Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other casserole recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Chicken, Zucchini & Rice Casserole Recipe

Bringing together chicken, zucchini, and rice, this hearty dish is perfect for a family or group meal or just for leftovers! A lemon, honey, and olive oil marinade creates a bright yet rich flavor. Rice cooked in chicken stock and cream adds depth, while a cheese topping gives it a melty texture that finishes off a great summer dish.

Why this recipe works.

A weeknight meal works best when it uses pantry staples we have on hand. This recipe uses chicken breasts that I always have in my freezer and can defrost at any time. This is a casserole, and I had to ask myself, is there still a place for casseroles in our life? I grew up in an era where casseroles used canned condensed soups and ended up heavy and gloppy. This is a new and fresh take using the abundance of the summer season to create a hearty meal. The key is marinating the chicken to ensure a big flavor and moist meat. The chicken needs to be precooked before the zucchini, and then it all comes together with rice and some cheese. Casseroles will always fill a void for a perfect weeknight meal. Instead of bland and heavy, this one is filled with goodness and full of flavor. Welcome to the new era of casseroles.

Marble surface with serving of chicken zucchini rice casserole sitting on taupe colored plate with fork to the side showing the components of the casserole.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Lemon juice in the marinade adds brightness to the flavor of the chicken, but since it is acidic, it will help marinate and tenderize the chicken quicker.
  • Olive oil will help coat the chicken but also add a pleasant richness.
  • Dried thyme packs a punch when it comes to flavor, but using a dried herb will ensure that there are no burning or bitter flavors when the chicken is cooked in the skillet.
  • Honey will add some sweetness to the chicken in the casserole, but it also works to help brown the chicken while in the skillet.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to prepare chicken zucchini rice casserole including raw chicken, salt, herbs, zucchini, honey, cheese, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Prepare the marinade. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, salt, and honey. Whisk everything together until it is well combined.
  1. Prepare the chicken. Trim any fat off the chicken breasts and dice each breast into bite-sized cubes, about 1 inch in size. Add the diced chicken to the marinade and mix until all of the pieces are well-coated. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  1. Cook the chicken. Heat an oven-safe pan on medium heat. Place the chicken into the pan and let cook until browned on all sides. Once fully cooked, remove the chicken, leaving any extra marinade in the pan.
  1. Cook the zucchini. Chop each zucchini into quarters, then dice it. Add to the same pan that was used to cook the chicken. Chop the garlic and pull the thyme off the stem. Once the zucchini is nearly finished cooking and has some browning on all sides, add the garlic and thyme to the pan. Cook briefly, then take the pan off the heat.
  1. Assemble and bake the dish. Add the rice and chicken into the pan with the zucchini and stir everything together to distribute the rice. Add salt and the Parmesan cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, sour cream, and chicken stock. Pour this mixture evenly over the dish. To finish, sprinkle the Monterey jack cheese over the top. Cover the pan and place in the oven at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve warm.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • Leave any extra marinade in the pan after cooking the chicken. The zucchini will soak it up while it cooks, adding extra flavor to the dish.
  • If you have a large zucchini, scoop out any of the interior seeds. This interior can be somewhat watery and contain excess moisture that would seep out into the casserole, which is not desirable.
  • Wait to add in the garlic and fresh thyme until the zucchini is nearly done cooking. Otherwise, the garlic can quickly be overcooked and tend to burn, creating a bitter taste. It just needs about 30 seconds to 1 minute to be mixed in and warmed.
  • Make sure to add any residual juices from the chicken that were collected on the bottom of the plate while the chicken was resting. This is an immense flavor and will be ideal in the casserole.
  • Broil the dish for a few minutes at the end of baking in the oven to help melt the cheese and achieve a golden-brown crust on top.
Large gray-colored braiser sitting on marble surface with cooked chicken zucchini rice casserole inside with serving removed showing ingredients.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Could other vegetables besides zucchini be used in this dish?

Yes! Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and kale could all be used instead of zucchini. The process for cooking the vegetable will need to change slightly depending on which is used.

Would other types of meat work instead of chicken? Would ground chicken work instead?

Yes, ground chicken will work but will not work marinated. The seasonings could be added during cooking. Sausage would also work instead of chicken or no meat at all.

Can this dish be assembled and baked later?

The chicken and zucchini can be cooked and prepared ahead. Wait to put the remaining ingredients together until it is time to bake so the rice does not absorb the liquid and change the baking time.

How long does this recipe last after it’s baked?

The leftovers need to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for 7 to 10 days.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More summer weeknight dinners

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

Marble surface with white plate filled with serving of chicken zucchini rice casserole with fork resting on plate with casserole dish in background.

Chicken, Zucchini & Rice Casserole

4.95 from 17 votes
Bringing together chicken, zucchini, and rice, this hearty dish is perfect for a family or group meal, or just for leftovers! A lemon, honey, and olive oil marinade creates a bright yet rich flavor. Rice cooked in chicken stock and cream adds depth, while a cheese topping gives it a melty texture that finishes off a great summer dish.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the marinade

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp honey

For the casserole

  • 1 lb (about 2 large) chicken breast
  • 1 ½ lb (about 1-2 medium) zucchini
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked jasmine rice
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Instructions
 

For the marinade

  • In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, kosher salt, and honey. Mix to combine.
    ¼ cup lemon juice, ½ cup olive oil, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp honey
  • Cut the chicken into roughly ½-inch cubes. Add the cubed chicken to the marinade and stir to evenly coat all of the chicken. Cover and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
    1 lb (about 2 large) chicken breast

