Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole is irresistibly creamy, satisfying, texture-packed comfort food made from scratch without any canned soups!
This Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole is warm, creamy, hearty, umami rich comfort food the whole family will love! It’s packed with juicy, tender chunks of chicken, earthy mushrooms, and nutty wild rice, enveloped in a creamy, cheddar-Parmesan laced sauce made without any canned soups! Top it all off with buttery, golden crispy panko for the perfect balance of satisfying textures and flavors. This chicken and rice casserole is perfect for all those busy nights because you can prep it entirely ahead of time, then just pop it in the oven at dinner OR freeze for later! With a few tips and tricks, you can elevate this casserole to next level served alongside a green salad and garlic bread!
Chicken and rice are a match made in heaven! Don’t miss my other chicken and rice recipes: Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole, One Pot Creamy Chicken and Rice, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, Greek Chicken Risotto, Mexican Chicken and Rice, Arroz con Pollo and Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice Bake.
How to Make Chicken and Rice Casserole Video
Ingredients in Chicken Wild Rice Casserole
In addition to wild rice, this chicken casserole boasts an ensemble cast of juicy chicken, umami rich mushrooms, aromatic onions and garlic, carrots, and celery. Instead of canned cream of chicken soup or mushroom soup, it’s made with a homemade cream sauce that’s 1000x better, and easy to whip up with ingredients you likely have on hand right now. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to make Chicken Wild Rice Casserole from scratch (full recipe with measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
HOW TO MAKE Chicken wild rice casserole
There are quite a few steps in this recipe because the rice, chicken, vegetables, and mushrooms all cook separately for optimal flavor and texture. However, everything but the rice is prepared in one pan for easy cleanup. I assure you this chicken rice casserole is well worth the effort as it’s one of the most craveable dishes of all time!
Let’s take a closer look at how to make Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole (see full recipe with measurements in the printable recipe at the bottom of the post):
Step 1: Season and Sear the Chicken
Step 2: Sauté the Vegetables and Aromatics
Step 3: Caramelize the Mushrooms
Step 4: Make the Creamy Sauce
Step 5: combine the ingredients
Step 6: assemble the casserole
Step 7: Bake!
Tools Used in This Recipe
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
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Chicken, Rice and Veggies
- 1 1/2 cups wild rice blend, COOKED according to package directions (measure uncooked)*
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts or thighs, chopped into large bite size pieces
- 1/4 tsp EACH salt, pepper, paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces baby Bella/cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (granulated, base or crushed cubes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried basil
- 1/2 tsp EACH dried thyme, salt, pepper
- 2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Prep chicken: While the chopped chicken is still on the cutting board, pat dry with a paper towel. Toss with ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon paprika. Set aside.
- Cook chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken in a single layer and sear for one minute without moving chicken, then continue to cook and stir chicken until opaque (it will not be cooked through). Transfer chicken to a large bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Caramelize mushrooms: Melt 2 tablespoons butter with a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat in the leftover drippings. Add the mushrooms and give them a stir to evenly coat, then arrange in a single layer. Cook each side until deeply golden. Transfer to the chicken bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Cream Sauce: Whisk the chicken broth and cornstarch together in a liquid measuring cup or bowl; set aside. To the now empty pot (don’t wipe out), melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, while whisking, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, then gradually whisk in chicken broth/cornstarch and milk, followed by Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, chicken bouillon and all spices/seasonings.
- Bring sauce to a simmer, whisking often, until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup cheddar until melted followed by Parmesan cheese until melted.
- Combine: Add the chicken/mushroom/veggies and COOKED wild rice blend to the sauce and stir until evenly combined. Taste and seasone with salt/pepper to taste. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese.
- Panko topping: Melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over cheese.
- Bake: Cover the casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted.
- *Wild rice: Purchase a wild rice BLEND and not 100% wild rice. Take care you don’t purchase instant wild rice. To cook the wild rice blend, simmer it in a few inches of water, then strain off excess water at the end of cooking. I highly recommend checking the rice for doneness at 25 minutes, even if the instructions say to cook closer to 40 minutes.
- Brown rice substitute: Brown rice is the best substitute for wild rice because it is also nutty and boasts a chewy texture. Cook before adding to the casserole.
- Rotisserie chicken substitute: Stir 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken into the sauce along with the cooked rice.
- Storage: Store Chicken Wild Rice Casserole tightly covered or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Meal Prep: This Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole is a wonderful make-ahead meal. Assemble the casserole according to recipe instructions but don’t add the panko topping. Cover the casserole with foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Store the panko in a separate airtight container at room temperature. When ready to bake, let the casserole sit on the counter while the oven preheats. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees F or until heated through and bubbly around the edges.
- Ingredient Prep: If you’d like to prep elements of the recipe before assembling, you can do any (or all) the following: season and chop chicken, slice mushrooms, chop onions, carrots, and celery, mince garlic and grate the cheeses.
How to Freeze1. Make and assemble according to directions up to the point of baking. You can add the panko if you want the casserole 100% assembled OR for crispier panko, toast and add it right before baking.
2. Let the casserole cool completely (not from baking but from the warm sauce).
3. Double wrap the casserole securely with plastic wrap, then with aluminum foil. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
4. When ready to eat, thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours until completely thawed, then let it sit at room temperature while your oven preheats. If you’ve frozen the casserole in a glass dish, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes because glass can shatter with abrupt temperature changes.
5. Add the panko topping and bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
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