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Nothing is better (or easier) than this Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole. Kind of like broccoli cheddar soup meets cozy weeknight casserole. It’s healthy…ish, so darn easy, and so darn delicious. The best part…it’s made entirely in one pot and in under an hour. Grab some chicken, rice, orzo pasta, plenty of herbs, and all the broccoli you can snag. Cook everything together on the stove, add sharp cheddar cheese, and finish off in the oven to melt the cheese. Simple, but SO GOOD. The perfect weeknight casserole!

overhead photo of Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole with serving spoon in casserole dish and portion of the rice removed from dish

It’s not even September yet and I am already throwing the casseroles at you guys. Yes, it’s true. I’m ready to switch things up. I’m ready for a bit of cozy, and well, I really just hope you all are ready too.

In all seriousness, this really is a perfect recipe for this time of year. The kids are all heading back to school, everyone is slowly coming back from summer vacations, and life is getting busy. Sure, it’s still hot out, but I’m feeling the autumn shift slowly creeping its way in. And with that comes dinner inspiration from my childhood. End of summer and back to school signals the part of my brain that has me thinking easy family dinners, midwest style.

I’m talking casseroles, tacos, slow cooker dinner, and soon enough, soups. Anyone else feel the same or what? It can’t just be me…

side angled photo of chicken and rice in skillet on the stove before adding liquid

Growing up, broccoli cheddar anything was my favorite, but especially the broccoli cheddar soup from Panera bread. My other favorite? My dad’s rice bakes, which he’d make simple with so much broccoli and so much cheddar cheese. They were simple and delicious and I was so into them.

I got to thinking about combining the two together, and just like that, this recipe was formed. It’s not anything crazy creative, but I can assure you, it’s crazy delicious.

Like I said above, kind of like broccoli cheddar soup meets cozy rice casserole. And it’s is GOOD. Not nearly as soupy as soup, but not as heavy as a casserole. It’s got the perfect balance.

overhead photo of Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

It all starts and ends in ONE pot. Or two if you’re like me and decide you want to bake this in a real casserole dish for the “real deal” midwest style casserole situation. I really love setting the mood.

Anyway, start with the basics. Cook your onion, add the chicken, give the chicken some time sear. Then add a touch of butter, some rice, orzo, and fresh thyme. Cook until you’ve got a nice toasty smell going, now add the broth, broccoli, and a few more seasonings. Cover and cook just like you would a normal pot of rice. Once this is finished cooking, stir in just a touch of milk for creaminess (swap in non-dairy milk, if needed), and lemon zest for a pop of freshness.

Top with cheddar cheese and bake until the cheese is melty and the broccoli on top has a little char. Finish with fresh thyme and basil from the garden and dinner is served. Easy, right?

overhead photo of Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole with spoon in casserole dish

But yet so very good. The rice underneath stays soft and creamy while the cheese on top browns. The corners of the dish will form an insanely delicious, cheesy crust. Every bite is flavor and roll your eyes back good.

If you prefer to go the vegetarian route, simply omit the chicken from the dish. It’s truly just as delicious without or without, so do what works best for you and your family.

overhead close up photo of Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole with serving spoon in casserole dish

This dish brings back all the best memories from when I was a kid, huddled around the kitchen counter, eating chicken noodle casserole with my brothers. Of course, this is a much healthier dinner option, with so much more color than mom’s (super old school) chicken noodle casserole. But all the nostalgia is still there.

And no offense to my mom or dad, but personally I love my vegetable-filled casserole a bit more than their old school version. Sometimes you have to upgrade the classics a bit, you know?

