Slow Cooker Chicken Rice Casserole

Usually I think to use my slow cooker in the winter, for a braise or stew or maybe some pulled pork. But I’m also finding it rather convenient in the summer too, as a way to avoid using the oven and heating up the kitchen. This chicken rice casserole recipe is designed for a slow cooker. You brown onions and chicken thighs, place in a slow cooker with basmati rice, tomatoes and stock. 2 hours later it’s done!

A couple of notes. First, the seasoning we are using is a shade Middle Eastern, with ground cumin and a touch of cinnamon. It’s a wonderful combination if you haven’t tried it, I recommend it.

Second, to make rice in a slow cooker with chicken, you have to drastically reduce the amount of liquid you would normally add to cook rice, otherwise your rice will be completely mushy. The reason is that all of the other ingredients release moisture while they cook. That moisture gets absorbed by the rice so you just don’t need as much to begin with.

Slow Cooker Chicken Rice Casserole Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.

The basmati rice we are using in this recipe usually needs 3 cups of liquid for 2 cups of rice. For this recipe we are only adding 1 1/2 cups of liquid because the chicken and other ingredients will release moisture while the casserole cooks. If you are using rice that requires a different amount of liquid to cook, you'll need to experiment for the right amount of liquid to reduce.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (or 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skin on chicken thighs)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups sliced yellow onion, 1/4-inch thick slices, sliced root to tip (about 2 large onions)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 2 cups basmati long grain rice
  • 1 cup diced canned (or fresh) tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

Method

salt the chicken

1 Sprinkle salt (about 2 teaspoons) on both side of the chicken thighs, and let sit while you prep and cook the onions.

saute onions on high heat stir in cumin and cinnamon

2 Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan on high heat. When the oil is shimmery hot, but not smoking, add the sliced onions and cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the ground cumin and cinnamon. Let cook for a minute. Add the garlic and cook for half a minute more. Place cooked onions and garlic into the bowl of a slow cooker. (Do not wipe down the sauté pan.)

cook chicken thighs, skin side down turn thighs over and cook on the other side

3 Heat the sauté pan on medium. Add the chicken thighs, skin-side-down in the pan. Let cook on medium heat until the skin is well-browned and much of the chicken fat from the skin has rendered out (about 10-12 minutes). Turn the chicken pieces over and brown the skinless-side for 4 to 5 minutes more.

place rice, onions, tomato, stock, peas in slow cooker place browned chicken thighs in slow cooker

4 While the chicken is cooking, add the raw long grain rice into the slow cooker with the onions, stir to combine. Stir in the diced tomatoes, peas (if using), stock, pepper, bay leaves. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. When the chicken has finished browning, place the chicken pieces skin-side up in the pot.

cook for 2 hours on high setting

5 Slow cook for 2 hours on the high setting of your slow cooker.

Fluff the rice with a fork to serve. Add more salt to taste.

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Links:

Slow Cooker Greek Rice with Red Bell Pepper, Feta, and Olives from Kalyn's Kitchen

Slow Cooker Coconut Rice Pudding from With Style and Grace

Slow Cooker Chicken Rice Casserole

65 Comments

  1. Alia

    Can I make this recipe without tomatoes?

    • Elise

      Sure. I don’t think it will be as good, but you can leave them out. If you do leave out the tomatoes, add another third a cup of stock to slow cooker. The tomatoes provide some of the moisture needed by the rice.

    • Jen

      I’d think using zucchini in place of tomatoes would be good. Similar moisture content, subtle flavour as well.

  2. Alice

    Elise thank you for all the brilliant recipes you’ve given us. This one looks wonderful.

    But I don’t have a slow cooker at the moment. Can I do this in the regular oven at a low temperature?

    • Elise

      Hi Alice, thank you! I haven’t tried making this in an oven, but I have another recipe on the site for a similar casserole that requires 45 minutes at 375F in a casserole dish tightly covered with foil. That’s for chopped up chicken though, so maybe 1 1/2 hours at that temp? You’ll have to experiment.

