Easy buffalo chicken casserole combines your favorite aspects of buffalo chicken and packs it into a warm and comforting healthy chicken casserole recipe. Loaded with shredded chicken, rice, veggies, and a delicious buffalo sauce and then topped with shredded cheese. It makes a delicious and hearty one-pan recipe that is ready in 30 minutes perfect for dinner or for a party!
I’ve been on a healthy casserole and skillet kick lately (this jalapeno popper chicken casserole and steak and sweet potato skillet are favorites!) and I’m so excited to share my latest rendition. Welcome this easy and healthy buffalo chicken casserole with rice!
I really couldn’t decide to call this dish a casserole or a skillet. It has all the aspects of a casserole – it has protein, veggies, starch, cheese, and sauce. But comes together more like a skillet as it is cooked on the stove (in just 30 minutes!). It really is the best of both worlds.
By now you probably know I am obsessed with all things buffalo chicken – from burgers to stuffed sweet potatoes to soup and classic buffalo chicken tenders. It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations and the possibilities are endless.
This easy chicken casserole pretty much wraps up all the best parts of buffalo chicken into a comforting and cozy one-pan meal, while still being healthy. It has protein, complex and simple carbs from veggies and rice, and healthy fats from the buffalo sauce and cheese.
It’s hearty, filling, absolutely delicious, and totally hits the spot when craving something comforting, but still want to keep it healthy, and easy!
Buffalo chicken casserole with rice
This healthy buffalo chicken recipe only calls for one pan, 30 minutes, and is full of flavor. It couldn’t be easier to make and the ingredients used are pantry staples that you probably have on hand as well. It’s perfect for an easy dinner, meal prep, or gameday dish.
Buffalo chicken and rice casserole ingredients:
- bell pepper
- white rice
- shredded chicken
- buffalo sauce
- cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper
First, add your ghee to a large cast-iron or enameled cast-iron and let it get hot. Add onion, carrots, and celery with some salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until softened. Next, add the peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly softened.
Then add the rice and chicken and mix well to combine. Then add the broth and buffalo sauce. Mix well to make sure it is fully incorporated and nothing is stuck to the bottom. Cover it with a lid. Let it simmer for about 12-15 minutes. Finally, remove the lid, add the cheese, put the lid back on and turn the burner down to low, and let melt.
How to make shredded chicken
We usually have shredded chicken in our house at all times. It makes for super easy meals during the week and for making this buffalo chicken casserole so easy. My go-to way recently has been the Instant Pot, but you can also make it in the slow cooker. Check out how to make shredded chicken both ways for all the details!
You can also boil chicken breasts in water until cooked through, shredding them when they cool a bit. Or you can roast in the oven or grill. I do find they can dry out a little this way if not watching them.
If you don’t want to make shredded chicken or don’t have time, you can also use a store-bought rotisserie chicken!
What to serve with buffalo chicken casserole
There is really no wrong way to serve this chicken and rice casserole. It makes a balanced meal on its own, but can be served with a few things as well.
- serve with a side salad or some roasted veggies
- with chips – corn or plantain are my favorites
- cut-up veggies – I love carrots, peppers, celery, and cucumbers
- toppings – more buffalo/hot sauce, ranch or blue cheese, avocado, green onion, cilantro, yogurt, or sour cream
Meal prep options
The thing I love most about this healthy chicken casserole is it is so easy to throw together. Depending on how much prep you want to do, you can either meal prep it all or just a few components. Here are a few suggestions for prepping and storage:
- partial prep – cook the veggies and prep your shredded chicken. Store in the fridge until you are ready to make. When you are ready, add them to a hot greased pan, mix in the rice and the remaining ingredients, and cook according to the directions.
- full prep – just follow the directions as written.
- storage and heating them up – allow to completely cool and move to a resealable glass dish. To heat it up, pop in the microwave for a couple of minutes until warmed through.
- best storage containers – we love these meal prep containers from Amazon are great! Cut the casserole, allow it to cool completely, and then store it in individual containers to take on the go. They keep everything fresh and are better for the environment since they are glass.
How to freeze
- to freeze after baking – bake casserole per the instructions and allow to cool completely. You can either freeze the whole casserole or cut it into individual serving sizes and freeze each serving separately. To do this, wrap them individually in foil or saran wrap or freeze in individual glass containers. I suggest freezing individually as it will be hard to freeze a skillet unless you transfer it to a large container. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, place it in the fridge and allow it to defrost. Heat up when ready to eat.
Substitutions for chicken and rice casserole
I haven’t tested this recipe any other way, but here are a few substitutions that I think will work!
- ghee – butter or oil work the same
- shredded chicken – you can use ground chicken instead of shredded if you like. If using ground, add once the carrots and onion mixture is slightly softened and cook until browned. Follow the rest of the directions as written. You can also use shredded chicken thighs instead of breasts.
- veggies – any kind of veggies will work to add to this casserole. You can add more carrots, celery, and onion, or swap them with something else. The more the merrier, just make sure they are cut in a uniform size.
- rice – if you want to make this low carb, you can swap out the white rice for cauliflower rice. See below for directions.
- buffalo sauce – homemade or store-bought will work interchangeably for this recipe. I prefer homemade as it has more flavor.
- broth – any kind of broth will work (chicken, beef, turkey, or veggie) or bone broth will also work. You could also use water if you don’t have any broth, it just won’t be as flavorful.
- cheese – use dairy-free or leave it off
To make it low carb
If you want to make this low carb, you can swap out the white rice for cauliflower rice. I have not tried this, but it should work well.
To do this, I would suggest using 3-4 cups of cauliflower rice. After the carrots, onion, and celery are softened, add cauliflower rice with the peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the chicken and buffalo sauce and mix well.
You will not need to add the broth. If needed you can add a little splash of broth to make sure it doesn’t dry out, but cauliflower rice doesn’t absorb liquid as white rice does. Top with cheese and let melt.
Rice is very neutral in taste so the cauliflower might change the flavor a little. Using cauliflower will significantly reduce the total number of carbs in this recipe.
More healthy casserole recipes
- Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole (Low Carb)
- Ground Turkey Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- Chicken Fajita Casserole
- Beef Taco Casserole
Buffalo Chicken Casserole with Rice
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 cup diced onion (120 grams)
- 1 cup diced carrots (125 grams/about 3 medium)
- 1 cup diced celery (120 grams/about 2 large ribs)
- 1 large bell pepper, diced (235 grams/2 scant cups)
- 1 cup white rice (uncooked)
- 3 cups shredded chicken (340 grams)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup buffalo sauce *
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (1.5 ounces)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- optional toppings: avocado, green onion, buffalo sauce, yogurt, sour cream, parsley...
- Heat a large enameled cast iron, cast iron, or nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Make sure you have a lid for the pan you are using. Add ghee and let it get hot, about 30 seconds. Add onion, carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt and pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened. Add pepper and saute for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add rice and shredded chicken and mix well to combine. Add broth and buffalo sauce. Mix well to make sure it is fully incorporated and nothing is stuck to the bottom. Cover it with a lid turn up the heat to medium. Let it simmer for about 12-15 minutes.
- After 12-15 minutes, the liquid should be pretty much absorbed. Remove the lid, sprinkle the cheese on top, put the lid back on, and turn the burner down to low. Let cheese let for about a minute. Top with topping and enjoy!
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