A chicken rice casserole is a dish that is typically made with chicken, rice and some type of gravy or sauce. This entree is usually baked in a traditional oven or cooked in a microwave, often using a covered casserole dish. There are several variations to a chicken rice casserole, such as using brown rice instead of white, or using seasonings instead of gravy. Chicken rice casseroles may also be prepared with dumplings made from dough and chicken stock. Vegetables may also be added to a chicken rice casserole dish.
Although skinless and boned chicken breast may be convenient for making a chicken rice casserole, some prefer to bone and skin fresh whole chicken. After the chicken has been cleaned, skinned and cut into small pieces, other ingredients are added. Rice, gravy, dumplings and vegetables may be mixed together in a large covered casserole dish, typically made of glass. To give the chicken and rice casserole a crunchy texture, slivered almonds, pecans or cracker crumbs may be sprinkled on top before baking.
There are many variations to this casserole dish, and some include hot and spicy seasonings. Buffalo chicken rice casserole may be made with a hot pepper sauce, onion powder and dill. For an authentic Mexican flavor, some cooks use Mexican-style rice, which is made by simmering rice with tomato sauce, garlic and onion. Cornbread is sometimes served with this Mexican style chicken rice casserole.
When baking chicken rice casserole dishes, many prefer adding shredded cheese. Any type of shredded cheese may be used, although cheddar is one of the most popular choices. Before adding the shredded cheese, vegetables may mixed with the chicken and gravy. Peas, carrots and corn are a few commonly used vegetables for chicken rice casseroles. Celery and onions are also used when preparing this baked casserole dish.
A similar recipe is the chicken and dumpling casserole, made with chicken, rice, vegetables and chicken broth. Dumplings may be made from a biscuit and pancake mix or from scratch. Similar to chicken stew, cubed chicken is often used for this recipe and slowly simmered in a covered pot or casserole dish.
Although chicken rice casserole is typically prepared in a casserole-type dish, a Crock-Pot® variation is popular as well. Basically, the same ingredients that are used for the traditional baked casserole may be used for a slow cooker or Crock-Pot® recipe. Crock-Pot® recipes typically require a longer cooking time than oven baked casseroles.