This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
Looking for a great freezer meal? This make-ahead chicken and rice casserole is perfect! It can be made from scratch without soup, making it a great option if you’re looking to avoid processed foods. And it’s so easy to prepare – simply sautee the chicken and sweat the mushrooms and onions and then combine the ingredients in a baking dish and bake! Plus, this casserole freezes well, so you can make a batch ahead of time and enjoy it later on.
Chicken and rice casserole is an oldie but a goodie. It’s a classic comfort food that’s perfect for a cold winter night. And while it can be made with canned soup, this version is made from scratch without any processed ingredients. It’s just as easy to make and tastes even better!
why you’ll love this make-ahead chicken and rice casserole
- A classic that never dies. This dish is a comfort food that has been around for years and will continue to be made because it’s so dang good. It’s easy, filling, and can be tailored to your liking with whatever veggies you have on hand.
- Can be made ahead of time. This casserole is perfect for meal prep or feeding a large group. Simply make it ahead of time, freeze it, and reheat it when you’re ready to eat.
- So easy and so convenient! A great way to use up leftover chicken. If you have cooked chicken on hand, this is a great way to use it up. Simply shred or chop the chicken and add it to the casserole.
- Freezes well. This casserole freezes beautifully, making it a great option for meal prep or feeding a large group. Simply make it ahead of time and reheat it when you’re ready to eat.
Ingredients to make chicken and rice casserole from scratch
- Chicken: I like to use chicken breasts in this recipe, but you can opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer. Keep in mind that you can also get a whole chicken and cut it into pieces and mix and match the breast and thighs.
- Rice: Long grain white rice holds up well in this dish and doesn’t turn mushy. You can also use brown rice, but it will need to be cooked for longer.
- Mushrooms & Onions: I like to use button mushrooms in this recipe because they add so much flavor, but you can omit them if you’re not a fan. The onion adds a sweetness and more robust flavor to the casserole.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is best, but you can also use jarred garlic if that’s what you have on hand.
- Chicken stock: I like to use homemade chicken stock (another great reason to get a whole chicken!), but store-bought works just fine as well.
- Sour Cream: You’ll want to use full-fat sour cream for a full-bodied sauce. Let the sour cream sit at room temp for a bit so it’s easier to stir in.
- Seasoning: Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, and black pepper round out the flavors in this dish.
- Fats: You’ll need a pat of butter for the rice and a bit of olive oil for sauteeing the chicken.
How to make chicken and rice casserole without soup
If you’re thinking that you’ll miss the soup in this recipe, don’t worry – you won’t even notice it’s missing! This casserole is just as creamy and flavorful, and dare I say; you’ll never want to go back to canned soup in this recipe again.
Prepare the Chicken & cream sauce
- Season the chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, and the remaining Italian seasoning. Add oil to a medium skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add chicken and cook, flipping halfway through, or until golden brown all over, but not yet cooked through. Remove from pan and cut into small cubes.
- To the same skillet, add onion and cook. Season with salt and pepper. Add mushrooms and cook until they are no longer giving off moisture. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add remaining chicken stock and sour cream and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Once it reaches a simmer, stir in the reserved chicken and remove from heat..
Build the Casserole
- In an oven-safe baking pan, combine rice, some of the chicken stock, butter, Italian seasoning, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake.
- Once the rice is done cooking in the oven, uncover and pour the creamy mushroom and chicken mixture on top.
- Cover again and return to the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the casserole sauce is thickened. Serve warm.
Tips for making freezer chicken casserole
- Clean mushrooms with a paper towel. When cleaning mushrooms, I like to use a damp paper towel to wipe the mushroom tops free of any dirt. This is better than rinsing them in water, which can cause them to absorb excess moisture.
- Cover the rice tightly with foil when par cooking. Any gaps in the foil will cause the rice to take longer to cook.
- Use an aluminum foil baking dish. You can go from oven to freezer (with rest time in between, of course) without transferring your chicken and rice casserole or freezing one of your casserole pans.
- Cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces. You’re going to want to cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces before adding it to the casserole. This will ensure that it is easy to eat. You can also shred the chicken if you’d like.
