Chicken and Rice Casserole
I’m not going to tell you that you’ll like this from-scratch Chicken and Rice Casserole without canned soup. No, I am not. Instead, I am going to tell you that you are going to fall head over heels, like tell everyone that you know, sing from the rooftops, in love with it.
I shared this recipe on December 10, 2018. I have improved the recipe to share it with you again today.
Table of contents
Why We Love This Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe
If you are looking for a comfort food dinner that really satisfies then this is your winner-winner chicken dinner. The whole family will fall in love with the creamy cheesy chicken and rice casserole. And the best part of all is that it is made from scratch without any canned soup!
The layers of this casserole are made up of sauteed fresh veggies, chicken breast and brown rice with cheese on top! It is held together with an easy sauce made from broth and cream cheese.
It is a great meal to make for a Sunday supper and can be reheated for lunches. You can feel great about serving it as a one dish dinner or along with a salad because it is filled with veggies, whole grain brown rice and lean chicken breast.
This recipe has been updated and improved! We have listened to your feedback and reduced the amount of rice, and increased the veggies (yay) and chicken too! We love the way it came out. If you want the original formula, follow the measurements in the note section of the recipe card.
Ingredients For This Recipe
- Instant Brown Rice or Minute Brown Rice: The rice is Brown Minute Rice, which is par-cooked and dehydrated brown rice. So it is whole-grain but cooks quickly. Look for “minute” “quick” or “instant” on the packaging. Find it in the rice aisle in the grocery store. If you have extra make this recipe for One Pot Chicken and Rice with Spring Veggies recipe next!
- Chicken: We have used 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast. But you can also use boneless skinless chicken thigh meat instead. Follow the instructions in our FAQ section if you want to use rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken.
- Veggies: I used a combo of onion, carrots and celery. If you prefer red bell peppers or broccoli they would work instead. To top the casserole, use frozen thawed peas.
- Butter: Why butter instead of oil? I used butter because I wanted the casserole to taste classic and buttery! I used two tablespoons, and it does add a subtle butter flavor. If you prefer to use extra-virgin olive oil it will work fine.
- Cream Cheese: To give the sauce a bit of body, without the cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery some recipes call for, I used whipped cream cheese. Just whisk it right into the broth and it will melt in. Regular cream cheese also works, but may be a bit trickier to whisk in. Sour cream is a good alternative if you have that on hand. Either will work well to give it a creamy, tangy old-fashioned chicken casserole vibe, without the additives found in most onion soup mix or cream soup.
- Cheddar Cheese: I used pre-shredded sharp cheddar cheese. I love using stronger flavored cheeses in healthier comfort food recipes because you can get away with using a little less, but they still add lots of cheesy flavors!
- Broth: You can use store bought or homemade chicken broth.
- Seasonings: I used dried thyme, salt and pepper as well as fresh garlic to season our chicken rice casserole. Feel free to jazz this up more to your liking. Add in fresh thyme, a little garlic powder, onion powder or dill weed if you like.
Tip: If you are short on time, feel free to sub in bagged frozen mixed vegetables. Give them a quick sautee to reduce the excess liquid. If you are looking for a way to use up leftover veggies in your crisper or have another combo of vegetables that you like use that instead. Aim for 6 cups total in place of our recommended veggies. Some to try are broccoli, mushrooms and zucchini.
How to Make Chicken and Rice Casserole
Step 1: Preheat the oven, coat the baking dish with cooking spray and layer the dry minute rice in the bottom of the casserole dish.
Step 2: Saute the veggies in oil to soften them. Add in the seasonings.
Step 3: Top the rice with the sauteed veggies, spreading out in an even layer.
Step 4: Top with the chunks of skinless chicken breasts and then peas on top.
Step 5: Heat the sauce up in the skillet, and whisk any browned bits from cooking the veggies. When it simmers, whisk in the cream cheese. If using regular cream cheese, it may appear a little lumpy but it will melt into the casserole as it bakes.
Step 6: Pour the sauce over the casserole taking care not to dislodge the chicken and peas too much.
Step 7: Cover the casserole dish with foil and carefully transfer it to the oven to bake. Bake it until the liquid is absorbed or 38 to 45 minutes.
