Healthy Chicken Casserole With Rice

This Healthy Chicken Casserole is almost a one dish dinner. And you can easily prepare it ahead and cook when you are ready!

You are going to get your lean protein, starch and vegetable in one delicious dish! You will need a frying pan to sautee some of the ingredients first but after that you can assemble, cook and serve in the same dish!

This is classic comfort food. Lots of flavour but no overwhelming flavours or spices. You can always pass hot sauce when serving if you want some zing!

This recipe is very versatile. You can assemble it (without the broth) and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.

Carrots can be little devils to roast so the recipe precooks them a bit before adding them to the casserole. They were still tender, crisp when the casserole was done. That is the way I like them but if you want softer, consider steaming them in the microwave for 10 minutes before adding to the casserole.

The recipe uses bacon to offset the ‘skinless’ aspect of the thighs. Even with the bacon this clocks in a t well under 500 calories for you protein, veg and starch!

Chef’s Tips

  • The recipe uses skinless, boneless chicken thighs for flavour and ease. There is bacon in the recipe that you can keep, reduce or omit if you want to really pare the calories and fat. But note -even with the bacon it is well under 500 calories per serving.
  • You can use skin on, bone-in thighs if you like, in which case omit the bacon strips on top of the thighs.
  • Make sure your baking pan is at least 3″ deep or the broth will overflow. Err on the side of deeper even if it means less length.
  • You can switch up the carrots for peas or corn and they will stand up to baking time nicely as well.
  • If you have an instant read thermometer check the thighs for 165 degrees internal temperature.

Wine Pairing For Healthy Chicken Casserole

All of your wine options are open here because there are no strong spices or flavours that might react with your wine. So go ahead – pick your favourite white, rosé or red!

Chicken rice casserole with a scoop out.

Healthy Chicken Casserole With Rice

Seasoned chicken thighs over layers of rice, onion, bacon and carrots. The juices drizzle down and season all the layers.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

  • 1 large frying pan
  • 1 9 X 13" casserole at least 3" deep

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs chicken thighs 1,334 grams
  • 2 Tbsp oil or butter 28.5 grams (divided in half)
  • 6 slices lean bacon cut in half at midpoint
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups long grain rice 360 grams (can sub basmati)
  • 3.75 cups chicken broth 887 ml
  • 3 cups carrot coins 150 grams

Spice Mix

  • 1 Tbsp paprika 6.8 grams
  • 1 tsp celery salt 2 grams
  • 1 tsp black pepper 2.3 grams
  • 1 tsp salt 6 grams
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 3 grams See Note 1
  • 1 tsp onion powder 2.4 grams See Note 1
  • 1 tsp dried basil See Note 2 for substitutes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano See Note 2 for substitutes

See Note 3 for Spice Mix substitutes

    Instructions

    • Mix all spice ingredients together and set aside in a cereal size bowl.
    • Rinse the rice in a seive under cold water until water drains clear. (Or cover rice with cold water and drain off and repeat a few times).
    • Chop 6 the 12 bacon pieces and leave the other half intact. Chop the onion. Mince the garlic cloves.
    • Clean and trim carrots and cut into thin coins.
    • Spray your baking pan with cooking spray.
    • Preheat oven to 350° if baking right away. See Note 4 if makng ahead.
    • Saute the bacon pieces about 3 minutes in a large skillet over medium high heat until softly cooked. Add onion and cook 5 minutes more. Transfer bacon bits and onion to your baking pan.
    • Add 1 Tbsp oil to the skillet and cook carrot coins about 10 minutes. Set carrots coins aside.
    • Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the drained rice and stir to coat. Saute rice and garlic about 3 minutes.
    • Add the rice and garlic to the bacon and onion in the pan and stir to mix evenly.
    • Dredge the chicken thighs, one at a time, through the spice mix and arrange on top of the rice mixture. If you have spice left over sprinkle it over the top of the rice before you position the chicken. See Note 4 if making ahead.
    • Heat the chicken broth in the micowave and carefully pour it in to the baking pan. You may have to lift a chicken thigh since you don't want to rinse the spice mix off.
    • Top each chicken thigh with a slice of the remaining bacon.
    • Bake covered with foil for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake a further 20 minute.
    • If you want the top crispier turn the broiler on and broil about 4 minutes until desired crispness is reached.
    • Allow casserole to reast 5 minutes before serving.

    Notes

     
    Note 1:  Do not use garlic salt,  or onion salt or it will be too salty.  If you do use any herbed salt reduce the regular salt called for by the same amount.
    Note 2:  If you don’t  have dried basil  or oregano substitute a dry Italian Spice Blend.
    Note 3:  You can replace the Spice Mix with Chicken Shake and Bake Seasoning (don’t use any bread crumbs).  Or you can use 2 Tbsps poultry seasoning with 1 Tbsp Paprika, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper.
    Note 4:   If you are making ahead, once you have positioned the thighs and topped them with bacon, cover the pan and refrigerate until ready to cook.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook the casserole covered for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and cook 20-30 minutes more.  Broil 4-5 minutes if you want the top crisper.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.05g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 538mg | Potassium: 665mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 11344IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 3mg
    Healthy Chicken Casserole With Rice

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