Make this one for family and friends, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love it.

overhead photo of Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole in single serving dish with fork in dish

If you make this broccoli cheddar chicken and rice casserole, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Watch The How To Video:

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 744 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
    2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrot and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is seared, 2-3 minutes. Add the butter, rice, orzo, and thyme, and cook until golden and toasted, 2-3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli, bay leaves, garlic powder, cayenne, and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, covered for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is mostly cooked.
    3. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the lemon zest, milk, and 1/2 cup of cheese. If needed, transfer the rice to an oven-safe casserole dish. Scatter the remaining cheese over top the casserole. 
    4. Transfer to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and just beginning to brown. Serve warm with additional thyme and fresh basil. 

Notes

To Make Ahead: Prepare the casserole through step 3. Let cool, then cover and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. To bake, remove from the fridge and let sit at room temp while the oven preheats. Bake as directed. 
To Freeze: Prepare the casserole through step 3. Let cool, then cover tightly. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or on the counter for 2-3 hours. Bake as directed. 
Gluten Free Orzo: I love DeLallo brand gluten free orzo
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overhead horizontal photo of Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole with spoon in casserole dish

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Comments

  1. I made this using all jasmine rice. I subbed the amount of orzo for rice and added an extra cup of chicken broth. Used rotisserie chicken which I added when adding the milk. I added mushrooms then too. It makes a lot so I froze half for an easy meal at a later date! Very good!

  2. This looks amazing!! Wondering if I could use brown basmati rice and if there would be adjustments I’d have to make! Thanks!

    1. Hey Becca,
      I’m sure that would work for you, I just don’t know the exact adjustments because I haven’t tested it! Let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

  3. 5 stars
    So good, quick, and easy – which was exactly what I needed as I made this while my puppy barked incessantly in the background. I was surprised just how flavorful it was. I upped the cayenne because I need spice to enjoy my meals. Also used orzo as that’s all I had on hand, didn’t add chicken as I oddly didn’t have any, and had to add a little extra broth. I had a ton of broccoli from the farmers market I needed to use up – so I definitely had more than the recipe called for, which is likely why I needed more liquid too. This will definitely go into my winter weeknight meal rotation!

    1. Whoops meant to post this comment on the similar chicken, broccoli, and noodle casserole that you recently posted – which is what I actually made tonight. Didn’t realize I had both recipes open in my browser.

    2. Hey Julia,
      Amazing!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! Have a great weekend! xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! So easy, comforting and delicious. I have made this for meal trains and shared the recipe with all my people. I add bacon to mine and cook the bacon first and then add chicken and sauté the veggies to the mix after the chicken is almost done. I also rarely have orzo, so I use 2 cups of rice and 4 cups of broth. I don’t measure the veggies and add plenty so I have had to add a cup of liquid a few times. One of my boys can handle spice and the other does not, so we add a little sour cream and he eats it right up. Delicious recipe!

    1. Hey Sheena,
      Wonderful!! I appreciate you taking the time to make this recipe, I am so glad it was a hit! Happy Wednesday:)

    1. Hey Jennie,
      I would just add right before the milk/broth to season and warm through. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xT

    1. Hi Trey,
      Sure, I haven’t tested without the rice, but yes if you reduce some of the broth that should work well for you! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    This is SO good. I’ve made it 2x..once with chicken and once without(chicken is another pan…I have a vegetarian in the house! Both times were yummy! So hard not keep eating more!!

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Happy Friday! I am so excited to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for trying it out! 🌻xx

  6. 5 stars
    Yum!!! Just made this for lunch and already had a second serving. This is NOT your globs of cheese and heavy cream casserole. It’s a savory baked dish with cheese as more of a flavoring. I will definitely include this in my repertoire for years to come. My picky chef husband also really enjoyed this too. Thank you for another great recipe!

    1. Hey Megan,
      Wonderful! Thanks so much for making this dish and sharing your feedback, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! xTieghan

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Yes, I would use some extra rice in place of the orzo. Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

  7. Hello there. I am so sorry to ask this question, but is the rice already cooked? Same for the orzo? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Katie,
      Neither the rice or the orzo is already cooked, they will cook in the dish during the recipe:) Please let me know if you have any other questions! xx