Chicken, Brown Rice, and Veggie Casserole {Freezer Meal}

A fantastic, healthy way to use up some leftover broccoli and chicken. Try this casserole and win over your family!

Update on 8/5/14: I retested this recipe, simplified the instructions, and added more liquid to the original recipe. It’s pretty close to perfect if you ask me and my family. But feel free to tweak as you like or offer suggestions in the comments portion.

I was looking for a way to use up some leftover chicken and broccoli recently, and desperately wanted to find a recipe that didn’t include a canned soup, as do most standard Chicken and Rice Casseroles. I didn’t have much luck, so I decided to make my own version I’m calling Cheesy Chicken, Brown Rice, and Veggie Casserole using what I had on hand. Guys, this was a hit with my family!

A fantastic, healthy way to use up some leftover broccoli and chicken. Try this casserole and win over your family!

One of the things I’ve learned is that many canned soups can be loaded with sodium, MSG, trans fats, hidden sugars, and a ton of ingredients I’ve never heard of nor seen in my life.  For instance, Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup contains among a plethora of other things:  potassium chloride, guanylate, disodium inosinate, sodium phosphate, soy protein isolate.  What are those things and why would I ever want to eat them if I can help it?

Check out how easy my real food version is to put together…

A fantastic, healthy way to use up some leftover broccoli and chicken. Try this casserole and win over your family!

I served it with crusty whole wheat rolls, salad, and some fruit. Ready to give it a try?

A fantastic, healthy way to use up some leftover broccoli and chicken. Try this casserole and win over your family!

Chicken, Brown Rice, and Veggie Casserole

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 6 1x


A fantastic, healthy way to use up some leftover broccoli and chicken. Try this casserole and win over your family!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup finely chopped cauliflower
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 11 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup sour cream (or whole plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago or fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (finely shredded melts best)
  • 1 cup whole wheat or panko breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy non-stick pan and saute broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, celery, onion, and garlic for about 4-5 minutes, just until tender. Season with ground thyme, poultry seasoning, Italian seasoning, and lightly with salt and pepper while veggies cook. Remove from the heat.
  3. Add diced chicken and brown rice into pan with the veggie mixture, and stir to combine well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, chicken stock, and chopped parsley. Then stir in Asiago cheese and cheddar cheese. Gently stir the sour cream mixture into the rice mixture.
  5. Spoon rice mixture into the 2-quart casserole dish and press down to evenly distribute. Top with bread crumbs.
  6. In a separate small bowl, combine bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  7. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until casserole is slightly bubbling around the edges and golden brown on top. Broil for 1-2 minutes at the end, if the top isn’t brown enough. Serve warm.


Freezer Meal Instructions:

To Freeze: Put casserole together, tightly wrap with plastic wrap and a layer of foil, and freeze it before baking.

To Prepare: Thaw in the fridge over night. If it’s still slightly frozen in the middle, you’ll just have to cook it longer than the recipe calls for or defrost a bit in the microwave before baking. Cover it with foil if the top gets too brown in the oven.

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  1. Liliane says

    Amazing! I love it. I would like to know how many calories there is per portion?

    Thank you!

    • Rachel says

      There is a free site called Spark People where you can enter in the recipe and it will give you the nutrition info. I hope that helps!

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  6. Cindy says

    This was yummy! I modified it a little. I made it vegetarian with no chicken (duh lol) and a little extra broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. I used veggie broth instead of chicken broth. I used non-fat Greek yogurt and only 1-cup of the cheddar to lower the fat content. It turned out really well! I was a bit worried with how wet it is initially, but it turned out great! Thank you!

    • Polly says

      We love hearing how people make our recipe their own. Thanks for sharing, Cindy!

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  8. Becky says

    I know it’s been awhile since this was posted, but any thoughts on how much I could reduce the cheese without totally sacrificing flavor? I’m thinking of making it for someone recovering from a stroke, so I’d like to keep it as healthy as possible. Thanks!

    • Rachel says

      You could probably leave out the 1/2 cup of Parm cheese. I think if you remove any more it will be too dry. The good thing is that this casserole is full of veggies, whole grains, and protein.

    • Cindy says

      I kept the parm in because it has a strong flavor. I reduced the cheddar to 1-cup ( in the future I would use sharp cheddar). It turned out good!

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  10. Dayle says

    Hi there, I followed the recipe exactly but when I took it out of the oven, the sauce had completely split…
    I love the flavour though, so any tips on how to avoid this happening again?

    • Rachel says

      What do you mean it had split? It curdled? I just want to make sure I understand your question. It’s been a long time since I’ve made this one, and I remember wanting it to be saucier. But, I’ve had several friends make it since and have success. All of this is to say, I can do a little thinking and detective work to try to solve your problem b/c I want to make this one again and make it a success for you, too!

