by Olena

Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe

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Olena Osipov
4.9 from 30 votes

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This Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole combines brown rice with broccoli and chicken- no canned soup in sight! Instead, use yogurt for a lighter yet still wonderfully creamy chicken broccoli rice casserole! Best of all, this recipe uses just 10 ingredients, one pan, and practically just minutes of hands-on prep!

Easy one-pot chicken dishes are a must-know for any busy mother (or human!). This healthy chicken and brown rice casserole is just one of many similar dishes in my rotation. You might also like this Tex-Mex chicken and zucchini, chicken and whole wheat spaghetti, teriyaki chicken and cauliflower, and chicken chickpea stew!

Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole in casserole dish

Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Healthy chicken and rice recipes are ‘my jam.’ So much so that I’ve posted recipes for a chicken burrito skillet, chicken wild rice soup, Instant Pot chicken and rice, Mexican chicken and rice, and – of course- this healthy chicken and rice casserole. Using brown rice, omitting canned soup, and using yogurt makes this a delicious yet healthy chicken and rice casserole that the whole family will enjoy!

This recipe has actually been one of the healthy casseroles I’ve been making for years. However, initially, it involved searing the chicken in one pan, cooking the rice in another, and then combining them in a separate dish to bake in the oven. I was giving myself extra work (and dishes!) for no reason! Now, this one-pan dish uses minimal effort for maximum flavor!

By omitting tinned soup, it means we can control sodium and fat levels better. Instead, it relies on yogurt and a low-sodium broth. Plus, this healthy chicken and rice recipe offers everything you need; protein, fiber, and healthy fats.  

The resulting chicken broccoli rice casserole is creamy, cheesy, tender without being mushy, and packed with flavor. Better yet, even with 1.5 lbs of broccoli, I’ve yet to hear a child complain about eating their greens when it’s dished up as part of this chicken and rice casserole (the same goes for this broccoli cheese soup and when it’s a part of a delicious veggie frittata!).

Best of all, this healthy chicken and rice casserole is comforting and hearty enough for winter yet light enough to enjoy year-round – like this parmesan chicken pasta, chicken and vegetables, and zucchini noodles with chicken, cilantro, and lime! For a lower-carb treat, you might also enjoy this cauliflower fried rice or chicken cauliflower rice and beans.

Why This Healthy Chicken Casserole Recipe Works?

  • Unlike many chicken and rice casserole recipes, this healthy version contains NO condensed soups (to avoid excess salt and preservatives!)
  • This healthy chicken and rice casserole comes together in a single Dutch oven pan. Fewer dishes = less cleanup = happy me!
  • When combined with the creamy sauce, chicken, and cheese, even veggie-skeptics will find it hard to find fault with this broccoli rice casserole.
  • This recipe requires under 10 minutes of hands-on prep and then is ready to shove in the oven and bake to bubbly, creamy perfection!
  • This healthy chicken broccoli rice casserole is creamy, cheesy, savory, salty, and utterly delicious!

Ingredients for Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

This healthy chicken and rice casserole recipe requires just 10 simple ingredients—most of which are likely already in your kitchen, including:

  • Chicken: Use boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed. Breast tends to be drier than thighs, though use what you have.
  • Rice: I like to use jasmine or brown rice as they’re a little tougher and remain as individual grains even after baking. Short grain rice will be mushier (though still delicious). I haven’t tried the healthy chicken casserole recipe with wild rice or white rice, but I’m not sure it would work well.
  • Broth: Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth. Use organic low-sodium bouillon cubes to prepare vegetable stock.
  • Oil: I used avocado oil, but any neutral cooking oil will work.
  • Broccoli: Fresh broccoli, cut into smaller florets, is best. However, you could also use frozen broccoli.
  • Yogurt: Use 2%+ fat yogurt for the best and creamiest results. Avoid skim yogurt as it lacks flavor and won’t provide enough creaminess.
  • Cheese: Use marble cheese or any hard shredded cheese like cheddar, parmesan, colby jack, etc.  
  • Spices: This chicken broccoli rice casserole uses a combination of oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Green onion (scallions): to garnish.

Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on healthy chicken and rice casserole add-ins and seasoning variations!

