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Dairy Free Chicken and Rice Casserole

$11.85 Recipe/$2.96 Serving

This broccoli chicken rice casserole is creamy, easy to make and made with no condensed soup! The quick and easy homemade sauce comes together in just minutes and the entire casserole is ready in just 30 minutes thanks to some prep done ahead of time! Don’t worry, I have tips to help you get your meal on the table fast even if you didn’t prep ahead!

Spoonful of chicken and rice casserole over the skillet.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy to make – this recipe uses leftover rice and leftover chicken so you can make a delicious and filling casserole in under 30 minutes! If you don’t have leftovers on hand, that’s ok too! It will add about 15 minutes to your cooking time, so plan ahead!
  • Healthy comfort food – this dairy free chicken casserole is made with no soup! Instead, you make a creamy sauce out of soaked cashews and white beans. The sauce is thick, creamy, and so flavorful. I promise you are not going to miss the soup in this healthy chicken casserole!
  • Great for leftovers – this dairy free broccoli chicken casserole is also a great option to make ahead and use for weekday lunches or quick dinners! It keeps well for up to 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer!
Ingredients to make dairy free chicken and rice casserole.
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Ingredients

  • Onion– sauteed onions create a flavorful base for the casserole. Use white or yellow onions in this recipe or you can omit them if needed. You can also add fresh garlic along with the onions as well if you prefer.
  • Broccoli – fresh or frozen works in this recipe! Be sure to cut the broccoli florets down into bite size pieces so they are easy to eat in the casserole.
  • Shredded chicken – for this recipe to be ready in under 30 minutes, the chicken needs to be cooked ahead of time. If you are short on time, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken or replace the chicken with 1-2 cans of white beans for a vegan broccoli casserole.
  • Cooked jasmine rice – this recipe utilizes cooked jasmine or basmati rice (white or brown both work well). Both jasmine rice and basmati rice are great for meal prep, as the rice doesn’t get hard as it sits in the fridge, instead it stays easy to work with, even as leftovers! If you don’t have jasmine rice on hand, you can always buy frozen jasmine rice at most grocery stores or use the quick cooking packets found in the rice section of your grocery store. Note: to make this casserole Whole30 or low carb, you can replace the rice with cauliflower rice.

Creamy Casserole Sauce

  • Soaked cashews – soaked cashews break down easily in a high-speed blender and add a creamy texture to the sauce. It’s easy to soak cashews, I tend to pour boiling water over them and let them sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes, but you can also use the microwave, stove or all day soak method. Check out the tips below.
  • White beans – you can use any white bean you have on hand. If you are using canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse the liquid the beans are canned in. The white beans create a super creamy sauce and also add fiber and more protein to the dish making it more filling and a healthier alternative to traditional soup-based sauces in most casseroles. Note: to make this casserole Whole30 or low carb, you can replace the beans with ¾ cup of cashews.
  • Vegetable broth (or chicken broth) – the broth helps to add lots of flavor to the sauce as it’s full of aromatic ingredients. If you don’t have broth or stock, you can also use water.
  • Spice: Salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning – these spices add flavor to the sauce. You can easily swap out the Italian seasoning for other spice blends to completely change the flavor of this casserole. Check out more ideas below!

Almond flour breadcrumbs (optional)

  • Almond flour – almond flour creates a crumbly topping for the casserole that browns up under the broiler. You could also use crushed up gluten free crackers in place of almond flour.
  • Avocado oil – this helps to moisten the almond flour so it can get nice and brown under the broiler.
  • Spices: salt and garlic powder – these give the breadcrumbs a little flavor.

How to make chicken rice casserole with no soup

Check out the step by step story on how to make dairy free broccoli chicken casserole!

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Optional: Turn on the electric kettle and boil water.

Chop the onion. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.

While skillet preheats, cut the broccoli florets down into bite size pieces (even if you are using frozen).

Chopped broccoli and onions on cutting board.

Once water is boiling, pour the water over the cashews so they can soak as you cook the veggies.

Cashews soaking in glass jar.

When the skillet is hot when you place your hand over it (not touching it). Spray skillet with extra virgin olive oil spray or avocado oil spray and add onions. Cook 2-3 minutes.

Before and after cooking onions in skillet.

