This Cheesy Chicken Rice casserole features juicy chicken, perfectly cooked rice, and tasty veggies, all topped with creamy cheese. And you get all that using ingredients you have on hand and NO canned soups (Sorry, Grandma). The best part is you will have it in the oven with only about 20 minutes of prep!
This casserole is comfort food at its finest. I bet your grandma made something like this sometimes for family dinners, and you can count on a bite of this taking you right back to the comfort of her kitchen! It might not win any beauty awards but it wins the award for being easy, hearty, and budget-friendly!
- Long-grain white rice. You will want to use long-grain rice in this recipe because there is a lot of sauce. Short-grain rice will turn out too sticky.
- Slivered almonds. These are optional! Some people like the flavor and crunch, and some people don’t. Do it your way.
- Bella mushrooms. These are also sometimes called cremini mushrooms. They’re basically white mushrooms that are picked later, which gives them more flavor. Use white mushrooms if you mush–I mean must. But you’ll be sacrificing some of the flavor.
- Chicken. Use whatever leftover chicken (or turkey!) you have on hand. You can even grab a rotisserie chicken from the store. Just make sure to use bite-sized pieces.
- Sour cream. The sour cream is important in giving this Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole that creamy texture we love in a good comfort dish.
- Water or broth. You can use either. Keep in mind that broth always adds a little bit more salt and flavor to a dish.
- Cheese. The crowning glory of this dish is the cheese on top! I suggest Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack, but you can use whatever you have on hand or like best.
How to Make Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and add the uncooked rice and chicken to a greased 2-quart baking dish.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the almonds and saute, while stirring, for 1 minute or until they are lightly browned. Remove to a plate to cool.
- Add the rest of the butter along with the onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms to the hot pan and saute for about 3 minutes. Then, stir in the garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and add the sour cream, thyme, and almonds. Stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture over the chicken and uncooked rice in the casserole dish. Then, pour the water or broth over the top and stir gently.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil, sprinkle cheese on top, cover again, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes (or until the cheese is melted).
- Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Then dig in!
Storing and Reheating
Like most casseroles, store any leftover Chicken and Rice Casserole in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for about 3 days or the freezer for up to 3 months. You can easily reheat it in the original pan in the oven (you might add a tablespoon or two of water to the edges) or in individual portions in the microwave. I think this is even better than leftovers! (Pssst…I share my best reheating tips here.)
What can I do with leftover Chicken/turkey?
This Chicken and Rice Casserole is a great option for leftover chicken OR turkey. But if you have a ton of leftover turkey (we’re looking at you, Thanksgiving…) and need more ideas, check out my Turkey Crescent Roll Bundles and Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich recipes. I also don’t hesitate to swap turkey for chicken in dishes like Easy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole or Homemade Chicken Pot Pie. I know, I’m wild.
One of the great things about this quick Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole is you can easily substitute ingredients based on what you like or have in your fridge.
- You can use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
- Substitute turkey (or even ham) for the chicken
- Choose just about any vegetable you like (broccoli is a great addition).
- Just think of all the yummy possibilities when it comes to the cheese–swiss, parmesan, gouda, sharp cheddar.
- You could even add a panko or cracker topping if you like a little crunch.
Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- ⅔ cup slivered almonds optional
- 1 small yellow or white onion diced
- ¾ cup carrots diced (about 2 medium carrots)
- ¾ cup celery diced (about 2 medium stalks)
- 8 ounces bella mushrooms sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups leftover chicken or turkey, cut in ½ inch pieces
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 ¾ cups water or broth
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 ½ cups Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack Cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Coat a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, add the uncooked rice and chicken, and set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add almonds and saute, stirring, for 1 minute or until lightly brown. Remove to a plate to cool.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms to the skillet. Saute for about 3 minutes or until the celery and onion begin to sweat.
- Stir in the garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute and remove from heat.
- Stir in the sour cream, thyme, and almonds.
- Carefully pour the mixture into the casserole dish with the uncooked rice.
- Pour the water or broth over the top. Stir gently.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil, sprinkle cheese on top, replace the foil, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Recipe tester Lisa says…
“Nice recipe. A different kind of chicken dish, nice to try something a little different than what we always have! Very easy-to-follow recipe. I enjoy recipes with uncooked rice(that cooks while baking). Always nice to be able to skip the “cooking rice” step.”