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Grandma's Groovy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe

Jill is an avid writer, gardener, photographer, DIYer, and cook.

Chicken and rice casserole comfort food

Chicken and rice casserole comfort food

I love this casserole and have fond memories of eating the leftovers on Saturday afternoons while watching Soul Train. To me, it was almost as delicious as Don Cornelius!

The Best of the Casserole Queen

Ah, the 1970s—when bell-bottoms were groovy jeans, shag carpeting was all the rage, "salad" was made from Jello, and canned-soup casseroles offered the ultimate in comfort food.

Today, jeans come in many styles, from skater peg-legs to seriously baggy; wood floors are in; and salads are green and organic.

But one thing hasn't changed: There isn't a more comforting meal than the casserole Grandma used to make with Campbell's soup, topped with a buttery cornflake crust or fried onions from a can.

My grandma embraced the casserole movement wholeheartedly, mastering a staggering number of dishes she'd make ahead and freeze. Although all of them were tasty, two were everybody's favorites: eggplant casserole and this chicken and rice casserole. She trotted them out regularly at potlucks and Sunday pitch-in dinners.

Grandma's chicken and rice casserole was my personal favorite, and it was one of the main reasons I crowned her the Casserole Queen (behind her back, of course).

Hope you think it's groovy, too.

Rate it!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

25 min

55 min

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 cup or more celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup or more onion, chopped
  • 1 small can water chestnuts, sliced
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover white rice, cooked
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cornflakes, crushed

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Use butter or Pam to grease an 8x8 casserole dish. Set aside.
  3. In a pan, saute the celery in 1 tablespoon of butter until softened. Remove from heat.
  4. To the pan of softened celery, add all of the remaining ingredients (except 2 tablespoons of butter and cornflakes).
  5. Mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  7. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe measuring cup.
  8. Add cornflakes to melted butter and stir.
  9. Sprinkle the cornflake mixture over the casserole.
  10. Bake the casserole at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until the top bubbles and browns.

Variations

  • Double everything and use a 9x13 baking dish to make a casserole for eight people.
  • If you love the crunch of water chestnuts, add two cans instead of one. Not a fan? Leave 'em out entirely and add more celery.
  • Substitute undiluted cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup for cream of chicken.
  • Add chopped almond slivers to the casserole proper and/or the topping.
  • Sauté the vegetables in olive oil instead of butter.
  • Top the casserole with buttered breadcrumbs or French's fried onion rings instead of cornflakes.

It's Even Better as Leftovers

I once caught my vegetarian niece standing over the kitchen sink in the middle of the night on in her jammies, shoveling down a bowl of leftover chicken and rice casserole.

Even though she'd made our lives unbearable for more than a week with her special lacto-ovo-vegan dishes, I didn't say a word, just tiptoed back to bed without getting a drink of water.

Hey, it was the holidays, a time when just about everybody needs a little comfort food.

Get Cookin'!

A chicken salad sandwich with pickle on the side is great for lunch!

A chicken salad sandwich with pickle on the side is great for lunch!

Other Easy Ideas for Leftover Chicken

Have you noticed that a small, whole chicken is difficult to find at the grocery store? Even the organic ones. Most tend to weigh four pounds and upwards, so if you cook a whole chicken to make chicken and rice casserole, you'll probably have leftover meat and broth. Here are four easy ways to use the leftovers.

Simple Chicken Salad

Chop or shred 2 cups chicken and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Add 1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise (enough to enfold the mixture). Adjust seasoning and then add optional ingredients of your choice, such as diced celery, chopped pecans and halved seedless grapes; or hot banana pepper rings and minced red onion.

Chicken & Noodle Soup

Sauté 1 chopped onion, 1 sliced celery stalk and 1 chopped carrot in 2 tbsp. butter or oil for about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp. thyme, 6-8 cups chicken broth and 2-3 cups chopped chicken. Simmer about 15 minutes, then adjust seasoning, adding more thyme, black pepper and/salt as needed. Finally, toss 2 cups egg noodles into the pot and boil for 5 minutes.

Pictured: leftover chicken & dumplings, another easy comfort dish that's easy to make with chopped, cooked chicken.

Pictured: leftover chicken & dumplings, another easy comfort dish that's easy to make with chopped, cooked chicken.

Chicken and Dumplings

Sauté a small onion, one stalk chopped celery and two chopped carrots in 2 tbsp. butter for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 c. flour and cook, stirring, a minute more. While continuing to stir, slowly add three cups chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.

While the broth is cooking, mix together 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder and 1 tsp. salt. Blend in 2 tbsp. butter with a pastry blender, and then stir in 1/2 c. whole milk or light cream.

Add 2 cups chopped chicken, ground black pepper and salt to taste to the broth. You may also opt to add vegetables, such as cooked green beans, peas or edamame (green soybeans) before dropping the stiff dumpling batter by rounded tbsp. into the broth.

Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes in order to steam the dumplings.

