February 13, 2014

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

You may notice I don’t have a ton of casserole recipes on the blog. That’s really for two reasons: 1) casseroles are supposed to be easy (otherwise you’d just cook all that stuff separately) but many aren't and 2) most call for cream of whatever soup and I’m just not a huge fan of those.

But my friend Catlin loves Cracker Barrel’s Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole and found a recipe for it she can make at home. It sounded pretty good and I’d been thinking about giving it a go. But I kept thinking I wanted some rice in there somewhere. Then it would truly be a one-dish wonder. So I looked online for any recipe that had the broccoli, cheddar, chicken and rice and the only thing I could find were recipes that called for cooked rice. Or recipes that called for browning the chicken first. Ain't nobody got time for that.

So I decided to just go for it with the uncooked rice. I’d add more liquid and hope it and the moisture from the chicken and broccoli would be enough. Also? We've been snowed in and I've been so bored I just needed something to do and if it didn't work out, at least it kept me entertained trying.

And y’all, let me tell you something… this dish is amazeballs. AMAZEBALLS, I tell ya! I ate and ate and ate till I thought I was going to bust a seam. And then I got up in the middle of the night and ate some more. And you know what I’m sitting here eating for lunch right now? The last of the leftovers.
This is stupid easy and requires no par-boiling, browning or pre-cooking. Holla! This one’s going in our regular supper rotation. Fo sho.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole 
For the casserole:
1 cup uncooked rice (white, long-grain)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 10.75-oz. cans condensed cheddar cheese soup* (such as Campbell’s)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large (or 4 small) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt, pepper and garlic powder
1 12-oz. bag frozen broccoli florets (or about 3 cups fresh)
For the topping:
2 sleeves butter crackers, crushed (such as Ritz or Town House)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, cheddar soups and 3/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Set aside one cup (not more) of the soup mixture. To the remaining soup mixture, stir in uncooked rice then pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces then season with salt, pepper and garlic. Arrange chicken pieces on top of rice mixture.

Arrange broccoli florets on top of the chicken.

Pour reserved soup mixture evenly over broccoli. Cover dish very tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Consider covering with a double layer of foil to ensure a tight fit - we need all the steam to stay in the dish to ensure everything cooks properly.

Combine crushed crackers, melted butter and garlic and mix well. Remove casserole from oven, remove aluminum foil then sprinkle cracker topping evenly over casserole. Continue baking, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes then serve. Don't skip this step - it's needed for the rice to continue cooking and the casserole to set up properly. 

NOTE: If you prepare this ahead of time and refrigerate before cooking you will need to cook for an additional 15 minutes before adding cracker topping.

*Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup is totally different in Canada than it is in the US. I used it last week on vacation and was shocked at the difference. The colour (you like I spelled it like you do, right?), texture and flavour (and again) are different but it should still work. I just can't promise it will be as delicious. Boo. Yo, Campbell's, what's up with that??

This recipe was featured at the Weekend Potluck!


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83 comments:

  1. Whoa this is almost exactly how I have been making it for years! I love using the Campbell's cheddar cheese soup. The only thing I do different is I also add chicken broth & I do brown my chicken first ;-)

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    1. Oh and I also use a can of cream of mushroom, but I know you aren't the biggest fan of those haha.

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  2. I have to try this but I don't like Campbell cheddar soup.. any alternatives

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    1. None that would be cheesy. Maybe sub cream of chicken soup then fold in shredded cheddar cheese?

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    2. Try some Velveeta. Either that or get some of that cheese mix that comes in with the shells and cheese box and add, it would probably have the right consistency.

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    3. Or try Cheez Whiz. The spicy variety would be super in this.

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    4. Make a sauce supreme with pale roux, chicken stock, and milk or heavy cream. Add 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and seasonings. Blend over medium-low heat until smooth. That's how i did mine.

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  3. If you don't like cheddar cheese soup, how about a big, ol' hunk of Velveeta? I actually have some leftover from the Super Bowl. I guess I took the Velveeta scare shortage seriously. Anyway, I'm making this tonight and I'm going to melt the Velveeta into the milk before stiring in the rice. Mandy, I can't wait to get more deets on the Food Network show!

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    1. I used to use velveeta years ago before I discovered the cheddar cheese soup and it was always really good.

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    2. Another cheese idea is using the Bottle Queso Dip for a bit of spice as well as texture

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  4. Pinned this and can't wait to make it! I LOVE Campbell's cheddar cheese soup. Check out my mac & cheese on Family Savvy.....it is wonderful! Thanks for wonderful recipes; I am a subscriber!

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  5. Do you think it would work just as well if I used regular rice? I don't care for the long grain rice..I like the old fashioned sticky rice. I use River brand.

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    1. Where I'm from, long grain is regular rice so I'm not sure what type of rice you mean. Is it an arborio or other short grain rice?

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    2. Is this instant rice? I look forward to trying this!

