Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole

published Nov 26, 2023
Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Recipe

Cubed chicken, rice, tender broccoli florets, and gooey cheddar cheese are baked in a rich sauce for this family-favorite casserole.

Serves4 to 6

Prep10 minutes

Cook1 hour 45 minutes

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Close up shot of the chicken, rice and broccoli casserole with the top right corner scoop missing.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

There are few flavors loved in my home more than broccoli and cheese. Tender-crisp broccoli can be dished up as a side with a creamy cheese sauce, served as a soup in a bread bowl, or dressed up in a fancy-ish risotto dinner. This casserole recipe is my biggest dinner win yet, not only because it brings broccoli and cheese together, but also because it’s baked with chicken and rice in a creamy sauce to make it a complete meal. 

When you lean on supermarket shortcuts like rotisserie chicken, pre-shredded cheese, and frozen broccoli florets, this homestyle casserole comes together in mere minutes. Here’s how to make this comforting cheesy chicken broccoli and rice casserole for dinner tonight — or how to stash it in the freezer as a gift to your future self. 

Ingredients in Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

  • Cooked chicken: Use a rotisserie chicken or cook a batch of simply seasoned chicken breasts in the oven.
  • Yellow onion: Dice a medium yellow onion. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of diced onion.
  • Garlic: Mince two garlic cloves.
  • Broccoli: Cut bite-size florets from fresh broccoli crowns (save the stems for another use, like a vegetable stir-fry) or use frozen broccoli florets. 
  • Cheddar cheese: Shred sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater, or use thick, homestyle pre-shredded cheese.
  • Butter: Melt unsalted butter in the skillet, then cook the onion and garlic. 
  • All-purpose flour: Sprinkle the flour over the tender onion and garlic, and cook for a minute to remove the raw flour flavor. The flour is what thickens the sauce.
  • Chicken broth: Low-sodium chicken broth allows you to control the amount of salt in the final dish. 
  • Milk: Use whole or 2% milk to add creaminess to the sauce.
  • Rice: You’ll need 3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

How to Make Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

  • Prep ingredients. Dice the chicken and onion, mince the garlic, cut the broccoli, and shred the cheese before you turn on the stove. Prepping ingredients in advance makes the actual cooking go so much more smoothly.
  • Make the sauce. Add flour to the sautéed onions and garlic, then whisk in broth and milk. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens. 
  • Add chicken, cheese, and rice. Stir in the chicken, half of the cheese, and the uncooked rice until coated in the sauce. 
  • Bake the casserole. Transfer the casserole to an 8×8- or 9×9-inch baking dish (or keep it in the skillet if it is oven-safe) and bake, covered, until the rice is tender. 
  • Add the broccoli and top with cheese. Uncover, stir in the broccoli, top with the rest of the cheese, and bake for a few more minutes until the broccoli is tender and the cheese is melted. You can finish under the broiler to brown the cheese slightly, if desired. 

How to Make Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole in Advance

Casseroles are prime freezer fare, so whenever you’re making this cheesy chicken broccoli and rice casserole, why not double the recipe and freeze one? To make chicken broccoli and rice in advance, assemble as instructed. You may want to use a disposable aluminum pan, so that your baking dishes aren’t tied up in the freezer for weeks at a time. 

Bake the casserole as instructed until the rice is tender. Stir in the broccoli, top with cheddar cheese, and then set the casserole aside to cool to room temperature. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and freeze. Whenever you need a no-prep dinner, let the casserole thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake until heated through and bubbling around the edges.  

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Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Recipe

Cubed chicken, rice, tender broccoli florets, and gooey cheddar cheese are baked in a rich sauce for this family-favorite casserole.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    cooked boneless, skinless chicken

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 10 to 12 ounces

    fresh broccoli crowns, or 10 ounces frozen broccoli florets

  • 8 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups shredded), divided

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    low-sodium chicken broth (scant 2 cups)

  • 1/2 cup

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 3/4 cup

    uncooked long-grain white rice

Instructions

  1. Arrange one rack in the middle of the oven and a second rack in the upper third of the oven. Heat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Dice 1 pound cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups). Dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups) and mince 2 garlic cloves.

  3. If using fresh broccoli, cut 10 to 12 ounces broccoli crowns into small, bite-sized florets (about 4 cups). If using frozen broccoli, let sit at room temperature to thaw while the casserole bakes. Shred 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups) if needed.

  4. Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large, high-sided oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Sauté until tender and golden-brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  5. Add 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute, to cook the floury taste out. Slowly pour in 1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth and whisk to combine, breaking up any lumps of flour and onion and scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

  6. Pour in 1/2 cup whole or 2% milk, add 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and whisk until combined. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  7. Add the chicken, and half of the cheese, and 3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice. Stir to combine. Spread into an even layer or transfer to a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil.

  8. Bake on the middle rack until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Carefully uncover, add the broccoli, and stir to combine. Spread back into an even layer and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Return to the middle rack of the oven and bake uncovered until the broccoli is tender and the cheese on top is melted, 10 to 15 minutes more. If your baking dish or skillet is broiler-safe, move the casserole to the upper rack and broil until the top is browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Bake the casserole as instructed until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and top with the cheese, then cool, cover, and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat, covered, in the oven at 350ºF until heated through, 30 to 45 minutes.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.