“If a harvest-scented candle and an oversized fuzzy blanket got together to cook dinner, they’d make this Butternut Squash, Chicken, and Wild Rice Casserole.”
That line is exactly how I knew I wanted to make this wild rice casserole from my friend Erin‘s new cookbook Well Plated. Luckily she kindly is letting me share this recipe on the blog for all of you to enjoy! It’s the perfect healthy dinner recipe, but also would make quite an amazing Thanksgiving side (with or without the chicken) or even a lovely way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
If you haven’t picked up your copy of Well Plated, then do so ASAP! There’s so many amazing dinner recipes that are perfect for families and gatherings. You’re going to LOVE it!
Ingredients in butternut squash wild rice casserole
This delicious butternut squash, chicken & wild rice casserole has wonderful fall flavors, sweet & savory elements, and is easier to make than you think. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Wild & brown rice blend: the base of the casserole is made with a wild and brown rice blend.
- Chicken: this recipe is made best with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but feel free to use chicken breasts if you’d like. Check out the notes section for a vegetarian substitute!
- Olive oil: you’ll cook the chicken and veggies in a bit of olive oil.
- Salt & pepper: to properly season the whole dish.
- Butternut squash: you’ll want to use a small butternut squash that’s about 1½ pounds.
- Yellow onion: for a little extra flavor and crunch in the casserole.
- Fresh thyme: fresh herbs really bring out the wonderful fall flavors.
- Dried cranberries: I love the sweet & tangy bites of dried cranberries. Dried cherries would also be delicious.
- Shredded parmesan cheese: incredibly melty parmesan cheese makes this casserole perfectly creamy and holds everything together.
- Raw pecans or walnuts: the nutty flavors of pecans or walnuts pair deliciously with the sweet dried cranberries and savory cheese!
Customize this butternut squash wild rice casserole
- Add some decadence: stir ½ to 1 cup of shredded Gruyère or fontina cheese into the filling with the Parmesan.
- To make vegetarian: swap the chicken for 2 (15- ounce) cans of reduced sodium white beans (like great Northern or cannellini beans), rinsed & drained.
- To make vegan: swap white beans for the chicken and use your favorite dairy free parmesan cheese.
How to cut & peel butternut squash
The deliciously roasted butternut squash is the star of the show in this cozy wild rice casserole. Learn exactly how to cut and peel a butternut squash (safely) with this easy tutorial!
Make this wild rice casserole ahead of time
For even faster dinner prep: Prepare the rice up to 2 days in advance (or make it in big batches and freeze individual portions for up to 3 months). The chicken and butternut squash can be cooked up to 1 day in advance. You can also swap the chicken thighs for 4 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken.
The entire casserole can be assembled through step 6 and stored in the refrigerator, unbaked, for up to 1 day. Let come to room temperature, then bake as directed.
How to freeze & reheat wild rice casserole
To freeze: bake the casserole completely, then let cool to room temperature. Cover it tightly, then freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: let the casserole thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, then cover with foil and reheat at 350 degrees F until warmed through. Be sure to use a pan that is freezer and oven safe.
More winter squash recipes to try
I hope you love this butternut squash, chicken and wild rice casserole from Erin’s Well Plated cookbook! Don’t forget to pick up your copy and enjoy, xo!
Butternut Squash, Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
Cozy and delicious butternut squash, chicken and wild rice casserole made with nutty wild rice, sweet butternut squash, tangy dried cranberries and plenty of parmesan cheese. You'll love this warming, protein-packed wild rice casserole during the fall and winter months!
- 1 cup uncooked wild- and- brown- rice blend
- 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1½ pounds)
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into ¼- inch dice (about 1½ cups)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces), divided
- ½ cup roughly chopped raw pecans or walnuts
Cook the rice according to the package instructions. Drain off any excess cooking liquid and set aside (you should have about 3 cooked cups).
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. For easy cleanup, lay a large piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper in the bottom of a 9×13- inch baking dish. Arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer on top, tucking the loose side portion of each thigh underneath. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bake on the center rack of the oven until the chicken thighs reach 165 degrees F on an instant- read thermometer at the thickest part, about 20 minutes. Immediately transfer from the dish to a plate and cover. Let rest 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Discard the foil or parchment and keep the pan handy.
While the chicken cooks, peel the butternut squash and trim off the top and bottom ends. Cut the neck away from the round base, then stand the base up on its ﬂat end and cut it in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut the squash (both base and neck) into ½- inch cubes (you should have about 4 cups cubes).
In a large, deep skillet with a tight- ﬁtting lid, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the squash, onion, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender but still retains some chew, 6 to 8 minutes.
Once the chicken has rested, cut it into bite- sized pieces. Add it to the pan with the squash, then add the thyme, cranberries, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, and the rice. Stir to combine.
Lightly coat with nonstick spray the same 9×13- inch dish you used to bake the chicken (no need to wash it in between). With a large spoon, scoop the squash and rice mixture into the dish, spreading it into an even layer.
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle the nuts and remaining ¼ cup Parmesan on top. Bake 8 to 10 additional minutes, until the cheese is melted and the nuts are toasted and crisp. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh thyme and serve warm.
Recipe is from The Well Plated Cookbook.
Next level: for extra decadence, in step 5, stir ½ to 1 cup of shredded Gruyère or fontina cheese into the filling with the Parmesan.
To make vegetarian: swap the chicken for 2 (15- ounce) cans of rinsed- and- drained reduced sodium white beans, such as great Northern or cannellini beans. Add the beans to the squash in step 5.
To freeze: Bake the casserole completely, then let cool to room temperature. Cover it tightly, then freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, then cover with foil and reheat in a 350- degree- F oven until warmed through. Be sure to use a pan that is freezer and oven safe.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats