Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole is an easy dish that you can make from scratch and serve to your family in under one hour. It’s made with broccoli, cauliflower, chicken, shallots, garlic, rice, white sauce, cheese, and breadcrumbs. This dish is anything but boring and your whole family will love it.
What is Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole?
This creamy chicken and broccoli casserole is made without soup and is baked in the oven until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Each scoop is filled with chicken, rice, vegetables, and cheese. This is a Sunday dinner favorite that my kids love to eat and I love to make.
This old-school dish has been revamped with the addition of cauliflower and the substitution of bechamel sauce in place of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. You get the same comforting feeling when eating it, but with all new flavors. While it may not be the healthiest dish you’ll eat all week, it will certainly be the tastiest.
- 4 cups broccoli florets: Buy the freshest broccoli you can find in the produce section of the grocery store.
- 4 cups cauliflower florets: Use fresh cauliflower as well.
- 2 chicken breasts (1 pound): Chicken breasts are perfect for this recipe because they’re easy to chop after cooking.
- 1 shallot, chopped: Finely dice the shallot because it’s a strong flavor.
- 5 garlic cloves: Make sure your garlic cloves are fresh and have a strong scent.
- 2 cups cooked rice: Short-grain white is perfect for this recipe.
- 2 cup bechamel sauce: You can find this sauce in jars next to the pesto or spaghetti sauce at the grocery store.
- 1 cup cheese: Shredded cheddar cheese is a classic choice for this dish.
- panko breadcrumbs for topping: These become golden brown and add a wonderful crunchy top.
- olive oil: Any neutral oil will work here.
- salt and pepper: Seasoning is necessary to bring out the other flavors and make a well-rounded dish.
How to make cheesy chicken and rice casserole:
Here’s a brief overview of how to make this dish. See the recipe card below for the specific recipe instructions.
1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
2. Steam broccoli and cauliflower florets for 2-3 minutes or until half-cooked.
3. Saute shallots in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add cauliflower and broccoli, mix through, cook for 2 minutes.
5. Sear chicken breasts on both sides for 14 minutes total (7 per side). It should be golden on the outside but still slightly pink in the middle. Slice chicken into pieces.
6. Mix rice, cauliflower, shallots, broccoli, 1 cup of bechamel, cheese, and chicken together.
7. Transfer into a casserole dish and top with cheese, 1 cup of bechamel, and panko.
8. Bake for 40 minutes.
Tips for success:
Here are a few tips for success and variations you can try to make this the best cheesy chicken and rice casserole you've ever had.
- Replace the bechamel sauce with cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup if you can’t find it at the grocery store.
- Use frozen broccoli or cauliflower if the fresh isn’t, in fact, very fresh.
- Try brown rice or wild rice in place of white rice.
- Use chicken thighs or rotisserie shredded chicken instead of chicken breasts.
- Give it a Mexican flair by adding chili powder.
How can I make this casserole in a crockpot?
It’s easy to make cheesy chicken and rice casserole in a slow cooker. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of the slow cooker, place the lid on, and cook on high for four to six hours. The chicken easily shreds and the rice has plenty of time to get soft. The flavors all combine and come together in a mouth-watering meal.
What can I serve with this dish?
While it’s not necessary to serve anything on the side of this filling dish, you can choose light side dishes or bread. Try roasted vegetables, a fruit salad, or dinner rolls. When you’re thinking of what to serve on the side of any dish, take into consideration the flavors and consistency of the main meal. You want to have opposing textures and flavors to make it as satisfying as possible.
Can I make cheesy chicken and rice casserole in an instant pot?
Using the instant pot is easy and doesn’t require you to heat up the oven. It’s a great alternative to traditional baking. All you have to do is combine all the ingredients in the pressure cooker, seal on the lid, and cook for 20 minutes. Carefully release the pressure, remove the lid, and serve. There’s no need to saute the vegetables, par-cook the rice, or sear the chicken since the instant pot will do all the heavy lifting.
How to serve?
Store any leftover casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat it in the microwave with 30-second increments until it’s hot all the way through.
To freeze the entire casserole, wrap it in aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Label it with what it is, how to cook, and the date. Labeling will help you remember later. Remember that if you cook it from frozen, it will take longer to cook in the oven without thawing first. Keep the foil on until the last 30 minutes of cooking so the top can brown.
What else can I top this chicken and rice casserole with?
Some other crunchy options to add to the top of this dish are sliced almonds, fried onion strings, chopped pecans, or chopped walnuts.
How can I make cheesy chicken and rice casserole spicy?
If you like your casserole with a little spicy flair, add some diced fresh or pickled jalapenos, cayenne powder, chili flakes, or a dash of tabasco.
Is this chicken and rice casserole recipe healthy?
Is very easy to make this dish healthier. The best way to do this is to replace the bechamel sauce with chicken stock. This cuts out a lot of fat and preservatives and still tastes delicious.
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 chicken breasts (1 pound)
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2 cup bechamel sauce
- 1 cup cheese
- panko breadcrumbs for topping
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
- Steam broccoli and cauliflower florets for 2-3 minutes or until half-cooked.
- Saute shallots in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add cauliflower and broccoli, mix through, cook for 2 minutes.
- Sear chicken breasts on both sides for 14 minutes total (7 per side). It should be golden on the outside but still slightly pink in the middle. Slice chicken into pieces.
- Mix rice, cauliflower, shallots, broccoli,1 cup of bechamel, cheese, and chicken together.
- Transfer into a casserole dish and top with cheese, 1 cup of bechamel, and panko.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 328Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 289mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 20g