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Comfort food at its best! The ultimate Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Rice is made from scratch with simple, wholesome ingredients. The flavorful rice, vegetables, and chicken come together in a creamy sauce with a buttery Ritz cracker topping. Add a salad and corn muffins or biscuits for a hearty, family-friendly dinner any night of the week!

Overhead shot of a cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole with rice on a wooden cutting board

How to Make Chicken and Broccoli Casserole | 1-Minute Video

Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole

It might require a few extra minutes of prep time, but making this Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole from scratch without canned soup yields a cozy, down-home comfort food supper that is worth every bit of effort! It’s a basic dish that can be tweaked in a variety of ways to suit your family’s taste preferences and schedule. Use leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken or baked chicken — anything goes. The kids will go crazy for the creamy dish that’s finished with a buttery, crunchy Ritz cracker topping!

Ingredients for Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to prepare the cheesy chicken broccoli and rice casserole. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Butter: for sautéing the vegetables, making the roux, and preparing the Ritz cracker topping.
  • Onion and garlic: add savory flavor to the casserole.
  • All-purpose flour: to make the roux that thickens the cream sauce.
  • Chicken broth: the liquid that thins the sauce.
  • Cream cheese: gives the casserole its creamy, cheesy flavor.
  • Thyme and rosemary: I prefer fresh herbs, but you can substitute with dried herbs in a pinch.
  • Dijon mustard: adds a slightly acidic, bright touch to the creamy base.
  • Kosher salt and pepper: to enhance the flavors in the dish.
  • Chicken: you’ll need cooked, shredded chicken, so pickup a store-bought rotisserie chicken for a shortcut, or cook your own chicken at home.
  • Rice: I prefer long-grain white rice in this casserole, but any variety of cooked rice will work.
  • Broccoli: frozen baby broccoli florets are a nice shortcut, but you can substitute with fresh broccoli florets that you steam until crisp-tender.
  • Ritz crackers: coarsely crushed for that crunchy, buttery topping! You can substitute with other types of crackers, breadcrumbs, or Corn Flakes, too.
Side shot of cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole on a blue and white plate

Can you put uncooked chicken in a casserole?

While it’s possible to cook a casserole with raw chicken, you’ll need cooked chicken for this recipe, and a variety of options will work. Pick the most convenient method for you:

  • Boiled and Pulled Chicken: Boil about 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs until cooked through (about 15 minutes). When cool enough to handle, chop or pull the chicken. You’ll need a total of about 4 cups shredded. I find that 2 lbs. of chicken breasts yields about 4 cups of pulled chicken, but there’s some flexibility here — it doesn’t need to be exact.
  • Rotisserie Chicken: This is a great shortcut! Purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, shred the meat, and use in the recipe as instructed. One large rotisserie chicken should yield about 4 cups of meat, which is exactly what you need here.
  • Leftover Chicken: If you have leftover grilled or baked chicken from a previous meal, put those extras to good use in this casserole.
  • Canned Chicken: Yep, you can even use canned chicken in this casserole.

Do I cook the rice before adding it to the casserole?

Yes! This recipe calls for 4 cups of cooked long-grain white rice. You can boil your own rice on the stovetop, use leftovers from a previous meal, or cook parboiled rice (such as Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice) in the microwave for a shortcut. If using the microwaveable rice, prepare according to the package instructions before using in this casserole. Each packet yields 2 cups of cooked rice, so you’ll need exactly two packets for this recipe.

Do you have to cook broccoli before putting it in a casserole?

This recipe calls for thawed frozen baby broccoli florets, which have a slightly soft texture and therefore do not need to be cooked before adding them to the dish. If you prefer to start with fresh broccoli florets, I recommend steaming, parboiling, or precooking the broccoli in some way so that it softens a bit before you add it to the rest of the casserole. Otherwise the fresh broccoli will not have time to cook through and soften in the oven.

Can I substitute fresh broccoli for frozen in a casserole?

Yes! I prefer the ease of frozen baby broccoli florets, which are soft enough when thawed so that you don’t need to steam or pre-cook them before just adding them to the dish. The baby florets are also small enough that you don’t need to chop them. Just thaw, drain, and stir into the casserole! However, if you prefer to use fresh broccoli florets, those will work equally well. I recommend cutting the florets into bite-sized pieces and then steaming or parboiling them just until crisp-tender.

A Good Substitute for Cream of Chicken Soup

I’ve got nothing against a creamy casserole that comes together in minutes with help from cans of condensed cream of chicken soup. That said, sometimes it’s worth spending a few extra minutes in the kitchen to make a dish from scratch — just like Grandma’s!