For the casserole

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare the zucchini by slicing them in half crosswise, then in half lengthwise. Chop each piece into ½-inch thick pieces and set them aside.
    1 ½ lb (about 1-2 medium) zucchini
  • Once the chicken is marinated, heat an oven-safe 12-inch skillet or brasier over medium heat. Add the chicken and discard the remaining marinade. Sauté the chicken until it is browned and cooked, reaching 160°F, 6-8 minutes. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the skillet and set it aside.
  • Add the prepared zucchini to the hot skillet. Sauté the zucchini until it begins to brown, 4-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and thyme leaves. Stir and remove the dish from the heat.
    2 cloves garlic, 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • To the skillet or brasier, pour in the chicken and rice and evenly incorporate. In a separate bowl, combine the chicken stock, sour cream, and heavy cream. Whisk until smooth and pour over the rice. Stir the casserole together and season with salt. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and Monterey jack cheese. Cover the skillet with foil or a lid and place in the preheated oven. Bake until the rice is tender, 40-45 minutes. Once the rice is tender, remove the lid and bake until the cheese is browned, 5 minutes.
    1 ½ cups uncooked jasmine rice, 1 ¼ cups chicken stock, ¾ cup heavy cream, ¾ cup sour cream, ½ tsp kosher salt, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 ¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Remove the skillet from the oven and serve.

Notes

  • Leave any extra marinade in the pan after cooking the chicken. The zucchini will soak it up while it cooks, adding extra flavor to the dish.
  • If you have a large zucchini, scoop out any of the interior seeds. This interior can be somewhat watery and contain excess moisture that would seep out into the casserole, which is not desirable.
  • Wait to add in the garlic and fresh thyme until the zucchini is nearly done cooking. Otherwise, the garlic can quickly be overcooked and tend to burn, creating a bitter taste. It just needs about 30 seconds to 1 minute to be mixed in and warmed.
  • Make sure to add any residual juices from the chicken that were collected on the bottom of the plate while the chicken was resting. This is an immense flavor and will be ideal in the casserole.
  • Broil the dish for a few minutes at the end of baking in the oven to help melt the cheese and achieve a golden-brown crust on top.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 576kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Difficulty Easy
Method Baking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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17 Comments

  1. Hi Kaleb,
    The chicken zucchini casserole looks fantastic! Two questions:

    1) I love your oven safe pan. What brand is it?

    2) If I want add pasta instead of rice, or reduce the carbs to half…how would I reduce the liquids proportionately?

    Thanks so much for your videos!

    Kalpana

  2. I love zucchini but hate it mushy. I need it a little crisp. How does the zucchini turn out? Please and ty, the recipe looks and sounds amazing.

  3. 5 stars
    Wow! Love it! Thank you for the great instructions too. I enjoyed making it and will definitely make it again!
    I only had minute rice on hand and it worked perfectly!

  4. 5 stars
    This is really delicious, but it takes a lot longer to cook than 15 to 20 minutes. I used a 12 inch pan as the recipe said, and maybe if you spread it out more it would take less time. But it took about 45 minutes to get the rice tender.

    1. 4 stars
      Good flavors. Took a lot longer to cook the rice than recipe suggested. Rice still al dente after 40 minutes of cooking.

  5. When I saw you make this on Instagram I knew I had to try it. I didn’t have a pan that goes from stove to oven and I think you get more flavour from all those juicy bits in the pan. Nevertheless this was delicious! Really good blend of flavours, easy to prepare and hubby said it was a keeper.
    I’ll be trying the peach cobbler next. Thanks Kaleb. 👏

  6. 5 stars
    An all-around hit at our table tonight! Subbed ground chicken and only mixed up half the quantity of marinade. Didn’t have fresh thyme or jasmine rice so left out herbs and used long-grain white rice and cooked for about 40 minutes total. Also used a cheddar-Jack blend on top since that’s what I had. Weeknight versatility is very much appreciated!

  7. 5 stars
    Excellent and easy. Honey browns up both the chicken and zucchini. I added a chopped onion, but you could add other non watery veggies too, cauliflower etc. The sour cream makes the dish IMHO. Took 40-45 minutes for me too as below. Thank you KW for repping the Midwest so well..

  8. Hi. Love watching you bake and garden.
    I was wondering if this recipe could be made on the stove instead of the oven? Keeping the lid on the pan until the rice is tender. (Chicken zucchini and rice)

  9. 5 stars
    Hi Kaleb, This recipe was delish. We loved it and will make it again. I just wanted to point out a time discrepancy in your post. My daughter and I were each making the recipe on the same evening in our different homes. She was following the steps with the pictures listed above the recipe. I was following the steps at the bottom of the post below the recipe. My daughter thought hers was a fail because in the steps she was following the cook time in the oven says 15-20 minutes. The steps I was following correctly lists the oven time as 40 minutes. Thanks for all you do and all your great content.

  10. 5 stars
    Made this tonight- used three chicken breasts and 3 zucchini. I also divided it into two casserole dishes so I could share it. Baked for 45 minutes and it was perfect. So delicious- a true keeper. Thank you Kaleb.

  11. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I added some frozen cauliflower rice to the regular rice (since I always hide that in all rice dishes – my kids are used to it – lol!) to up the nutrition content, and it was fabulous. My son asked if he could have it for breakfast and lunch the next day. Loved the lemony, rich flavors. Thanks Kaleb!

  12. 5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe and have made it over and over again. The leftovers are also divine and can last for a few meals. Any tips for preventing the edge rice from being super crunchy?