Chicken nestled in rice with a homemade, lemon thyme sauce. This Lemon Thyme Chicken Casserole is a unique, delicious twist on chicken and rice casserole.
Casseroles for Friends
Over the past few years I’ve had countless friends who have had babies, gone through surgery, or have had other serious life events that have put them in a spot where they could benefit from the gift of a homemade meal.
This last year I have also had a couple of times when I could benefit from homemade meals, and my friends and family were there for me. Twice this year I’ve had a health situation that has left me with less than my regular level of energy, and both times I had multiple people bring my family warm meals. Each time someone brought us a meal, it took a burden off of me, and made me feel as loved as if they had given me a giant hug.
After receiving all of those meals and realizing how much they meant to me, I wanted to make an extra effort to pay it forward to the people around me. So, I decided to step up my casserole game.
Casseroles To Give
If you’re looking for other meals to give to friends or family, check out these other SugarSpicesLife casseroles:
Lemon Thyme Chicken Casserole
I’ve made and given lasagna, chicken pot pie, and other typical casseroles 10,876 times, so I wanted to add in a few new casserole recipes to give to others this year. This summer I had a plethora of thyme, so it only made since to use it with some lemon, chicken and rice.
Not going to lie, I had to make this casserole at least five times before it was ready to share. The first few times, the rice was super crunchy. If I’m being honest with myself, it just wasn’t cooked. There wasn’t a mysterious crunch to the rice – it just wasn’t done. And this is kind of ridiculous, but I’m going to share it anyhow… maybe my third time of making this Lemon Thyme Chicken Casserole, I was disappointed that the rice was still crunchy, and went to bed thinking about it. The next morning I woke up with the first thought, “I messed up on the liquid to rice ratio, it needs another half cup of liquid.” Ridiculous? Yes. True? Yes. Did the extra liquid work? Yes again.
Chicken and Rice Casserole Tips
As I mentioned, I had to work at this casserole quite a bit to make it just right. So let me share a few tips with you:
- Dried thyme is not the same as fresh thyme. If you aren’t growing thyme, I bet, or at least hope, that a grocery store near you sells fresh thyme.
- Stirring the rice when you remove the foil is an important step. Otherwise, the top rice gets too crunchy.
- If you’re reading this recipe you may think, “I could substitute canned soup for the homemade soup!” Don’t do it. The homemade creamy soup is leaps and bounds better than canned.
- Nestle that chicken down in the rice and cover any exposed chicken with the shallot butter. It helps to ensure the chicken breasts remain nice and juicy.
Lemon Thyme Chicken Casserole
- 2 cups chicken broth NOT reduced sodium
- 1 3/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup lemon juice from ~2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 4 cloves fresh minced garlic
- 1/4 cup shallot diced (~1 large shallot)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup white rice
- zest 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme minced
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- In a medium sized sauce pan over low heat, whisk together all of the soup ingredients. Let simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened (will be the consistency of a creamed canned soup), about 15 minutes.
- While soup is simmering, prepare chicken. Cut chicken in half horizontally, so that you have four pieces, ~1/2 inch in thickness. In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Once melted, add olive oil, garlic, and shallot. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, then set aside.
Rice and Assembly
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of a 3.5 quart baking dish (9×13 dish will work).
- Stir together cooked soup, rice, lemon zest, thyme, and chicken broth. Pour into prepared baking dish.
- Nestle chicken down into rice. Cover exposed areas of chicken with butter/shallow mixture. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove foil. Stir rice well (avoid touching the top of chicken). Bake for another 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
If you enjoyed this Lemon Thyme Chicken Casserole, you should check out these other SugarSpicesLife recipes:
Links to items used to make this recipe: