By: The Real Food Dietitians Posted: 2/13/23
Here’s a comforting casserole that checks all the boxes for what you want in a homemade dinner. With familiar flavors and a proven tasty combination of chicken and rice, this recipe is delicious and something the whole family will look forward to eating. This chicken and rice casserole recipe is also veggie loaded and features a creamy cheese sauce base. Additionally, you can make it conveniently from easy to find ingredients.
This Chicken and Rice Casserole recipe is one you’ll come back to for your weekly meal plans because it:
- is made from easy-to-find ingredients and frozen pre-chopped veggies to save time
- is comforting with familiar, well-loved flavors in a creamy, cheesy sauce
- includes healthful ingredients, including veggies, chicken, and brown rice
A Delicious, healthy chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe
Favorite flavors come together in this Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole recipe that is easy, veggie loaded, and family friendly. Plus, you can easily make it gluten free, if needed, by using a gluten-free flour blend. You can’t go wrong when familiar flavors hit the table, and you can rest easy knowing that dinner will include several food groups plus plenty of protein and fiber all in a cozy casserole.
Ingredients to make Chicken and Rice Casserole
Here are the ingredients to gather to make this recipe today:
- boneless skinless chicken breast – you could also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- uncooked rice – we recommend basmati, jasmine, or long-grain white rice
- frozen California vegetable blend – we call for a bag of “California” blend frozen veggies, which is common at all grocery stores and includes a mix of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
- onion – use a small yellow or white onion
- all-purpose flour – may use regular unbleached all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour. For gluten-free flour, we always reach for Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. If you don’t need casserole that is gluten free, you can use an equal amount of unbleached all-purpose flour. We’ve tested this recipe with both, and both flours achieve great results
- broth – use chicken or vegetable broth
- milk – you can use any dairy or non-dairy milk of choice; we used 2% cow’s milk
- pantry spices – you’ll need garlic powder, paprika, fine salt, and black pepper
- Dijon mustard
- Shredded cheddar cheese
Find the ingredient list with exact measurements in the recipe card below.
how to make chicken and rice casserole Recipe
Here are the basic steps for how to make chicken and rice casserole:
- Make the cheese sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk. Reduce the heat and add the milk. Next whisk in the broth and spices. Increase the heat and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add 2 cups of the cheese; stir until smooth.
- Build the casserole: Pour the cheese sauce into the baking dish. Add the chicken, rice, onion, and frozen vegetables; stir well.
- Cover and bake: Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir the casserole. Re-cover and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil. Stir the casserole again, then sprinkle remaining cheese over top.
- Melt the cheese: Return the dish to the oven, uncovered, and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
For the complete directions, ingredient amounts, and nutrition analysis that lists calories, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, sodium per serving, scroll down to the recipe card below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I use raw chicken or pre-cooked chicken in this casserole?
We call for raw chicken in this casserole, however, you could use pre-cooked chicken instead and stir it in during Step 6 of the recipe card below (after the casserole has been baking for 30 minutes).
Can I use different vegetables?
Certainly, you can use any mix of raw or frozen vegetables that you would prefer.
Is it possible to freeze this casserole?
Yes, you can fully make this casserole ahead, then allow it to cool at room temperature before covering tightly and freezing for up to 3 months. To reheat, allow the casserole to thaw in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours before baking, then reheat in a 375-degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through.
How should I store leftovers?
Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
For the Cheese Sauce:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (½ stick)
- ⅓ cup flour*
- 3 cups milk of choice (we used 2%)
- 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided (2 ½ – ¾ cups)
For the Casserole:
- 1 ¼ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (~½ inch)
- 1 cup uncooked basmati, jasmine, or long-grain white rice
- ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (~ 1 cup)
- 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen California blend vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
- Preheat the oven to 375℉.
- Generously mist or grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or butter; set aside.
- Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk for 1 minute.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the milk, 1 cup at a time, whisking slowly and continuously after each addition until all of the milk has been added. Next whisk in the broth. Stir in the garlic powder, salt, mustard, paprika, and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and allow the mixture to come to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
- Add 2 cups of the shredded cheese to the sauce; stir until smooth. Pour the cheese sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add the raw chicken pieces, uncooked rice, onion, and frozen vegetables. Stir well to combine. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and stir the casserole. Re-cover with the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and remove the foil. Stir the casserole once more, then sprinkle the remaining 1/2-3/4 cup cheese over the top.
- Return the dish to the oven, uncovered, and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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- Serving Size: 1/8 of the recipe
- Calories: 402
- Fat: 18 g
- (Sat Fat: 11 g)
- Sodium: 650 mg
- Carbohydrate: 32 g
- (Fiber: 2 g
- Sugar: 7 g)
- Protein: 28 g
- Cholesterol: 92. mg
© The Real Food Dietitians
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Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Rachel of Half Acre House
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