What to Serve with this easy chicken and rice casserole
popular substitutions & additions
- Use a rotisserie chicken. You can make the stock from it and use the meat. If you do go the rotisserie chicken route, keep it out of the mushroom/onion sauce until you need to add it to the rice to avoid overcooking.
- Add some veggies. You can easily add some veggies to this chicken and rice casserole. I like to add broccoli, kale, or spinach.
- Make it spicier. If you want a little bit of a kick, you can add in some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
- Add some cheese. I know, it’s not traditional – but chicken and rice casserole with cheese is really good! You can add in a cup of shredded cheddar cheese when you add the sour cream. Or just sprinkle some on the top for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
how to store & reheat chicken and rice casserole
This chicken and rice casserole can be stored in the fridge in the casserole dish or in an air-tight container.
To reheat, simply thaw (if frozen) and bake at 350 degrees F until heated through. You may need to add a little bit of water or chicken stock if the sauce has thickened too much.
how long will chicken and rice casserole last in the fridge?
This chicken and rice casserole will last in the fridge for up to four days. After that, it’s best to freeze it.
- If you wish to make this casserole ahead, instead of baking right away, let the casserole cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with a layer of foil and plastic wrap.
- If you aren’t using a disposable foil pan or don’t want to freeze it in a casserole dish, you can use a zip-top bag. Once cool, scope the casserole out of the dish and distribute it into freezer-safe bags. Lay flat and gently press as much air out as possible. Seal and store in the freezer.
When ready to serve, let the frozen casserole defrost overnight in the fridge. If you froze it in a casserole dish, just remove and discard the plastic wrap and bake (covered) in a 350˚F oven for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. If you used a freezer bag, empty the contents into a casserole dish and spread into an even layer, and bake covered in a 350˚F oven for about 30 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can use cream of mushroom soup if you want. You can skip the sour cream if you do use the cream of mushroom, or you can keep it for an extra creamy sauce with some tang.
No, you don’t have to use white rice. You can use brown rice, but it will take longer to cook. You can also use wild rice, but it will change the flavor and texture of the dish. You’ll need to watch the casserole closely to determine when the rice is done if you do switch it up.
Yes, you can use frozen vegetables. Just be sure to thaw them before adding them to the casserole. The veggies will release water as they cook, so keep that in mind if you choose to add the to your casserole.
This chicken and rice casserole is a great freezer meal – it’s easy to make, and the ingredients are very versatile. You can easily add in your favorite vegetables, or switch up the type of rice you use. And, if you have leftovers, it reheats well. So, what are you waiting for? Give this chicken and rice casserole a try! You won’t be disappointed.
More casserole recipes:
- Eggplant Casserole
- Brussels Sprouts Casserole
- Creamy Chicken Casserole with Broccoli
- Green Bean Casserole
- Simple French Toast Casserole
- Blueberry Breakfast Casserole
- Baked Spaghetti Casserole
- Cauliflower Potato Casserole
If you try this feel good Chicken and Rice Casserole recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!
Chicken and Rice Casserole
- 1 cup long grain white rice uncooked
- 3 cups chicken stock divided
- 1 tablespoon butter cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning divided
- ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 16 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 8 ounces full-fat sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a 9 by 13 inch oven-safe baking pan, combine rice, 1 cup chicken stock, butter, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt, pepper, paprika and remaining Italian seasoning. Add oil to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until golden brown all over, but not yet cooked through. Remove from pan and cut into small cubes.
- To the same skillet, add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes, until they are no longer giving off moisture. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute, until fragrant.
- Add remaining 2-3 cups chicken stock and sour cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, stir in the reserved chicken and remove from heat.
- Once rice is done cooking in the oven, uncover and pour the creamy mushroom and chicken mixture on top. Cover again and return to the oven for 15 minute, until the chicken is cooked through and the casserole sauce is thickened. Serve warm.
To Freeze Casserole
- If you wish to make this casserole ahead, instead of baking right away, let the casserole cool to room temperature then cover tightly with a layer of foil and plastic wrap and freeze. When ready to serve, let the frozen casserole defrost overnight in the fridge. Remove and discard the plastic wrap and bake (covered) in a 350˚F oven for about 30 minutes, or until heated through.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.