This Broccoli Rice Chicken and Cheese Casserole recipe is a delightful fusion of comfort food ingredients, perfect for those who love a hearty, cheesy meal. It starts with tender shredded chicken, which lays the foundation for the dish. To this, you add instant rice cooked in a rich chicken broth, bringing a fluffy texture and savory flavor. The recipe calls for a combination of cream of onion and cream of chicken soups, which, when blended with the creamy Velveeta cheese, creates a luxuriously smooth and rich base.
The inclusion of broccoli adds a fresh, nutritious element to the casserole, balancing out the richness of the cheeses and creamy soups. This frozen vegetable is conveniently cooked in the microwave, ensuring it retains its vibrant color and crisp texture. The broccoli is then mixed with the cheesy rice and shredded chicken, forming the heart of the casserole. For an extra touch of decadence, heavy whipping cream and milk are stirred into the mixture, enhancing its creamy consistency.
To finish, the casserole is assembled in a well-greased baking dish and optionally topped with Panko bread crumbs for a delightful crunch. Baked at 350 degrees until it’s browned and bubbling, this dish emerges as a comforting, cheesy delight, perfect for a family dinner or a cozy night in. The combination of flavors and textures makes this Broccoli Rice Chicken and Cheese Casserole a satisfying meal that’s sure to please everyone at the table.
- 1 lb. Shredded Chicken: You can use cooked chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, or any leftover chicken. Shred it into bite-sized pieces.
- 2 Cups Instant Rice: Instant rice is quick-cooking and perfect for casseroles.
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth: This adds flavor to the rice. You can use low-sodium broth for a healthier option.
- 1 Can Cream of Onion Soup: This adds a creamy texture and onion flavor.
- 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup: Enhances the chicken flavor in the casserole.
- ¼ Cup Unsalted Butter: Adds richness. You can use salted butter, but adjust the seasoning accordingly.
- 8 oz. Velveeta Cheese: This processed cheese melts smoothly, adding a creamy and cheesy taste.
- ½ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream: For creaminess. You can substitute with half-and-half for a lighter version.
- ¼ Cup Milk: Helps to thin out the mixture. Use whole milk for richer flavor or skim milk for a lighter option.
- 1 Bag Frozen Broccoli: Use thawed and drained broccoli for the best texture.
- Panko Bread Crumbs (optional): Adds a crunchy topping. You can also use regular bread crumbs or crushed crackers.
- Preheat Oven: Set your oven to 350 degrees F. This allows the oven to reach the right temperature by the time you’re ready to bake.
- Prepare Broccoli: Cook the broccoli in the microwave as per the instructions on the bag. Once cooked, drain any excess water. This prevents the casserole from being watery.
- Cook Rice: In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Add the instant rice, stir, then remove from heat. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes. The rice will absorb the broth and become flavorful.
- Melt Cheese and Butter with Rice: Add the butter and Velveeta cheese to the hot cooked rice. Stir until they are completely melted and combined. This step infuses the rice with a creamy, cheesy flavor.
- Combine Chicken and Broccoli: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the shredded chicken and cooked broccoli. Ensure they are evenly distributed for a consistent flavor in every bite.
- Add Rice and Soup Mixture: Pour the cheesy rice mixture into the bowl with the chicken and broccoli. Add the cream of onion and chicken soups, along with the milk and heavy whipping cream. Stir everything together until well combined. The mixture should be creamy but not too liquid.
- Assemble Casserole: Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and spread the casserole mixture evenly. Greasing the dish helps to prevent sticking and makes serving easier.
- Add Bread Crumbs (Optional): If you’re using panko bread crumbs, sprinkle them on top for a crispy texture. This adds a nice contrast to the creamy casserole.
- Bake: Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The casserole is done when it’s bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown.
- Rest Before Serving: Let the casserole sit for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven. This helps it set and makes it easier to serve.
- Garnish: Add some chopped fresh parsley or chives on top for a pop of color and fresh flavor.
- Side Dish: Serve with a simple green salad or garlic bread for a complete meal.
Storage and Reheating
- Refrigerate: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat: Warm it in the microwave or oven until heated through. Add a splash of milk if the casserole seems dry.
Enjoy your hearty and comforting Broccoli Rice Chicken and Cheese Casserole!