This post may contain affiliate links, please see our privacy policy for details.

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.



  • 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. 


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
View Recipe Comments

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

Add a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    I would consider this comfort food, absolutely delicious and the cayenne gives it just the right warmth. Couldn’t find gf orzo so substituted another small size gf pasta. Would be good made with leftover turkey.

  2. 4 stars
    I felt this had a little too much rice for my liking. If I were to make again, I would use a little less rice, possibly more broccoli, more cheese, and maybe substitute some white wine for some of the water.
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s hearty and filling. I just think it could use a little more flavor and less rice.

  3. LOVE all your recipes and can’t wait to try this one this week!
    I have in the fridge and prefer cauliflower over broccoli. Wondering if you think that this would be an ok substitute.
    Thank you!

  4. My husband is gluten-free and I couldn’t find GF orzo so I substituted an extra half cup of rice and an additional half cup of chicken broth and it turned out great. Love recipes that can be easily modified to gluten-free!

  5. Could I substitute the orzo with more rice? Don’t have any orzo at the moment and wondered- the recipe looks yummy!

    1. Hi Camilla,
      Sure, that would work, unfortunately I do not have the exact measurements for you as I have not tested it. Let me know if you give this dish a try, I hope you love it! xT

    1. Thanks so much for trying this recipe Keasha!! I love to hear that it was a winner and appreciate you making it! xx

    1. Hi Casey,
      So sorry, I have not tested this recipe in the slow cooker, so I am not sure what adjustments would need to be made. Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

  6. 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!

    1. Hey Lillian,
      Amazing!! So glad to hear that this dish was enjoyed and thanks a bunch for making it! xx

    1. Hey Jen,
      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

  7. 5 stars
    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.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind message Tracy!! So glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you! xT

    1. Hey Tracey,
      Happy Monday!! 🍋🫐 I truly appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, love to hear that it was a hit! xT

    1. Hi Christine,
      This recipe calls for both rice and orzo:) Please let me know if I can help in any other way! xT

  8. 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?

    1. Hey Donna,
      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

      1. I tried it with the brown rice—not sure how it compares with the white rice but personally it didn’t seem like it had enough liquid so if I were to do this again I would cut out 1/2 c brown rice and add the broccoli in the last 10 minutes so it doesn’t get overcooked. Recipe was great otherwise! I think I’d try it with canned coconut milk too just to make it a bit more creamy!

  9. 5 stars
    I make this honestly once a week. My teenage son requests it which is a BIG deal. Love this recipe so much!

    1. Hey Jo,
      Happy Monday!! I am so glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! xx