Here, you’ll sauté onion and garlic in butter, make a roux (by adding flour), and then add chicken broth and cream cheese. This process only takes a few minutes, and it creates a rich, creamy, flavorful substitute for store-bought cream of chicken soup.

Process shot showing how to make cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole with no soup

How to Make Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

This easy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole is a simple combination of creamy sauce, cooked chicken, crisp veggies and tender rice. It was inspired by a Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole recipe that I originally saw on Taste of the South’s website, and I just love the idea of using cream cheese to give the dish a cheesy flavor and a rich, creamy texture. It’s truly something special! You’ll need about 30 minutes of prep to bring everything together, finish with a cracker crumb topping, and pop it in the oven!

Overhead shot of easy chicken and broccoli casserole in a dish with ritz cracker topping before baking
  1. Whisk together the creamy, cheesy sauce in a Dutch oven or deep, large skillet.
  2. Stir in the chicken, rice and broccoli.
  3. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle buttered Ritz cracker crumbs on top.
  5. Bake in a 350°F oven until hot and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes, then serve!
Front shot of chicken broccoli rice casserole in a dish with a wooden spoon in front of a white brick wall

How to Thicken Broccoli Casserole

Whisking and cooking the cheese sauce on the stovetop before assembling the casserole gives you full control over the texture of the dish. If the sauce seems too thin, thicken the casserole by cooking and stirring for a little bit longer. A casserole should not be watery!

What to Serve with Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole

This classic chicken casserole goes well with just about any of your favorite sides. Here are a few easy options to try:

Horizontal shot of a blue and white plate of chicken broccoli and cheese casserole

Make Ahead Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This is the ultimate prep-ahead meal to get dinner on the table quickly and easily — even on busy nights. Assemble the casserole, wrap tightly, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before baking. When ready to bake, allow the dish to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30-60 minutes before putting it in the oven.

How to Freeze

Freeze the chicken casserole before baking. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, cover with foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, allow the dish to come to room temperature on the counter for at least 30-60 minutes, and then bake according to recipe instructions.

Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat the casserole in a 350° F oven, covered, just until warmed through (about 20-30 minutes). You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave for about 1 minute.

Close up side shot of chicken broccoli and rice casserole recipe with a wooden serving spoon

Recipe Variations

  • To serve a smaller family, cut all of the ingredients in half and bake the casserole in an 8- or 9-inch square dish.
  • For an even cheesier casserole, sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top before adding the Ritz crackers.
  • Don’t have Ritz crackers? Substitute with crushed potato chipscrushed Corn Flakes cereal mixed with melted butter, or other buttery crackers (like Keebler Club crackers). You can also use buttered bread crumbs for a crispy topping.
  • Instead of the broccoli, add frozen peas, corn, steamed green beans or asparagus, or sautéed mushrooms to the casserole.
  • Any variety of cooked rice will work. I like long-grain white rice, but basmati rice, wild rice, or brown rice are fine, too. Just make sure that your rice is cooked before adding it to the casserole.
Side shot of a plate of cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole in front of a white brick wall

Tips for the Best Chicken and Broccoli Casserole Recipe

  • Quick prep: to help this casserole come together quickly and easily, use store-bought rotisserie chicken, baby broccoli florets that you just have to thaw (no cooking or chopping), and microwaveable packets of rice.
  • Use full-fat blocks of cream cheese (not tubs of cream cheese spread).
  • Make sure that the cream cheese is softened at room temperature before adding it to the sauce. This will ensure that the cream cheese melts smoothly in the pan.
  • One 12.6-ounce bag of frozen baby broccoli florets equals about 4 cups, which is the amount needed for this recipe.
  • You’ll need about 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers to equal 2 cups coarsely crushed.
  • Bake the casserole just until it’s heated through. All of the ingredients are already cooked, so you just want to warm it in the oven until bubbly. Don’t bake it for too long or it will dry out and the rice will get mushy. You know a casserole is done when the filling is hot and bubbly and the topping is toasted and golden brown.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley, chives, or other herbs for a bright, colorful touch at the end.
Overhead shot of a cast iron dish full of chicken broccoli and rice casserole

More Chicken Casserole Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole with rice

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Rice

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 8 – 10 people
Calories 525 kcal
Comfort food at its best! This ultimate Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Rice is made from scratch with simple, wholesome ingredients.

