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Rice perfectly cooked in the oven, along with veggies and chicken, this Oven baked chicken and rice is the ultimate one-pot dinner. For crispy skin, broil chicken thighs once they are baked.
I have always loved rice, especially when they are full of flavor and easy to make as a one-pan or one-pot dish. Oven-baked chicken and rice is one such mouthwatering recipe that has become a go-to in kitchens all over the world. Cooked in the oven, this dish brings convenience along with delicious flavors.
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Crispy chicken and fluffy, aromatic rice make it a winner. This works especially well on busy days when I can prep and leave stuff to cook in the oven. It produces flavors that are simple and allow the key ingredients to shine. The rice gets cooked along with the chicken thighs, cooking in the juices and absorbing the flavors from the aromatics like garlic and onion sauteed in butter.
Chicken and rice recipe
There are quite a few chicken and rice dishes that have a long history, and this chicken and rice bake is one of them. Many traditions around the globe have dishes based on chicken and rice, like the Spanish Paela and the famous Biriyani, and very close variations of this dish, like this Stovetop Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole.
This is a bit different from your chicken rice casserole, though both are made in the oven. Starting with simple seasoning, this dish gets the natural flavors of chicken and aromatic rice, while the casserole adds some creamy and rich texture.
Here, the chicken is layered atop the rice; the rice cooks in the stock and juices of the chicken, thus both developing distinct textures and flavors. In a casserole, the chicken and rice, along with other veggies, cheese, and sauces, are mixed together and baked. Everything blends together, and the casserole presents a uniform texture and flavor.
This recipe stands out among all the other variations online because
- This recipe makes aromatic, garlicky rice and crispy, seasoned chicken thighs.
- We sear the seasoned chicken thighs in oil over the stovetop before placing them on the rice, so the pieces develop more flavor.
- Rice is slightly toasted along with the aromatics, so it gets a nutty flavor and prevents it from being mushy when it cooks in the liquids later.
- Chicken thighs are well seasoned, so below the crisp crust, the meat has a great taste.
- Everything is done in a single oven-safe pan, that can be moved to the oven from the stove.
- If you prefer skin, do not worry about greasy rice. I have included tips to deal with extra fat from the skin and not make the rice greasy while having the rice develop some flavor from the fat.
This dish has its base in very simple flavors, but you can tweak it by adding some Mexican or Ranch flavors. I have another Chicken and rice recipe with ranch seasoning that is creamy and equally delicious.
The seasoning of the chicken thighs is important, and we do not hold back on that part. The ingredients required for the main dish as well as the seasoning are laid out below.
For the main dish
- Rice: long-grained rice like basmati or other varieties is recommended. Short-grained rice that cooks easily will turn out mushy by the time the chicken and rice cook together.
- Choice of fat: We sauté the aromatics and sear the thighs in butter, but olive oil helps increase the smoking point of butter and prevents it from burning.
- Aromatics: Onion and garlic are the most popular aromatics that offer a depth of flavor and bring savory notes to the dish. The sweetness of lightly sauteed onions compliments the mild, pungent taste of garlic, creating a flavor base for most dishes.
- Chicken stock forms a savory foundation filled with umami compounds. It is also pre-seasoned, which carries over to the dish. Prefer a low-sodium stock variety so you have control over the saltiness of the dish. Deglazing the brown bits stuck to the pan after sautéing aromatics with the stock releases those concentrated flavor bits.
- Water – Is to dilute the chicken stock, using all stock might be overpowering.
- Veggies – Carrots and green peas can be added to the nutritional profile of the flavored rice. You may keep it simple or add more veggies to your liking.
- Herbs – Fresh sprigs of thyme give a mild, aromatic, and herbal taste to this dish. If you use dried thyme, which has a more concentrated flavor, less is more.
- Salt: As per taste, it brings all the other flavors out.
To season chicken thighs
We use the following mixture of spices and herbs to create a well-rounded and flavorful dry seasoning mix.
- Chicken thighs: The thighs are the most flavorful part of the bird. You can use thighs with or without skin, as per your preference. If you do use skin, refer to the tips and cooking instructions to take out the extra fat without making the rice greasy.
- Italian seasoning is a mix of dried herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary that give a herby flavor to the chicken.
- Smoked paprika gives a sweet and smoky taste and aroma to the chicken pieces.
- Chilli powder commonly has a blend of chili powders that provide heat to the dish.
- Onion and garlic powder
- Salt and pepper: Salt balances out all the other tastes, while pepper provides a touch of heat.
How to make this chicken and rice dish
Preheat the oven. Mix all the ingredients for seasoning in a bowl. Rub the dry seasoning over the chicken thighs with your hands on both sides. Let them rest for a while for the seasoning to work on the pieces and the flavors to penetrate under the skin.
Sear the chicken thighs
Searing the chicken thighs develops a crisp crust on top while locking in the juices. In a hot Dutch oven, add butter and olive oil. When the oil mixture is hot, place the chicken thighs and let them cook for a couple of minutes. Flip them and cook for another couple of minutes.
