Once a month we’re featuring a new family-friendly dish for our Kids Can Cook section from the Hatfields. The dairy-free teen cooking star is Katherine and this week she is sharing a wonderful weeknight meal: Southwest chicken and rice casserole. Her mom, Sarah, has the pictures and details for us …
I love casseroles, and this Southwest Chicken and Rice version is a great one because it is made of simple ingredients that come together into something greater than the sum of their parts. This is a recipe that was given to my sister by a friend of the family. The original casserole had more of a Cuban flair, but I altered the seasonings to please my Mexican food-loving family. Since we always have homemade seasoning on hand (included in the recipe), as well as the other ingredients, this is an easy weeknight meal.
Young cooks can easily assemble this rice casserole with its microwaved roux–no hot stove!–using precooked rice and chicken. All the adult helper needs to do is put the casserole in the oven.
Older children and teens can of course cook the rice and chicken themselves before making the casserole, so their parents can take a night off from cooking!
We always cook more rice than we need to go with one meal, and we often have a cup or two of chicken leftover from roasted chicken or sauteed chicken breasts. This Southwest chicken and rice casserole recipe is a perfect way to stretch those leftovers into a meal while giving the kids something easy to cook.
To serve, our kids like to eat this Southwest chicken and rice casserole with tortillas; it is also great wrapped in lettuce leaves or served with a side salad and pinto beans. For those who like a spicier dish, serve the casserole with sliced jalapenos or hot sauce.
Special Diet Notes: Southwest Chicken and Rice Casserole
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free, optionally egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and optionally soy-free. Just be sure that you select the buttery spread and mayo that are right for your needs.
For a gluten-free, dairy-free Southwest chicken and rice casserole, substitute your favorite thickening gluten-free flour blend for the flour.
- ½ cup dried minced onion
- ¼ cup sweet paprika
- ¼ cup non-GMO cornstarch (can sub tapioca or arrowroot starch)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram (or oregano)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup dairy-free buttery spread or non-hydrogenated margarine
- ¼ cup all-purpose or white-wheat flour
- 4 tablespoons water
- ½ cup mayonnaise or vegan mayo (for egg-free)
- ¼ cup Southwest Seasoning (above)
- 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
- 4 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice
- Place all of the ingredients in a large jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine. Use as directed in the Chicken and Rice Casserole instructions that follow.
- Store leftovers in the jar and use ¼ cup per pound of meat or meat substitute in recipes.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease a medium-sized casserole dish (such as an 8x8-inch).
- Place the buttery spread in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds to melt.
- Whisk in the flour and the 4 tablespoons of water. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.
- Stir in the mayonnaise followed by the Southwest Seasoning. Add the chicken and rice and stir until evenly coated.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared casserole dish, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.
This is delicious, my whole family loved it!!!
I replaced half the rice with riced cauliflower and I replaced the starch in the seasoning with gelatin.
Thanks for sharing your modifications Lisa!
This looks great! Do you think I could substitute ground chicken?
I think crumbled and browned ground chicken would be a great substitution, Shannon!
Unfortunately the 4TBS of water wasn’t enough for the rice and it turned out really crunchy. 😢
Oh no! It sounds like you used raw rice Carlena. Make sure you use COOKED rice for the recipe. That’s a lot of uncooked rice, and I don’t want you to waste it. If you need to salvage, add a few cups of water and continue to bake the dish. Check in after 20 minutes to see how the rice is coming along and if you need to add more water. I don’t have an exact water amount or bake time since we haven’t made it that way. The other ingredients will be more cooked, but still edible!
I don’t have a microwave. How should I make the flour/mayo/seasoning mixture?
Hi Erin, heat the buttery spread in a saucepan until melted. Whisk in the flour to form a paste, and gradually whisk in the water until smooth. Heat until thickened. Continue with adding the mayo and the rest of the recipe.
I plan to make this a day ahead of company arriving. Do you suggest I bake it first and then reheat it the next day…..or can I just leave it assembled in the fridge and cook it for the first time the followong day when company arrives? Is one method better than the other? Thanks!
Hi Maggie, I’ve never tried either option, but I would say assemble it the day before then bake it the day you are serving it. Take the pan out of the refrigerator while the oven preheats so the casserole dish doesn’t break, and maybe add 10-15 minutes to the cooking time if it doesn’t heat through in the time specified.
My oven is currently out of commission. Could this all be mixed together in a large pan on the stove and cooked covered?
I don’t see why not Brittany! All of the ingredients are cooked; baking just helps the flavors meld and heats it through. Let me know how it works!
This has become a go-to recipe for me and my family! Love it! Tastes even better when its reheated!
I’m so glad to hear this, Chelsey! Thank you so much for letting me know. Come to think of it, I haven’t made this in awhile. I think it’s time! 🙂
Can this be cooked from frozen? I’m trying to find a good freezer meal for my cousin who is expecting a baby in May. 😀
Hi Brianna, I haven’t tried cooking it from frozen, but I imagine it would work. Maybe do a test run at home before you give it to your cousin. 🙂 Congratulations to your family, and please report back if you try!
Ok thanks! I might give it a try!
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I loved this recipe! The only thing is the recipe says 4 tablespoons of water and I only see directions to add 2… Am I missing something?? Also I cooked my frozen chicken breast in the slow cooker all day in chicken broth and added the broth to the mixture and it was still a tad dry.
You are right! Sarah, can you see where we may have missed something?
I made an error when doubling the recipe. Just add 4 Tablespoons of water when you whisk in the flour. Thanks!
I made this and topped it with tofutti. I also cooked the rice in a homemade broth. So good!
Nice touches! Thanks for your feedback and modification ideas on this casserole Chandra.
Looks delicious! I’m a big fan of chicken and rice dishes!
this sounds amazing! I love casseroles, or all in one bakes, but hate that most of it ends up full of thick cream or something of that nature. I really enjoy that this doesn’t and you can save the seasoning for another use another day! SOUNDS DELICIOUS!
Thanks to my rice cooker and my oldest son loving rice, he can cook the rice for me! If I use a rotisserie chicken I can get it in the oven quicker:) Thanks for a great recipe that someone else can make and it taste delicious!
Yes! If we can get one more kid in the kitchen, our job is done 🙂
Getting children into the kitchen is so important! No more stereotypical college food meals when they move out 🙂 This sounds great, and so easy to make! Always looking for another chicken recipe!
I completely agree! I WISH my mom had taught me to cook – it is a priceless gift.
Very nice idea for an easy quick dinner that everyone will enjoy thanks for sharing!