Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole is a dish that my husband, Nathan, asked me to make recently. It was an instant hit in our household! It is incredibly easy to make, it is hearty and comforting on a chilly winter evening, and is sure to fit into any household and everyone will love it.
There is also something really nostalgic about casseroles, that remind me of childhood. Which I fully believe is part of what makes them so great. That one pan concoction that you aren’t ever really sure what all is in there or if mom or grandma is hiding things using it, but it always manages to taste delicious.
The breadcrumb topping on this recipe is everything! It is really what makes this casserole so amazing. Grandma would surely be smiling about that part!
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Have you tried to make this easy chicken and rice casserole yet? Come on in and let me tell you about it!
Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole Ingredients
Chicken breast, 2-3 depending on size, cooked and shredded
Cream of Chicken Soup, 1 can
Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1 can
Sour Cream, 1 cup
Milk, ½ cup
Chicken Broth, 2 cans
Worcestershire Sauce, 2 teaspoons
Lemon, ½, juiced
Onion, 1 small, diced
Mushrooms, 5-ish, diced the goal would be roughly a 50/50 ratio of onions and mushrooms
Broccoli, 2 medium stalks, cut into small pieces
Rice, 1 ½ cups, cooked
Chicken Seasoning, to taste, make your own version here
Salt and pepper, to taste
Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole Topping
Cheddar cheese, grated, 2 cups
Panko Bread Crumbs, 1 ½ cups
Thyme, 1 teaspoon
Butter, ⅓ cup, melted
Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole Directions
I start with the chicken in this recipe. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and chicken seasoning. Sear over medium-high heat in a dutch oven, until the exterior starts to brown. You aren’t trying to cook the chicken all the way through here. You just want to sear it for a couple of minutes on both sides.
Then add in the chicken broth, both cans. This should just barely cover the chicken in the pan. Wait for it to start simmering gently, then reduce the heat to a medium-low temp, and put the lid on it. If your stove uses numbers, I sear the chicken on 8, then gently boil on 3. Let this go for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, measured using a meat thermometer.
Once the chicken is cooked, pull it out of the broth and set aside to rest and cool. Transfer the leftover chicken broth (don’t toss it!) to another pan and bring it to a boil. Measure out the rice and cook it according to the package directions. Note that I didn’t measure the remaining broth, and it was a bit more than necessary, but that’s ok! Because it just brings more moisture to the casserole itself once everything comes together. Nobody likes a dry casserole.
While the chicken is cooling and the rice is cooking, it is time to prepare the veggies, the broccoli, onions, and mushrooms. Dice all three into small pieces. In a saute pan, melt some butter and saute the onions and mushrooms (leave the broccoli out) and cook until the onions are slightly translucent. Once that is done, remove them from the heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees now.
Return to the dutch oven that you cooked the chicken in. Measure out the condensed soup, sour cream, milk, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Mix until well-combined and has a sauce consistency.
Shred the chicken. Now it is time to put everything together!
Gently fold in the shredded chicken, the cooked rice, the sauteed mushrooms and onions, and the raw broccoli. Mix until it is all together and combined with the sauce that you just made.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, uncovered.
While the casserole is in the oven, melt the butter. I like to steep the thyme leaves in the butter while it is on the stove. Once it is melted, I turn the burner off, but leave the butter on the stove. This helps infuse that delicious thyme flavor into the butter. Then mix the butter and thyme into the panko bread crumbs and mix well.
Shred the cheese. Note that you can buy pre-shredded cheese at the grocery store, but it is covered in a powder that prevents it from sticking together. That’s great except it doesn’t melt the same way that block cheese that you shred yourself will. If you want a super melty consistency in your cheese, you’ll want to shred it yourself.
Once the casserole has baked for 20 minutes, pull it out and sprinkle it with the shredded cheddar cheese. Then cover the cheese with the panko mixture and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes. Note that if yours isn’t browning the way you want on top, turn the oven to broil and let it go for a few minutes. Just keep an eye on it to make sure the top isn’t burning.
Pull the casserole out of the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, or until it stops bubbling so you don’t burn yourself and it all falls apart. Serve and enjoy!
You can use any kind of rice that you like. I’ve linked to what I use in the ingredient list. However I always recommend people use what they already have. The only rice I don’t recommend is minute rice. I’ve tried it once and it comes out sticky and lacks the creaminess that I love about this recipe.
I used fresh broccoli in this recipe, but you can certainly use frozen if you want to. It will need to be thawed and drained well before adding it into the casserole. Use a dish towel and gently but firmly wring it to remove the excess water prior to adding it in.
I put my broccoli into the casserole raw, because I like the little added crunch that comes from the broccoli in this recipe. It is an added texture element that I think is absolutely necessary, because I have a serious disdain for overcooked broccoli. The key is chopping it into small pieces so that it is still able to cook, but doesn’t overcook. If that isn’t your thing, you can certainly parboil the broccoli first.
I used fresh chicken breast in this recipe, but you can also use chicken thighs. Or you can buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred it into the recipe. I’m not a fan of pre-cooked anything from the store, because I never know what seasoning is used or if it is overcooked. I might be a control freak. But I also recognize the time saving convenience of using a pre-made chicken. So do not feel bad if you do that!
If you’re needing to stretch this recipe to feed a crowd for a potluck, family gathering, or even a funeral, for example, you can add more veggies into it. Extra mushrooms, onions, and broccoli are inexpensive and easy ways to stretch the recipe out a bit more.
I used one can of cream of chicken soup and one can of cream of mushroom soup in my recipe. You can also use cream of celery soup, or broccoli cheese soup. or any combination of 2 of those, chicken, mushroom, celery, and broccoli. It is completely up to you!
This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Although I would be surprised if it lasts that long! This is also a great recipe to make ahead and freeze for those busy weeknights. If you’re making this ahead of time, skip the topping until it is time to bake.
Reheating leftovers is easy as well. Just preheat the oven to 400 degrees and put the leftovers in a small baking dish, cover with foil, and bake until it is heated through.
Other variations you can do are swapping out (or adding) cauliflower for the broccoli. Cook and add in some bacon to the recipe when you’re putting everything together. Another option is to substitute Ritz crackers instead of panko breadcrumbs.
Why I Love This Recipe
My favorite thing about this easy chicken and rice casserole recipe is that it is one complete meal all in one dish. There is no need to make anything else to go with it. However if you choose to, I recommend a simple salad and homemade dressing to go with it.
I made this recipe completely from scratch, because that’s just what I do. But there are ways to take shortcuts to make things easier, and this is such a great recipe to make ahead and freeze. Because we all know that there are plenty of weeknights that are busy, I’m tired, just don’t want to cook, and a variety of other reasons. Making this ahead of time is an easy way to ensure the family still has a delicious, hearty, and filling meal instead of ordering pizza.
This easy chicken and rice casserole is also a great meal if you’re making it for someone else and taking it to them. We probably all know someone who needs meals delivered at some point in their lives, and this one is perfect for that. Just use a disposable baking dish and cover it with foil.
Have you made this easy chicken and rice casserole yet? Did you make any changes or substitutions? Are you a fan of casseroles? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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