    • Arroz con pollo

      Hi –

      Just use Elise’s recipe for chicken and rice http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/arroz_con_pollo/ or google “arroz con pollo.”

  3. Isabel

    Hi Elise! Will be doing this soon and would like to know with what capacity slow cooker did you make this recipe? By the pictures it looks pretty large… Thanks for all the great recipes and I like the addition of your picture to the blog. Til next time!

  4. Martha

    Would it be all right if I use boneless, skinless breasts?

    • Elise

      Hi Martha, I wouldn’t. I suspect they’ll dry out in the cooking. But if you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you.

  5. susan genatossio

    What would happen, Elise, if I put the slow cooker on low? How much time do you think it would take to cook?

    • Elise

      Hi Susan, your guess is as good as mine. I experimented several times with this recipe to figure out the timing on high that worked. If you find a low setting time that works for you here, please let us know!

  6. Bethany

    I love the idea of using the slow cooker to prevent overheating of your house! As someone who loves making jam and spent a long amount of time living in NYC where A/C is not the norm, I hated how all the best fruits for making jam are ripe when it’s really too hot to be standing at the stove. Plus, cheap fatty chicken pieces are the best.

  7. Maryvonne

    Dear Elise,
    This sounds just like the type of meal I like cooking: start it, stick it in a dish and just let it cook. I haven’t got a slow cooker. If I do in a casserole dish in the oven, do you think it will work? Low temperature or medium?
    Thanks for your marvellous recipes. Really appreciate them.

    • Elise

      Hi Maryvonne, I haven’t tried this particular recipe in an oven, though I have another chicken rice casserole on the site that I bake in a casserole dish, covered tightly with foil, for 45 minutes at 375F. The chicken is cut in to pieces though. So if you were doing this with whole thighs it would take longer.

  8. Emma @ Chick-o-bowl

    I’ve never used a slow cooker. I actually do not even own one. lol I guess I am scared by the amount time it would take to cook a meal. 2 hours doesn’t sound so bad though. I always thought 4-8 hours is what it takes. I will invest in one and try it out. The chicken looks delicious!

  9. StitchinSweetSue

    hiya elise, been using my crockpot during the summer for many yrs, such a great time saver all yr round. thx for this recipe. hope you’re enjoying the summer:)

  10. Sandy S

    I learn so much here! Like using less liquids for the rice and how to keep the chicken skin looking tempting rather than water logged and rubbery when using a slow cooker. I am all in on keeping it cool in the kitchen with this yummy looking recipe!

  11. KalynsKitchen

    Looks delicious! I’m intrigued that you used chicken thighs with skin and it looks like the skin still stayed somewhat crisp when cooking the chicken on top of the rice.

  12. Renee

    Sounds good! I love using the crock pot in the summer because our days are busy, and it keeps extra heat out of the house.

  13. Dawn

    Wonder if this could be done in a rice cooker? I am tempted to try! Will let you know if I do.

    • Elise

      Great idea! Please let us know if you try to make it in a rice cooker and how it turns out for you.

  14. cheryl illinois

    This sounds so good. I only buy skinless,boneless thighs but I plan to try this recipe using those. Thanks.

  15. Marie @ Little Kitchie

    I love using my slow cooker in the summer! Such a great dinner recipe!

  16. Angel

    Hi Elise…I will be adjusting the portions for our family, but I will also be using 3 cups brown Jasmine rice. Brown Jasmine rice calls for 1 and a 1/4 cups liquid per cup. How do you think this will affect cooking time and liquid ratios? I really would love to make this tonight!

    • Elise

      Hi Angel, so for 2 cups of brown jasmine rice you would normally use 2 1/2 cups of liquid? I would cut the liquid down by half as a start.

      • Angel

        Yes…that’s right. Thank you I will try that. Do you think I can still keep the cooking time the same?

