Made with a better-for-you creamy mushroom gravy, brown rice, and pan seared chicken, this casserole is a comfort meal home-run!
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This Creamy Chicken Rice Casserole has it ALL: it’s really easy, utilizes better-for-you ingredients (no need for store-bought cream of mushroom soup), and is a complete, satisfying meal. It’s what casserole dreams are made of and I can’t wait for you to try it!
If you’re looking for more easy casseroles that bring the flavor, look no further. Our BBQ Chicken Casserole, Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole, and King Ranch Chicken Casserole need to be the next recipes on your list!
Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious, family-friendly, hearty supper:
- Brown Rice – to start, you’ll need 1 cup of uncooked brown rice. Note: if you have already-cooked brown rice, that’ll make the process *so* much less time consuming, and in that case, you’ll need about 2 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice.
- Butter – to get started on the other components of the casserole, you’ll need 4 tablespoons of salted butter.
- Chicken Breasts – 1-1½ pounds of chicken breast (about 2 large chicken breasts) will act as our main source of protein here. Note: again, already-cooked chicken will take some active time off of this recipe. ANY cooked chicken you have will work great (shredded, cubed, sliced, etc.) — you’ll just need about 2 breasts-worth.
- Salt – because of all of the flavors present in the rest of the dish, the chicken really just needs to be seasoned with salt. We’ll add salt to the gravy too, so in total, you’ll need 1 ½ teaspoons.
- Mushrooms – 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms go into the gravy.
- Garlic – 2 cloves of minced garlic go a long way in flavoring the dish.
- Onion – along with the garlic, a ½ of a yellow onion gets minced and thrown in for a huge flavor booster.
- Flour – 4 tablespoons of flour thickens the broth to really help it become a nice, thick, gravy.
- Chicken Broth – 4 cups of chicken broth (a whole 32-fluid ounce container of broth) provides the liquid base for the gravy.
- Heavy Cream – a ½ cup of heavy cream helps to make the gravy nice and creamy.
- Black Pepper – a 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper goes into the creamy gravy.
- Shredded Cheese – a cheese topping is a casserole MUST, am I right? To top this chicken and rice casserole, you’ll need about 6 ounces of a mild cheddar cheese.
- Crackers – this part is optional, but recommended. Cassy topped her casserole with 1 cup of crushed crackers (ANY cracker will do) to add a really nice, crunchy texture to the finished dish.
How to Make Creamy Chicken Casserole with Rice
The process is really easy and straightforward. It’s made EVEN easier, though, if you’re using brown rice that’s already been cooked (check out our article all about batch cooking brown rice HERE). Here’s the full process:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook the rice – before you do anything else, go ahead and get your brown rice cooking according to package directions. This will take upwards of 35 minutes, so you’ll want to get it going right away.
- Pan sear + slice the chicken – while the rice is cooking, go ahead and cook your chicken breasts! To do this, simply add 1 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet (the same skillet you plan on making the gravy in) over medium-high heat. While the skillet heats, salt the chicken breasts with a ½ teaspoon of salt. Once the skillet is hot, add the chicken and pan sear it for 4 minutes on each side, then cover the skillet, turn the heat down to low, and let the chicken continue to cook for 10 minutes. Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then, slice it into ½-inch pieces.
- Start the gravy – in the same pan that your chicken was cooked in (don’t worry about cleaning it out!), add the other 3 tablespoons of butter. Once melted, add the mushrooms, garlic, and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are slightly browned.
- Add the flour to the gravy – whisk the flour with a ½ cup of the broth, then pour it into the skillet, along with the rest of the broth, and stir to combine. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture boils and thickens, then stir in the heavy cream, salt, and pepper.
- Assemble + bake the casserole – add the brown rice to the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish, then layer the sliced chicken on top of that. Pour the gravy over the chicken, sprinkle the cheese on top, then top with the crushed crackers. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbling.
- Serve and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
While a lot of casseroles actually call for raw chicken, this isn’t one of them. Pan searing the chicken for this casserole builds a lot of flavor, but if you already have cooked (leftover) chicken on hand, you can totally throw that in instead!
Another time-saving option could be breaking up a rotisserie chicken and sprinkling that into this dish for the chicken layer.
Some chicken and rice casseroles call for raw rice and utilize the steam from the cooking process to cook the rice, and for casseroles like that, you’d definitely need to tightly cover the casserole. This creamy chicken and rice casserole, on the other hand, calls for already cooked rice, so there isn’t a reason to keep it covered while it’s in the oven. Covering it would actually just keep the top crumble (the crushed crackers) from crisping.
The brown rice itself takes about 45 minutes to cook (which is why I highly recommend batch cooking your brown rice ahead of time, if possible), but while it’s cooking you’ll be multitasking and preparing the chicken and gravy. All in all, this casserole takes about 45 minutes of active time and 25 minutes of inactive time (so about 1 hour and 10 minutes) to bring together.
Because this casserole has starch, protein, and healthy fats built into it, it really is a complete meal and can be served as-is. If you’re looking for something to complement it with, though, a simple green salad would be an excellent choice.
You’ve got a few options here! If you still have a lot of casserole left, feel free to cover your dish with a tight fitting lid or aluminum foil (lined with parchment paper, if you wish) and store it in the refrigerator that way. If you just have a serving or two left, though, I’d recommend transferring it to a smaller airtight storage container (if you’re in need of a nice set of containers, these are our top choice), and again, storing it in the fridge.
Your cooked and stored chicken casserole will stay good for 4-5 days in the fridge.
You definitely can! The best way to do this is to make the casserole all the way up to the baking step. So, you’ll cook the rice, chicken, and gravy, then assemble your casserole (either in a regular casserole dish or in an aluminum one), leaving off the crackers until just before baking, and store it that way. Then, when you’re ready to enjoy, simply let your casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight, top it with crackers, and pop it into the oven!
Time-saving hack: to make this process EVEN more efficient, go ahead and crush the crackers during your casserole prep, and store them in the freezer in a Ziplock bag right next to your frozen casserole.
You’ll want each of the ingredients (the rice, chicken, and gravy) cooked before freezing it, but you’ll wait to pop the whole thing in the oven to cook together until you’re ready to enjoy! So you’ll follow the full recipe below, but hold off on Step 7 until you’ve pulled it OUT of the freezer and are ready to make it for dinner that day.
Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast 2 breasts
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt divided
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 yellow onion minced
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups 32 fluid ounces chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 ounces mild cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup crackers crushed
- Cook the rice according to package directions.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet (the same skillet you plan to make the gravy in) over medium-high heat. While the skillet heats, season the chicken breasts with a 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Pan sear the chicken for 4 minutes on each side over medium-high heat, then cover the skillet, turn the heat down to low, and let the chicken continue to cook for 10 minutes. Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes, then slice it into 1/2-inch pieces.
- In the same pan that you used for the chicken, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the mushrooms, garlic, and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are slightly browned.
- Whisk the flour with a 1/2 cup of the broth. Then, pour it into the skillet, along with the rest of the broth and stir to combine. Let the gravy cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture boils and thickens, then stir in the heavy cream, salt, and pepper.
- To assemble the casserole, add the brown rice to the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish followed by the sliced chicken. Pour the gravy over the chicken, sprinkle the cheese on top, then top with the crushed crackers.
- Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and browned.