This Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole is a hearty, creamy chicken and rice casserole that is a perfect family-friendly dinner recipe! It is a great casserole to prepare ahead of time for those busy weeknights!
Sometimes the thought of even choosing what to make for dinner, never mind actually cooking it, can seem exhausting. For those nights, this Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole is one of our go-to dinners. It is a complete meal all on its own and comfort food is so nice after a busy, exhausting day. Especially since those are the days we don’t really feel like cooking!
The flavor of Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole is a rich, unique flavor that you won’t find in other recipes. Juicy chicken, rice, and a rich, creamy sauce are topped with crisp, buttery cracker crumbs. Seriously, what could be better? The primary ingredients chicken, rice, and crackers also make for a kid-friendly recipe. It freezes well and is a great recipe for meal preppers whether you choose to freeze for a longer period of time or put in the refrigerator for cooking later in the week. This casserole also provides several servings so you should even have some leftovers!
Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole Ingredients
As always, this is a quick overview of the ingredients you will need to make the perfect chicken and rice casserole. For the complete, printable recipe scroll to the recipe card below.
- Cooked Rice: We prefer white rice for this recipe but brown will also work.
- Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup: Low sodium cream of chicken soup will also work if you’re limiting your sodium intake; For a different flavor variation, you can use cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup; Be sure to choose a cream of chicken soup that is labeled gluten-free if you are on a gluten-free diet
- Sour Cream: For a healthier version, use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Lite or reduced-fat sour cream will work as well.
- Parmesan Cheese: freshly grated works best.
- Poppy Seeds: if you do not usually purchase these they can be found in the spice section of your grocery.
- Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, dry thyme, black pepper
- Cooked Chicken Any cooked chicken that has been shredded or diced. We prefer white meat (e.g. breast or tenderloin) but dark meat (e.g. thigh or leg) will also work if you prefer dark meat
- Crushed Ritz Crackers (about 1 sleeve): You can also choose a gluten-free cracker such as Schar Entertainment Crackers if you are gluten-free
- Butter: melted butter is used with the crushed crackers to make an ultra dedcadent topping!
How to Make Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
In addition to the ingredients listed above you will need a mixing bowl and a 9×13 casserole dish. If you wish to make this in a smaller quantity you can cut the recipe in half. However, I would suggest making the entire recipe and splitting it into two 8×8 pans and freezing one for later! Below you will find the step-by-step guide to make the perfect chicken and rice casserole.
Make the Creamy Sauce
In a large bowl, combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, parmesan cheese, poppy seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and black pepper. When the mixture is fully combined fold in the cooked chicken. Make sure the chicken is fully coated so every bite is perfectly creamy.
Add the Rice and Chicken
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking oil. Spread the cooked rice on the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Next, add the creamy chicken mixture and make sure it is spread in an even layer. This is the bulk of the casserole so be sure the rice is covered with the creamy mixture nicely, otherwise you will have areas of the dish that dry out quickly.
Add Cracker Crumb Topping
Crush the crackers, but be sure to not crush them too finely. For the best results you want the crackers to have nice little chunks that add perfect crunch to the casserole! Mix the crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter in a small bowl to make the cracker topping. Sprinkle over the chicken mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Once the casserole has finished cooking allow it to rest at least 5 minutes. Serve the dish while hot so the crackers stay nice and crispy. This Poppy Seed Chicken and Rice Casserole is a great stand-alone dinner recipe. However, if you feel something is missing, try these side dishes.
- Air Fryer Green Beans: Fresh green beans are paired with seasoning and lemon to make the perfect keto side dish!
- Cranberry Apple Kale Salad: Packed with crisp apples, sweet dried cranberries and salty nuts this is the perfect healthy salad recipe!
- Glazed Carrots: Just 4 ingredients and are ready in about 15 minutes! This is a great side dish that can be made ahead of time.
- Broccoli Salad with Bacon: This Broccoli Salad with Bacon is the perfect quick and easy side dish! This keto salad has about 4 net carbs per serving and is always a crowd pleaser!
Storage and Reheating Instructions
- Reheating a Single Serving: To reheat single servings place them on a microwave-safe plate and reheat in 30-second increments until warmed through.
- Reheating Larger Portions: First, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Next, cover the casserole with foil and warm 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and warm an additional 10 minutes until the dish is heated through.
- Refrigerator: Store this casserole in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Remember, it is important to use an airtight container. Otherwise, the rice will dry out.
- To Freeze Cooked Casserole: Freeze in an airtight storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To Freeze Uncooked Casserole: Prepare the dish according to the directions until the final step of adding the cracker crumb topping. Place the casserole in a freezer-safe dish and freeze for up to three months. When ready to cook, allow the dish to thaw overnight. Then add cracker crumb topping as directed above prior to cooking.
Tips for the Best Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- Make ahead of time. If you’re expecting a busy week, prepare this recipe ahead of time. Add fresh cracker crumbs just prior to cooking.
- Use your leftover chicken or rice. This recipe is a great way to turn your leftover chicken or rice into a delicious meal that will provide you with another servings for the entire family.
- Add some veggies. Sneak in some mixed vegetables to make sure you cover all the food groups. Your kids won’t even notice they’re in there!
- Use fresh, buttered crackers. If you have prepared this recipe ahead of time, make sure you do not add the cracker crumb topping until just prior to placing in the oven. The crispness and flavor will be much better if the cracker crumb topping is fresh.
As described above, this recipe is NOT gluten free. However, it can easily be made gluten free if you substitute gluten free crackers (e.g. Schar) and a cream of chicken soup that is labeled gluten free.
Yes, you can freeze this casserole for up to 3 months. Don’t freeze with the cracker crumb topping. Add this topping just prior to cooking.
We recommend white meat such as chicken breast or tenderloin but dark meat such as chicken thighs or leg meat would also work.
Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
- 1 9×13 pan
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 2 10.5 oz cans of condensed cream of chicken soup
- 8 oz sour cream
- ½ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 4 cups cooked chicken shredded or diced
- 1 ½ cups crushed Ritz crackers about 1 sleeve
- ¼ cup melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- Spread the cooked rice on the bottom of the dish in an even layer.
- In a large bowl, combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, parmesan cheese, poppy seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and black pepper.
- Fold in the chicken so it’s evenly coated, then spread the chicken mixture over the rice.
- Mix the crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter in a small bowl to make the cracker topping. Sprinkle over the chicken mixture.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, then serve hot!
- For a slightly healthier recipe, use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and lower sodium cream of chicken soup.
- This recipe is a complete meal all in one! It’s filling and so creamy, too!