Chicken Wild Rice Casserole with Gruyere
Creamy and flavorful, this Chicken Wild Rice Casserole with Gruyere is comfort food at its best. It’s filled with vegetables and topped with an irresistible crown of buttery, crunchy croutons!
A Creamy, Comforting Casserole
When the temperatures plummet here in Minnesota, mealtime cravings turn immediately to comfort food. Our kitchens undergo an irrepressible desire to turn out pots of steaming soups, bubbling casseroles, and slow-braised meats. It’s the remedy our chilled bodies are aching for. And it’s what they deserve!
Wild rice is at the heart of this creamy, comforting Chicken Wild Rice Casserole with Gruyere, and at the heart of many Minnesotans. Wild rice is our official state grain, after all. Also be sure to check out my creamy chicken and wild rice soup – it’s been a long time favorite recipe with our family and friends!
The wild rice and chicken in this casserole are surrounded by plenty of veggie goodness: mushrooms, onions, carrots, and celery. And it’s all brought together by a creamy base, rich with Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. The gruyere is almost magical in this dish, with its nutty, earthy, and slightly sweet flavor that plays so well with the wild rice.
For an extra layer of texture (and fun!), I topped this wild rice casserole with a pile of buttery Parmesan croutons. It’s like a crown of deliciousness, an awesome contrast to the creamy nuttiness going on below.
What is Wild Rice?
Wild rice is the official Minnesota state grain (yes, that’s a thing!) and I’m always surprised when I hear from people who’ve never tried it before. If you’re not familiar with it, I’ll give you a quick lowdown.
Wild rice is actually an aquatic grass unrelated to common rice. Most of the wild rice eaten in the United States comes from cultivated fields in California, but it’s also harvested naturally in shallow Minnesota lakes and rivers by means of manpower in canoes. Wild rice was a staple food for Native Americans in this area for centuries, and continues its rich history at our tables to this day.
Nutritionally speaking, wild rice is a dynamo. It’s high in protein and fiber, low in fat, plus gluten-free.
Once cooked, wild rice curls up and breaks open, transforming into a chewy outer sheath with a tender inner grain. It has an aroma like nothing else, almost tea-like. And in the mouth, its flavors are smoky and earthy, wonderfully nutty. This stuff is beyond delicious!
What You’ll Need
This easy chicken casserole is made with wild rice, vegetables, gruyere cheese, and some pantry staples. Here’s what you’ll need!
For the Casserole
- Uncooked wild rice – Look for 100% whole wild rice.
- Mushrooms – I use button mushrooms but you can substitute a similar variety.
- Vegetables – A combination of chopped yellow onion, sliced carrots, and sliced celery fulfill this casserole’s veggie quotient.
- Garlic – Use 3 large cloves. Don’t skimp on the garlic!
- All-purpose flour – A little bit is used as a thickener.
- Chicken broth – Use low-sodium to avoid a too-salty casserole.
- Half and half – Provides a bit of the creaminess to the sauce.
- Soy sauce – Adds some warm umami flavor.
- Fresh parsley & thyme – Fresh herbs always add so much flavor. Reserve some to use as garnish.
- Salt & pepper
- Cubed cooked chicken – Chicken breasts are the easiest option here but thighs will work. You can even use a rotisserie chicken.
- Gruyere cheese – My secret ingredient that thickens the dish while adding a sweet, nutty flavor.
- Parmesan cheese – Use freshly grated if possible.
For the Topping
- English muffin bread – I like the texture of English muffin bread for croutons but you can use other bread a swell.
- Butter – Butter should be melted.
- Parmesan – You can’t have enough cheese in this recipe!
How to Make Chicken Wild Rice Casserole with Gruyere
Everyone loves the comfort of a casserole (or hotdish, as we often call it in Minnesota!). Here’s how to make this one with chicken and wild rice:
- Cook the wild rice. Cook rice according to package directions. Drain, if needed.
- Cook the vegetables. Cook the mushrooms and vegetables in butter until the onions are translucent and the carrots are softened. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in the flour.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Add the chicken broth to the mixture and boil until nicely thickened. Stir in half and half. Add the soy sauce, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Fold in wild rice and cooked chicken, then added the gruyere and parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake. Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with a lid or foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until it starts to bubble. Top with bread cubes and drizzle a fine line of butter over them. Sprinkle with salt and parmesan. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Tips for Success
This creamy wild rice casserole is delicious and easy to make! But here are a few things to consider:
- Use leftover chicken. This casserole is perfect for using up leftover chicken, whether it’s chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken.
- Use turkey instead. You could also turn this into a casserole with turkey – perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers! Sausage may also be a good substitution.
- Substitutions for gruyere cheese. While I consider the gruyere to be the magic ingredient of this dish, you can easily substitute another cheese – like cheddar, edam, or gouda.
Serve your chicken wild rice casserole immediately, while still hot from the oven. Just sprinkle with some additional parsley and thyme if desired.
Since the protein and vegetables are baked right into the casserole, you can easily consider this a complete meal all on its own. However, I often like to serve it with a fresh green salad,
How to Store Leftovers
Leftover casserole can be stored in the fridge, either covered in the casserole dish or in another airtight container, for up to 3 days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave.
More Easy Casseroles:
- Leftover Turkey Casserole
- Cheesy Beef and Sweet Potato Taco Casserole
- Creamy Wild Rice Casserole with Sausage and Mushrooms
- Sour Cream and Onion Tuna Noodle Casserole
FOR THE CASSEROLE:
- 1 1/2 c. uncooked wild rice, preferably 100% whole wild rice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 16 ounces button mushrooms, sliced 1/4" thick
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
- 4 stalks celery, sliced 1/4" thick
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2/3 cup half-and-half
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus a bit more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, plus a bit more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups cubed cooked chicken
- 6 ounces shredded gruyere cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
FOR THE CROUTON TOPPING:
- 3 cups English muffin bread, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- For the casserole: Cook wild rice according to package directions, until rice splits and curls into a "c" shape, exposing its chewy interior. Drain, if needed, and set aside.
- While the wild rice is cooking, proceed with the rest of the recipe. In a large pot over medium to medium-high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the mushrooms, onion, carrots, and celery. Stir occasionally until the onions are translucent and the carrots are softened, about 10–15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Then sprinkle the flour over the vegetables in the pot and stir to incorporate. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook for 4–5 minutes, until nicely thickened. Stir in the half-and-half and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes to thicken again.
- Add the soy sauce, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Then fold in the drained wild rice and chicken. Add the Gruyere and Parmesan, and fold to combine. Taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Transfer chicken wild rice mixture to a large casserole dish. Cover with a lid or piece of foil, and cook for 20–25 minutes, or until it starts to bubble.
- For the crouton topping: Remove casserole from oven and top with bread cubes, leaving the outer edge of the casserole exposed. Slowly drizzle a fine line of melted butter over the tops of the bread cubes, aiming to hit as many of the bread cubes as possible. Sprinkle top of buttery bread cubes evenly with the 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Return casserole to the oven, uncovered, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until bread cubes are nicely browned and the casserole is hot and bubbling. Remove from oven, sprinkle with additional fresh parsley and thyme, and serve immediately
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 576Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 1066mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 28g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
This post was originally published in 2016, and then updated in 2021. You can also find my recipe over at The Pioneer Woman!