After cooking onions for 2-3 minutes, add the broccoli florets. Stir well. Cook 4-5 minutes.

Broccoli and onions in a skillet.

After 4-5 minutes of cooking the broccoli, add shredded chicken, rice, vegetable broth (or water) and turn off heat. Cover the pan.

Chicken and rice being added to broccoli in a skillet.

Rinse and drain the white beans. Drain the hot water from the cashews (be careful the water is likely still hot).

Add soaked cashews, white beans, vegetable broth (or chicken broth), salt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning to the blender. Blend on high 1 minute until thick and creamy.

Before and after blending creamy sauce for casserole.

Pour the sauce over the broccoli, rice, and chicken. Stir well until everything is well coated. Flatten down the casserole in the pan (must be an oven safe pan, otherwise transfer this to a casserole dish).

Creamy casserole sauce poured over broccoli chicken rice.

Make the almond flour topping by combining the almond flour, avocado oil, salt and garlic powder in a small bowl. Spoon the breadcrumbs over top of the casserole.

Bake in 425F oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the broiler on and broil 3-4 minutes. If you find you get one or two hot spots, simply spoon off any burned breadcrumbs if you see them.

Before and after baking and broiling the casserole..

Top tips

  • Prep ahead to cut down on total time. Cut the onions and chop the broccoli florets down ahead of time so you can quickly get started on your casserole. Prep the chicken and rice ahead of time.
  • Be sure to soak your cashews, even if you have a powerful blender. Soaking cashews allows the cashews to easily blend into a creamy sauce. There are many ways to soak cashews, pick your favorite way!
  • Utilize the grocery store if you didn’t prep ahead! You can buy rotisserie chicken, minute rice and broccoli florets from the grocery store to help you get this dairy free broccoli chicken casserole on the table quickly!
  • Freeze the casserole for later. Need a simple meal later this week or month? Assemble the entire dish in a freezer safe baking dish. You can use the single serve foil casserole dishes to make this easy! Once you are ready for dinner, place the frozen casserole covered into a 350F oven for 50-60 minutes until hot. At the end, turn the broiler on and broil the top for 2-3 minutes.
  • Want to make this dairy free chicken casserole Whole30 or low carb friendly? Replace the rice with cauliflower rice (cook the cauliflower rice 5-6 minutes in a separate skillet before adding it to the other ingredients) and replace the beans with ¾ cup of cashews.

Other spice blends to use

I love the Italian seasoning with the chicken and broccoli, but you can easily change the flavor of the entire casserole by changing the spices you use. Here are some other ideas:

  • Greek: Add ½ teaspoon oregano and the juice of 1 lemon to the blender.
  • Cheesy: Omit the Italian seasoning and add ¼ cup nutritional yeast and 1 teaspoon paprika to the blender.
  • Smoky: Omit the Italian seasoning and add 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon cumin.
  • Curry: Omit the Italian seasoning and add ½ tablespoon of curry powder + 1 teaspoon ground cumin.

Other veggies you could add or use

  • Cauliflower – be sure to steam the cauliflower instead of sauté it on the stove with the onions. Check out this cauliflower casserole for tips on how to do that!
  • Carrots – carrots on their own would likely make this casserole a bit sweet, but they could be a great addition, especially paired with the curry powder or cheesy casserole option above. Be sure to thinly slice the carrots so they cook up quickly and add them with the broccoli in the skillet.
  • Bell peppers – bell peppers would be a great addition or used in place of the broccoli. You could even do a Mexican/taco casserole by using bell peppers, omitting the Italian seasoning and adding the smoky seasoning above.
  • Brussel sprouts – I would recommend thinly slicing brussel sprouts before cooking them in the skillet. I typically use the shredding attachment on my food processor to do this. You can also buy brussel sprouts already shredded. Also add the juice of ½ -1 lemon to the creamy casserole sauce to help offset some of the bitterness from the brussels.
Dairy free chicken and rice casserole in skillet.

Common questions

How do you soak cashews?

Soaking cashews is quite easy. There are four main ways that I recommend soaking cashews. Use whatever method would work best for you. For any of these options, you will want to discard the soaking liquid once the cashews are soft.  