Step 8: Remove the foil and top with cheese. Bake again until the cheese is melted.
Let the casserole sit for about 10 minutes to cool down a bit before digging in. If you like you can also add on some fresh parsley on top to make it prettier.
If you’re looking for something to serve with this family favorite, try it with green beans, our sauteed green beans are super popular or my Garlic Mashed Broccoli would be good too. Another option is this classic Garden Salad.
Expert Tips and FAQ’s For This Healthy Chicken And Rice Casserole Recipe
This recipe calls for raw chicken. It cooks through as the casserole bakes. If you want to use up leftover cooked chicken, that works well too! Follow the instructions as directed and omit the chicken. Cover and bake. Then add the cooked chicken on top of the peas in the last 10 minutes of baking. Then top with cheese to finish and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Yes. To do so, use two cups of regular brown rice and four cups broth. The rice will take longer to become tender and absorb the liquid, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. You’ll want to consider swapping in chicken thighs for the breast because they would dry out an hour of baking. The thigh meat will be fine.
You do not need to pre-cook the rice before making this casserole. I have accounted for the amount of moisture the veggies will let off and the amount of broth needed to perfectly cook the rice through.
Cover the creamy chicken rice bake with foil and refrigerate up to four days. You can also store individual servings in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated.
Reheat each portion on a microwave-safe plate for 4 minutes or until steaming hot all the way through. Alternatively, the casserole can be reheated in the oven set at 350 degrees F. Keep it covered. Cook until it is hot all the way through. For best results, pour a little broth into the casserole (let it sink to the bottom) to prevent it from browning too much and letting the rice dry out.
More Casseroles To Try
- Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli Made with fresh or frozen chopped broccoli, with crunchy breadcrumb topping.
- Our Chicken Divan is a healthier version of the original classic broccoli chicken casserole.
- These Stuffed Shells with Spinach have a secret healthy ingredient mixed in!
- Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash A grown-up mac and cheese if ever there were one, made with rosemary and Gruyere Cheese
- Chicken and Biscuits Casserole On the best-of list- not to be missed!
- Easy Chicken Enchiladas come together super fast, or this Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole with homemade enchilada sauce is also a popular recipe.
- My Mexican Chicken Casserole is made with leftover chicken.
- If you’re looking for an alternative to canned cream of chicken soup, try this from scratch condensed Gluten-free Cream of Chicken Soup.
- One of the most famous kinds of hot dish involves tater tots on top! Check out this Tater Tot Hot Dish Recipe from Amanda’s site or this Tater Tot Casserole from Chandice.
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe
- Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
IMPROVED RECIPE!! Chicken and Rice Casserole- a healthy from-scratch version made without canned soup! Whole-grain quick cooking brown rice, lean chicken breast, creamy sauce and fresh veggies bakes up to make a complete meal! Naturally gluten-free and kid friendly.
- 2 cups instant brown rice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 4 ounces cream cheese, whipped or regular cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 pound chicken breast, cut into cubes
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 12 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread rice on top.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, thyme and pepper, and cook stirring often until the vegetables are just starting to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Scrape vegetable mixture out onto the rice, covering evenly.
- Top rice and vegetables with chicken and peas.
- Add broth to the skillet, increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cream cheese until melted.
- Pour in broth mixture, gently so as not to disturb the chicken and rice too much.
- Cover with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the rice has absorbed the liquid, 38 to 45 minutes.
- Remove foil, top with cheese and return to the oven until melted, about 10 minutes. Let rest uncovered for 10 minutes and serve hot garnished with parsley if desired.
To Make This Ahead: I would prepare it through step 3. Then, let the broth mixture cool. Then continue building the casserole as directed. Cover with foil and refrigerate for a day. Then continue on as directed, adding 20 minutes of extra time before removing the foil and adding cheese.
To Freeze It: Bake as directed, then freeze. Thaw and then rewarm, covered with foil in the oven at 350 degrees F until steaming hot all the way through, 25 to 35 minutes.
