Chicken and rice casserole with broccoli is a super-simple one-pan meal that helps you get a flavorful meal on the table quickly and without a lot of work. This dish – unlike a lot of other casseroles – uses raw chicken breasts, which saves you time and money, and no canned mushroom soup.
There’s Nothing Better than Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
This easy recipe steps you through how to make a simple homemade mushroom soup. When you see how simple it is, I bet you never go back to the can! Plus, it gives this casserole so much more flavor as it does in chicken stuffing casserole. Paired with rice (which absorbs all that mushroom soup flavor), it’s the perfect base for this rich and creamy chicken casserole.
Maybe the best part is the buttery Ritz cracker topping! Crunchy and salty and just so darn good! It’s pure comfort food recipe the entire family will love.
The whole casserole comes together in about 15 minutes, so it’s a nice recipe to keep on hand for weeknights when you want a hot, home cooked meal. Last minute guests? This recipe doesn’t need any planning grab some chicken breasts and fresh broccoli and you probably have everything else in your pantry.
If you want a casserole using rotisserie chicken then try a chicken cordon bleu casserole.
You can make this cheesy casserole and bake it right away, or if you have some time to plan ahead, you can prepare it in advance and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake. Since everything comes together in one pan, clean-up is a breeze.
All of the ingredients in this casserole are things you can keep in your freezer or pantry, so you can always have the ingredients on hand to make a satisfying dinner without another stop at the store. As a bonus, this chicken broccoli casserole makes great leftovers, so make extra and you’ll have another meal – cook once, eat twice.
If you want a side dish that is to as hearty, then try a simple broccoli cheddar casserole without rice.
What to Serve with a Chicken Broccoli & Rice Casserole Recipe
This cheesy chicken broccoli rice casserole is the perfect one-pan meal, but that doesn’t mean some sides wouldn’t be a great addition! I like to have mine with some dinner rolls or cornbread, but it also goes well with a simple Greek salad or even some fresh fruit for an effortless side dish.
Are chicken breasts or chicken thighs better for a casserole?
Chicken breasts work best in this casserole. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts get tender and juicy when they’re cooked in the sauce. The short cooking time of this casserole makes chicken breasts an ideal candidate.
While chicken thighs are fattier and have more flavor, they taste better the longer they cook, so save the thighs for long-cooking dishes like chicken adobo and use breasts for this casserole.
Make this casserole for dinner tonight!
- It only dirties one pan. Using an oven-safe skillet like a cast iron makes this dish a breeze to make and clean up – the pan goes right from the stove into the oven.
- It uses raw chicken to save you time. Casseroles that use cooked chicken are great for using up leftover meat or for when you have some time to plan ahead, but this recipe uses raw chicken – so it’s an excellent choice for when you haven’t planned what you’re going to make for dinner and you have hungry people to feed.
- It comes together in less than an hour. From start to finish, the whole recipe takes less than an hour to prep and cook. It’s a great last-minute meal because it’s super flavorful and crowd-pleasing but doesn’t take much time or effort to get on the table for a busy weeknights. Even if you’re brand new to cooking at home, you can make this dish.
- Tender Chicken. By cooking the chicken in the sauce it stays moist and tender.
Why make homemade cream of mushroom soup?
A can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup is a common ingredient in many casserole recipes. It’s an ingredient that many people keep in their pantries, because it has a creamy texture that binds casserole ingredients together. A can of soup can be an excellent option for getting dinner on the table when you just need to make something fast but there are drawbacks.
However, if you have a couple of ingredients and a few extra minutes, making your own cream of mushroom soup is an easy way to elevate a homemade casserole recipe. Using simple ingredients like milk, onions, and mushrooms really makes a difference in the flavor of the dish and leaves you with a more interesting sauce.
Plus you know exactly what you’re eating, no chemicals or preservatives and you can control the sodium.
What You’ll Need For Chicken, Rice, and Broccoli Casserole
- Chicken: Using raw chicken saves you time on prep and as it cooks in the sauce it becomes so tender.
- Broccoli: You can use either fresh or frozen broccoli florets, if using frozen, make sure to thaw first and depending on how soft you like your broccoli, you might not need to microwave it.
- Rice: I like to use plain long grain white rice for this casserole, not instant rice. You can also use brown rice, but you would want to get the quick-cooking kind. Regular brown rice takes forever to cook and needs more liquid to cook than white rice.
- Onion and mushroom: Fresh onions and mushrooms add lots of flavor to the casserole. You can use any variety of onions and mushrooms that you prefer or have on hand.
- Butter and flour: Cooking a little flour in an equal amount of butter results in a roux, which you’ll use to thicken the homemade soup. Have some extra butter on hand for tossing with the Ritz cracker crumbs for an ultra-rich, crunchy, and buttery topping.
- Milk and chicken broth: Using a mixture of milk and chicken broth makes the soup flavorful but not too rich. You can use boxed or canned broth or a bouillon cube.
- Sour cream and mayonnaise: Sour cream and mayonnaise add creamy richness to the casserole. I recommend using the full-fat variety of both for the best results. The combination of the two give it a creamy texture without being too sour.
- Ritz crackers – Ritz crackers make a crispy and buttery topping for the casserole, which is an excellent contrast to the creamy and tender filling. You can also use panko breadcrumbs for the topping if you don’t have Ritz crackers.