  • Pour over boiling water and sit 5 minutes – Typically this is my go-to method. Its easy to do with an electric kettle and requires little to no effort. Once the water is boiling, pour it over the cashews and let them soak at least 5 minutes before using.
  • Stovetop – you can add cashews and water to a small pot and bring the water to a boil. Allow the cashews to boil 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and let them soak 5 minutes before using.  
  • Microwave – add cashews to a large cup or bowl. Add enough water to just cover the cashews (this helps it come to a boil faster). Microwave 1:30 – 2 minutes. Let cashews sit in microwave 5 minutes. Be careful when removing the glass or bowl as it will be hot.
  • Countertop – this is the most hands off but takes the longest, so you have to plan ahead. Add filtered water to a cup along with cashews. Let cashews soak 6-8 hours on the counter. If you plan on having the cashews soak longer, move them to the fridge.

Does it matter if the cashews are raw or roasted?

No, both options work well for creating this dairy free casserole sauce, however raw cashews are what I recommend. I typically pick them up in bulk at Sprouts or at Trader Joe’s and they are budget friendly with both of those options. Be sure you are not using salted cashews as they can still be salty even after soaking and can make the sauce too salty.

Can you use frozen broccoli in this casserole?

Yes! Follow the same instructions as fresh, the broccoli will defrost in the pan when cooking with the onions. You may need to increase the cook time 1-2 minutes to help the water evaporate before adding the chicken and rice.

How to prep chicken ahead?

My favorite way to prep chicken ahead is to use the instant pot! It’s almost 100% hands off and you can make a big batch at a time. Typically, 1 pound of chicken equals 3(ish) cups of shredded chicken, so if you make a large batch, you can portion it out to use in many meals.

You can also use the slow cooker to make a large batch of shredded chicken or you can poach chicken on the stove. Check out the tips on how to poach chicken on the stove in this meal prep chicken article.

Chicken can be stored in the fridge 3-4 days total. Be mindful of this when you are going to make the casserole, especially if it will be for leftovers.

You can freeze the chicken in 1-2 cup portions after allowing it to cool if you need the casserole to last 2-3 days after making it. Simply allow the chicken to defrost ½ a day in the fridge or defrost it in the microwave or on the stove in a small pot covered with about ½ cup of water added to the pot over medium low heat.

Dairy free chicken rice casserole on a white plate.

Do you have to cook the rice before?

Yes! This recipe does not have enough liquid to cook the rice and doesn’t bake long enough in the oven cook the dry rice.  

How to prep rice ahead?

Again, my go-to method for prepping rice ahead is the instant pot. I get perfectly cooked rice every single time with no hands-on time once the rice is measured, rinsed and water is added. If you aren’t using your instant pot to prep rice, you have to try it out!

You can also make rice on the stove, follow the directions on the bag to direct you on how much water to add (you will need more water on the stove than the instant pot since there is no evaporation in the instant pot). Bring the rice to a boil and turn it down immediately. Cover the pot and let it cook 12-15 minutes (for jasmine or basmati rice). Fluff with a fork.

What if you don’t have prepped chicken?

You can use store bought rotisserie chicken or you can make 10 minute Italian skillet chicken. If you choose to make the skillet chicken, you can cook it while you are managing the onions/broccoli in another skillet. Cutting the chicken down in to cubes will add 5 minutes or so to your prep though.

What if you don’t have prepped rice?

You can use store bought quick rice packets or defrost frozen rice as well. To defrost rice, you can allow it to sit in the fridge ½ a day, microwave it or cook it in a small saucepan, covered with about ¼-1/2 cup of water over low heat until the rice breaks up easily.

How to make this casserole nut free

This chicken rice casserole with no condensed soup has 2 different kinds of nuts: cashews and almonds.

To replace the cashews you can use:

  • Hemp hearts – no soaking required. Use them 1:1 for cashews in this recipe.
  • Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds – Use raw or roasted shelled sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in place of the cashews. These will need to be soaked just like the cashews.
  • Tahini – Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds.  You can use 3 tablespoons of tahini in place of the cashews (no soaking needed).

To replace the almond flour you can use:

  • Sunflower seed flour – simply put roasted sunflower seeds in a high speed blender or food processor and make a flour out of them. You can store leftovers in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can also buy this online if you don’t want to make it on your own.
  • Crushed crackers – use your favorite gluten free crackers instead. Simply put the crackers in a food processor and process them until they are a fine powder.
  • Gluten free breadcrumbs – if you have a favorite gluten free breadcrumb, you can use that in place of the almond flour.