Used 3 cups brown instant rice, 4 cups broth, 3/4 cup peas, 1 cup carrots and 1 pound chicken.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Category: entree
- Method: oven
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/8 casserole
- Calories: 456
- Fat: 22 g
- Saturated Fat: 11 g
- Carbohydrates: 26 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 38 g
Keywords: chicken and rice casserole,healthy chicken and rice casserole,chicken and rice casserole without soup,brown rice and chicken casserole
I made this about a year ago and my family didn’t love it – but it’s worth a remake using the suggestions from this post – cutting the amount of rice.
My husband and I absolutely loved this comforting dish. Per the comments, we decreased the amount of rice to 2 cups and decreased the amount of broth to approx 2.5 cups. It was excellent. Thank you!
Hi ! This casserole is delicious but I felt like there was too much rice and it came out a bit dry , next time I will use less rice and keep the same amount of liquid .
Been trying to find gluten free recipes that the whole family can enjoy and this is a great one! Definitely gonna use a little less rice next time. I didn’t use the peas. I topped it off with more celery, carrots and onions and it turned out great. Also seasoned the cream cheese and broth mixture with parsley, garlic powder and accent seasoning. Will be putting this in the rotation!
loved the recipe. so simple, extra, and fancy. will try it when my mom pays me a visit.
Katie, it’s so amazing, literally my mouth filled with water while watching your video. Now I can’t wait to try this for my children. please keep sharing these kinds of recipes
thank you for the amazing stuff,
Way too much rice!!! Increase the meat and vegetable and decrease the rice!! oh my!
Any tips on adding more chicken? I used 3 lbs of chicken breast and it came out watery. I just cooked a little longer, but should I reduce the amount of broth next time?
That shouldn’t affect the amount of liquid too much. Did you use the amount of rice and broth stated in the recipe?
Any thoughts on using cauliflower rice?
Hey Rob. I love cauliflower rice, but I don’t think it will work for this recipe as a 1:1 swap. I actually want to try it myself now that you say it! Here’s what I would try: I would add frozen cauliflower rice to the veggie mixture in the skillet. Add it in after the veggies are softened and then let it warm through. Next I would cut the amount of broth down to 1 cup. Then follow the instructions as directed here. Make sure to grease the casserole dish well, as this will likely be sticky along the sides. Let me know if you try it and I will do the same if I do.
Absolutely delicious! A healthy version of one of my favorite things but just as satisfying! I did as another reviewer suggested and skipped the carrot and instead used a diced red bell pepper. I may have used an extra ounce or so of cream cheese. It Was perfect and healthy!
I am so glad to hear that this came out well for you! Thank you!
I often make recipes at home for my kids and I gonna try this, thanks for this addition to the recipe plan.
You are welcome!
I’ve always used regular rice and baked it for 1 hr, it would be interesting to try it out with instant rice. Thanks!
I hope you like it this way!
I’m watching my sodium what is the sodium contact for serving
Is the chicken cooked before it is added to the casserole? Or does it cook in the casserole?
It goes in raw and cooks through as the casserole bakes.
I followed the recipe except I used minute Jasmine rice. For me, there was too much rice, and the rice layer was sort of bland. I would lower the rice and increase meat and veggies. Maybe add some extra seasoning to the broth cream cheese mixture. It was easy though. Just needs tweaking for my tastes.
I know you have a family and your healthy meals probably are more for the ‘families’ of the world. This is not a dig! Your recipes are so good and delicious – I’m diabetic II and I can eat some of them (I have to watch some of the ingredients especially when it comes to sugar – I like Monk Fruit ’cause it won’t increase my sugar levels and it tastes just like sugar).
Don’t mean to go on, but I want to make your Chicken & Rice Casserole for my husband and grandson. When he’s not around, it’s just my husband and me, so am I able to half this recipe or any of your other recipes?? I just didn’t know if it was just that easy to ‘half all of the ingredients’ and then I was wondering if the oven temperature and time cooking would have to be changed. How would I do that………is there a ‘rule of thumb’ to go by? Thank you so much for your time in reading this and responding to me. My husband and I try to watch how much we eat at a serving and sometimes he likes leftovers (not much) so I’m just trying to figure out the best way to enjoy your recipes at the same time!!! Debra
When you halve a recipe the most important thing to consider is the size of your cooking vessel. Yes, halve the ingredients, but in the case of this casserole, you’ll need to use a smaller casserole dish. I think a 9 by 9 square dish would work. Thank you!