Chicken Pot Pie

Cook the vegetables in butter as for chicken and dumplings, adding flour and broth as described above. As the mixture thickens, roll out Pillsbury pre-prepared pie crust that has been allowed to soften outside the refrigerator in a 9-inch pie pan. Add chopped chicken as well as frozen peas and leftover cooked carrots and potatoes to the broth, then pour the mixture into the crust. Top with a second crust and seal it at the edges, cutting three or four small vents in the top. Cook at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until the crust has browned.

© 2013 Jill Spencer

Comments

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 18, 2016:

Hey Jill, It does. It's easy to make. I wish I have found the recipe for it anywhere. So I have to experiment with it for sure.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on March 18, 2016:

Hey, Kristen! Those variations sound delicious!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 14, 2016:

Jill, great recipe hub. This reminds me of my mother's dish, sans the celery. It had frozen peas, fried rice and chicken brother and chicken pieces. I couldn't find the recipe online or in her cookbook for this easy dish. Thanks for the recipes and the leftover ones, too. I'll try it this spring.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on October 06, 2013:

Hi Minnetonka Twin. Hope you do get a chance to try the recipe this fall. It's real comfort food, tempting enough to seduce a vegan. (: Thanks for commenting! -- Jill

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on October 06, 2013:

Tis the time of year to bring out the casserole recipe's. I am so excited about all the great recipe's you gave us and am putting it in my recipe folder. I have never tried the chicken and rice dish with cornflakes but it sounds fabulous! Great hub, Great pictures and great information. Loved the story about your vegan niece. LOL

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 01, 2013:

Hi Marsha. I'll have to look around for that eggplant casserole. I've never made it, but ... I remember that it contained cubed eggplant, soup (of course!) and that it was topped with bread crumbs and cheese. Thanks for commenting! --Jill

Marsha Musselman from Michigan, USA on July 31, 2013:

Mmm chicken and rice. We've had that a bit in recent years although I don't make it exactly the way your recipe shows. Maybe I'll try it your way sometime.

I'd also be interested in hearing about the eggplant casserole.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 13, 2013:

Thanks for reading, IslandBites!

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on July 12, 2013:

Interesting recipe!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 05, 2013:

Thanks for the votes & share, Rajan! Appreciate it.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 04, 2013:

The chicken and rice dish looks very inviting. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Voted up, interesting and shared.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 03, 2013:

Yep, it's a keeper. Thanks, Leslie!

lesliebyars on July 02, 2013:

This recipe sounds delicious and easy. What more could you ask for. I voted up and useful.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on July 02, 2013:

Glad you liked it, W1totalk. Thanks for stopping by! --Jill

W1totalk on July 02, 2013:

All good ideas. Great article. and Video lol.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on March 20, 2013:

Hey Glimmer Twin Fan! Had to dance solo, I'm afraid. My mother wouldn't let me have stuffed animals. (They wouldn't have matched her interior design.) Glad to know I wasn't alone though! Did you say Don's signature line with him, too?

Claudia Mitchell on March 20, 2013:

This is comfort food. Yummy. Pinned and shared. Just curious though, did you do the Soul Train dance line? I would line up my stuffed animals and dance down the middle. That was a long long time ago!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on March 14, 2013:

Hi Blossom! Thank you. The light in our kitchen is awful, so I'm glad the food looks appealing.

Torrilynn! Thank you so much for the vote! Glad you stopped by.

Hi ryanjhoe. Appreciate your comments. Nice to hear from you!

Deb, don't jack my memories!!! lol Actually, I once had an acquaintance tell me a story of my childhood as if it were hers. (We'd gone out to lunch a few months before, and I'd told her the funny story, you see, which she then blithely retold to me at our next lunch.) Crazy, huh? But not you, too, Deb. Not you!!! (; All the best, Jill

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on March 14, 2013:

Fabulous, Jill! This will definitely warm the heart and bring back your memories of Soul Train. Wait a minute! What am I doing with YOUR memories?

ryanjhoe from Somewhere over the rainbow on March 14, 2013:

Looks delicious an this article arouse my appetite. Thanks for sharing!

torrilynn on March 13, 2013:

thanks for this chicken and rice recipe

looks simple and absolutely delicious

thanks again for sharing

Voted up

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on March 13, 2013:

A good recipe and great photos, too. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on March 13, 2013:

@livingsta--Isn't that a scream? lol But it is a tempting dish. Hope you like it! --Jill

livingsta from United Kingdom on March 13, 2013:

Thank you for sharing this easy and tasty recipe. Made me chuckle when I read about your niece, but that again tells me the tempting taste it would have had. Definitely worth a try. Voted up and sharing!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on March 13, 2013:

Hi Faith Reaper. I bet your recipe's good, too, but thanks for sharing mine--er, my grandmother's. All the best, Jill

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 13, 2013:

Thanks for sharing your Chicken & Rice Casserole recipe here. I have one that I use and love too, but I will try out your recipe, as it is a little different and sounds delicious too.

Voted up and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on March 12, 2013:

Thanks, peachpurple! Appreciate it.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on March 12, 2013:

looks good to me. Great ideas what to do with left over food. Voted up