This Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole combines brown rice with broccoli and chicken, no canned soup in sight. Best of all, this recipe uses just 10 ingredients and one pan.
Other chicken and rice recipes we love are this slow cooker chicken and rice and chicken and rice in Instant Pot.
Table of contents
Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Healthy chicken and rice recipes for dinner are my jam. I also love this combination in soups like healthy chicken wild rice soup, Instant Pot chicken wild rice soup or Instant Pot chicken and rice soup.
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.
Best of all, this healthy chicken and rice casserole is comforting and hearty enough for winter yet light enough to enjoy year round.
For a lower carb treat, you might also enjoy this cauliflower fried rice.
Why This 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!
You may also love these 65 healthy chicken recipes!
Ingredients You Will Need
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 400 F. 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.
- 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!
Tips for Best 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 cooked in Instant Pot, 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 2-3 tablespoons.
- Mustard: Another simple way to enhance the flavors in this healthy chicken and rice casserole is with a bit of dijon mustard. Just 1-2 tablespoons 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 chicken), 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!
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?
Use uncooked rice. That way it bakes in the oven in the broth, without becoming too mushy.
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.
Yes, though it’s likely to end up mushier than when using fresh broccoli. If you don’t mind that then go for it!
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.
Not this recipe but check out my slow cooker chicken and rice recipe.
However, you could prepare this dish 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.
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.
This healthy chicken and rice casserole is a hearty enough meal on its own. However, you could enjoy it alongside some garlic bread or a leafy green salad.
You could also serve this with additional veggie sides like sauteed zucchini, Instant Pot corn on the cob, garlic green beans, or roasted asparagus, or cauliflower.
Making It 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 375 F 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 broccoli casserole with pasta and no canned soup!
- Ground turkey quinoa casserole so good and simple.
- Turkey pasta bake with kale but no one will complain!
- Healthy Mexican casserole with layers of tortillas, meat and veggies.
- Mexican chicken and rice is a one pan pantry staple deliciousness.
- Skillet enchiladas in one pot in 30 mins.
Healthy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove from the oven, add yogurt and green onion, stir. Sprinkle cheese on top.
- Return to oven, bake until cheese has melted. Serve hot.
- Make ahead: You can freeze this 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.
- Type of brown rice: Brown jasmine or basmati rice grains stay separated once cooked. 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.
- Wild or white rice: I have not tested this casserole recipe with either, 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!
- Plain or Greek yogurt with 2% and higher fat content is best. Skim yogurt lacks flavor and will not make casserole as creamy.
- Chicken thighs: You can use boneless and skinless. Chicken breasts are more dry than thighs. Use what you have or like.
- Cannot make this in slow cooker. For pressure cooker version, see my Instant Pot chicken and rice.
Question : I want to make this the night before I serve it. Wednesday nights I don’t have time to cook so I need something I can have my wife take out of fridge and put in oven before I get home from daughters practice. The night before, should I follow the directions up until the oven part? Or should I bake it and the let it cool and refrigerate it for the next night? How long should I cook the next night in the oven and at what temp? Looks delicious and hope to make this a weekly staple.
I would cook it up to including step 2, so saute veggies and chicken. Then add rice and refrigerate. Next day your wife will add chicken stock, broccoli and bake. If you refrigerate it with uncooked rice and stock, rice will soak up liquid and cook time will be off and rice might be mushy. You can also pre-chop onion and grate cheese and refrigerate them in small containers. Preps is the longest, once everything is chopped it’s easy casserole to put together. And do you know you are a great husband?!:)
We made this tonight. My husband followed the recipe exactly but the rice is hard and crunchy. We can’t figure out what we did wrong. (This is our first time using brown rice in a recipe.) Should we have used cooked brown rice? Otherwise, the flavor is spectacular! We just need to figure out the rice issue for next time because there WILL be a next time! Delicious!!
I am sorry to hear that. What kind of pot did you use? Dutch oven or regular pot or baking dish? Sometimes brands of rice differ and so do ovens. Next time I would add 1/2 cup extra broth and cook 10 minutes longer. If you see rice is uncooked, you can always add a bit extra liquid and stick it back in the oven. It will get there. Glad you love the flavors.:)
We used an aluminum Dutch oven. To correct the issue we added more broth to the pot and let it sit in the fridge overnight and then transferred it to a glass casserole dish, baked it at 375 for 30 minutes with foil and 30 minutes without (which was just a guess) and it finished cooking the rice and we devoured it!
So glad you made it work! Yes, I think the cooking vessel was the issue. Aluminum is light and doesn’t retain moisture like cast iron. So next time cook longer with a bit more liquid.
If I’m freezing this, can I add the yoghurt in the container too? Or does it need to be put on after heating through?
Also, will a dairyfree yoghurt work?
Yogurt doesn’t freeze well, it curdles. Dairy free yogurt will work in a dish. Not sure how it freezes, might freeze well because it is full of starch.
This was so good! We’ve tried quite a few of your recipes and they are my go tos! The only changes I made was sautéed chopped onions before adding the chicken because I was out of green onions, and toasted some panko breadcrumbs in butter and added on top of cheese. Delicious!
So glad you enjoyed it!
Finally I can connect with a fellow Ukrainian! My father always talked about his mother’s cooking. My Irish mother just couldn’t get it right!
I’d like to lower the carbs a bit. Can I use cauliflower rice and add it about 10-15 min. before it’s done cooking?
So glad to have you here! For cauliflower rice, I 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 won’t need as much broth and may need to experiment with that amount. The amount of seasoning might also change as well.
Hoping you and your family are OK during this horrible time. I wish you strength and safety.
I want to try this recipe for my mother who needs low-sodium meals. What is the serving size?
It’s roughly 1.5 – 2 cups. You can omit the salt for lower sodium as well.
I made this last night for meal prep item and it came out a little bland and on the dryer side. I did follow recipe exactly but used smoked cheddar and gruyere cheeses instead b/c that is what I had on hand. I put 8 cups of broccoli and it turned the entire dish green – hahhaa. I was looking at your picture and mine definitely wasn’t as pretty as that. I am still laughing. But overall, it was good. Thank you!
Thanks for letting us know Angel! On the green…did you chop your broccoli too fine perhaps? Of course always feel free to adjust seasonings to your preference, check out the post section optional add-in’s 🙂
Really good flavor. I added yellow onion when cooking the chicken. The only pause I have is that it was quite watery but everything was well cooked.
Onion does release water, so maybe that is the culprit. Otherwise, next time either use less stock or let it boil for a few minutes to let some liquid evaporate before adding broccoli to the pot.
I was skeptical at first because I do love my cream of mushroom and cream of chicken! BUT this was fabulous! I actually added a little more rice and it was the perfect casserole consistency!
So glad you enjoyed it Kristin!
I want to add mushrooms to this recipe, but the option says to saute mushrooms with the onion. There is no step for sauteing onion, so when should I add the mushrooms?
Add the mushrooms with chicken. Enjoy!