If you have used chicken with skin, some of the excess fat renders and accumulates at the bottom. Remove the chicken pieces and keep them aside. If there’s a lot of fat, remove some of it. A little remaining fat will provide extra flavor to the aromatics and rice.
Saute aromatics and toast rice
Add some more oil if needed. Saute the onion and garlic until they turn soft and lose their raw smell. Next, add the rice and toast it for a few minutes. It develops a nutty flavor, and this step prevents it from becoming mushy and retains its fluffy, cooked look.
Add the liquids, like stock and water. Place the chicken thighs back on top of the rice. Throw in the thyme sprig and cover the Dutch oven. Place it in the oven and allow everything to cook for up to 45 minutes.
Mix and broil
Remove the Dutch oven and uncover it. Remove the chicken pieces, add a spoonful of butter and the remaining peas, and mix the rice gently.
Place the chicken pieces again and bake them again for up to 10 minutes, uncovered. This broiling step will crisp up the top of the chicken pieces.
Tips for the best Chicken and rice dish
- Sear the chicken. Searing the chicken does a few good things for this dish. Apart from getting golden, crispy skin on the chicken, the rendered fat from the skin adds tons of flavor. Also, the crisp skin and crust on top of the chicken help lock in moisture in the chicken while it cooks for a long time in the oven.
- Toast the rice. Toasting the rice with aromatics helps it get a nutty flavor and prevents it from becoming mushy.
- The right ratio of liquid: using a ratio of little more than 2:1 of liquid and rice helps in cooking the rice to get those fluffy grains.
- Warm the chicken stock before you add it to the rice. Warm liquids like stock and water will not lower the temperature, unlike cold water, and help cook the rice faster.
- Do not miss the broil. Broil the dish by placing it on the upper rake for another 5-6 minutes, so that you don’t miss out on the crispy chicken skin.
- Check salt -Add salt towards the end. Keep in mind that stock and chicken seasoning both already have salt in them.
Let the dish cool down to room temperature. Hot foods can raise the overall temperature in the refrigerator, spoiling existing stored items inside.
Store the leftovers in an airtight container. You can refrigerate it for up to 4 days. You can also freeze this for up to 3 months. Make sure the container is freezer-safe, and mark the date to easily track it later.
While reheating the dish, thaw the frozen containers overnight and then put them in the microwave. It You can reheat it back in the oven for larger quantities by covering it at 300°F or 150°C. Microwaves work for smaller quantities.
Other Chicken and Rice Variations
Looking for some more variations that can be done with chicken and rice with different flavors and seasonings?
This dish has its base in very simple flavors, but you can tweak it by adding some Mexican or Ranch flavors. I have another Chicken and rice recipe with ranch seasoning that’s worth trying. Another recipe done in an Instant Pot is this chicken and rice with curry flavors.
A reader favorite made with garlicky flavors is the Garlic Herb Chicken and Rice. Want the umami of mushrooms? Try the Creamy Chicken and Rice With Mushroom. Something with more vegetables and brown rice is Vegetable and Chicken Brown Rice.
Oven-baked chicken and rice is a full meal on its own, though you can also pair it with a variety of sides to make a complete meal.
- Salads: Green salads or ones with a light and refreshing dressing, like White bean salad with lemon vinaigrette, Roasted Beetroot Arugula Salad, or Fall Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.
- Roasted veggies: Vegetables roasted in the oven or over the grill are excellent sides to a rich dish like this. Try out these roasted Red Potatoes, Carrots With Parmesan, Brussels Sprouts, or Cinnamon Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes.
Other chicken recipes baked in the oven
- Oven Baked Creamy Chicken Thighs
- Tandoori Chicken (Oven & Stove Top)
- Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
- Maple Mustard Sheet Pan Chicken
- Creamy Lemon Chicken
- Baked Honey Garlic Chicken Wings
Oven baked chicken and rice
- 1 + ¼ cup uncooked basmati rice
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 carrots diced
- 1 cup peas
- 2.5 cups low sodium chicken stock.
- 1 cup water
- 2 thyme sprigs
- Salt to taste
To season chicken thighs
- 6 chicken thighs with skin and bone-in
- 1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Pat dry chicken thighs. Mix together all the spices mentioned under 'To season' and season chicken thighs well.
- In a large dutch oven or an ovenproof heavy bottom skillet(with lid), heat together oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Place seasoned chicken thighs skin side down and cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the chicken and keep it covered. (It is ok if the chicken is undercooked, as it will cook further in the oven).
- To the same pan, in the remaining fat, add chopped onion and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Then add diced carrots and rice. Mix to coat the rice with the oil . Cook for a couple of minutes (stirring in between) to toast the rice lightly.
- Add warm chicken stock and water. Check the seasoning and add more salt if required.
- Place browned chicken along with any juice back into the pan on top of rice. Throw in the thyme sprig. Cover and cook for 40-45 minutes.
- Carefully take out the Dutch oven. Carefully remove the lid and remove chicken. Add remaining one tablespoons of butter and peas. Fluff and mix rice gently.
- Place the chicken back on top of rice. Bake for another 5-6 minutes for the chicken skin to crisp up.