Hearty, satisfying, and easy to make, this creamy chicken and rice casserole is a family favorite. Made with chicken legs and cream of chicken soup, it's hard to resist going back for seconds.
Looking for a hearty, comforting meal to feed the whole family? This easy chicken and rice casserole is sure to satisfy!
Perfect for busy weeknights, it comes together with simple ingredients like rice, cream of chicken soup, vegetables and of course juicy chicken drumsticks.
This classic casserole captures all the warm, savory flavors of a homestyle chicken dinner.
First, a flavorful base of aromatic vegetables, rice and seasoning is prepared. Then bone-in chicken legs are nestled on top and baked until fall-off-the-bone tender. The cream of chicken soup and broth create a creamy sauce.
As it bakes, the rice soaks up all the wonderful flavors while the chicken cooks to juicy perfection.
A quick stir halfway through brings everything together. Serve it straight from the casserole dish for a fuss-free family meal.
With its minimal prep time and handful of pantry ingredients, this is a great recipe for busy weeknights.
Kids will love digging into the baked chicken and rice. Leftovers can even be portioned out for easy lunches.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
This comforting Chicken and Rice Casserole is a tried and true family favorite for so many reasons:
- It's budget-friendly - Made with simple, affordable ingredients like rice, canned soup and chicken legs.
- It's family-friendly - Kids love the baked chicken legs and creamy rice.
- It's comforting - The savory, tender chicken and creamy rice bake up into a very cozy, satisfying casserole.
- It's versatile - Easily adaptable to use up whatever veggies you have on hand.
- It's freezer-friendly - Bakes beautifully after being frozen for easy freezer meals.
- It makes great leftovers - Store the leftovers in the fridge and they make a great lunch.
- It's an easy one-pot meal
- It feeds a crowd - One casserole generously serves 6, perfect for gatherings.
- It's customizable - Add mushrooms, broccoli, other veggies to sneak in extras.
With its simple ingredients, ease of preparation, and family-friendly appeal, this casserole is a weeknight winner.
Ingredients for Chicken and Rice Casserole
White Rice: You can use long-grain for a fluffier texture or short-grain for a stickier result. Jasmine rice is our favorite.
Celery and Onion: These vegetables add a savory depth to the dish.
Seasonings: This includes onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
Cream of Chicken Soup: You can substitute with cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup if you prefer.
Chicken Broth and Water:
Chicken Drumsticks: They're cooked directly in the dish, which allows their juices to flavor the rice. You can substitute with thighs or breasts, but cooking time may vary. We have found that using chicken breasts makes the whole casserole drier and it took longer to cook.
Butter: This is melted and brushed over the chicken before baking.
How to Make Chicken and Rice
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and preparing a 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Pour the rice into the prepared dish.
Next, melt butter in a skillet and saute the diced celery and onion for about 3 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
Spread these softened vegetables over the rice in the casserole dish, followed by the seasonings.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, and water until well combined.
Pour this mixture over the seasoned rice and vegetables, stirring to ensure everything is evenly coated. Arrange the chicken drumsticks over the top of the rice mixture.
Brush each drumstick with melted butter, then sprinkle with additional salt, black pepper, and paprika.
Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and bake for one hour. After this time, carefully remove the foil and stir the rice around the chicken, ensuring it's cooking evenly. If necessary, remove the drumsticks temporarily to stir the rice, but make sure to return them to the dish before continuing to bake.
Return the uncovered casserole to the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Your Chicken and Rice Casserole is now ready to enjoy!
More Casserole Ideas
Tips for Making the Best Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Rinse the Rice: Rinse your rice under cold water before adding it to the casserole. This removes excess starch and helps prevent the rice from becoming gummy.
- Check the Rice: Different brands of rice can cook differently, so start checking if the rice is done about 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
- Use a Meat Thermometer: To ensure the chicken is cooked to the correct temperature, use a meat thermometer. It should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted into the thickest part of the drumstick.
- Use bone-in chicken thighs or drumsticks for maximum flavor and to make sure the chicken is moist.
- Let it rest 5-10 minutes before serving
Variations and Substitutions
This versatile Chicken and Rice Casserole can be customized in so many tasty ways:
- Use a different meat - Replace chicken with turkey, ham, shrimp or sausage
- Try other grains - Substitute white rice with brown rice, quinoa, farro or barley
- Switch up the veggies - Add carrots, green beans, spinach, zucchini or roasted red peppers
- Add cheese - Stir in shredded cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss or pepper jack
- Adjust seasonings - Add garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salsa or taco seasoning
- Make it spicy - Add diced chipotles in adobo or hot sauce for heat
- Finish with fresh herbs - Garnish with parsley, cilantro or chives
- Swap in turkey sausage - For a flavor boost, cook and add turkey sausage
- Try alternate soups - Use cream of mushroom or celery soup for different flavor
The possibilities are endless for putting your own spin on this classic! Make it your own with fun add-ins and customizable flavors.
What to Serve With
This hearty Chicken and Rice Casserole would pair deliciously with a variety of sides:
- Garden salad - A fresh salad with vinaigrette dressing
- Roasted vegetables - Roasted broccoli, carrots, or brussels sprouts
- Garlic bread - Cheesy garlic bread is always a hit.
- Dinner rolls - Warm, flaky rolls for soaking up the casserole sauce
- Fried okra - Crispy breaded okra adds some Southern flair.
- Creamed spinach - Rich, creamy spinach
- Corn on the cob - Grilled or roasted corn
- Mashed potatoes - Creamy potatoes pair perfectly with the baked chicken.
If you have leftover chicken and rice you can store for later. Once the casserole dish has cooled down, either cover with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container and place it in the fridge. It can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Here are some tips on how to enjoy the leftovers:
- Portion into individual containers for quick, reheatable lunches.
- Make chicken and rice bowls with veggies and sauce.
- Use as a burrito or taco filling along with beans, cheese, etc.
- Transform into soup by adding chicken broth and extra vegetables.
- Fold into an omelet or breakfast burrito with eggs and cheese.
- Make fried rice by stir frying it with sesame oil, soy sauce and veggies.
- Layer it into a casserole dish to reheat for round two.
- Pull the chicken off the bone, stir in BBQ sauce and serve on buns for pulled chicken sandwiches.
With so many easy ways to transform leftovers into creative new dishes, you'll look forward to leftovers of this family favorite!
It reheats beautifully for easy leftover meals all week long.
Cream of Chicken and Rice Casserole
- 3 cups white rice
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 onion diced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika plus additional for sprinkling over the chicken
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cans cream of chicken soup 10.5 ounce cans
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ¾ cup water
- 10 to 12 chicken drumsticks
- 2 Tablespoons butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Pour the rice into the casserole dish.
- Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onion and saute for about 3 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the sauteed vegetables over the rice.
- Over the vegetables, add the seasonings.
- In a bowl, whisk together the cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, and water. Pour the mixture over the seasonings and stir the rice to combine.
- Place the chicken over the casserole. Brush the chicken drumsticks with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and the remaining paprika.
- Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour.
- Carefully remove the aluminum foil. Stir the rice around the chicken. (You can also remove the chicken drumsticks to stir the casserole but return them before continuing to bake.)
- Place the casserole back into the oven, uncovered, and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.