  11. Beth says

    Could cream cheese be subbed for the sour cream?

    • Rachel says

      Sounds delicious to me!

  12. Rachel says

    this looks delicious. If I wanted to leave out the chicken would I keep all other ingredients/amounts the same?

    • Rachel says

      I’m not sure, Rachel, because I’ve never tried that.

  13. Layla says

    We don’t eat grains because our youngest is allergic. I am due with our third in a measly 9 weeks, and I am have the worst time trying to come up with meals that freeze well. With my other two, I just stocked up on frozen pizzas, toaster strudels, etc. ( I know how awful all that is now, but at the time it was perfect.) So far, I’ve got two shepherd’s pies made with cauliflower and rhubarb instead of potatoes, a pizza crust we can have that I will have to add spinach, sauce, etc. to the day of cooking, and I plan on making a chicken pot pie we can have. So altogether, maybe five meals:-( I think I will try this minus the brown rice. I know I’ll have to adjust the liquid a bit, but do you think it would work? I could make the crust with almond flour and add more veggies. I just don’t know how much leaving out the rice is going to affect it.

    • Rachel says

      Hi Layla. Congrats on your third! I would really encourage you to check out our friend Kelly’s blog at The Nourishing Home ( for terrific grain-free meals and she is so quick to reply to comments and emails with questions. But, for this particular recipe, I think you might end up more like a stew instead of casserole, but I think it would still taste good. Here are a few other grain-free freezer meal ideas for you from our Freezer Meal page (

      Meatballs with Sneaky Veggies – I make these grain-free all the time–subbing almond meal and flax in for the bread crumbs. Delicious!
      No Peek Stew
      Slow Cooker Pot Roast
      Szechuan Steak Stir-Fry
      Asian Lettuce Wraps
      Homemade Chicken Nuggets – use almond flour or crushed pistachios, even, as coating
      Roasted Lemon-Garlic Chicken with Veggies

      Most of our Soups, Seafood, and Slow Cooker are grain-free options, too! Check it out on this page:

  14. Lorie Hoekstra says

    I was looking for a healthy recipe where I could use my cauliflower and broccoli that I had in my fridge. I made this using a can of white meat chicken and added the liquid from the canned chicken. I substituted the rice with a brown rice mix with black barley and radish seed. I also used less cheddar cheese to lower the fat content. It was excellent and my family loved it too!

    • Rachel says

      Lorie, I love that this was a hit for your family and all your healthy substitutions. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Vee says

    Hi, I love the fact that you made this WithOut the canned concoction! I love casseroles but always hesitate because I was unsure how to make it creamy without the canned soups. Thanks so much for the idea. It will help me fill the freezer of my friend who is expecting a baby any day now.

    • Polly says

      Good luck with the baby on the way! Glad we could help, Vee.

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  17. Lisa says

    I didn’t think casseroles with sour cream froze very well unless you bake them first. Doesn’t the sour cream separate when frozen and the casserole end up more runny than creamy?

    • Rachel says

      I have frozen many a casserole with sour cream mixed in and had no problem. It’s mixed in well with everything else and does fine from my experience. Using full fat helps, though, since low fat does separate more easily.

  18. Annika says

    This dish is sooooo good!! Has anyone calculated a calorie count on this recipe?

    • Renee says

      I got 475 calories per serving when I calculated it.

      • Rachel says

        Thanks for chiming in, Renee!

  19. Janet says

    I’m looking for meals that I can freeze in individual portions and take to work for lunch. Do you think it would be a disaster if I microwaved this instead of baking it? I know it wouldn’t brown nicely, so maybe I’d omit the breadcrumbs. Or should I just steer clear of the casserole-type recipes? Thanks!!

    • Rachel says

      What if you baked it first and then froze it in individual portions? Then, microwaving it at work would be just like warming up leftovers. I think that’s what I’d do.

      • Janet says

        I’ll give that a try. Can’t hurt to try, right? Thanks for the input!

  20. Jessee McKenney says

    This was awesome! It’s going in my Keepers book! Thank you very much 🙂 So tasty.

    • Polly says

      Glad you like it!

  21. Anna says

    Its great to have another meal that can use up veggies in the fridge. I didn’t have broccoli, but threw in some mushrooms and peppers. Yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Rachel says

      So glad you liked it. It’s very forgiving, so throwing any favorite veggies in is a great idea!

  22. brianne says

    How long does this last in the freezer? I would like to make the whole batch but I’m concerned that it’ll go bad before I have the chance to eat it all. Im a college student so I’m only cooking for one person…. any suggestions you have would be great! !

    • Rachel says

      Up to 3 months if you tightly wrap it and put it in the back of the freezer. Honestly, I’ve eaten meals that have been in the freezer much longer than that and they were fine. 🙂

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