Chicken Poppy Seed and Rice Casserole

We skipped the canned soup base and amped up the flavor of this comfort food classic with thyme, Dijon mustard, and lemon zest. Trust us, it’s more than worth the extra effort.


Prepare casserole through step 4. Let cool to room temperature. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bake as directed in step 5, until heated through and an instant read thermometer inserted in center registers 165°.

Chicken Poppy Seed and Rice Casserole
Makes 8 to 10 servings
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, room temperature
  • 1½ (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons packed lemon zest
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4½ cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4½ cups cooked long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups small broccoli florets
  • 2 cups crushed buttery round crackers
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour; cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat; whisk in cream cheese, poppy seeds, thyme, mustard, salt, zest, and pepper until smooth. Stir in chicken, rice, and broccoli; transfer to prepared pan.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together crackers and melted butter; sprinkle over chicken mixture.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes, covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.