A homemade recipe for chicken, broccoli and rice casserole made completely from scratch with a cheesy cream sauce and topped with buttered breadcrumbs.
It’s been quite a long time since I made a casserole, so when I asked my husband last week if he was hungry for anything in particular on Sunday and he said “a broccoli casserole”, I jumped at the opportunity to make one. My great aunt used to make a killer broccoli casserole on Sundays growing up, and I put a homemade spin on it a couple of years ago. While I could have made that again as a side dish, I took it a step further and decided to make a main dish casserole with chicken, broccoli and rice. I know that’s a popular recipe, so I did some searching for a good recipe and was disappointed when I couldn’t find one that was completely homemade. So, I made my own!
I made a huge batch of chicken breasts in the slow cooker on Friday night and used some of it for this casserole, which made the prep work significantly easier. If you’re looking for an easy shortcut, picking up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store would be a great way to cut the prep time. I also made a batch of rice the day before and used pre-cut, pre-washed broccoli to keep this recipe as simple as possible. I didn’t cook the broccoli before adding it to the recipe and it was al-dente in flavor (which I like), but if you prefer super soft broccoli, I would par-boil them.
For the sauce, I made the base sauce for my favorite macaroni and cheese and added some cheddar cheese, which turned out to be the perfect vessel for serving the chicken, broccoli, rice and mushrooms.
I used panko breadcrumbs for the topping of this casserole, but you could use plain breadcrumbs, Italian breadcrumbs, or even Ritz crackers!
Now that we’re heading into the blustery winter months, I’m excited to start recreating more homemade versions of casseroles… Do you have a favorite?
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9x13-inch casserole dish.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked down and all of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to a separate bowl.
In the same pan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.
Once the sauce comes to a simmer, whisk in the cheddar cheese, adding a handful at a time and whisking until completely melted before adding the next handful. Season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.
Add the chicken, broccoli, rice and cooked mushrooms to the sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the breadcrumbs (or Ritz crackers).
Sprinkle the casserole with the ½ cup of shredded cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the cheese.
Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.