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Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and black pepper

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 1/2 cups basmati or jasmine rice

1/2 cup dry orzo pasta (use gluten free, if needed)

2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for topping

3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

3 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste

zest of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 cup whole milk or canned coconut milk

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese


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