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

An easy and healthy chicken dinner: Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Butternut Squash and Cranberries. Crowd pleasing and gluten free!

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Butternut Squash and Cranberries

4.85 from 78 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 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 55 mins

Servings: 4 -6 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.

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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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223 Comments

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  1. Very tasty!! Reminds me of Thanksgiving all in one!! Perfect for a cold northeast day!! Recipe was perfect, moist and yummy! Thank you!!5 stars

      1. Absolutely delicious, made it a number of times now, but tried it with leftover Christmas Turkey and it was amazing! Thanks.5 stars

  2. Yum! This a terrific dish. I added some Brussels sprouts just because I had a few left in the vegetable drawer. I cut them in quarters and sautéed with the other veggies. This casserole hit all the right notes with me. Thank you.5 stars

  3. Dropped off this delicious casserole to my in-laws who are recovering from being sick and they absolutely.loved.it!! As soon as I took it out of the oven I instantly regretted not making one to keep lol! well done! This recipe is outstanding! Thank you!!5 stars

  4. Very enjoyable and adaptable to different diet preferences in our family. I added a bit of tumeric to the meat for a little extra health and flavor. The rice in my frig was half brown half wild.4 stars

  5. Five stars for taste. For ingredients that are yummy. 4 stars if I could for the instructions that seem to not include all the prep time for the ingredients. But I also think I could have upped the moisture content a little, and more than just Thyme, salt, pepper for the next time I make it. I did it in 4 small- 5×7 food pans as a few of us decided to try it. I cooked, they bought ingredients, pans. All asked if there was a ‘sauce’ missing. When I do this again, I will add some more sauce/ liquid to the plated item. 4 = 5⭐🌟⭐🌟 overall. 👍5 stars

  6. Any idea how this could be adapted to a slow cooker/crock pot? Would really like to make this for a friendsgiving but I am using my baking dish elsewhere lol. TIA!

    1. Hi Tiki! While you could make all of the ingredients separately, then heat them in the crock pot instead of the oven, I honestly think it would be more work. I don’t have a way to adapt the whole recipe to the crock pot. Instead, I’d recommend checking out these crockpot recipes: https://www.wellplated.com/category/recipes-by-type/slow-cooker/

  7. can you do this recipe with veggies you e frozen? I had sweet potatoes, butternut squash and purple potatoes I wanted to save before going bad. They’re already chopped. Should I defrost them before cooking?

    1. Hi Nikki! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so I am unsure if frozen vegetables would work. I think with the frozen vegetables you would not have to defrost first. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this dish, Lj. I understand that tastes differ. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not have it work out, so I am sorry that happened here!

  8. Just wanted to say thanks for this recipe. My dad harvested a haul of wild rice in Northern Minnesota and my husband and I were lucky enough to receive some. This hot dish has been the perfect use for it and tonight is the second night we’ve made it in a week. I added a couple stalks of diced celery and cooked the rice in reduced sodium chicken broth. A delicious comfort dish and one we’ll be returning to over and over.5 stars

  9. Great way to use leftover turkey. I made this using about 1 lb of leftover turkey meat and in addition to the squash I threw in all the veg that needed to be used in my fridge: a stalk of celery, a bit of broccoli and some mushrooms and cooked them with some baharat spice. It doesn’t need a sauce, it wasn’t dry at all but I had leftover gravy so I served it with that. Used a combo of cranberries and barberries and topped it with crispy fried onions because they’re so yummy. As you can see it’s totally customizable, comes together pretty quick using leftover turkey and everyone thought it was delicious. Great recipe! Thanks!5 stars

    1. Hi Sarah! I’ve only tested this recipe as written. If you decide to experiment with either, let me know how it goes!

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