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 fact, 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 its 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 ½ cup bleu cheese or ranch dressing, ⅓ cup hot sauce, 1 teaspoon paprika, and ½ 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 the fridge, remove casserole from the 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 the 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
- ½ tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- ¼ cup all purpose unbleached flour
- ¼ 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 ½ 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 ½ to 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves works as well. Do not use ground thyme. The flavor is overwhelming.
- White wine adds a rich depth of flavor to this chicken and rice casserole, but is not necessary, just replace it with an additional ¼ 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 a covered container for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
This recipe was the very first recipe published on my blog in February 2014. The pictures and recipe remain the same, but the post has been updated with tips, variations, and a new video in January of 2020.