How to Make Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole

  • Preheat large Dutch oven: First, preheat the oven to 400F/205C. Then on the stovetop preheat the large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with a bit of oil.
  • Sear the chicken: Add the raw chicken, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.how to make Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole step by step
  • Add the rice: Add the rice and stock to the pan and stir, bringing to a boil. Then, add the broccoli over the top (do not stir), cover, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  • Add the ‘sauce’: Remove the pan from the oven, add the yogurt, chopped green onion, and stir well. Then sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake (or broil) until the cheese has melted. Then serve and enjoy!

how to make Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole step by step

Tips for Best Healthy Chicken Casserole Recipe Results

  • Cooking the broccoli your way: When baking the recipe as written, the broccoli will come out very tender (but not mushy). If you prefer broccoli with a little ‘bite,’ then blanch the broccoli separately and add it to the dish at the same time as the yogurt.
  • Using pre-cooked chicken: To save on prep time further, you can swap out the raw chicken for chicken leftovers. I recommend shredded chicken, baked chicken breast, or Instant Pot chicken breast (or thighs). If you’re using pre-cooked chicken, reduce the baking time slightly. It may be best to use instant rice/ quick-cook rice when using pre-cooked chicken- though I haven’t tried it.
  • Using the best pan: I use this Lodge Dutch oven pot, and I love it. Dutch ovens cook food evenly and quicker than other baking dishes and help you make simple one-pot meals from stovetop to oven!

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

Below are a few optional ‘add-ins’ and seasoning variations for this healthy chicken and rice casserole.  

  • Mayonnaise: You can add just a little mayonnaise to the chicken broccoli rice casserole for extra creaminess. I recommend adding 2-3tbsp.
  • Mustard: Another simple way to enhance the flavors in this healthy chicken and rice casserole is with a bit of dijon mustard. Just 1-2tbsp is enough to add an extra dimension of flavor.
  • Cream cheese: Like the mayonnaise, using just a little cream cheese in this healthy chicken and rice casserole can enhance the creaminess without adding too much fat to the dish.
  • Other vegetables: There are several vegetables you could add to this healthy chicken casserole recipe. These include mushrooms (sauté with the onion), peas, spinach, cauliflower, finely chopped carrots, celery, green beans, etc.
  • Seasonings: Feel free to experiment with the dried herbs used in the dish. You could also experiment with seasonings like Cajun seasoning or curry powder to give the healthy chicken and brown rice casserole a flavor boost!
  • Legumes: Add some chickpeas or beans to this healthy chicken and rice recipe for extra fiber, protein, and nutrients.

FAQs

Can I use quinoa instead of rice in healthy chicken and rice casserole?


I haven’t tested quinoa with this particular _ recipe. However, I do love chicken and quinoa together. Why not check out this one-pot chicken quinoa, instead?

Do I need to add cooked or uncooked rice for a chicken casserole?

Use uncooked rice. That way it bakes in the oven in the broth, without becoming too mushy.

Why did my rice fall apart?


This is likely down to the type of rice you used. If it’s old it may not cook properly, or if you’re using varieties of rice like short-grain, it can become mushy. Otherwise, your oven temperature could be off. I wouldn’t think it has anything to do with the pan as all Dutch ovens are made with cast iron.

Can I use frozen broccoli?

Yes, though it’s likely to end up mushier than when using fresh broccoli. If you don’t mind that then go for it!

What if I don’t have a Dutch oven?


I definitely prefer a Dutch oven for this dish for the best results (it retains heat wonderfully and cooks evenly and faster than other pans). However, you could also use my recipe for Instant Pot chicken and rice recipe, if you have one.

Otherwise, a glass baking dish could work. Though I imagine it would need longer to cook and a little more broth. I recommend cooking everything in the skillet then transferring it to a baking dish, Wrap tightly with several layers of foil, and add an extra 10 minutes of baking time – it may need more.

Can I prepare this in a slow cooker?

No, the rice will become far too mushy. However, you could prepare it on the stovetop. I recommend using a large pan with a see-through lid. It may take longer to cook and require extra liquid. However, just keep an eye on it and don’t remove the lid too often. Cook it until the rice is tender. You can transfer it to a dish, top with cheese, and broil until melted.