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  6. Can I use arborio rice?????

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    1. I'm not sure as I've never cooked it that way myself but I think so.

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  7. Do you cook the chicken beforehand? or put it in raw?

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    1. No need to cook it before hand, just put it in uncooked.

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    2. Thanks I will give it a try

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    3. I've used a rotisserie chicken cut up in chunks when making this.

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  8. Going to try this recipe this week! My mom always cooked just plain chicken breasts in rice growing up and I actually made it last week. It is good, but very plain, so I was just thinking of something new to try and planned to use broccoli and cheese, then happen to stumble on this recipe. Thanks!

    For those that have asked about browning the chicken first, we never do. Cooking the chicken in the rice and everything really flavors the rice a lot.

    ~Christina

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  9. sounds really good. thank you.

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  10. I made this last week and have to agree, it's amazeballs. I had the left overs for lunch through most of the week, and I'm tempted to make it again this weekend. I was concerned about the chicken cooking all the way. so I cubed it and then browned in first in olive oil. I threw the garlic powder and salt in while I browned it. This recipe turned out really well. I did stir it as indicated in the recipe. I'm glad I did as some rice looked dry when I stirred it.

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  11. I made this for dinner on Sunday when my son was here and he LOVED it! He said it was one of the best things he had ever had. He is 15 and VERY picky about foods. I knew he would like it because chicken, and rice are 2 of his favorite foods. I just didn't know he would go so crazy over it. He ate 2 BIG helpings of it!!!! I sent the recipe home to his Grandmas with him so she could make it, but I will definitely make this more often!

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    1. YAY!! I wish my people would eat more broccoli! When I make this I'm about the only one who will eat it here! Not that I've minded!!

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  12. quick question! the uncooked rice will not get hard when baking correct? just a little frightened on whether or not i should cook rice beforehand or just leave it uncooked!?

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    1. Nope, the rice cooks up nice and tender :)

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  13. i just made this recipe and followed step by step. I'll let you know how it turned out and what small variation I did.

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  14. Update. Finally the product is done and supper commence. I only tweaked it a tad bit. I used Ritz cracker in Garlic Butter ( two sleeves), I put them in a large one gallon plastic bag and used a glass as a rolling pin to make them in crumbs; I used 3 cans of Cheddar and broccoli to 1 1/4 cup of milk. Everyone likes it, but it had a blandness, so, next time when I make this, I'll add a bit of New York Extra sharp cheddar ( finely shredded).

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  15. It seems whenever I make a recipe like this the rice comes out mushy. Does anyone else have that problem? i want to try this dish but concerned I'll get same results and then the kids won't eat it!

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  16. Do I use a quick cooking rice, like Minute rice, or just regular rice?

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  17. This is in the oven right now!! I KNOW it's going to be yummy because just the mixture was delicious! I was licking the bowl!! :)

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  18. Hi Mandy I am making this for a friend. Should I deliver it uncooked or cook it ahead of time?

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  19. I'd deliver it uncooked with the recipe printed out so s/he can cook it or freeze it. And it's better when it's just cooked!

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  20. Just made this again for the THIRD time and I just had to write to you to say WE LOVE THIS RECIPE (I have 3 teenage boys)! It's perfect! The rice is tender, everything's slathered in cheese sauce and the crackers just soak it all up! Leftovers the next day are even better!!! Thank you for all your recipes!

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  21. Do you think it would cook right if i added shredded cheddar to the soup mix?

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  22. Yes! It would be great! I've often wondered why I never thought to so the same!

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  23. This looks like a great recipe for a crowd... have you ever cooked this in a crock pot and if so, how long do you cook it for?

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  24. Going to try it tonight.I was thinking of adding those crunchy onions things to the top instead of crackers we shall see

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  25. Omg this recipe looks amazing!!! Can you substitute bread crumbs tho for the butter crackers?

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  26. My husband and I made it for my family tonight and they loved it! We added a layer of cheese under the cracker crumbs (which is probably why they didn't get crunchy) but it was so good! The only problem we had was that the cup of the reserve mixture wasn't enough to cover the top of the casserole! Other than that, it was perfect!

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  27. Do you thaw the broccoli beforehand ?

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    1. I didn't thaw out the broccoli beforehand and it turned out great.

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    2. No need - thawed or frozen both work great!

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  28. This was very good except a little dry for my liking. Anything I can add to make it a touch more moist?

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  29. How many servings per pan do you get with this recipe? thanks

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  30. I am going to make this tonight but I will also add bacon cooked and mixed in with the crackers

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  31. Do you think long grain brown rice would work well? may need to cook longer since it's brown im assuming.

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  32. I made this for dinner last night. It was delicious and pretty simple. I followed the directions exactly but the middle portion of the pan the rice was still a little crunchy. Any suggestions??

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  33. Ok, so I have a bit of a weird question....my husband likes this recipe, but want crazy about the chicken in it, so I was just wondering if baking times and whatnot would still be the same...even if I excluded the chicken?

