How to Make Crock-Pot Chicken and Rice Casserole

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When you dream of a hearty, home-cooked dinner but are short on time, a Crock-Pot chicken and rice casserole can calm your comfort food craving. Whether you want to use tender dark meat or low-cal white meat, almost any chicken will work in a slow cooker. Adding white, brown, wild or instant rice turns the meat into a meal.

The Chicken

  • Almost any type of chicken can be used in a slow-cooker casserole. Perhaps the easiest is to use thawed legs, thighs or breasts, with or without the skin. Leaving the skin on helps create a creamier broth, but the resulting dish will contain more fat than if you remove the skin. You can also sear the pieces with the skin on before adding to the cooker to add an extra dimension of flavor and extract some of the fat. Using pre-cooked, shredded or diced chicken shortens the cooking time.

    Arrange uncooked chicken pieces along the bottom of the pot to ensure even temperature distribution. Use a meat thermometer to check chicken for doneness. Chicken should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For cooked, cubed or shredded chicken, mix the meat together with the other ingredients and cook.

The Rice

  • You can use uncooked white, brown or wild rice when cooking your casserole together with raw chicken. Risotto and long-grain varieties tend to cook better in a slow cooker. The amount of time needed to thoroughly cook the chicken and soften the rice will be longer than if you use pre-cooked chicken and instant rice mix.

    Allow about 6 to 8 hours of cooking time on medium or high for raw chicken and uncooked rice. For casseroles using cooked chicken and instant rice, mix together and warm on high for 1 to 2 hours. Alternatively, you can cook the chicken in liquid in the slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours and add packaged rice about an hour before the chicken is finished.

Other Ingredients

  • In addition to the liquid needed to cook the rice, ingredients that help turn the basic ingredients into a savory casserole include sour cream, cheese and canned or packaged soup mix. For additional flavor and nutrients, add vegetables such as peas, corn, chopped broccoli, or mirepoix -- a melange of chopped onions, carrots and celery. For slow-cooker casseroles made with rice and raw vegetables, add about a cup more liquid per cup of rice than is specified on the package to ensure the rice and vegetables cook thoroughly.

Safety Tips

  • To prevent foodborne illness, always thaw chicken before using in a slow cooker. If possible, use the high setting for the first hour. After that, it is safe to continue cooking on the medium or low setting. Food is safe to eat as long as the cooker is set to at least warm. Food left in the slow cooker is still safe for two hours after the cooker shuts off.

References

  • Photo Credit JPLDesigns/iStock/Getty Images
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