Can I make this lower carb with cauliflower rice?


I haven’t tried this, though I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. When using cauliflower rice I’d recommend following the recipe but only baking in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Just keep in mind that while rice absorbs liquid, cauliflower rice releases liquid – so you likely won’t need as much broth. The amount of seasoning will also likely change.

Serving Recommendations

This healthy chicken and rice casserole is a hearty enough meal on its own. However, you could enjoy it alongside some garlic bread, a leafy green salad, or chopped salad.

You could also serve this with additional veggie sides like – sauteed zucchini, zucchini casserole, Instant Pot corn on the cob, garlic green beans, or roasted asparagus, cauliflower, or Brussel sprouts.

Making Healthy Chicken and Rice Recipe in Advance

Meal prep: You can freeze this healthy chicken and rice casserole before or after it’s baked. If cooking from frozen, add an extra hour to the baking time. Otherwise, allow it to thaw first, then bake as written in the recipe. You can also prep the broccoli up to a day in advance, chopping it up and storing it in an airtight container.

Storing: Allow the chicken broccoli rice casserole to cool, then store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freeze: To freeze, cool completely, then freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.   

Reheat: You can reheat smaller portions in the microwave or the oven at 375F/190C for 10 minutes or until warmed through. After reheating, you might want to add a bit more yogurt to bring back extra creaminess. Sprinkle fresh herbs, too, as they always add another layer of flavor to the healthy chicken casserole recipe.

More Healthy Casserole Recipes

Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe

Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe {One Pot}

Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole combines brown rice with broccoli and chicken- no canned soup in sight! Instead, use yogurt for a lighter yet still wonderfully creamy chicken broccoli rice casserole! Best of all, this recipe uses just 10 ingredients, one pan, and practically just minutes of hands-on prep!
4.94 from 30 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Casserole
Cuisine: Ukrainian American
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 57 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 378kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw boneless & skinless chicken breasts cubed or 1 lb chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups brown rice rinsed & drained
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock low sodium
  • 8 cups 1.5 lbs broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt fat 2+%
  • 1/4 cup green onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup marble or any hard cheese shredded

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Preheat large dutch oven on medium-high heat and swirl oil to coat.
  • Add raw chicken, garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe
  • Add rice and stock, stir and bring to a boil. Lay broccoli on top and do not stir, cover and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
    Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe
  • Remove from the oven, add yogurt and green onion, stir. Sprinkle cheese on top.
    Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe
  • Return to oven, bake until cheese has melted. Serve hot.
    Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe

Meal prep: You can freeze this healthy chicken and rice casserole before or after it’s baked. If cooking from frozen, add an extra hour to the baking time. Or allow it to thaw first, then bake as written in the recipe.

    Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

      Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in a fridge overnight. Reheat in a microwave or in the oven at 375 F for 10 minutes.

        Notes

        • I like to use brown jasmine or basmati rice because grains stay separated once cooked. But long grain brown rice is just as good taste wise. Short grain rice will yield in more mushy casserole but still delicious. Ukrainian in me would use what I have on hand.
        • I have not tested this casserole recipe with wild rice or white rice. My gut tells me, it won’t work.
        • Dutch oven cooks food evenly in a cast iron pot. You need it to make this recipe and many others, trust me!
        • I used organic low sodium bouillon cubes to make vegetable stock. You can use from a carton as well, I just like the convenience.
        • Plain or Greek yogurt with 2% and higher fat content is the best. Skim yogurt lacks flavor and will not make casserole as creamy.
        • You can use boneless and skinless chicken thighs. Chicken breasts are more dry than thighs. Use what you have or like.
        • Broccoli comes out not mushy but rather soft. You can blanch broccoli separately and add before stirring with yogurt. If you are very specific about your broccoli.:)
        • Cannot make this in slow cooker. For pressure cooker version, see my Instant Pot chicken and rice.
        See recipe post for more FAQs and tips.

        Nutrition

        Calories: 378kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 491mg | Potassium: 704mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 787IU | Vitamin C: 83mg | Calcium: 206mg | Iron: 2mg
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