This chicken casserole is a blend of cooked chicken, rice and broccoli, all tossed together in a creamy cheese sauce then baked to perfection. A hearty meal that’s family friendly and easy to make!
You can never go wrong with a good casserole, and this cheesy chicken casserole happens to be my all time favorite. It’s loaded with chicken, broccoli and rice, making it a complete meal. This casserole is so easy to customize to your tastes, which makes it perfect for even the pickiest eaters.
How do you make chicken casserole?
This recipe starts with a homemade cheese sauce, which is made with milk, butter, onions, flour, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and seasonings. The sauce is poured over a mixture of chicken, broccoli and rice. The chicken and rice goes into a casserole dish, then gets topped with crushed buttery crackers and more cheddar cheese. Everything bakes together until golden brown. Add a sprinkle of parsley and dinner is served!
Do you have to pre-cook chicken in a casserole?
You need to pre-cook the chicken in this casserole. You can use leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken, sauteed chicken breasts, shredded chicken thighs, whatever you have on hand. The rice and broccoli are also cooked before they go into the pan.
Tips for chicken casserole
- I recommend using freshly grated cheese for this recipe. The pre-shredded cheese that comes in a bag is often coated with anti-caking agents and does not melt as smoothly as freshly grated cheese.
- I use long grain white rice when I make this dish, but short grain white rice, brown rice, or wild rice will also work.
- You can pre-cook your broccoli by steaming it in the microwave, or blanching it in a pot of boiling water.
- I typically use Ritz crackers for the topping, although a cheese cracker would also be a great way to go.
- This casserole can be assembled up to 8 hours before it’s baked. Omit the crackers and add them just before the dish goes into the oven.
How long should a casserole cook?
This casserole bakes for about 20 minutes, as all the ingredients are warm and pre-cooked before they go into the oven. If you’re baking a cold casserole, it will take more like 30-35 minutes. If the topping gets browned before the casserole cooks through, you can cover the dish with foil for the remainder of the bake time.
Chicken Casserole variations
I typically make this casserole as written, although sometimes I switch up some of the ingredients depending on what I have on hand.
- Protein: Instead of chicken, try chicken sausage, ground beef or ground turkey.
- Grains: I’ve substituted cooked quinoa and small pasta such as orzo for the rice with great results.
- Vegetables: Instead of broccoli try zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers or corn.
- Cheese: While this dish is typically made with cheddar cheese, other options include mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese.
This chicken casserole is a great dish to have in your repertoire for when you need a comforting meal to feed a crowd. It’s full of familiar flavors and is simple to make, yet always gets rave reviews!
More great casserole recipes
- Hashbrown Casserole
- Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Chile Relleno Casserole
- Mexican Casserole
- Beef Noodle Casserole
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 2 1/2 cups milk I use whole milk
- 3 1/2 cups cheddar cheese shredded, divided use
- 2 ounces cream cheese cut into small cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups broccoli florets lightly steamed or blanched
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 3 cups cooked chicken diced or shredded
- 1 cup buttery crackers such as Ritz, coarsely crushed
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray.
- Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the flour to the pot and stir to coat the onions; cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk the milk into the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until sauce has thickened (coats the back of a spoon).
- Add the cream cheese, 2 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese and the salt, pepper, smoked paprika and garlic to the sauce. Stir until smooth.
- Place the broccoli, rice and chicken in a large bowl and stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the top and toss to coat evenly.
- Pour the broccoli mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over the top, along with the crushed crackers.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbly, topping is browned and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley and serve