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This Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole is made with rice, chicken breasts, cheddar cheese, cream of chicken soup, water, and seasonings. You will love this easy and delicious comfort food meal.
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This Chicken and Rice Casserole has been in our family for years. Whenever I serve it to my family, I am reminded of my Grandma Edwards. She made this dish all the time. It was always a favorite of ours when we went to her home for meals. However, she often served it with cut up chicken pieces as opposed to boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Isn’t it interesting that food can take you back to a time and place? One bite of this casserole and I am a 7-year old girl sitting with my parents and siblings around my Grandma’s kitchen table eating delicious food, enjoying the conversation, and wondering what delightful dessert was awaiting us. I love food memories!
Not only does this chicken and rice casserole taste good, the aroma that fills the house while it is cooking will have everyone asking when dinner will be ready. This is definitely a dish I would label as comfort food. The rice mixture is warm and creamy, and the chicken always turns out perfectly moist, never dry.
Ingredients in Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- Uncooked white rice – not Minute Rice
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Cream of chicken soup – undiluted
- Lipton onion soup mix
Putting it All Together
Putting this chicken and rice casserole all together couldn’t be easier! Here’s how to layer all the ingredients before baking:
- Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
- Layer rice, 1 cup shredded cheese, salt, and pepper in pan.
- Place chicken breasts on top. Daub rounded teaspoons of cream of chicken soup over the chicken breasts and rice.
- Pour water on top and sprinkle with onion soup mix.
That’s it! The casserole is ready to put in the oven! Simply bake at 350-degrees F for 1 hour, uncovered.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Choose the right chicken: You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Cut them into serving-sized pieces for even cooking.
- Use the right rice: Long-grain white rice is a good choice for casseroles as it tends to absorb flavors well. You can also use Jasmine rice, basmati rice, or even wild rice. We have tried making this with brown rice and we can never get it to cook well enough without also drying out the chicken.
- Add vegetables: Enhance the flavor and nutrition of your casserole by adding vegetables like carrots, peas, bell peppers, broccoli, or mushrooms.
- Seasoning: Try using a mix of herbs and spices such as thyme, rosemary, garlic, onion powder, and paprika to season the dish. You can also add onion powder and garlic powder. Salt and pepper are essential for flavor.
- Broth or stock: Instead of just water, use chicken broth or stock to cook the rice. This adds depth of flavor to the dish.
- Try a different soup: You don’t necessarily need to stick to cream of chicken soup for the creamy sauce. Cream of mushroom soup, cheese soup, and cream of celery soup also taste great in this casserole.
- Cream of chicken substitute: If you are not a fan of using “cream of” soups from a can, try our recipe for Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute. It is creamy and flavorful without the modified food starch and/or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Sear the chicken: Brown the chicken pieces in a skillet before adding them to the casserole. This searing process helps lock in flavor and ensures the chicken is cooked through in the casserole.
- Save a little time: If you want to save a little time and also ensure you don’t get crunchy rice, boil the water/chicken broth or stock evenly over the casserole ingredients before baking. Cover with aluminum foil to trap in the heat and then bake– you can cut the time by 10-15 minutes by doing this trick.
- Rest before serving: Allow the casserole to rest for a few minutes after removing it from the oven. This helps the flavors meld and makes it easier to serve.
- Garnish: Garnish with fresh parsley or chopped green onion or chives to add a little color to the dish.
Shredding the Chicken Before Serving
If you have younger kids at home or just want to make this casserole easier to eat, try shredding the chicken before serving. Shredding the chicken after cooking makes the chicken have an even distribution throughout the dish. It also creates a tender texture and helps the chicken get more of the flavors from the creamy sauce. Shredded chicken blends seamlessly with the other ingredients, making it easier to serve and appealing to picky eaters, especially kids. Plus it helps you get all the flavors of the casserole in each bite!
Frequently Asked Questions
As you can see from the number of comments below, this has been a very popular and loved recipe by our readers. To save you some time going through the comments, here are some quick answers to some of the commonly asked questions about our Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole.
Yes, Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Celery both taste great in this recipe.
Yes, chicken broth will add even more flavor. You can also use a combination of water and chicken broth.
No. That is one of the great things about this recipe! The chicken cooks along with the rice.
Read Next: Spaghetti Casserole
What to Serve with this Casserole
I prefer to serve this Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole with cooked vegetables on the side in the winter months, and in the summer months, I serve it with a large garden salad. Try some of these delicious recipes that go perfectly with this casserole:
How to Make Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Layer rice, 1 cup shredded cheese, salt, and pepper in pan.Place chicken breasts on top. Daub rounded teaspoons of cream of chicken soup over the chicken breasts and rice.
- Pour water on top and sprinkle with onion soup mix.
- Bake uncovered for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven, and stir excess sauce into the rice. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese.
- If using brown rice, add 15 minutes to baking time.
- In a hurry? Boil the water before pouring over the top. Quickly cover with foil to trap in the heat and bake as directed. This can save you up to 15 minutes of cooking time.
- The USDA recommends keeping leftover cooked chicken for a maximum of four days.
- After cooking and consuming your tender chicken, take your leftovers from your baking dish or your casserole dish and place in an airtight container where it can remain safely for up to four days in the fridge. Enjoy!
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