This butternut squash, chicken, and wild rice casserole is cozy and chock full of veggies and chicken!
Cold weather means belly-warming hearty casseroles like this one! Tender chicken bits, sweet butternut squash, wild rice, and cranberries are the perfect combination!
A Cool Weather Favorite
Few things say cool weather like a cozy meal from the oven. This delicious recipe comes from The Well Plated Cookbook written by Erin Clarke (you may already know her amazing recipes from her site Well Plated).
You know I can never pass up a great casserole recipe and this one is definitely great!
Where do I even begin with how much I love this book! All of the recipes I have made from The Well Plated Cookbook have been perfect (this week’s other fave was coconut banana bread pudding; a MUST try!). Recipes are clear, concise and easy to follow and best of all, they were all delicious!
This gorgeous book is a welcome addition to any cookbook collection and makes for a beautiful gift idea. You can order a copy of The Well Plated Cookbook here.
I was really excited to share this wild rice casserole recipe with you because I love all of the ingredients. I also loved that this casserole was packed with flavor and didn’t need a heavy sauce or tons of cheese.
It’s a one-dish entrée that has all the food groups in it: protein, starch, veggies—even fruit! And it’s so good the next day!
RICE For this recipe, we used long grain wild rice blend but even brown rice (or any kind of cooked rice) will do in a pinch.
CHICKEN Chicken thighs are roasted while the rice cooks and stay tender and juicy in this recipe.
FLAVORS Dried cranberries add a sweet tangy flavor while pecans add a nutty richness.
Time Saving Tips
This recipe has a few steps but if you’re short on time, here are a few of our fave time savers:
- substitute rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken for the chicken thighs
- use leftover rice or pre-cooked rice
- butternut squash is often sold cubed (or frozen)
- purchase nuts that are chopped and cheese that is pre-shredded
How to Make Chicken & Rice Casserole
Chicken and wild rice casserole has a few simple steps to tasty casserole perfection! Here’s the basic overview:
- Prepare rice (per full recipe below) and set aside.
- Bake chicken according to recipe, meanwhile sauté onion and squash.
- Cut up chicken and add to pan with squash and all other ingredients.
- Transfer everything back to the casserole dish and sprinkle with nuts.
- Bake, then add the remaining Parmesan cheese. Continue baking until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Keep this casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
- Reheat it by popping it in the microwave and adding a bit of hot sauce or extra Parmesan to it!
- Chicken and wild rice casserole can be frozen for make-ahead meals or batch cooking. Freeze in an airtight container and write the date on the outside.
More Favorite Casseroles
- Chicken Stuffing Casserole – one-dish meal
- Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole – perfect any time of day
- Sweet Potato Casserole – anytime side dish
- Hamburger Potato Casserole – easy prep
- Creamy Turkey Casserole – budget-friendly
- Cheesy Chicken Casserole – so hearty and filling
Did you love this Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below!
Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
- 1 cup wild and brown rice blend uncooked
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt divided
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper divided
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 1 medium yellow onion cut into ¼" dice (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped, plus additional for garnish
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup parmesan cheese shredded, divided
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts roughly chopped
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Cook the rice according to the package instructions. Drain off any excess cooking liquid and set aside (you should have about 3 cooked cups).
Lay a large piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange chicken thighs in a single layer on top, tucking the loose side portion of each thigh underneath. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Bake until the chicken thighs reach 165°F, about 20 minutes. Immediately transfer from the dish to a plate and cover. Let rest 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Discard the foil or parchment and keep the pan handy.
While the chicken cooks, peel the butternut squash and trim off the top and bottom ends. Cut the neck away from the round base, then stand the base up on its ﬂat end and cut it in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut the squash (both base and neck) into ½" cubes (you should have about 4 cups cubes).
In a large, deep skillet with a tight-ﬁtting lid, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add squash, onion, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender but still retains some chew, 6 to 8 minutes.
Once the chicken has rested, cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add it to the pan with the squash, then add thyme, cranberries, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, and rice. Stir to combine.
Lightly coat with nonstick spray the same 9×13 dish you used to bake the chicken (no need to wash it in between). With a large spoon, scoop the squash and rice mixture into the dish, spreading it into an even layer.
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle nuts and remaining ¼ cup Parmesan on top. Bake 8 to 10 additional minutes, until cheese is melted and nuts are toasted and crisp. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh thyme and serve warm.