Use up leftover chicken with this Cheesy Chicken Orzo Casserole Recipe. Cooked in just 30 minutes it comes out with a creamy, chewy that’s tasty and delicious. The perfect meal for any night of the week.
The best chicken casserole you’ll ever taste!
This meal is perfect for busy nights. It uses basic pantry staples and your favorite cheese blends to create a delicious, simple chicken casserole the whole family will approve of.
❍ Before You Begin:
For the chicken in this recipe, you can use a rotisserie chicken that you have shredded, but if I’m not going with recent leftover chicken, then I prefer to use pre-cooked shredded chicken that I make in the crockpot and store in the freezer.
That shredded chicken breast stored in the freezer is very convenient for all kinds of chicken recipes – including this one!
⭐ Why You’ll Love this Recipe ⭐
Make ahead – This chicken orzo casserole is easy to make in advance and just reheat when you need it. Also, a great one to gift new neighbors!
Simple Ingredients – You probably already have most of the ingredients you need for this casserole.
Versatile – While the recipe is perfect as-is, you can use some of the variations or topping ideas below to change it up a bit.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Chicken breast – you need pre-cooked chicken for this casserole recipe. We like to use shredded chicken but thighs work just as well.
Bacon – chop the bacon into bite-sized pieces so there’s a salty crunch in each bite.
Monterey jack cheese – though you can use other cheese blends, this one gives the casserole a classic comfort flavor.
Orzo – a nice switch up from classic rice the orzo gives a bit of a chewier, hearty texture.
Frozen peas – thaw the peas before you use them to reduce water in the casserole. Canned peas will work here as well.
Parmesan – used to top the casserole so that it gives almost a golden texture (and cheesier flavor!) on top.
Casserole staples – you need seasonings like garlic, salt, and pepper as well as milk and all-purpose flour to get the perfect texture.
📌 Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list with quantities and step-by-step instructions!
Chicken – any chicken will work and you definitely don’t need it to be shredded! Chicken thighs will yield a juicier casserole and a seasoned chicken will alter the flavor a bit.
Vegetables – this chicken orzo casserole uses frozen peas to make things simple and easy. However, frozen mixed veggies, corn kernels, or even chopped green beans can add a new twist.
Savory flavor – if you love savory, consider adding some sundried tomatoes to the casserole.
Amp up the heat – sprinkle in some cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or even finely chopped jalapenos if you love spice.
🥣 How to Make
STEP 1: Cook the bacon on medium-high until crispy. Pat dry on a paper towel.
STEP 2: Cook the garlic for a few minutes in the bacon drippings.
STEP 3: Whisk in the flour to the garlic and slowly add in milk.
Step 4: Add in the Monterey cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix it well then set it aside before cooking the orzo.
STEP 5: Add the chicken, peas, and 3/4 of the bacon into the orzo pot with the sauce and mix.
STEP 6: Place the mixture into a greased casserole dish and top with parmesan and the remaining bacon before baking.
Chopping the ingredients: You want everything bite-sized so chop the chicken and bacon finely.
Let it sit: After it comes out of the oven, let it sit for about five minutes for all the cheese and flavors to settle together.
Store it: In an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat it you may need to add a bit of milk to the mixture to make it creamy again.
How to make it a freezer meal: Make the casserole but don’t bake it. Line your freezer dish it with aluminum foil and pour the casserole into it. Fold it up and freeze. The next day, remove the casserole from the dish and place it in a freezer bag with a label.
To reheat it: let it thaw in the fridge overnight before baking.
📝 Recipe FAQs
Casserole is made from leftover chicken and cooked into a hearty cream sauce before being mixed with orzo (a type of grain). This kind of casserole is perfect for busy nights or for preparing freezer meals.
It could be because you baked down the cream sauce too far initially. Likewise, make sure that you’re covering the casserole before baking it so that all the juiciness of the cream sauce remains.
More Casserole Recipes To Try
If you tried this Cheesy Chicken and Orzo Casserole or any other recipe on my site, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it turned out in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing about your results and thoughts!
Cheesy Chicken and Orzo Casserole
- 1- pound chicken cooked and cubed
- ½ pound bacon chopped
- 1 tbsp. garlic
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 8 ounces shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 1 pound orzo
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400.
- In a medium skillet, cook bacon on medium high until crispy. Move to a paper towel to drain. Save ¼ of the bacon drippings and cook garlic 1-2 mins.
- Reduce heat to medium and whisk in flour. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly.
- Cook for 5 mins., whisking occasionally. Add Monterey jack cheese, salt and pepper and blend well. Set aside.
- In a large pot, cook orzo accordingly to instructions, but cook 2 minutes less. Drain.
- Add back to pot along with the chicken, the peas and ¾ of the bacon and mix gently. Add cheese mixture and blend well.
- Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with vegetable oil. Add mixture. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and remaining bacon.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is browning and bubbly.