Crock Pot Chicken and Rice is the minivan of healthy slow cooker recipes. It’s not flashy. It’s not exotic. Strangers will not stop to take photos standing in front of it. On a Monday night (actually on just about any night), however, you can forget the Ferrari. Give me the reliable. Give me the practical. Give me the Crock Pot Chicken and Rice!
If you are looking for more easy, healthy crock pot chicken recipes to navigate you through a busy week, this Crock Pot Chicken and Rice will be your ride.
A creamy, cheesy blend of juicy chicken, whole grains, and fresh veggies, this healthy chicken and rice crock pot recipe has a seat for everyone.
- It’s mild enough for picky eaters but flavorful enough for more adventurous palates.
- It yields a large batch and is rich in fiber and protein, so it’s hearty enough for hungry households.
- It’s freezer friendly and tastes great left over, so if you like easy meal prep recipes or are part of a smaller household that only needs slow cooker chicken and rice for two, it’s easy to save and reheat later on.
The Making of Crock Pot Chicken and Rice
This inspiration for this Crock Pot Chicken and Rice recipe came from my Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole. It’s become a reader favorite, and I’ve heard from many of you that everyone in your family, from your discerning toddlers to your even more discerning significant others enjoys it.
As much as I love to be adventurous with ingredients and flavors, including in my collection of crock pot meals (this Slow Cooker Chicken Curry and this Slow Cooker Yogurt Chicken Shawarma are two absolute favorites), I also appreciate the all-American, family-friendly meals that were a part of my Midwestern upbringing: the Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup; the Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff; the Crock Pot Mexican Casserole (<—yes, Mexican-inspired recipes feel very All-American to me!); the classic Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie.
Sometimes I want to ride in the convertible, but most nights, I need the minivan.
Developing this healthy chicken and rice crockpot recipe took a few attempts. Rice has a frustrating tendency to become mushy in the slow cooker.
I also wanted it to be a cheesy chicken and rice crock pot recipe that was still reasonably healthy and made from minimally processed ingredients, which meant that all of the recipes for crock pot chicken and rice with cream of celery (or cream of mushroom or cream of any other canned soup) that I found needed to go.
Here’s what I learned.
How to Make the Best Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Use Long Grain Brown Rice. Because I wanted this to be a healthy chicken and rice crock pot recipe, I opted for brown rice over white rice, as it is higher in fiber and protein. Brown rice is also a bit heartier, so it can better handle the longer cooking time that comes along with any slow cooker meal.
- Slow Cook on HIGH. Despite all of my attempts, the rice just did not turn out well when I made this recipe on low heat. It was watery and mushy. Every. Single. Time. Save yourself a serious headache and wasted ingredients. Make this recipe according to the cook times and temps in the recipe below.
- Don’t Over Do The Onion. I wanted this crock pot recipe to be as easy as possible, so I cut out as many of the prep steps as I could, including sauting the veggies before adding them to the slow cooker. Unless you are a super raw onion fan, be sure to chop the onion very finely and don’t add too much. You can also use a shallot as I suggest, since shallots have a more mild flavor. If you are using an onion and concerned about it being too strong, you can go ahead and sauté it on the stove before adding it to the crock pot.
- DO NOT Over Cook the Chicken. Obvious, yet essential. The chicken breasts will finish cooking before the rice. Be sure to remove them as soon as the internal temp reaches 160 – 165 degrees, then recover the crock pot and continue cooking the rice and vegetables until the rice is tender.
- Season to Taste. This recipe suggests salt, pepper, thyme, and Dijon mustard (my favorite ingredient trick to take chicken and rice casserole recipes beyond the basic). Feel free to adjust each of these to suit your and your family’s tastes.
For a meal that’s guaranteed to pick you up, has room for everyone, and even leaves you wiggle room to make a pitstop for dessert: Healthy Crock Pot Chicken and Rice!
Speaking of dessert, what’s more all-American, minivan-reliable than apple pie? My blogging friend Leigh Anne has an apple pie recipe with NO pastry crust that looks incredible.
Thanks for putting up with my assorted car analogies. You are the best. I promise this cheesy slow cooker chicken and rice recipe will be worth your everlasting patience. Feel free to toot your own horn after you make it.
OK, now I’m done with the analogies. Promise!
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
Crock Pot Chicken and Rice
- 1 cup long-grain brown rice do not substitute any other kind of rice, including short grain, instant, or white, as the cooking time and liquid ratios will not be the same
- 1 1/2 cups diced carrots about 4 medium
- 1 small shallot finely chopped, about 1/4 cup (you can also use 1/2 of a small regular onion, though I prefer the more mild flavor of the shallot since it isn’t precooked)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken thighs)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 1/2–3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese divided (I love white cheddar for this)
- Chopped fresh parsley optional for serving
- Lightly coat a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add the rice, carrots, shallot, and Dijon mustard, and stir to combine. Arrange the chicken breasts on top, then sprinkle with the garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour in the chicken broth. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the chicken into a plate and cover to keep warm. Stir the rice, vegetables, and broth, then re-cover and continue cooking on high until the rice is tender, about 1 additional hour.*
- Uncover and stir in the peas and Greek yogurt. Dice the chicken and stir it in with 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, then re-cover and cook for a few additional minutes on high until the cheese is melted. Serve warm, sprinkled with fresh parsley as desired.
- I do not recommend using any other kind of rice or grain for this recipe other than long-grain brown rice, as the cooking times and liquid ratios will vary.
- I also cannot recommend cooking this on low, as my attempts to cook the rice on low resulted in wet, mushy rice. If you do have success making it on low heat, I'd love to hear about it!
- *Please note, the cook time (1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours for the chicken + 1 additional hour for the rice and vegetables) listed can vary depending upon your slow cooker. Mine consistently finishes in this time, but others have reported needing longer for the rice. Use your best judgement depending upon your slow cooker model. If it is your first time making the recipe, you may want to build in extra "buffer time" just in case your slow cooker doesn't get as hot as mine and others who see similar cook times.
- As written, the rice does come out a little more mushy than it would if cooked on the stove or in a rice cooker. It’s a necessary evil with the ease of a slow cooker, so just be prepared (we still loved it!).
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat gently in the microwave with a splash of chicken broth, milk, or water to keep it from drying out.
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