        • Elise

          Yes, 2 hours should be sufficient for any kind of rice.

          • Bethany

            I used long grain brown rice, and my rice was still crispy after 2 hours on high. I put it back on for another 2 hours (with a significant time lapse between the two cooking times), and the rice was still crispy. I think maybe 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low might do the trick. Another thing that I did was prep everything the night before, and stick the whole crockpot bowl in the fridge pre-arranged to stick in the next day. The cold bowl may have made a difference initially. Either way, this is DELICIOUS! Even my steak and potatoes boyfriend loved it.

          • Jennifer Williamson

            I too had issues with the 2 hour cook time. It was not nearly enough. The rice was still very uncooked. I added about 3/4 cup water and cooked another 20 minutes, still not enough. Added another 3/4 cup water and another 20 minutes, still not enough but we needed to eat so we just toughed it out. It was very tasty and I will make it again but will give it a much longer cook time. I just wonder if there was enough liquid from the get go? I used just plain white rice in my recipe.

          • Elise

            Hi Jennifer, hmmm, maybe your slow cooker releases more steam while it cooks than mine?

  17. Laura

    Love all of your recipes. I have a 6 qt Cuisinart multi cooker. I plan to sauté the onions and then the chicken right in my cooker, before finishing the recipe with the slow cooker feature. I can’t wait to try it.

  18. Tassie

    Hello. I have never used basmati long grain rice. It looks like you used white rice (as opposed to brown). Could you use either white or brown?? Also, you don’t mention rinsing the rice before adding to the pot. I am going to make the recipe exactly as written and I think my husband is going to love it.

    • Elise

      I used white basmatic long grain rice, and I did not rinse it before adding it to the pot. I’m sure you could use brown basmati rice, though you might have to experiment with the liquid amounts.

      • Lauren

        I used brown basmati rice, and followed the instructions exactly. My rice was still crispy? Could the brown rice need more liquid?

  19. Joanna

    Looks delicious, I would like to make this tonight, but, how would you keep the skin crisp in a slow cooker? Thank you for all your posts – this is my go to recipe site particularly if I’m in a bind.

  20. Lorelei

    Can I cook this for about 4 hours on low instead? Or would that make the rice mushy? I love to use the slow cooker but the high setting on my new one seems to run a lot hotter than the old one.

  21. Bob Y

    No need to rinse the basmati? Do the fats cut through the starch on the rice? I wonder if this could be done in a dutch oven at 200 degrees? Thanks Elise, this looks wonderful.

  22. Lyn

    I have a slow cooker and this recipe looks yummy…similar to Arroz con pollo…however, your chicken looks moist and rice looks fluffy. Sometimes Arroz con pollo tends to dry out…Since I tend to cook for 2…I’m thinking this recipe should freeze beautifully…then you really don’t have to heat up kitchen…I live in Palm Springs area…we have enough heat in house without turning on oven…It’s 106 @ 415 PM today…..BTW, watermelon gazpacho is on My “to try” list as well…thanks

  23. Kristina

    Hi Elise,
    I received your email this morning regarding your two new recipes and decided at 6:30am that I was going to make this chicken dish. I took out 7 chicken thighs and whipped up the recipe when I got home from work and let it cook for about 2.5 hours (simply because we were busy cutting the lawns). I used calrose rice and kept the water the same. It was EXCELLENT. I love, love the addition of cumin and cinnamon – they made everything taste so good. It is a perfect weeknight meal. There are only two of us, but we have the perfect amount leftover for our lunches tomorrow. THANK YOU!

    • Elise

      Hi Kristina, oh, I’m so glad you made the recipe! Good to know it works with Calrose rice. Thanks for letting us know that you made it and liked it!

  24. Joshua Hampton

    I’ve been dreading using my oven lately, so this summer casserole is a welcome find for me. Thanks for the recipe.