Can you make this without chicken?

Yes! You can simply replace the chicken with 1 can of white beans, rinsed and drained.

Can you freeze this casserole for later?

Yes! Assemble the casserole all the way up to the step when you would put it in the oven. From here, allow it to cool in the fridge then transfer it to the freezer. I recommend using a freezer safe casserole dish or using a foil dish for this so you can go right from the freezer to the oven on the day you are going to make this. Be sure to tightly cover the casserole before transferring it to the freezer.

When you are ready to cook the casserole, remove any plastic wrapping and wrap the casserole in foil or add the casserole lid. Put frozen casserole in 350F oven for 45-60minutes until warmed through. After it’s warm, remove the foil/lid and turn the broiler on and broil for 2-3 minutes to brown the top.

You can also freeze the casserole in single serve portions instead of the entire casserole at once. I like to use Soupercubes for this. Transfer the casserole ingredients to the Soupercubes then store in the fridge until cold. Once cold, transfer to the freezer and freeze solid. Once solid, you can pop them out of the silicone mold and store in a freezer safe bag.

When ready to eat the single serve, place in a oven safe dish and bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes (covered) until warmed through. Take off the cover and broil 2-3 minutes to brown the top.

Storing leftovers

  • Fridge: Store leftover dairy free chicken and rice casserole in the fridge for up to 3 days. Remember that chicken can only be stored in the fridge for a total of 3-4 days, so it will depend on how many days your chicken has already been in the fridge. Check out the tips above on freezing chicken to help give these leftovers a longer life.
  • Freezer: Freeze leftovers in single serve portions for up to 3 months. I like using Soupercubes for portioning out single servings for freezing. You can also use your favorite freezer safe bag/container. Once frozen, be sure to label the container with the name, date and use by date.
  • Reheating from frozen: Since the casserole has already been cooked, you just need to warm it through.
    • Oven – cook in a 375F oven, covered for 15-20 minutes until hot and reheated through. Be sure to use an oven safe container ( you can even cook single servings in the Soupercubes (up to 415F)).
    • Microwave – microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until hot.
Wooden spoon in skillet filled with chicken rice casserole.

Substitutions

  • Onions – if you don’t have onions on hand, simply omit them from the casserole.
  • Broccoli – see the ideas above on other veggies you could use in place of broccoli.
  • Cooked Chicken – if you don’t have cooked chicken on hand, you can use more white beans or even cooked ground turkey or ground chicken. You can also use rotisserie chicken or 10 minute chicken if you don’t have chicken prepped.
  • Cooked rice – you can also use cooked quinoa or cauliflower rice in place of the rice. Cauliflower rice will help this recipe be lower in carbs. Be sure to cook the cauliflower rice 5-6 minutes in a separate skillet to ensure it’s cooked through before adding it to the casserole.
  • Soaked cashews – check out the “how to make this nut free” for options on how to replace the cashews. You can use hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, or tahini.
  • White beans – the beans help to make a creamy sauce. You can use ¾ cup soaked cashews in place of the beans or you can use 1.5 cups steamed or boiled potatoes (peeled).
  • Vegetable broth – you can use chicken broth/stock or water in place of the vegetable broth.
  • Spices: See the other spices ideas above!
  • Almond flour – you can use sunflower seed flour, crushed gluten free crackers or your favorite gluten free breadcrumbs.
  • Avocado oil – you can use extra virgin olive oil, melted coconut oil, melted ghee or melted butter in place of the avocado oil.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Vegan Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Instant Pot Chicken and Rice

Dairy Free Buffalo Chicken Dip

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

Mediterranean Chicken and Rice Skillet

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Broccoli chicken rice casserole in a skillet.

