This easy chicken and rice casserole is a quick and healthy dinner for the whole family. It’s made completely from scratch with juicy chicken pieces nestled on a bed of tender baked rice. Simple, yet delicious!
Easy Baked Chicken and Rice Casserole
I grew up watching my mom prepare beautiful, super-delicious family dinners day after day. It’s one of the main reasons I became a food blogger! No matter how tired or busy mom was, she pulled together home-cooked comfort food like crock pot chicken and rice or today’s baked chicken and rice casserole. This easy recipe is one of my favorite childhood meals. My sister and I were always tasked with spreading the rice into the baking dish. It brings back so many fond memories of helping our mom in the kitchen whenever we could!
Like many of those meals, this dish right here is easy, but it’s made from scratch! We never used boxed rice casseroles – just from scratch dinners with wholesome ingredients.
Why You’ll Love This Chicken Casserole Recipe
- (Almost) one-pot. Once you’ve pre-cooked your chicken and veggies, everything gets added to one baking dish to finish off between the stovetop and the oven.
- Kid-friendly. This easy chicken and rice casserole has delicious, mild flavors combined with healthy veggies and protein. It’s a quick and tasty dinner idea that kids go crazy for. I also love getting my kids involved in the process. Their favorite thing is to help wash the vegetables!
- Versatile. Who doesn’t love an adaptable casserole recipe? Easily customize this chicken rice casserole with your favorite variations. See below for ideas!
Ingredients For Chicken And Rice Casserole
Below is a short outline of what goes into this flavorful chicken and rice casserole. Scroll down to the recipe card for a full ingredient list and detailed instructions.
- Chicken: Bone-in, skin-on chicken is best for this casserole. I like to make this recipe with drumsticks, but chicken thighs are another great option. Boneless skinless chicken tends to get dry, while bone-in chicken will stay moist and tender during the long cooking process.
- Rice: I make my casserole with long white rice. Make sure you’re using regular rice and not instant rice for this recipe.
- Veggies: Chopped carrots, celery, and onion are my aromatics of choice. They help to flavor the chicken stock while adding a boost of color and nutrition to the dish.
What’s the Best Rice to Use?
I recommend using regular white rice. Uncle Ben’s white rice has always been a family favorite. Brown rice requires a longer cooking time and won’t work here. Also, avoid using instant rice as it will overcook and become a mushy mess.
How to Make Chicken and Rice Casserole
You’ll need a stovetop-safe baking dish for this recipe. I recommend a Dutch oven with a lid, otherwise, a cast-iron pot or a pan made from aluminum or stainless steel will also work. The casserole itself is a no-fuss, 3-step process.
- Prepare the chicken and veggies. First, add the chicken drumsticks to a large pot with water. Cover and bring the pot to a boil. Use a spoon to skim any residue from the top of the water. Then, add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot, lower the heat, and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Assemble the casserole. While your oven preheats to 375ºF, spread uncooked white rice into the bottom of a stove-safe baking dish. Next, remove the chicken drumsticks from the pot and nestle them into the rice. Pour the remaining broth over the top.
- Cook. Now, you’ll bring the contents of the baking dish to a boil on the stovetop. Season the casserole with salt and pepper before transferring the dish from the stove to the oven. Bake the chicken and rice for 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Once out of the oven, let the casserole rest for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Tips for Successful Chicken And Rice Casserole
- Use bone-in chicken. This casserole turns out best with bone-in chicken, like drumsticks or thighs. Boneless cuts, like chicken breasts, tend to overcook and become dry.
- Use the right baking dish. It’s important to use a Dutch oven or a similar baking dish that can go from the stovetop to the oven. Avoid glass or ceramic baking dishes for this recipe.
- Add more rice. If you notice that there is quite a bit more broth than there is rice in the pan after the casserole ingredients are combined, add another quarter-cup of rice as needed.
- Add flavor to the broth. Stir a chicken bouillon cube or onion soup mix into the broth to give more flavor to the rice.
My chicken and rice casserole uses simple ingredients, without any canned soups or complicated seasonings. Of course, like most casserole recipes, this chicken and rice bake is easy to customize to your family’s tastes. Here are some variations to try:
- Chicken thighs. Make this recipe with bone-in skin-on chicken thighs in place of drumsticks.
- Broccoli. Make a variation of broccoli chicken and rice casserole and boil broccoli florets in the pot with the chicken and vegetables.
- More veggies. Add quick-cooking veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, or zucchini to the baking pan before bringing the rice to a boil and placing the casserole into the oven.
- Herbs. Stir fresh thyme, parsley, garlic, basil, or a dried herb blend like Italian seasoning into the rice for extra flavor. You can also sprinkle fresh chopped herbs over the baked casserole as a garnish.
- Seasonings. Give the casserole a sprinkling with homemade chicken seasoning or taco seasoning before baking.
- Cheesy. To make a cheesy chicken and rice casserole, grate fresh mozzarella, cheddar, or Swiss cheese over top of the casserole during the last 10 minutes of baking time. Switch on the broiler afterward to get the cheese golden and bubbly.
What to Serve With Chicken and Rice
This chicken dinner is a meal on its own, which is one more reason why it’s a weeknight favorite for us. There are also plenty of ways to bulk up this casserole dinner with some delicious sides!
- Roasted Vegetables. While the oven is hot, prepare a side of oven-roasted vegetables to pair with your chicken rice casserole. Other favorites are roasted green beans and roasted Brussels sprouts.
- Greens. Serve with simple sauteed spinach or creamed spinach, or a side of garlicky sauteed broccolini.
- Bread. Serve this casserole with light skillet cornbread or sweet dinner rolls.
- Salad. This easy casserole goes great with a side salad. Try a kale quinoa salad or this hearty chickpea salad.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
- Fridge: Store leftover chicken and rice in an airtight container and refrigerate it within 1 hour of cooking. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat this casserole in the microwave or on the stovetop until piping hot throughout.
- Freezer: Prepare the casserole as directed, but leave it unbaked. Allow the casserole to cool, and then cover it tightly with foil. It can be stored frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost the casserole in the fridge and then bake uncovered, adding a few extra minutes to the baking time. I don’t recommend freezing leftovers, however, as cooked rice tends to change texture after it’s thawed.
More Easy Chicken Casserole Recipes
- King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken Zucchini Casserole
- Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Casserole
Chicken and Rice Casserole
- 8 chicken pieces, we like to use drumsticks and bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 6 cups water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 yellow onions, coarsely sliced
- 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 3 large carrots coarsely sliced
- 1½ cups long white rice
- salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Place chicken pieces in a large pot and cover with 6 cups water; bring to a boil. Using a large spoon, remove the white foam from the top of the water.
- Add in the sliced onions, celery pieces, and carrots; cover the pot, lower to medium-low heat, and cook for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Spread the uncooked rice on the bottom of a baking dish. You will need a baking dish that is stovetop and oven-safe.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and arrange them over the rice.
- Pour 3 cups of broth into the baking dish with the rice and chicken. Depending on how much water was reduced while making the broth, you may need to add up to ¼-cup more rice.
- Place the dish over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Remove from stovetop and place in oven; bake for 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Serve.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.