Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
I’d say I made this Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole in honor of casserole season, but that qualification doesn’t do it justice.
When a dinner is this easy and healthy, when it hits every food group in a single Pyrex, when it includes the most crowd-pleasing trifecta of flavors, perhaps ever (what is more universally accepted as delicious than chicken, bacon, and ranch?), well. This casserole recipe is for more than just a season.
This recipe is a spin on one of my most tried-and-true healthy casserole recipes, my Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole. It’s a long-time, 5-star reader favorite because it’s deliciously approved by both adults and toddlers, takes less than 30 minutes to prep, and is made of real, simple ingredients.
Like the recipe that inspired it, this chicken bacon ranch casserole with rice hardly needs a side, because it’s an all-in-one meal on its own. You have green veggies (enter, broccoli!), whole grains (hello, brown rice), plus lean protein (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts; chicken thighs work nicely too).
This recipe’s twist: BACON RANCH.
I doctored up the classic broccoli cheddar combo with a blend of ranch spices, extra creamy, melty Mozzarella cheese, and a happy shower of crispy bacon.
How to Make (Healthy) Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
Despite the indulgent impression, this casserole is still slimmed down.
Unlike many recipes you’ll find online, this is a chicken bacon ranch casserole without Alfredo or premade ranch dressing. It uses real ingredients like Greek yogurt, sharp cheddar, and pantry spices to create a hearty, cheesy, comforting dinner you can feel good about eating on repeat.
- Chicken. The mildness of chicken lets the bacon and ranch flavors shine in this recipe, and it adds healthy protein. Both chicken breasts or chicken thighs would be tasty here.
- Instant Brown Rice. This quick-cooking whole grain makes the chicken bacon ranch casserole fast, healthy, and filling. Do not use any other kind of rice or the recipe proportions and baking time will not be accurate.
- Chicken Broth. Cooking the rice in chicken broth instead of water enhances the flavor of the dish. I recommend using low-sodium chicken broth to make sure the final casserole isn’t too salty.
- Broccoli. Adds a serving of vegetables to make this a true all-in-one meal. The taste of broccoli goes naturally with the bacon too. Plus, broccoli offers fiber and vitamins.
- Bacon. Guaranteed to please!
- Spices. The secret to the ranch flavor. I used a combination of garlic powder, salt, onion powder, dill weed, pepper, and cayenne. No premade dressing required here; the best flavor is from scratch.
- Flour + Milk. To help thicken and bind all the ingredients together. You can use any milk you have on hand.
- Greek Yogurt. Adding Greek yogurt gives this dish a boost of protein and creaminess, without adding any extra fat.
- Cheese. For the deliciously cheesy topping and ooey-gooey casserole factor. I used a mixture of Mozzarella and sharp cheddar.
- Lightly grease your baking dish.
- Bring your chicken broth to a boil, then add the rice. Add the broccoli, cover, and finishing cooking the rice (the broccoli will steam at the same time!).
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the drippings in the pan.
- In the same pan, cook the the chicken in a few of the ranch spices, then remove it to a plate.
- Whisk together the flour and part of the milk, pour the mixture into the pot, and add remaining milk. Cook until thickened and creamy. Remove and whisk in the remaining ranch spices. Add the yogurt and part of the cheeses.
- Add the rice and broccoli mixture, chicken, and half of the bacon. Stir to combine. Place the mixture into the baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees F, and then remove and sprinkle with bacon. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let stand a few minutes, then DIG IN!
- Keto Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole: Steam the broccoli florets separately. Instead of cooked brown rice, stir 4 cups uncooked cauliflower rice into the cream sauce.
- Gluten Free Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole: Swap the all-purpose flour for the same amount of gluten free 1:1 baking flour.
- Extra Veggies: Take a note from this Broccoli Rice Casserole (a family-pleasing side) and add diced carrots. This Chicken Broccoli Ziti is also packed with veggies.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- To Store. Place the baked casserole in an airtight storage container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. You can rewarm this casserole in the oven at 375 degrees F until hot in the center or microwave gently until heated through.
- To Freeze. You can freeze individual portions or large quantities of this casserole. Place your desired amount into an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
What to Serve with Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
While this casserole can be served as an all-in-one meal, here are a few ideas of what could be served with it:
- Salad. To allow the flavors of this casserole to shine, serve it with a simple salad like Anytime Arugula Salad or Brussels Sprouts Slaw.
- Vegetables. Add even veggies to your meal by serving this casserole with Roasted Brussels Sprouts or Crock Pot Honey Carrots.
- Applesauce. Sneak in a little fruit by serving some Crockpot Applesauce with this casserole.
Recommended Tools for Making Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- 3-Quart Casserole Dish. The perfect dish for making this casserole.
- Small Whisk. This is so easy to use and helps mitigate splashing.
Chicken bacon ranch casserole! Here to make it casserole season, every season.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- 1 14–ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups instant brown rice — if you use white rice or non-instant rice, the cooking time and amount of liquid needed may differ
- 1 pound broccoli florets — chopped into bite-sized pieces, about 8 cups
- 6 slices bacon — cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 ¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts — chopped into bite-size pieces
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt — divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder — divided
- 1 teaspoon onion powder — divided
- 1 teaspoon dried dill weed — divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper — divided
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper — optional
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk — divided
- 2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese — divided
- ¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese — divided
Place a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a deep 9-inch-square baking dish or a 3-quart casserole dish.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot, then add the rice. Return to a boil, add the broccoli to the top of the rice (no need to stir it together), then cover, reduce the heat to low, and let cook 5 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and let sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Most of the cooking liquid should be absorbed and the broccoli should be crisp-tender but still be a little too crunchy to eat.
Meanwhile, heat a Dutch oven or other large deep pot over medium-low. Add the bacon and let cook until it is crisp and the fat has rendered, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Leave the drippings in the pan.
Increase the heat to medium high. Add the chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon dill weed, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Sauté until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center, about 4 to 6 minutes, then remove to a plate. Being careful not to burn yourself, wipe the pot clean with a paper towel.
Reduce the heat to medium. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the flour and 1/2 cup milk. Pour the mixture into the pot, then add the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Cook, stirring constantly until thickened and creamy, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon dill weed, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne. Stir in the Greek yogurt, ½ cup Mozzarella cheese, and ½ cup cheddar cheese.
To the pot, add the rice and broccoli mixture, the reserved chicken, and half of the reserved bacon. Stir gently to combine. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Mozzarella and 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Bake 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining bacon over the top. Return to the oven and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes, until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes, then serve.
- TO STORE: Place the baked casserole in an airtight storage container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: You can rewarm this casserole in the oven at 375 degrees F until hot in the center or microwave gently until heated through.
- TO FREEZE: You can freeze individual portions or large quantities of this casserole. Place your desired amount into an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 6)) — Calories: 385, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 96mg, Potassium: 753mg, Carbohydrates: 24g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 38g, Vitamin A: 763%, Vitamin C: 69%, Calcium: 352%, Iron: 2%
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