This Creamy Cheesy Chicken and Rice is the ULTIMATE comfort food recipe. A rich cheesy sauce, coats wholesome brown rice and tender chicken. This chicken and rice casserole is one recipe that everyone loves.
Creamy Cheesy Chicken and Rice
Do you have a favorite family recipe?
My family’s all time favorite is Creamy Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole. It is a simple chicken and rice casserole that is easy to make, tastes extremely indulgent, and appeals to just about every palate–including children!!
Every single time I make this chicken and rice casserole, my family grins ear to ear! In face, I have NEVER served this casserole to ANYONE who didn’t love it. Truly, what is not to love? Tender chicken and rice are swimming in a rich, cheesy sauce. It is absolute comfort food!
Notes and Substitutions on Ingredients
- Chicken: Use pre-cooked chicken. This is a great time to use leftover Rotisserie Chicken, Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken, or Instant Pot Shredded Chicken.
- Chicken Stock: Use homemade chicken stock or store bought stock. Low sodium is best to control the sodium content.
- White Wine: I love adding white wine to elevate the sauce, but it is completely optional. Feel free to use additional chicken stock in it’s place. If using wine, use a dry white wine such as chardonnay or pinot grigio.
- Herbs: I add in fresh thyme and garlic to really season this sauce. Both are optional and can be omitted for a more basic chicken and rice casserole.
- Cheese: I recommend shredded Colby or Cheddar cheese for the most flavor impact in this recipe.
- Rice: Use cooked white or brown rice. Whatever your family likes! You will need 4 cups of cooked rice, which is equivalent to about 1 cup of uncooked rice.
How to Make Chicken and Rice Casserole
This is a super simple chicken and rice casserole to prepare. Especially if you have leftover chicken and rice to start with.
Step One: Prepare the Sauce
This cheesy sauce starts with a roux. A roux is just a fancy term for a mixture of equal parts fat and flour and is used to thicken up sauces. It is as simple as melting the butter in a saucepan and whisking in flour. My tip is to always cook the roux for 1 minute to cook off raw flour taste, before adding in additional liquid.
Once the roux is made, whisk in wine and stock, seasonings and simmer until thickened.
Step Two: Prepare the Casserole
Mix in the cooked rice and chicken into the cheese sauce and then transfer to a buttered casserole dish. Top with additional cheese and bake until the cheese is melted through.
Variations on Cheesy Chicken and Rice
- Gluten Free Chicken and Rice Casserole: If you need this to be gluten free, use an all-purpose gluten free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour.
- Cheesy Chicken and Rice with Broccoli: Add in 2 cups of chopped steamed broccoli to the casserole before baking.
- Buffalo Chicken and Rice Casserole: Omit the thyme, white wine, and minced garlic from the recipe. Stir in 1/2 cup bleu cheese or ranch dressing, 1/3 cup hot sauce, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder into the cheese sauce along with the rice and chicken. Bake as directed.
- Lower Fat: To keep this recipe a bit on the lighter side, reduce the amount of cheese in half.
To Prepare in Advance
This chicken casserole is a great one to stock in your freezer. It bakes up perfectly from frozen, making it perfect to pop on a busy night or to take to a friend in need of a meal.
To prepare this casserole in advance, prepare up to baking. Cover tightly with 2 layers of foil. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
- To bake from fridge, remove casserole from fridge and remove 1 layer of foil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, letting the casserole sit on the counter while the oven preheats. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until warmed through.
- To bake from freezer, remove casserole from freeze and remove 1 layer of foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes covered, and then uncovered for 15 additional minutes.
More Chicken and Rice Recipes
- Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken and Rice
- Mediterranean Chicken and Rice Skillet
- Homemade Orange Chicken
- Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken
Creamy and Cheesy Chicken and Rice
- 4 Tbs butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme optional
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- 1/4 cup all purpose unbleached flour
- 1/4 cup white wine or additional chicken stock
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2 quart or 9x13 baking sheet.
- Melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium high heat.
- Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Whisk in flour, chopped thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute to cook off raw flour taste.
- Slowly pour in wine and chicken broth whisking continuously. Whisk until thick and nearly boiling.
- Reduce heat to medium low and then stir in 2 cups of cheese until melted. Turn off heat and stir in cooked rice and chicken.
- Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted through.
- If you don't have fresh thyme--do not worry!! It adds an extra layer of flavor that I enjoy, but is completely not necessary. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried thyme works as well.
- White wine adds a rich depth of flavor to this chicken and rice casserole, but is not necessary, just replace with an additional 1/4 cup of chicken stock.
- This recipe has a lot of added garlic, feel free to cut the amount in half, if you are sensitive to high amounts of garlic.
- Store leftover chicken and rice casserole in covered container for up 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.