  25. Erica

    I made this recipe tonight. I used 2 cups of chicken broth instead on 1.5. I added the extra 1/2 cup as it was drying out about an hour into the cook time. The flavor was great but overall the dish was inconsistent. Some of the rice was not fully cooked and some of the chicken was not cooked through. And some of the chicken was a little dry. I think next time I’ll try stirring halfway through and repositioning the chicken to get a more even cook.

  26. Gary in Massena

    Perfect timing! Just the recipe I need for this weekend!

  27. Karen

    Hi Elise, this looks delicious! I’m so happy to see that you have real comfort food Slow Cooker recipes. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Natalie @ Paper & Birch

    You’re right – I usually think Winter when it comes to our slow cooker. Never realized that, HELLO no oven or stove! Much less heat! Definitely saving this recipe for next week with how hot it is here in Vancouver right now. Thanks Elise :) :)

  29. Georgia Abela

    Made this recipe this morning and enjoying it for lunch right one. Added a bit more cumin and cinnamon than noted and did not add the extra salt and it turned out perfect. The chicken was very juicy and the rice flavours were divine. I will try with some chopped butternut squash next time. Delish and I have enough leftovers for lunches to work this week.

  30. mary neal

    I made this with 1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs — this was the only change I made. I enjoyed making something in my slow cooker that was something other than a soup or stew. The chicken was tender and moist, but it still wasn’t completely falling apart. Loved the cinnamon and cumin and the added sweet note of the peas.

    I used low sodium chicken stock and fresh tomatoes so needed salt for flavoring the rice, onions, peas….

    Thanks for the recipe :)

  31. JulieS

    Made this for dinner tonight and I loved the rice! So yummy and creamy — almost like risotto.

    The store didn’t have bone-in thighs, so I used drumsticks. They took a little longer to brown since they really have more than two sides (:, and I was worried about them not getting cooked through in the crock pot, so I cooked the whole thing on high for 2-1/2 hours. Turned out great!

    THanks for the recipe, Elise!

  32. peggy

    What brand slow cooker do you have? I would like to make this and to use one for other things. It is too hot in Sacramento to turn the oven on!

  33. Gary In Massena

    I made it last night…. sort of.

    Very tasty – a hit with the kiddo.

    I used my trusty cast iron dutch oven instead of the crock pot and baked it off in the oven for a half hour at 375 to finish off the rice.

  34. Melanie

    Hi- My kid is seriously allergic to garlic, peas, cumin like epi-pen allergic. What can I substitute since my family liked chicken & rice. Thank You!

    • Elise

      Hi Melanie, I would leave out the garlic, peas, and cumin, and instead use 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne or 1 teaspoon of paprika in place of the cumin, and use chopped fresh parsley leaves in place of the peas. There is no substitute for the garlic.

  35. Kim

    Hi Elise,
    I made this the other night and the flavors are amazing! But the rice was cooked unevenly; some parts too mushy and others still crunchy. I think it is a result of the uneven heating in my poor-quality slow cooker. Do you have any idea of what time/temp to use if I used a Dutch oven in the oven instead of the crockpot?

    • Elise

      Hi Kim, the rice will never be perfect cooked this way in the slow cooker, it’s just more convenient that way. You might take a look at our Arroz con Pollo recipe, which is similar, but you make it on the stovetop. As for time/temp for a Dutch oven in the oven, your guess is as good as mine. Good luck!

  36. Lyn

    I think I forgot to comment after I made this: It came out perfectly…simply delicious! Thanks so much!!! (Rice cooked evenly etc.)

  37. Sophia

    I will probably use canned tomatoes, should I drain them first or keep the extra liquid?

  38. Kelli

    I love my slow cooker and this recipe looks so delicious. Perfect now that the weather is starting to cool down. I saved this one and will make it.

  39. Tom

    I made this using “Texmati” brown Basmiti rice and skinless, bone-in thighs (I used about 12). I used 3 cups of liquid (as per the instructions) and the rice was great, however if you are using brown rice, allow 3 hours, not 2 hours.

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