Skip to Content

Can chicken and rice casserole be frozen before cooking?

Freezing casseroles, including chicken and rice casseroles, before cooking is a great way to save time and have meals ready to just heat and eat. Preparing casseroles ahead of time allows you to cook in bulk when you have more time, and then defrost and bake as needed for quick weeknight dinners. Freezing the uncooked casserole can also help preserve flavor and texture.

Quick Answers

– Yes, it is absolutely safe to freeze chicken and rice casseroles before cooking. This allows you to make the casserole ahead of time and then defrost and bake it when needed.

– Chicken and rice casseroles with a cream or cheese-based sauce tend to freeze a bit better than those with tomatoes or other watery ingredients. Make sure to thicken the sauce well before freezing.

– Allow the casserole to cool completely before freezing, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil. This prevents freezer burn.

– Defrost the frozen casserole overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Do not thaw at room temperature.

– Add 15-20 minutes to the original baking time when cooking a previously frozen casserole. Check for doneness before removing from the oven.

What ingredients work best?

The ingredients you choose for your chicken and rice casserole will impact how well it holds up to freezing. Here are some tips:


Chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders work well. The chicken may become slightly drier after freezing, so be sure to use a flavorful sauce.

Ground meats like turkey, beef, or sausage can also be used. Cook the meat before assembling and freezing the casserole.


Use cooked rice rather than uncooked. The rice will become softer when frozen. Undercook it slightly before freezing so it doesn’t get too mushy after reheating.

White or brown rice works well. Avoid instant rice.


A creamy sauce made with cheese, milk, broth, or cream helps the casserole hold together when frozen.

Thicken the sauce well with a roux, cornstarch, or flour before freezing. Watery sauces can separate and become runny.


Hardier vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and celery freeze better than soft vegetables which can become mushy.

Blanch vegetables before adding to a casserole, or use frozen vegetables which have already been processed for freezing.

Herbs, spices, and seasonings

Use dried herbs and spices rather than fresh, which lose flavor when frozen. The exception is parsley, which holds up well.

Season the casserole well before freezing. Flavors dull slightly during freezing. Add extra salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.

Freezing directions

Follow these steps for safely freezing an uncooked chicken and rice casserole:

1. Prepare the casserole recipe

Cook any raw meat and rice called for. Chop and cook any vegetables. Make the sauce.

Thicken sauces well before freezing for best results.

Allow all ingredients to cool completely before assembling.

2. Grease the baking dish

Lightly coat the baking dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray so the casserole releases easily when frozen.

Glass and aluminum pans work best, as plastic can crack when frozen.

3. Assemble the casserole

Layer the chicken and rice in the prepared baking dish.

Pour the sauce over the top and stir to evenly distribute.

4. Cover tightly

Allow the casserole to cool to room temperature, then cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface.

Cover the plastic wrap with a layer of aluminum foil for extra protection.

5. Label and freeze

Label the wrapped dish with the name and freeze date.

Freeze for up to 3 months.

Place in the back of the freezer where temperature remains most constant.

Thawing and reheating

Thaw and reheat your frozen chicken and rice casserole using these guidelines:


– Refrigerator thawing is best. Allow the casserole to thaw overnight or up to 2 days before baking.

– Do not thaw at room temperature, which allows bacteria to grow.

– For a quicker thaw, place the frozen casserole in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until thawed.


– Bake at 350°F until heated through, about 45-60 minutes for a 9×13 casserole.

– Check temperature with a food thermometer to be sure it reaches 165°F.

– Cover with foil if top browns before center is heated through.

– Add 15-20 extra minutes to original baked time for previously frozen casseroles.

Storage after baking

Leftover baked chicken and rice casserole can be refrigerated or frozen:

– Refrigerate for 3-4 days.

– Freeze baked casserole for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before reheating.

– Divide baked casserole into portions before freezing for easy reheating.

Recommended recipes

These chicken and rice casserole recipes freeze especially well:

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Chicken breasts, cooked and cubed 2 pounds
Frozen broccoli, thawed and drained One 10-ounce package
Cooked white rice 3 cups
Cream of chicken soup One 10.5-ounce can
Shredded Cheddar cheese 1 cup
Milk 1/2 cup

Combine all ingredients in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Cover and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight and bake at 375°F for 50-60 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Italian Chicken Rice Casserole

Boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 1/2 pounds
Italian dressing 1/2 cup
Cooked white rice 3 cups
Frozen spinach, thawed and drained 10 ounces
Shredded mozzarella 1 cup
Jar of marinara sauce 24 ounces

Marinate chopped chicken in Italian dressing for 30 minutes. Combine chicken, rice, spinach, and 1/2 cup mozzarella in a greased pan. Top with marinara sauce and remaining cheese. Cover and freeze up to 3 months.


Can you freeze chicken and rice casserole with raw chicken?

It’s best to fully cook the chicken first before assembling and freezing the casserole. Raw chicken may not thaw evenly, leading to unsafe eating conditions.

How long is frozen casserole good for?

An uncooked chicken and rice casserole will maintain best quality frozen for 2-3 months at 0°F. Always label the package with the freeze date.

Can you freeze chicken and rice casserole twice?

It’s best to only freeze an uncooked chicken casserole once. Refreezing can lead to loss of moisture and texture. However, you can freeze leftover baked casserole a second time.

What kind of rice works best in frozen casserole?

White or brown long grain rice holds up best when frozen. Undercook it slightly before assembling the casserole so it doesn’t get too soft.

Can you freeze chicken and rice casserole with cream sauce?

Yes, a cream or cheese-based sauce freezes very well. Just be sure to thicken it properly before freezing so it doesn’t separate or get runny.


Freezing uncooked chicken and rice casserole is an excellent way to save prep time and have a home-cooked meal ready to bake whenever needed. Allow casseroles to thaw overnight before baking, and add extra time to the bake to ensure it is fully heated through. Properly packaged casseroles can keep for 2-3 months in the freezer.