- Shredded cheese: Mixing cheddar cheese into the soup distributes it through the whole dish and gives the casserole a great cheesy flavor.
Ingredients you will NOT find in this casserole.
- A can of cream of mushroom soup
- Instant rice
- Rotisserie chicken
- Mushy broccoli
Not that any of those things are bad but without them you’ll get a fresh casserole that has more flavor and the perfect texture.
How To Make One-Pan Chicken, Broccoli, Rice Recipe
Step 1: Prepare the homemade cream of mushroom soup.
Grab a cast iron pan (or other oven-proof large skillet), and melt some butter. Then add in the mushrooms and onions. Saute them until they’re softened, and then add in the flour and cook for at least 1 minute. Slowly stir in the chicken broth and milk, and cook until just barely thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until it’s fully melted.
Finally, stir in the sour cream and mayonnaise, and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Add the chicken and rice.
Add the uncooked rice to the soup and stir to combine, then add the chicken. Cover the pan with an oven-safe lid or aluminum foil and bake the casserole until the rice is fully cooked and all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Step 3: Prepare the broccoli.
While the casserole bakes, cook the broccoli. Chop the broccoli into bite-size florets, then place them into a microwave-safe bowl with just a little bit of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for a couple of minutes until the broccoli is tender with just a little bit of snap.
Step 4: Finish the casserole.
Combine crushed Ritz crackers with butter in a small bowl and stir to combine thoroughly.
Remove the casserole from the oven after half an hour and stir in the broccoli. Spread the Ritz topping evenly over the casserole and place it back into the oven on the broil setting to brown and crisp the top.
Remove the casserole from the oven and enjoy.
How do I know when rice is cooked?
Generally, rice is cooked in a 1:2 ratio of rice to water or other liquid – so for each cup of rice you want to cook, you’ll need two cups of liquid. The rice absorbs the liquid and expands, so a good indication that the rice is fully cooked is there’s no liquid left in the pan.
Covering the pan keeps the liquid and steam trapped inside to cook the rice. It’s best not to uncover the pan for at least the minimum cooking time, usually around 20 minutes.
The best way to check if the rice is done cooking is to taste a few grains. If the middle of the grain is hard or crunchy, it needs more time. If you sample your rice and it’s not fully cooked, but there’s no more liquid in the pan, you can stir in a little bit more water or chicken stock. Re-cover the pan and cook it for a little longer, then sample it again to ensure it’s cooked through.
Tips for Making Perfect Easy Casserole Recipes with Chicken
- Make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF. You can use a meat thermometer make sure it has cooked through. The time will vary depending on how thick the chicken breasts are.
- If you choose to use frozen broccoli, thaw first and add directly to the casserole. It won’t need to be microwaved unless you like soft broccoli.
- If you don’t have an oven-proof skillet with a lid, you can place this in a casserole dish and cover it with aluminum foil. it might take a little longer to cook this way so use a meat thermometer to test the chicken.
How to Store Chicken and Rice Casserole with Broccoli
In the refrigerator: Store any leftover casserole in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
In the freezer: You can freeze the casserole in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
How to reheat: Reheat individual portions in the microwave until warmed through, or reheat the entire casserole in the oven at 350ºF. You can re-broil the casserole to get the topping crispy again. If storing before it has baked, wait to add the topping until right before baking.
What if I don’t have an oven-safe skillet or a lid?
If you don’t have an oven-safe pan or lid, you have a few options.
If you have an oven-safe skillet like a cast iron pan but no lid, you can simply wrap your pan tightly with aluminum foil to keep the steam in.
If you don’t have a skillet that can go in the oven safely, you can make the soup mixture on the stove and transfer the casserole filling to a 9×13 casserole baking dish and cover it tightly with foil before baking. It might take a little longer since you’ll lose the heat from the pan, but it will work just fine.
Broccoli Chicken Rice FAQs
Can I omit the mushrooms?
The mushrooms bring a deep, savory flavor to the dish – but if you can’t stand them or just don’t have them on hand, you can leave them out and use more onion in the soup.
Does this dish work with other meats?
This dish works best with chicken breasts because of the liquid from the chicken. I would not substitute any other meat other than chicken thighs.
More Chicken Casseroles to try
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One Pan Chicken and Rice Casserole with Broccoli in a Homemade Sauce
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¾ cups uncooked rice
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Ovenproof skillet with lid
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter to an oven proof skillet with a lid. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until softened. Add flour and stir for about a minute. Gradually whisk in milk and chicken broth until it has slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted.
- Remove from heat and add sour cream and mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add uncooked rice and stir to combine. Add uncooked chicken breasts. Cover and bake for 30 minutes until the liquid is incorporated and the rice has softened and the chicken registers at 165º.
- While the casserole is cooking, place bite size florets of broccoli in a microwave safe bowl with ¼ cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes until broccoli is just tender.
- In a small bowl combine crushed Ritz crackers and butter and stir with a fork.
- When the casserole has cooked for 30 minutes, remove and add broccoli, stirring into the rice mixture. Cover with cracker mixture and place under the broiler for 2 minutes until the crackers have browned.
- If you don’t have a covered skillet, place everything in a casserole dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. It may take a little longer to cook this way.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF. Use a meat thermometer. If chicken breasts are thick, the cooking time may be longer.
- If you choose to use frozen broccoli, you don’t need to microwave it before you add it to the filling, just thaw it first.
- You can leave the mushrooms out of the sauce.