Chicken Rice Casserole

Chicken and Rice Casserole
Cristina Cassinelli/Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
Ratings (19)

This simple recipe for Chicken Rice Casserole really has a lot of flavor, and it's so easy to put together. It bakes while you prepare a salad or dessert, or just relax. The chicken is baked on top of a rice pilaf that is full of vegetables.

You can make this recipe with chicken thighs if you'd like. Just don't use chicken breasts, because they cook a lot more quickly than dark meat, and will overcook in the time it takes the rice to become tender. Chicken drumsticks or thighs are less expensive than chicken breasts anyway, and they have more flavor.

This recipe can't be made ahead of time, since you cannot partially cook meat and then cool it and save it to cook later. That puts the meat through the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F too many times. Since you don't have to do anything while the casserole is in the oven, just make it about an hour before dinnertime.

Use long grain white or brown rice in this recipe. Short grain or medium grain rice has too much starch and the pilaf will be sticky instead of tender. You don't need to rinse the rice before you mix it with the vegetables and chicken broth; that will rinse away surface starch the recipe needs to become creamy.

Use your favorite vegetables in this easy and comforting, homey recipe. Some sliced zucchini or summer squash would be good, or try peas, corn, or sliced button or cremini mushrooms. 

Serve this one dish meal with a green or fruit salad and some white wine. It's good for company since the recipe is fancy enough, but is still simple enough for a weekday family meal.

What You'll Need

  • 2-1/2 pounds chicken drumsticks or thighs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cups homemade or boxed chicken broth, heated to boiling
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

How to Make It

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a shallow plate and mix. Roll the drumsticks in the flour mixture to coat.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and brown the drumsticks in several batches, turning each several times, about 5 to 6 minutes. The drumsticks will be ready to turn when they release easily from the skillet.

Meanwhile, place the rice, more salt and pepper, onion, and garlic in a 13 x 9" glass baking dish.

Add the carrots, celery, red bell pepper, and hot chicken broth along with melted butter to the rice mixture in the dish and stir well. Make sure that the rice is completely covered with the liquid. Place the bay leaves on top of the rice mixture.

Arrange the browned chicken drumsticks on top of the rice mixture and sprinkle with the cheese.

Cover the baking dish and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked to 165°F as measured with a meat thermometer, and the rice is tender.

Remove and discard the bay leaves. Serve the chicken with the rice mixture.