great fall/winter weeknight dinner or meal prep option.5 stars

  9. This is a definite go to recipe! Not only is it insanely tasty, it’s also beautiful. All the flavors go together perfectly. It’s truly a casserole full of flavor. I’ve made it multiple times and it’s always a hit!!5 stars

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