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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!
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…
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
I can’t believe how easy this recipe was to prepare and cook and delicious on top of that. I know you like food spicy and I do too but my children do not so I only add half the heat. I also take leftovers to work to help feed a friend. Thank you for your Recipies!
Amazing!! So glad to hear that this dish was enjoyed and thanks a bunch for making it! xx
I’ve made this a few times. We enjoy it! What’s the best way to reheat it?
So glad to hear you have been enjoying this recipe! I think the easiest way to reheat would just be warming each serving in the microwave so nothing dries out. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT
I love ALL your recipes! This is totally the upgraded version of what we grew up with! DELICIOUS! The lemon zest really makes it for me.
Thanks so much for your kind message Tracy!! So glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you! xT
Delicious and so easy. Thank you
Happy Monday!! 🍋🫐 I truly appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, love to hear that it was a hit! xT
Is this to be rice or orzo? Recipe title says rice and recipe itself says orzo. Which is it?
This recipe calls for both rice and orzo:) Please let me know if I can help in any other way! xT
I noticed in one of the comments you were less enthusiastic about using brown rice. I am wondering why you think this could be a problem. I have a brown and wild rice combo that I like to use, but now I am hesitant. This looks fantastic and I don’t want to mess it up! Your thoughts?
Unfortunately, brown rice cooks much differently than basmati or jasmine rice. You can certainly give it a try, I just am not sure of the exact outcome:) Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT
I make this honestly once a week. My teenage son requests it which is a BIG deal. Love this recipe so much!
Happy Monday!! I am so glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! xx