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) salted butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 ounces (1 ½ packages) cream cheese, cubed and softened at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (or ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 4 cups cooked long-grain white rice
  • 4 cups frozen baby broccoli florets, thawed (about 12.6 ounces)
  • 2 cups coarsely crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 sleeve of crackers) mixed with 2 tablespoons melted butter

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F . Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; set aside.
  • In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add flour, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; whisk constantly until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat; whisk in the cream cheese, thyme, rosemary, mustard, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in chicken, rice and broccoli. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  • Top with the buttered Ritz cracker crumbs.
  • Bake until hot and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Quick prep: to help this casserole come together quickly and easily, use store-bought rotisserie chicken, baby broccoli florets that you just have to thaw (no cooking or chopping), and microwaveable packets of rice.
  • Use full-fat blocks of cream cheese (not tubs of cream cheese spread).
  • Make sure that the cream cheese is softened at room temperature before adding it to the sauce. This will ensure that the cream cheese melts smoothly in the pan.
  • One 12.6-ounce bag of frozen baby broccoli florets equals about 4 cups, which is the amount needed for this recipe.
  • You’ll need about 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers to equal 2 cups coarsely crushed.
  • Bake the casserole just until it’s heated through. All of the ingredients are already cooked, so you just want to warm it in the oven until bubbly. Don’t bake it for too long or it will dry out and the rice will get mushy.
  • To serve a smaller family, cut all of the ingredients in half and bake the casserole in an 8- or 9-inch square dish.
  • Don’t have Ritz crackers? Substitute with crushed potato chipscrushed Corn Flakes cereal mixed with melted butter, or other buttery crackers (like Keebler Club crackers).
  • Instead of the broccoli, add frozen peas, corn, steamed green beans or asparagus, or sautéed mushrooms to the casserole.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/10 of the dishCalories: 525kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 25gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 762mgPotassium: 436mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1122IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 97mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: cheesy, chicken and broccoli casserole, chicken and broccoli casserole with rice, chicken broccoli and rice casserole
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. This looks so good. Thank you for giving an option for making the cream of chicken soup. I am waiting for my honey dijon pork to come out of the oven as I write this comment. It smells delicious! It is my first recipe from your site and I look forward to trying this chicken broccoli recipe too. Thanks for the recipes and have a wonderful day!

    1. That’s great, Sarah! I hope you enjoyed the pork. Hope you get to make the chicken casserole, too! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Great flavor and the cheese sauce was not hard to make. Will definitely make again. Added some cooked spinach leftovers and didn’t have crackers so used those good ol’ crispy fried onions as the topping.

    1. Sounds perfect, Diane. I’m so glad that you enjoyed the casserole. Thanks for taking the time to leave me a note!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is creamy, rich and delicious! I took all the shortcuts (pre-cooked chicken, frozen broccoli) and that made the dish fairly easy to make. When serving it, my daughter initially turned her nose up a little, saying it looked like a casserole from the 1950’s. But as soon as she tasted it, she was hooked. The recipe makes a HUGE amount and I thought I would be freezing some — but my daughter loved it so much, she kept asking for the leftovers, even for breakfast! She said it was warm and comforting. It was all gone after 2 days.
    I’m going to try the recipe again with spinach and crispy onions (as per comment left by Diane B.), as I imagine that will be delicious.

    I’ve tried numerous recipes on this site and they are always easy to make and a big hit with my family. I love this website!!!

    1. Kate, THANK YOU so much! I appreciate you taking the time to come back here and leave a kind note. You totally made my day. 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness this recipe is so delicious! I was searching for something easy and comforting this morning and this popped up in my search. My family loved it and wants me to add it to our regular rotation. New email subscriber here and a curious home cook to try more of your recipes!

    1. That’s so great to hear, Lynn! Welcome to the blog! I’m so glad that this fit the bill tonight, and I hope that you find many more favorites on my site. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    Love this casserole..and yes, great to get rid of the cr. of mushroom soup…I am watching my salt. I have frozen the cr. cheese and have on hand to make this creamy sauce..Yes, I used garbanzo, no gluten pasta, I do like to add a layer of baby spinach..I do not cook just chop a bit and add to the center of the casserole…put layer of pasta mix, then sprinkle spinach and then add the second half of casserole…I like to bake, sprinkle with a little cheese towards the end…and then sprinkle with sliced almond a bake just until the cheese melts…While I do like bread cr. and the fried onions in a bag…they are not as healthy…Love your site…so many good recipes…thanks!

    1. Thank you for your note, Ruth! I’m glad that you can take the inspiration and adjust the recipe to suit your preferences. That’s what it’s all about. 🙂