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This Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole is a family favorite! Made from scratch, this cheesy casserole is comforting and so flavorful.

Baked chicken broccoli rice casserole in baking dish.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Chicken broccoli rice casserole is a classic comfort food dinner. If you’ve ever made a chicken and rice casserole and felt that the flavor was lacking, then this recipe is for you! This cheesy casserole is seasoned with fresh thyme, garlic and paprika. The combination of seasonings is truly irresistible and sure to tempt you to go back for a second helping.

The other thing that sets this chicken broccoli rice casserole apart from other recipes is that it’s made from scratch, with no canned cream of soups. Even so, you can have this homemade casserole ready to go in the oven in just over 30 minutes of prep time, less if you use rotisserie chicken or cook the chicken ahead of time. The chicken, broccoli and rice all cook in one pot on the stove, then the mixture is transferred to a baking dish and baked in the oven until hot and bubbly. This easy, tasty dinner idea is sure to become a regular in your rotation.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here’s an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The starch in the rice thickens the sauce without the addition of flour, making this dinner recipe naturally gluten free.

Ingredients for chicken broccoli rice casserole recipe.
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast: This lean protein is a staple in many of our favorite weeknight recipes.
  • Olive Oil and Butter: The olive oil is added to the pan when browning the chicken. Butter is used when sautéing the onion and garlic. It adds richness and flavor.
  • Onion and Garlic: These aromatic ingredients add a base layer of flavor.
  • Seasonings: The woodsy, floral notes of thyme are a perfect pair for the chicken, broccoli and rice in this dish. You can use either fresh thyme or dried in this recipe, depending on what you have on hand. Paprika (I used sweet, not smoked) brings warmth and salt and pepper boost all of the flavors.
  • Chicken Broth: The broth is absorbed by the rice as it cooks; using broth rather than water builds flavor. I like to use a low sodium broth so that I can better control the amount of salt in the finished dish.
  • Long Grain White Rice: The cook times in this recipe are for long grain white rice, so please don’t substitute other types of rice.
  • Broccoli: I’ve packed in a full 6 cups of broccoli into this casserole, so there are plenty of healthy veggies to go around! If you love broccoli, you might also enjoy this Broccoli Casserole recipe.
  • Milk: I recommend using whole milk for richness. This is a lighter option than using heavy cream (which you may substitute if you prefer). Since we’re not using canned cream of soup, the milk helps to create some creaminess in the casserole.
  • Cheese: I used a combination of sharp cheddar and grated Parmesan cheese for lots of cheesy flavor.

How to Make Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

  1. Chop the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Then brown the chicken in olive oil in a large pan that has a lid. A Dutch oven pot works well, but you can also use a large skillet. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it to a clean plate.
Browning cubed chicken in Dutch oven pot.
  1. Sauté the onion in butter until it softens. Then add the garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Garlic and fresh thyme added to pot with onion.
  1. Stir in the chicken broth, paprika, salt, pepper and uncooked rice. Bring to a boil.
Rice, broth and seasonings added to pot.
  1. As soon as the pot comes to a boil, place the chopped broccoli on top of the other ingredients (don’t stir) and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat.
Broccoli added to pot on top of rice.
  1. Return the cooked chicken to the pot. Stir in the milk, grated Parmesan and half of the shredded cheddar. Most of the milk will be absorbed right away.
Chicken, milk, cheddar and parmesan added to pot.
  1. Transfer the mixture to a greased 9×13-inch baking dish and sprinkle the rest of the cheddar cheese over the top.
Unbaked chicken broccoli rice casserole in baking dish.
  1. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake 5-10 minutes more.
Close up of chicken broccoli rice casserole on serving spoon in baking dish.

Recipe Tips

  • The rice and broccoli may not be quite tender after cooking on the stove but they will finish cooking in the oven.
  • Be sure to use long grain white rice, since other types of rice will need a different liquid amount and/or cook time.
  • Make it faster: Use rotisserie chicken or other cooked chicken and skip step 2 of the recipe below.
  • Make it vegetarian: Follow this Broccoli Rice Casserole recipe.

Make Ahead and Storage Instructions

  • Make Ahead: You can prepare the casserole up to one day ahead, cover and refrigerate it before baking. You can also freeze the unbaked casserole, covered tightly, for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking. When baking the casserole cold from the refrigerator, first cover it with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake for about 10 more minutes, until hot throughout and bubbly.
  • To Store: Leftover casserole can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • To Reheat: Reheat leftover casserole in the microwave or in a covered dish in a 350° F oven until steaming hot.
Serving of chicken broccoli rice casserole on a plate.

More Comforting Chicken Casserole Recipes

Baked chicken broccoli rice casserole in a baking dish.
5 from 5 ratings

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
This Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole is a family favorite! Made from scratch, this cheesy casserole is comforting and so flavorful. Everything cooks in one pot before baking in the oven; speed up the prep time by using rotisserie chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, or 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, such as rotisserie chicken
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth, or one 14.5 ounce can broth plus enough water to make 2 cups liquid total
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice, rinsed well and drained, do NOT substitute other kinds of rice
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh broccoli crowns, cut into bite-size pieces, about 6 cups
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 8 ounces, divided

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • (Skip this step if using leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken.) Cut the chicken breasts into small bite-size pieces. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven pot or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped chicken to the pan and cook until cooked through, then transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a clean plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter to the pot. Once melted, add the onion and cook, until softened, about 3 minutes, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chicken broth, paprika, salt, pepper and uncooked rice to the skillet. Stir and bring to a boil. As soon as it comes to a simmer, place the chopped broccoli on top (do not stir it in). Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid. After 10 minutes, check that all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. If not, continue cooking with the lid on until all liquid is absorbed. It's ok if the broccoli and rice aren't quite tender yet, since they will cook more in the oven. Remove pan from the heat.
  • Return the cooked chicken to the pan. Then stir in the milk, grated Parmesan and half of the cheddar cheese.
  • Transfer to the greased baking dish. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake for 5-10 minutes more until casserole is hot and bubbly.

Notes

  • Make Ahead: You can prepare the casserole up to one day ahead, cover and refrigerate it before baking. You can also freeze the unbaked casserole, covered tightly, for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking. When baking the casserole cold from the refrigerator, first cover it with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake for about 10 more minutes, until hot throughout and bubbly.
  • To Store: Leftover casserole can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • To Reheat: Reheat leftover casserole in the microwave or in a covered dish in a 350° F oven until steaming hot.
Calories: 395kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 708mg, Potassium: 672mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1174IU, Vitamin C: 80mg, Calcium: 348mg, Iron: 2mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course
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