Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.
This simple, flavorful, and easy Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole is an old-fashioned classic! You just can’t beat the convenience of a make-ahead one dish meal, complete with tender chicken, fresh broccoli, white rice, and cheddar cheese in a creamy sauce made from cream of mushroom soup. Top it off with Ritz crackers and serve it alongside a simple green salad or a basket of buttermilk biscuits!
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole
This Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole is the ultimate in family-friendly dinners! The creamy, cheesy, dish takes advantage of simple, wholesome ingredients for a flavorful meal that you can assemble in advance. 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!
This is just a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for an old fashioned 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.
- Broccoli: I use fresh broccoli florets here, but you can substitute with frozen broccoli instead. See my notes below for that swap. Cauliflower florets will also work!
- Butter: to sauté the vegetables.
- Onion, celery, and garlic: savory aromatics that create a flavorful base for the casserole. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can add a little bit of garlic powder to the sauce instead.
- Condensed cream of mushroom soup: substitute with other flavors of condensed soup if you prefer. Other good options include cream of chicken soup or cream of celery soup.
- Mayonnaise: adds creamy texture and rich flavor to the sauce.
- Paprika, dry mustard, and ground nutmeg: additional seasonings that give the dish a flavor boost.
- Sharp cheddar cheese: if possible, grate the cheese by hand so that it melts smoother into the dish.
- Milk: to thin the creamy sauce. You can also use chicken broth.
- Rice: I prefer long-grain white rice in this casserole, but any variety of cooked rice will work.
- Chicken: you’ll need cooked, shredded chicken, so pickup a store-bought rotisserie chicken for a shortcut, or cook your own chicken at home.
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper: season the filling to taste.
- Ritz crackers: lightly crushed for a buttery, crunchy topping.
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 1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs until cooked through (about 15 minutes). When cool enough to handle, chop or pull the chicken into bite size pieces. You’ll need a total of about 2 cups shredded. I find that 1 lb. of raw chicken breasts yields about 2 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 3-4 cups of meat, so you might have some extra to use in a different dish.
- 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 2 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 or Minute Rice, cook the rice according to the package instructions before using it in this casserole.
Do you have to cook broccoli before putting it in a casserole?
Yes, if you’re starting with fresh broccoli florets as called for in this recipe, you’ll need to pre-cook the broccoli slightly before adding it to the casserole. This way it will be nice and tender by the time the casserole heats through. For a shortcut, you can use thawed 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!
How to Make Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole
While we love a made-from-scratch chicken casserole, there are many busy nights when we just need quicker, easier solutions. That’s where this dish comes in! Thanks to help from a handful of store-bought shortcuts like condensed cream of mushroom soup and rotisserie chicken, the casserole comes together in about 20 minutes.
- Parboil the broccoli florets just until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. You can also do this by steaming the broccoli in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, if you prefer.
- Sauté onion, celery and garlic in butter.
- Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the condensed soup, mayonnaise, cheese, milk and seasoning.
- Whisk or stir until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.
- Add the rice, chicken, and broccoli to the creamy sauce mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish.
- Top with additional cheese and crushed crackers.
- Bake, uncovered, in a 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is hot and bubbly and the topping is lightly browned.
What to Serve with Broccoli Rice Cheese and Chicken Casserole
This classic chicken casserole goes well with just about any of your favorite sides. Here are a few easy options to try:
- 3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Flaky Biscuits, Cheese Biscuits or Drop Biscuits
- Skillet Cornbread, Corn Sticks, Mexican Cornbread, Honey Cornbread or Corn Muffins
- Cranberry Muffins or Apple Muffins
- Crusty French Baguette, Soft Dinner Rolls, or Homemade Crescent Rolls
- 3-Ingredient Sour Cream Muffins, Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins or Pumpkin Bread
- Green Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette, Caesar Salad, or our favorite House Salad with Candied Pecans
- Fried Corn
- Southern Fried Apples, Baked Apple Slices, or Applesauce
- Roasted Asparagus or Sauteed Asparagus
- Amish Green Beans with Brown Butter or Southern-Style Green Beans
- Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
- Cranberry Sauce
Preparation and Storage
- This is a great make-ahead dinner. You can assemble the casserole up to 24 hours in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to bake. When ready to bake, allow the dish to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30-60 minutes.
- You can freeze the casserole before baking. Wrapped tightly, the assembled casserole will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Leftover chicken casserole will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- How to Reheat: If reheating an entire casserole, cover the dish loosely with foil and bake in a 350°F oven until warmed through (about 20-30 minutes). Individual portions can be reheated in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
Recipe Variations for Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Swap out the fresh broccoli florets for frozen baby broccoli florets. The frozen baby florets 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!
- Instead of cream of mushroom soup, try a different flavor of condensed soup.
- Don’t have Ritz crackers? Substitute with crushed potato chips, crushed Corn Flakes cereal mixed with melted butter, or other buttery crackers (like Keebler Club crackers). You can also use buttered panko 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.
- Try other types of cheese instead of cheddar. Good options include Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby, Colby Jack, Swiss and American.
- Any variety of cooked rice will work. I like long-grain white rice, but a short grain rice, basmati rice, wild rice, or brown rice are fine, too. Just make sure that your rice is cooked before adding it to the casserole.
- To serve a larger group, double all of the ingredients and bake the casserole in a deep 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.
Tips for the Best Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole Recipe
- If you don’t want to bother with parboiling the broccoli on the stovetop, you can steam the broccoli florets in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes on high.
- Use an oven-proof skillet to sauté the vegetables, and then just bake the casserole in the same pan. This eliminates washing an extra dish!
- 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.
- 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.
More Chicken Casserole Recipes to Try
- Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Rice — from scratch, no cream of mushroom soup!
- Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- Chicken Casserole with Ritz Crackers (no rice)
- Buffalo Chicken Casserole
- Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
- Chicken Parmesan Casserole
- 5-Ingredient Crescent Roll Chicken Casserole
- Chicken and Rice Casserole with Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Green Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Chicken and Stuffing Casserole
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, not diluted
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon dry mustard
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- ¾ cup 2% or whole milk
- 2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
- 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 15 Ritz crackers (about half of a sleeve), lightly crushed
- Cook the broccoli for about 2 minutes in boiling water, just until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish; set aside.
- In a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Reduce the heat to a very low flame. Stir in soup, mayonnaise, paprika, dry mustard, nutmeg, 1 cup of the cheese, and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add cooked rice, chicken, and broccoli; stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese and crushed crackers.
- Bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is hot and bubbly and the topping is lightly browned.
This recipe was originally published in March, 2014. It was updated in December, 2021.