Dairy Free Chicken and Rice Casserole

$11.85 Recipe/$2.96 Serving
Dairy free chicken rice casserole is made with no soup and is so simple! Ready in under 30 minutes, this healthy casserole is made with leftover chicken and leftover rice for a super simple weeknight meal.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken rice casserole no soup, dairy free chicken and rice casserole
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 24 mins
Total Time: 29 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (yellow or white) - $0.33
  • 1 pound broccoli florets, chopped - $1.65
  • 3 cups shredded chicken (made from 1 pound chicken) - $5.65
  • 2.5 cups cooked jasmine rice (or basmati rice) - $0.40
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt - $0.03
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth - $0.25

Creamy Casserole Sauce

Almond Flour Breadcrumbs

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Start an electric kettle to boil water for soaking the cashews. Once the water is boiling, pour it over the cashews.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Chop the onions and chop the broccoli florets down into bite size pieces.
  • Once the skillet is hot, spray it with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil then add the onions. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  • After 2-3 minutes, stir in the broccoli florets and cook 4-5 minutes.
  • Once the broccoli is bright green, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir well. Then add the shredded chicken, rice and 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water. Stir well and put a lid over the skillet.
  • Rinse and drain the white beans and drain the cashews from the soaking liquid.
  • Add the white beans, cashews, vegetable broth (1 cup), coconut aminos, Italian seasoning, salt and garlic powder in a high speed blender. Blend on high about 1 minute until thick and creamy.
  • Remove the lid from the skillet and pour the sauce over the broccoli, rice and chicken. Stir well then flatten the ingredients down in the skillet.
  • In a small bowl, combine the almond flour, avocado oil, salt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole dish.
  • Bake in a 425F oven for 10 minutes. Immediately turn on the broiler and broil 3 minutes.

Notes

Top tips
  • Prep ahead to cut down on total time. Cut the onions and chop the broccoli florets down ahead of time so you can quickly get started on your casserole. Prep the chicken and rice ahead of time.
  • Be sure to soak your cashews, even if you have a powerful blender. Soaking cashews allows the cashews to easily blend into a creamy sauce. There are many ways to soak cashews, pick your favorite way!
  • Utilize the grocery store if you didn’t prep ahead! You can buy rotisserie chicken, minute rice and broccoli florets from the grocery store to help you get this dairy free broccoli chicken casserole on the table quickly!
  • Freeze the casserole for later. Need a simple meal later this week or month? Assemble the entire dish in a freezer safe baking dish. You can use the single serve foil casserole dishes to make this easy! Once you are ready for dinner, place the frozen casserole covered into a 350F oven for 50-60 minutes until hot. At the end, turn the broiler on and broil the top for 2-3 minutes.
  • Want to make this dairy free chicken casserole Whole30 or low carb friendly? Replace the rice with cauliflower rice (cook the cauliflower rice 5-6 minutes in a separate skillet before adding it to the other ingredients) and replace the beans with ¾ cup of cashews.
How to make this nut free
To replace the cashews you can use:
  • Hemp hearts – no soaking required. Use them 1:1 for cashews in this recipe.
  • Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds – Use raw or roasted shelled sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in place of the cashews. These will need to be soaked just like the cashews.
  • Tahini – Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds.  You can use 3 tablespoons of tahini in place of the cashews (no soaking needed).
To replace the almond flour you can use:
  • Sunflower seed flour – simply put roasted sunflower seeds in a high speed blender or food processor and make a flour out of them. You can store leftovers in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can also buy this online if you don’t want to make it on your own.
  • Crushed crackers – use your favorite gluten free crackers instead. Simply put the crackers in a food processor and process them until they are a fine powder.
  • Gluten free breadcrumbs – if you have a favorite gluten free breadcrumb, you can use that in place of the almond flour.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftovers in the fridge up to 3 days. Remember that chicken can only be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days total so if you are using leftover chicken take that into account. 
  • Freezer: Freeze leftovers in single serve portions for up to 3 months. I like using Soupercubes for portioning out single servings for freezing. You can also use your favorite freezer safe bag/container. Once frozen, be sure to label the container with the name, date and use by date.
  • Reheating from frozen: Since the casserole has already been cooked, you just need to warm it through.
    • Oven – cook in a 375F oven, covered for 15-20 minutes until hot and reheated through. Be sure to use an oven safe container ( you can even cook single servings in the Soupercubes (up to 415F)).
    • Microwave – microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until hot.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
598
Fat
 
20
g
Carbohydrates
 
63
g
Fiber
 
11
g
Sugar
 
5
g
Protein
 
45
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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