Cheesy chicken and rice casserole is a classic family favorite recipe. This version is made without the typical canned soup and instead uses a quick and easy homemade sauce.
Classic chicken, rice, and broccoli casserole is usually made using Campbell's cream of chicken soup. My easy chicken casserole recipe ditches the canned soup for a homemade cream of chicken sauce that only takes about 10 minutes to make and is SO much better than the canned stuff.
- Broccoli - I prefer to use frozen, steam in the bag broccoli for convenience but you can also steam fresh broccoli until tender.
- Cheddar Cheese - for the best results I recommend grating your own cheese in this casserole.
- Ritz Crackers - I love the buttery crunch of Ritz crackers for the topping but you can substitute panko bread crumbs, corn flakes, or just more cheese for the topping if you prefer.
What chicken to use?
Like many casserole recipes, this chicken and rice bake is an economical way to feed the family. You just need a small amount of meat for 4-6 servings. Just about any cooked chicken will work and to speed things up I like to use rotisserie chicken.
When I make my own chicken for this casserole I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts and pound them thin. Season with salt and pepper, then saute for 5-6 minutes per side until they are cooked through. Remove the breasts and dice, then set aside.
This is probably the fastest way to cook the chicken and, depending on the pan you use, you can make the sauce right in the same pan, so it's one less thing to clean.
How to make chicken and rice casserole
- Begin by making the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then saute the onion for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant. Then add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned.
- Slowly add the broth and milk while whisking constantly and continue stirring for about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a low simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until thickened.
- Add the cooked rice, broccoli, chicken , and cheese to the sauce and stir to combine. Then add the mixture to a 8 inch square baking dish and top with crumbled crackers.
- Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned on top.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. Reheat in a 325°F oven until warmed through, or in the microwave.
This casserole freezes really well too, so you can definitely make a double batch and freeze half. Freeze the unbaked casserole, without the cracker topping, for up to 3 months..
When ready to eat, thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking then add the topping and bake as directed. You may need an extra 10 minutes or so of baking time.
More weeknight family favorites
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
- Instant Pot Pork Chops with Gravy
- Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta
- Soy Ginger Glazed Salmon with Broccoli
- Easy Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole (without soup)
- 1 pound cooked chicken
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1½ cups chicken broth, low sodium preferred
- 1 cup milk
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 12-16 Ritz crackers, crushed
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan then add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring frequently. Then add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned.
- While the onion cooks, steam the broccoli until tender.
- Slowly pour in the broth and milk while whisking constantly and continue whisking for about a minute. Then stir in the salt and pepper and bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add the cooked chicken, rice, and broccoli and cheese then stir to combine. Transfer the casserole mixture to an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish then top with the crushed crackers.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the casserole is bubbly and lightly browned on top. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.