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  34. Thank you for posting this recipe!!! I didn't have all the ingredients so I used a few substitutes and it still turned out great. Instead of white rice I used Uncle Ben's chicken rice, I had one can of the broccoli soup so I used that with one can of cream of chicken, and then I used tyson's bag and already diced chicken since all my regular was frozen. Lastly used garlic ritz crackers and put them on as I plated the food so it would not get mushy. IT was Delicious! I'm usually not a casserole person but this one was great!

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  35. i couldn't find cheddar soup so I used broccoli cheddar soup and it tasted great!

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    1. I couldn't find it either, that is a great idea. I will use this next time. Thank you

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  36. I made last might and it was delicious, only had one problem...half the rice didn't finish cooking. I followed all the steps and substitute d the condensed chedder for 3 packs of Velveeta cheese(which would be 12 oz), but was curious how thick/thin the soop mixture is supposed to be ?
    Mine was a little thick but still easy to poor. I was thinking maybe mine was to thick and that's why the rice did not cook fully.

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    1. I would imagine the rice didn't cook because there wasn't enough moisture (velveeta and cheese soup aren't the same consistency).

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  37. Is this ok to make the night before dinner and refrigerate and then cook the following night?

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    1. Yes! See the note about cooking it for 15 minutes longer (since it will be very cold).

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  38. I made this last night. It was pretty good, and I'd make it again, but I'd definitely consider adding a can of cream of mushroom soup, or cream of chicken. It needed more liquid, in my opinion. But I know not all ovens cook the same, so not everyone will have this issue, that's just what I would do.

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  39. can you make this with chicken thighs?

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    1. So long as you cut them into bite-sized pieces I think it would be great! (if you leave them whole they might not cook through)

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  40. I would like to try this with brown rice. Do you think it would work? I could boil the rice for 10-15 minutes before adding to everything else (even though that will make another dirty dish).

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  41. I have all the ingredients for this recipe except the rice. I do, however, have a box of instant rice. I'm thinking about using that, and maybe cutting back a little on the milk. Also, should I reduce the bake time? My chicken is already cooked and cubed.

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  42. Yummyyyy!I just made this for dinner tonight and it was delicioussss.my husband isnt a fan of Campbell's soups so I melted Velveeta cheese with milk to substitute.I also didnt have crackers so I used uncooked stuffing and it really was a great one dish meal!thank you for the dinner success!

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  43. Mandy, I've been needing to go to the grocery store for days but am too lazy to go! ha So I've been on Pinterest looking up recipes with the little food I have in the house and found this gem. I have everything I need for it and making it tonight! Can't wait :) xo

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    1. Wonderful! I'd love to get your feedback about the rice. A few folks have commented that their rice didn't cook all the way through and I'm wondering if I should update the recipe. Let me know how things go for you! Miss you, hooker!!!

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  44. I am making this tonight also! Great recipe, I'll let you know how it goes.

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  45. I am making this for a friend who had surgery. Any tips on re-heating I should tell her?

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    1. I'd probably let it set at room temperature for an hour or so then heat, covered at 325 for about 20 minutes!

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  46. I only have Calrose Japanese Rice. Would that be okay to use?

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  47. Made this last night and it was fabulous! My mother requested I bring the leftovers to her house! :)

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  48. I made this a couple days ago and between two people we have devoured it! To those of you concerned about the rice or chicken cooking through entirely-- no need to worry! I followed her directions exactly and it came out perfectly cooked and looks just like the picture! Flavor is amazing! I have never cooked with cream of cheddar cheese soup and honestly when I opened the can I thought it smelled gross and I was concerned, but I was wrong! Mixing it with the milk dilutes it and It tasted great altogether! Wouldn't change a thing and I will definitely be making it again! Thanks so much for this recipe!

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  49. Will it turn out just as well with the recipe halved?

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  50. How would I adjust the recipe if I wanted to use leftover already cooked rice? Don't get me wrong, 97.5% of the time I have zero things pre-prepped lol, but for this particular instance I thought I'd ask ;) Thanks!

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  51. Plan on trying this tonight. This recipe reminds me of the tried and true Broccoli Rice Casserole everyone made for the holidays when I was growing up...just with the addition of chicken. I've used the cheddar cheese soup many times to make my own broccoli cheese soup and the consistency is smooth and flavor mild. I do not anticipate any problems with the rice as I will follow the directions exactly and cover the dish completely with foil to hold in the moisture....can't wait!

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  52. I fixed this for dinner last night. Followed the recipe, everything cooked through. I usually love your recipes, but not this one. I read the rave reviews, but my husband and I did not find it to be a keeper

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  53. This is delicious, I only used one can of soup and made up the difference with half and half , added some cheddar cheese and Tony cachere's and it was yummy! My son has requested this with potatos next time.

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Hi there! While I'm not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven't been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments. And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y'all! - Mandy

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