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.

overhead of casserole with a scoop taken out

I shared this recipe on December 10, 2018. I have improved the recipe to share it with you again today.

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

ingredients for this recipe with labels
  • 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

layer the raw instant rice in the bottom of the casserole. Saute the veggies

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.

add sauteed veggies on top of the rice. Top them with chicken and peas

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.

make the sauce and then pour over the  casserole

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.

baking the casserole dish with foil and topping with cheesev

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.

cheesy topping of the casserole

Serving Suggestions

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

Do you cook the chicken first?

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.

Can I sub regular brown rice?

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.

Do I cook the rice before adding it to a casserole?

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

a serving of the casserole on the plate

At Healthy Seasonal Recipes, we specialize in cooking with fresh veggies and creating weeknight meals. Sign up HERE to get more produce-forward dinner ideas for FREE! 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! ~Katie

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overhead of casserole with a scoop taken out

Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.6 from 34 reviews

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • 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.  


Units Scale
  • 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
  • 1/2 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


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 12 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread rice on top.
  2. 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.
  3. Scrape vegetable mixture out onto the rice, covering evenly.
  4. Top rice and vegetables with chicken and peas.
  5. Add broth to the skillet, increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cream cheese until melted.
  6.  Pour in broth mixture, gently so as not to disturb the chicken and rice too much.
  7. 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.
  8. 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