This cheesy chicken and wild rice casserole is the definition of comfort food. Wild rice, chicken, and veggies get smothered in a rich cheese sauce and baked together for a hearty, warming casserole that the whole family will beg you to make over and over again. No cream of anything soup needed to make this yummy chicken and rice casserole!
Fall and winter is officially comfort food season. And to me, there’s nothing more comforting or satisfying than a hearty casserole full of carbs and cheese. And that’s exactly what this cheesy chicken and wild rice casserole is.
It is the perfect dish of cheesy, carby goodness to warm you up and keep you cozy during the cold weather months. Because it’s slathered in a rich cheese sauce, my boys and I could eat this easy chicken and rice casserole every day.
The Best Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole!
A lot of chicken and rice casseroles, especially creamy or cheesy chicken and rice casseroles, rely on cream of chicken or cream of mushroom condensed soups.
My cheesy chicken and wild rice casserole doesn’t have a single drop of condensed soup. We’re making the cheese sauce totally from scratch, and that makes all the difference!
Don’t worry though! The cheese sauce is so easy to make and worth the little bit of extra effort needed. It takes an ordinary casserole and turns it into a dish that is sure to be one of your family’s favorite meals.
How to Make Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
Making this cheesy chicken and wild rice casserole is a snap.
To start, heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add the diced onion, celery, and carrots and cook them until the veggies start to get tender.
Just before the veggies are done, add the garlic and cook until it releases its fragrance. Keep stirring so it cooks evenly.
Once the garlic is fragrant, add the cooked rice and shredded rotisserie chicken. Turn the heat to low and stir occasionally while you make the cheese sauce.
To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add the flour a little add a time and whisk as you add it until it forms a golden paste.
Once you have cooked the flour and butter, you can start whisking in your chicken broth. Whisk the broth in a little a time and keep cooking it and whisking until the broth is thick and bubbly.
When the broth has thickened, whisk in 2 cups of the cheese. Pour it into the rice mixture.
Now you can put together the casserole. Just spray a 9×13 dish with nonstick spray and spoon the rice mix into the dish. Make sure you spread the rice mixture out evenly. Then top the whole thing with extra cheese.
Pop it in a 350 degree oven and bake it until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Once the cheese has melted, take the casserole out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
What to Serve with this Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
This cheesy chicken and rice casserole is delicious on its own. I also like to serve it with rolls like these garlic pull apart rolls and salad.
I love any type of bread to mop up every last drop of the cheese sauce goodness. You could also serve it with a side of biscuits.
Does this casserole save well?
Yes! This cheesy chicken and rice casserole saves very well in the fridge and reheats nicely.
Just make sure you store it in the fridge tightly covered. Then you can dish out small portions and reheat it in the microwave or you could reheat it in the oven.
This chicken and rice casserole would also make a good freezer meal. You could make it ahead and freeze it in freezer bags or in a freezer safe covered casserole dish.
When you are ready to reheat this freezer friendly casserole, make sure you thaw it in the fridge for several hours first and then reheat in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Other Comforting Casseroles You Might Like
Looking to plan a bunch of casseroles during the fall and winter months? You might like these:
- chicken noodle soup casserole brings you all the comfort of a bowl of chicken soup in a hearty casserole
- marsala chicken and rice casserole gives you the flavors of the Italian American classic
- this chicken casserole topped with cheese and buttery crackers for the ultimate comfort food dish
- healthier chicken broccoli casserole for those times that you want the comfort of a casserole in a lighter dish
Add these casseroles into your rotation along with my cheesy chicken and rice casserole and you can eat cozy all winter long!
If you’ve tried this CHEESY CHICKEN & WILD RICE CASSEROLE, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Cheesy Chicken & Rice CasserolePrint Pin Rate
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3-4 stalks celery thinly sliced
- 3 large carrots peeled & thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup steamed white rice optional
- 3 boxes rice a roni wild rice cooked according to package directions
- salt & pepper to taste
For The Cheese Sauce
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- In a large Dutch oven, or similarly sized soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the vegetables, and saute them until tender- about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic, stirring to incorporate, and let it cook for 1 minute- just until fragrant.
- Stir in the chopped chicken & cooked rice until evenly incorporated. Reduce the heat to low, but don't forget to stir the mixture occasionally to prevent sticking while preparing the sauce.
To Make The Cheese Sauce
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-medium high heat. Add the flour, whisking to evenly combine. Let the mixture bubble for roughly 30 seconds while you're whisking to cook off any flour taste. Season with salt & pepper.
- Whisk in the broth, a little at a time, until the mixture's thick, bubbly, and smooth.
- Once the mixture's thick and bubbling, whisk in 2 cups of the shredded cheddar. Whisk until the cheese is melted and the cheese sauce is smooth.
- Pour the cheese sauce into the chicken & veggie mixture, stirring until evenly incorporated.
To Assemble The Casserole
- Lightly spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish with non stick cooking spray
- Transfer the chicken & rice mixture to the dish, and use a spoon or spatula to evenly spread it out into the dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar evenly out over top of the casserole.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the casserole's hot & bubbly and the cheese is evenly melted over top.
- Remove the casserole from the oven, and let it rest for 5 minutes before scooping and serving.