This Chicken And Rice Casserole is the easiest and most delicious weeknight dinner ever! Rice, chicken, and broccoli all conveniently cooked at the same time in the oven!
What I like the very best about this recipe is that I have my carb, my protein, and my veg all in one dish and I don’t have to think about side dishes and main dishes and extra dishes, dishes, dishes.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Rice – I recommend Jasmin or Basmati for this recipe. Long-grain white rice may take a longer cooking time as the grain tends to be thicker. You may also need more liquid because thicker grain absorbs more liquid.
- Chicken – you can use chicken breast or chicken thighs for this casserole. Both work the same way.
- Broccoli – You can use a variety of different vegetables. Broccoli is delicious in this but so is: mushrooms, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, snow peas, etc.
- Lemon zest – lemon zest makes this chicken and rice casserole a super special. You can replace it with lime zest or orange zest but lemon is my favorite. I definitely recommend adding some kind of zest.
- Grated cheese – any cheese that easily melts is good for getting the nice brown crusty cheese on top. Cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, Emmental, Mozzarella, Gouda…..Parmesan gets nice and brown when mixed with another does not meld nicely if alone though. I love mixing mozzarella, swiss, and a little parmesan for best results. The higher up you put your casserole in the oven, closer to the broiler, the nicer it browns and becomes a bit crusty.
- Crème Fraîche – you can replace this with sour cream if crème fraîche isn’t available at your grocery store. It is “almost” the same.
- Onion and garlic – as always important “flavor givers” as I love to call them. Few dishes are really complete without the two. I always recommend fresh because it is more flavorfull than dried. However, if you only have dried on hand you can use 1 tsp dried onion and 1/2 tsp dried garlic.
- Spices – the sky is the limit honestly, I like to keep it simple and add poultry seasoning, sea salt, and pepper.
- Boiling hot broth – big emphasis on BOILING HOT (!). If you add cold or warm broth your rice will take a good hour to bake in the oven. You have to add boiling hot broth so once you add the chicken and rice casserole into the oven it can simmer in there instead of having to get to boiling temperature first and then start simmering/steaming. Any broth works: vegetable, chicken, beef, mushroom, herb. My personal favorite here is chicken.
Do I Cook Rice Before Adding To Casserole Dish?
Short answer: No! Long answer: As long as you add boiling hot liquid and seal your ovenproof casserole dish well, your rice will cook perfectly well in the oven. No need to pre-boil the rice.
Many (the majority) of Chicken and Rice Casserole recipes I’ve seen call for cooked rice and cooked chicken and blanched vegetables. What exactly is the point of making a casserole when you have to cook everything separately? Also….who’s gonna wash all those dishes?
Needless to say, I went into the test kitchen and tried all different methods to make this work. What is the trick to getting perfectly cooked rice in the oven? Hot liquid and sealing. That is the trick. Rice only cooks when the liquid is brought to a boil and then there is little liquid evaporation during simmering on low. Basically, you want to steam it and you can only achieve that by adding boiling liquid in the first place and then sealing the ovenproof dish.
My ovenproof dish is flat on top so I can take a baking sheet, flip it upside down and place it right on top of my dish and thus seal it (see video in the recipe card). If your dish has elevated handles I’m afraid you will have to use aluminum foil. Use a big piece and then tightly seal it all around to make sure no liquid evaporates.
Oh and one important note: All rice grains have to be submerged in the hot liquid or else they won’t cook either. Use a spatula to press down the rice into the liquid.
Can I Cook Raw Chicken In Casserole?
Short answer: Yes! Long answer: Chicken has to be cooked to 165F internal temperature. If you cube your chicken and put it in a 400F preheated oven, it will most definitely cook to that internal temperature within 15-20 minutes.
If you use ice-cold liquid for the rice instead of boiling, neither your rice nor your chicken will cook in 20 minutes. It may take up to an hour in this case.
How Do You Fix Uncooked Rice In Casserole?
If for some weird reason your rice didn’t cook. Maybe because you forgot to press it down into the liquid or your liquid wasn’t hot when you added it, or you didn’t achieve a tight seal with your baking sheet or aluminum foil, don’t worry!
Drizzle 1/4 cup hot liquid well spread out on top of your still cheeseless casserole, this time seal it super-duper extra well, and quickly return it to the hot oven for another 5-10 minutes.
More Chicken and Rice Recipes
Chicken And Rice Casserole
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup white Jasmine or Basmati rice
- zest of 1 lemon
- sea salt
- 1/2 Tbsp poultry seasoning
- 2 chicken breasts - 10 oz / 300g total for both
- 1 head broccoli
- 1.75 cups boiling hot chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp sour cream or crème fraîche
- 2 cups melty cheese - mozzarella, parmesan, swiss or a mix of all
- fresh basil - optional, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
- Peel and finely chop onion and garlic and then stir-fry in a little avocado oil in a pan over medium heat until slightly brown.
- Add browned onion and garlic, rice, spices, and lemon zest to an ovenproof dish (11"x8") and set aside.
- Cube chicken breasts into 1" cubes. Wash, dry, and cut broccoli into bite-size florets. Add chicken and broccoli to the other ingredients in the ovenproof dish.
- In a large bowl or jug whisk together boiling hot chicken broth and sour cream until well combined.
- Pour broth over all other ingredients, mix well and then press everything down into the broth with a spatula. All rice grains need to be submerged in the broth or they won't cook.
- If your ovenproof dish is flat at the top, cover it with a flipped baking sheet. If it is not flat, use aluminum foil to get a tight seal.
- Bake for 20-30* minutes, then remove the casserole from the oven, lift off the baking sheet or aluminum foil, sprinkle grated cheese on top of everything and place back in the oven under the broiler for 4-7 minutes.
- The closer up next to the broiler you place the dish, the bubblier and browner the cheese gets.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle with chopped fresh basil if desired, and enjoy!