This easy chicken and rice recipe is a superb one-pot dinner for your busiest days. Perfectly seasoned rice is loaded with succulent chicken pieces, lots of veggies, and deliciously melty Monterey Jack cheese.
For a quick and tasty dinner without much fuss or mess, try this one-skillet chicken and rice recipe. It’s simple and efficient, perfect for busy evenings. The dish features rice, veggies, and tender pieces of chicken, all mixed with a generous spoonful of sour cream. Seasoned with thyme and garlic for added flavor, it’s finished with a sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese, which melts through the dish for a deliciously creamy result.
Why You’ll Love This Chicken and Rice Recipe
- Comfort Food. There’s just something about a warm, cheesy chicken and rice dish that is sure to fill your belly and warm your heart. It’s perfect for these chilly winter days.
- One-skillet wonder. I love that this entire dish is prepared in one skillet. It makes cleanup SO easy! Plus, you don’t even need to make a side dish if you don’t want to – it is a complete meal on its own.
- Quick and easy. In just a few simple steps and 40 minutes from start to finish, you will have this satisfying meal on your table.
- Customizable. It’s easy to tweak this recipe here and there to fit your taste preferences. Swap out the meat, try different veggies, or consider a different cheese, etc.
- Olive oil
- Chicken Breasts – You could use boneless chicken thighs or tenders or try cubing up some steak or pork. Ground beef, chicken, or turkey would all be great options.
- Yellow onions – White onions would also work, as would shallots.
- Bell pepper – I used a green bell pepper but you can use any color you’d like. Also, feel free to add other veggies here too. Zucchini, mushrooms, and/or broccoli would be tasty additions.
- Thyme – Feel free to add different herbs, like fresh or dried oregano, sage, or Italian seasoning.
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic cloves – Or use garlic powder.
- Water – You could also use chicken broth.
- Uncooked instant rice – You can use either brown or white instant rice. I have made this recipe with both using the same cook time. While the brown rice added more flavor, it did turn out a tad bit mushier.
- Light sour cream – If you’d like to use yogurt instead, you can.
- Tomato – I used a whole diced tomato, but you could use halved cherry tomatoes instead.
- Sweet paprika – You are more than welcome to use smoked paprika, cayenne, or another favorite if you want a little extra heat.
- Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese – The cheese is optional, but I love the extra layer of savory decadence it brings to the table. If you don’t have or like Monterey Jack, try shredded cheddar or crumbled feta instead.
- Green onions and parsley – for garnish. These are optional, but they add a nice pop of color and a freshness factor that I really enjoy.
How to Make Chicken and Rice
Tie on your apron and get cooking! Dinner will be on the table in just 40 minutes. Here’s a quick look at how to make this one pot wonder. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
- Brown the chicken. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides.
- Saute the veggies. Add the onions and bell peppers, season with salt, pepper, and thyme, and saute until the veggies are tender.
- Put it all together. Stir in the garlic, water, rice, and sour cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and then stir in the tomatoes and paprika.
- Cook. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the skillet, and cook for 7 minutes.
- Finishing touches. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the cheese, and garnish with green onions and parsley. Give the final product a taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
- Make it crusty (optional). Pop the skillet under the broiler for a minute or 2.
Recipe Tips And Variations
- Even pieces. Be sure to cut your chicken into even-sized pieces. This will help ensure that everything cooks at the same time.
- Don’t crowd the pan. When browning the chicken, be sure not to overcrowd the pan. The chicken will steam instead of sear, ending you with tough, rubbery meat.
- Use the right pan. I found a 12-inch skillet to be perfect for this recipe. Anything smaller or larger and you’ll want to scale the recipe down or up accordingly to ensure proper cooking. I suggest a nonstick skillet to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.
- Try different veggies. Feel free to add your favorite veggies to the pan. Saute some sliced mushrooms, zucchini, or broccoli (or really any other veggie of your choosing) along with the onions and bell peppers.
- Different protein. I love the chicken in this recipe but you could easily use cubed pork or beef instead. You could even brown up some ground beef – or ground chicken or turkey or pork – and use that instead.
- Play with cheese. I used Monterey Jack this time but you could use different cheeses here. Try feta, goat cheese, cheddar, or pepper Jack. You could even try a combination of several. The cheese is optional, so you can leave it out altogether if you’d like.
I like serving this hearty, cheesy main with a side of cooked vegetables or a bright, light salad. I have really been enjoying this Cheesy Grilled Asparagus in Foil Packs and my Parmesan Garlic Roasted Carrots. If you’re in a salad mood, try my Green Goddess Salad or this Tomato Burrata Salad. A side of Lavash Bread is also a wonderful choice!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- To store. Allow the chicken and rice to cool to room temperature before sealing it in an airtight container and storing it in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To reheat. Thaw the leftovers in the freezer (if applicable) before spreading them into a baking dish, covering, and baking at 350°F for 20 minutes or until heated through. You can also microwave smaller portions in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until warm.
Easy Chicken Recipes
- Chicken and Vegetables Pasta Bake
- Chicken Rogan Josh
- Hot Honey Chicken
- Chicken Stuffing Casserole
- Chicken Satay
- Mediterranean Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Chicken and Rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cubed
- 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small bell pepper, diced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
- salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1¼ cups low sodium chicken broth, or water
- 1½ cups uncooked instant rice, you could use white rice or brown rice
- ½ cup light sour cream, you can also use plain yogurt
- 1 large tomato, diced
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 cup reduced fat shredded monterey jack cheese
- 2 green onions, sliced
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large 12-inch cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add cubed chicken pieces to the heated oil and cook until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes.
- Add onions and peppers. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 20 seconds. Add water, rice, and sour cream; stir until well blended and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add tomatoes and season with paprika.
- Lower heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and continue to cook for about 7 minutes, or until rice is tender.
- Remove from heat; sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top, cover, and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Taste the dish for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
- Optionally, for a browned, crusty top, you can pop the skillet under the broiler for a couple of minutes before serving.
- Garnish with green onions and parsley, and serve.
- Cut the chicken into even-sized pieces for even cooking.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan when browning the chicken to prevent it from becoming rubbery and dry.
- Use a larger nonstick skillet for this recipe.
- Experiment with various veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, or broccoli.
- Substitute the chicken with pork, beef, or ground meats.
- Try different cheeses like feta, goat, cheddar, or pepper Jack, or omit cheese altogether.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
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.