Pioneer Woman Chicken Rice Casserole is made for busy families who want to enjoy good food without breaking the bank. This recipe is one of those staples you can always turn to in a bind!
The Pioneer Woman blog was created by Ree Drummond, a blogger, television personality and best-selling cookbook to share farm life and family-friendly recipes. She focuses on easy to make meals that can be prepared with widely available ingredients.
You can make this casserole fresh, or make batches to freeze for a later meal. Frozen casserole is one of my favorite solutions when you’re short on ideas for dinner!
I’m always on the lookout for quick, easy, yet delicious meals. This casserole checks all the boxes, making it a must-know recipe for any busy family!
All About The Pioneer Woman Chicken Rice Casserole Ingredients
Wild rice is a North American and Chinese grain, commonly grown near waterways. It is characterized by its chewy sheath and its slightly grassy taste.
Due to the tough outer sheath, wild rice takes much longer to cook than your typical white rice. If you find wild rice too hard to eat on its own, you can always blend it with brown rice.
You can usually find wild rice and brown rice already blended at the grocery store.
Keep in mind that wild rice triples in size once it is cooked. So one cup dry is equal to three cups of cooked wild rice.
The easiest chicken to use in casseroles is chicken thighs or chicken breasts. You can buy boneless versions of these cuts at any grocery store, which require minimal preparation.
Chicken breasts will give you the greatest yield of white meat, with minimal fat. This cut is even leaner if you buy the skinless variety.
However, chicken legs and thighs are considerably tastier and more tender. Dark meat does need more time to cook, so keep this in mind.
If you really want to cut back the prep time for this recipe, you can use rotisserie chicken. All you have to do is shred the meat and add it to the casserole.
If you do go the shredded rotisserie chicken route, avoid buying chickens coated with barbecue sauce or other seasonings. They will overpower the other flavors in the chicken and rice casserole.
The type of vegetables you use in this chicken casserole is really up to you! Pioneer Woman opts for mushrooms and onion, but carrots and broccoli would also go great with chicken.
This is a great opportunity to use any leftover vegetables you have in your refrigerator. Leftover steamed or baked vegetables are perfect since they are already nice and soft.
My favorite quick and easy solution is to toss in a cup of frozen vegetables. They’re cheap, keep for months in the freezer, and are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables.
Cheese adds a savory and salty flavor, and depending on the cheese, a lovely gooey topping! The best type of cheese to use in a casserole is whatever you have available in your refrigerator.
Parmesan and gruyere cheese are featured in this recipe, but cheddar or mozzarella would melt nicely on top too.
This recipe uses chicken broth to flavor the rice and cook the ingredients. If you don’t have broth you can use chicken stock, although the flavors are different.
Chicken broth is made from chicken meat, skins, and vegetables. It is a thin liquid, but very flavorful.
Chicken stock on the other hand is made from chicken bones. It has a much richer flavor and a thicker consistency due to the collagen in the bones.
Chicken broth always tastes better if you make it yourself. But this quick recipe makes use of store-bought broth, which you can find in tetra paks or cans.
If you can find it, opt for low-sodium chicken broth. This will allow you to adjust the salt levels to your taste.
Bread cubes give this casserole its unique crispy, chewy topping. Pioneer Woman uses white bread, a product that most families already have at home.
White bread has a softer consistency than other breads. This is because the chewy bran and germ have been removed during the processing of the flour.
Its soft texture and neutral flavor make white bread excellent for soaking up flavors. It’s a popular addition to many classic casseroles and even traditional soaps like French onion.
For this casserole, the white bread is cut into half-inch cubes and given a light drizzle of liquid butter. When baked, these bread cubes soak up the chicken broth and become golden brown and full of flavor.
Easy Tips for the Best Pioneer Woman Chicken Rice Recipe
- Add the cheese about 5 minutes before the casserole is finished cooking. This will ensure you have gooey, melty cheese, instead of it becoming burnt or hardened.
- Use as many pre-cooked ingredients as possible to cut down on prep time. Pre-cooked chicken, leftover vegetables, and ready-to-eat rice are all great ways to save precious minutes!
- Skip a step by tossing your breadcrumbs in melted butter instead of drizzling it on top. You can also add the parmesan cheese while you’re tossing the bread crumbs to coat them in more flavor.
Pioneer Woman Chicken Rice Recipe
- Prep Time45 min
- Cook Time35 min
- Total Time1h20 min
- Preheat the Oven
Heat the oven to 425°F.
- Bake the Chicken
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with pepper and salt. Bake for 25 minutes on a baking tray.
Once the chicken is fully cooked and cooled, shred the meat with a fork (Ree Drummond dices the chicken, so it’s up to you).
- Cook the Rice
Use a rice cooker or a stovetop to cook the rice. Follow the directions on the packaging to cook until tender.
- Sauté the Vegetables
Set a pot over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp of butter. Sauté the diced onions until they become soft.
Add garlic and chopped mushrooms and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add the flour to the pot and stir well.
- Add Broth, Cream, and Milk
Pour the chicken broth into the pot and increase the heat to high. Once the broth boils, add the milk and cream and let the sauce simmer.
- Stir in Seasonings, Chicken and Rice
Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, then add the chopped thyme leaves. Stir in the cooked rice and the cooked chicken pieces.
- Sprinkle Cheese
Add in the gruyere and parmesan cheeses and stir until just combined.
- Transfer to Casserole Dish
Empty the contents of the pot into a casserole dish. Seal the top with aluminum foil.
Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. The sides should begin bubbling when it’s ready.
- Top with Bread Cubes and Cheese
Remove the casserole from the oven and peel back the aluminum foil. Add bread cubes, parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of butter.
- Bake Again
Place the casserole back in the oven for another 15 minutes, uncovered. Once the bread cubes are brown, take the casserole out to cool.
Garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot.
How to Store, Freeze and Reheat Pioneer Woman Chicken and Rice Casserole
Any chicken rice casserole leftovers should be stored and eaten within 3 days. For long term storage, the best option is to freeze this casserole.
You can store the casserole right in the casserole dish, or transfer it to an airtight container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months, after which the quality might suffer.
To reheat, let the frozen casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t leave it at room temperature, since there are perishable ingredients like meat and dairy.
It’s best to reheat this casserole in the oven at 325°F. If you notice it has dried out, add water or milk to the casserole while it cooks.
- 19.7g Fat
- 22.6g Carbs