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This Gluten-Free Chicken Rice Casserole is made with creamy rice and tender chicken, mixed together with vegetables, and topped with melted cheese. A healthier version of a favorite family comfort food that’s full of amazing, cozy flavor!
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An Easy, Creamy, Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
This gluten-free chicken and rice recipe really is one of my ultimate go-to family-friendly dinners. It’s creamy and cheesy, filled with tender chunks of chicken, juicy mushrooms, veggies, and hearty rice. This dish is so easy to throw together and consistently tastes amazing!
I make the lightened-up cream sauce for this chicken and rice casserole with a combination of cream cheese, milk, and Greek yogurt in place of traditional canned cream of mushroom soup. It gives the casserole all the cozy, creamy flavor with significantly fewer calories and preservatives! Plus, that means it’s gluten free!
I really love the fact that this casserole is on the healthier side, even though it’s one of our favorite gluten free comfort foods. I just know you’re going to love it, too!
What You’ll Need
The list below may seem long-ish for an easy weeknight meal. However, I promise you, this chicken and rice casserole features many ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chicken: Diced cooked chicken. Leftover grocery store or homemade Air Fryer Rotisserie Chicken is a perfect option for this recipe!
- Rice: You’ll need hearty rice like white long-grain rice or similar, uncooked. You can find my recommendations further down in this post.
- Onion: Minced yellow onion.
- Mushrooms: Sliced white or brown mushrooms. Mushrooms pair deliciously with the cream and bring earthy flavor to the dish.
- Frozen Peas and Carrots: These will need to be thawed and patted dry to remove the extra moisture.
- Thyme: Dried thyme or fresh thyme will both work.
- Chicken Broth: You can also substitute vegetable stock if you’d prefer. Either way, I’d recommend low sodium broth as it offers more control over the seasoning.
- Cream Cheese: Light or regular, it’s up to you!
- Greek Yogurt: Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream for extra creaminess and a little tanginess. Using yogurt in place of heavy cream also helps to keep this casserole on the lighter side!
- Cheese: Freshly grated or shredded cheddar cheese, as well as parmesan.
- Chopped Parsley: For optional garnish.
- Butter: Unsalted.
- Salt & Pepper
How to Make Gluten-Free Chicken Rice Casserole
This recipe is a one-pan wonder, with a casserole dish being the only other requirement. It’s perfect for busy nights when dinner calls for something quick and tasty! Here’s how to make this cheesy and delicious chicken and rice, minus the gluten:
Cook the Mushrooms: Saute the mushrooms in butter with the onions, thyme, and seasoning.
Add Rice & Chicken Broth: In the same pan, toast the rice with the mushrooms for a minute or two. Add in the chicken stock and let it come to a boil.
Simmer: Lower the heat to a simmer while the rice cooks in the chicken broth. Don’t stir the rice during this time! Once the time is up, you’ll leave the cover on and (still not stirring!) let the rice sit so it releases from the bottom of the pan.
Add in the Other Ingredients: Next, add in the chicken, frozen veggies, as well as the ingredients for the cream sauce, plus part of the cheddar cheese.
Assemble the Casserole: Pour the creamy chicken and rice into a prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar as well as the parmesan cheese over top.
Bake: Bake the casserole in a preheated oven, covered in foil. Remove the foil about halfway through the cooking time. Once the casserole is out of the oven, leave it to sit for a few minutes before serving.
What Kind of Rice Should I Use?
This casserole works best with regular, long-grain rice. Short-grain rice or minute rice will not work with this recipe, since the rice will cook too quickly and become a mushy mess! I also recommend long-grain not only because the consistency is creamier, but because the nutritional value is higher, too. And remember, rice is gluten free!
You can use other varieties like brown rice or wild rice as well, but these call for longer cooking times and more liquid. We’re aiming for about 3 ¾ cups of cooked rice with this recipe, so follow the package directions of your chosen rice for the appropriate amount of broth/cooking time.
Tips for Success
- If You’re Using Rotisserie Chicken: Since many store-bought rotisserie chickens come already seasoned, this makes a good case for using low sodium chicken broth in this chicken rice recipe. You don’t want your casserole to come out too salty!
- Can I Use Water Instead?: The rice in this recipe really gets its savory flavor from cooking in the chicken broth! That being said, if you’d like to cook the rice in water, I’d recommend including a bouillon cube to help flavor it.
Add-Ins & Variations
There are so many ways to spruce up this gluten-free chicken and rice casserole with all your favorite ingredients! You can:
- Change Up the Cheese: You can skip the cheese altogether, or try out different kinds like mozzarella, Swiss, or Colby jack cheese.
- Add More Veggies: You can add in other vegetables, like bell peppers, celery, spinach, kale, or green beans.
- Try Different Herbs and Seasonings: Thyme is my first choice in terms of herbs for this chicken dinner, but you can add in other seasonings like rosemary, basil, garlic, or a pinch of red chili flakes.
- Make Broccoli Chicken and Rice: Add in a cup or two of chopped broccoli florets along with the chicken.
Make it a Meal
This creamy chicken and rice is a meal in itself, or you can serve it with easy sides for a cozy family dinner. Here are some of my favorite recipes to pair with this casserole:
- Winter Fruit Feta Salad with Cranberry Balsamic Dressing
- Air Fryer Green Beans
- Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Vinegar
- Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
- Old Bay Cauli-Tots (perfect for kids!)
- Gluten Free Garlic Butter Dinner Rolls
- Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Casserole leftovers can be stored airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the casserole either whole or in portions in the oven or microwave, until it’s hot throughout.
Can I Freeze This Casserole?
This casserole is perfect to make ahead as it freezes super well! You can keep it frozen for up to 3 months.
Prepare the casserole as directed right up until you would bake it. Freeze the unbaked casserole wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, with an extra layer of foil. Thaw in the fridge overnight before you’re ready to serve it, and then bake, adding 10 minutes or so to the cooking time.
More Gluten-Free Casseroles to Make at Home
- Homemade Gluten Free Lasagna
- Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie
- Pumpkin Penne with Cream Sauce
- Corn Pudding Casserole without Corn Muffin Mix
- Easy Shepherd’s Pie
Gluten-Free Chicken Rice Casserole
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup onion minced
- 8 oz white mushrooms sliced
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/4 cups white long grain rice uncooked
- 3 cups chicken cooked and diced
- 2 cups frozen peas and carrots thawed and pat dry
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 4 oz cream cheese light or regular
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and coat a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add the onion, mushroom, thyme, salt, and pepper. Saute until the mushrooms are tender, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the rice and toast for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cover tightly and cook for 15 minutes. Do not stir. Turn off the heat and leave the cover on. Let the rice stand for 10 minutes without stirring. Any rice on the bottom of the pot will release.
- Add the cooked chicken, frozen mixed vegetables, milk, cream cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.
- Add to the prepared casserole dish and top with remaining cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Let the casserole sit for 5 minutes prior to serving.