Easy Dairy Free Chicken Casserole

close up photo of a Easy Dairy Free Chicken Casserole with a spoon about to serve one portion

An Ode to Casseroles

After all the cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats this season, I am ready for some healthy food to restock my fridge.
Do you like casseroles? I personally have a love-hate relationship with them. I love their convenience. Casseroles achieve a quick and easy meal prep because they’re so simple. Just throw some stuff in a dish, bake it, then boom: food for the week!
But often there is an unfortunate side effect. If you’ve ever opened up a container with leftovers you found weeks after you made it, and then blacked out from the stench, you’ll know where I’m coming from. Some foods like chicken can get real old real quick in the fridge. But have no fear – this easy dairy free chicken casserole is full of flavor and it tastes amazing as leftovers with a few helpful tricks.

How to Make Leftovers Taste Great

As an avid meal-prepper (no, I’m not a body builder, I’m just kinda lazy) it’s highly important to make food that still tastes great after a few days in the fridge. I found a few key ways to make this dream a reality.

1. Heat

A little bit of spice and heat on the tongue helps food taste more interesting and less bland. Try it sometime – top boring leftovers with a squeeze of siracha or a smack of Tabasco and it’ll take on a new life. I sprinkled chili flakes on my casserole meal each time before I dug in to eat, keeping it away from the land of boring.

2. Texture

It’s also common for leftovers to become either really mushy or weirdly chewy. Keeping a delightful crunch is nearly impossible for refrigerated leftovers that you’re reheating in the microwave. My secret: sprinkle crunchy bread crumbs on top just before eating your meal! I like savory bread crumbs, seasoned with Italian seasoning, or Panko bread crumbs for even extra crunch. Keep this meal gluten free by using gluten-free bread crumbs!

3. Flavor

Let’s get real. You just worked your tail end off to create an incredibly tasting meal. There’s leftovers, maybe on purpose for meal prep, or maybe unintentionally. And you can’t waste food. So your [glass, please] Tupperware gets filled with a bath of creamy, chunky, delicious casserole. You can’t wait until the next day’s lunch to relive the culinary experience. But oh no, somehow the microwave zaps out all the flavor and you’re left with a weird mess of bland food. The solution is to ensure your meal is PACKED with flavor that lasts in the fridge. Coconut milk, umami and a good mix of spices do the trick here.

4. Life

What? How do you add “life” to your food? Shouldn’t that chicken be dead…?
I’m talking about fresh herbs! A generous helping of fresh herbs on your reheated leftovers can truly revive them. Not only does it add color and flavor, but it adds another layer of texture and all around deliciousness.

Use Leftovers to Make a New Meal

You can actually use the leftovers that are sitting in your fridge to put together this incredibly easy dairy free chicken casserole.

1. Chicken

You can use the meat from a leftover rotisserie chicken in this casserole. I usually don’t have leftover chicken when I make this casserole, so I opt to cook three or four chicken thighs or breasts in my instant pot, seasoned just with salt.

2. Fresh Herbs

If you don’t have cilantro or parsley, but you have some extra basil from pizza night, or maybe fresh rosemary or thyme or any of your other favorite herbs, whack those on instead. It’s less about the flavor pairing and more about adding what you like while contributing to a fresh flavor imbued into your leftovers.

3. Rice

When I make this casserole, I usually use the leftover rice in my fridge that has gone way too hard to be edible. I give it a nice long, luxurious soak in the coconut milk, miso and spices to become soft and creamy.

4. Bread

You can buy bread crumbs at the grocery store. But it will taste even better if you have a loaf of bakery bread (not your sliced bread in the plastic bag) that is a day or two old and gone hard enough to use as a door stopper. Cut it into chunks and whiz it in the food processor or blender until the crumbs are to your desired texture.

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Easy Chicken Casserole (Dairy-Free)

This is the casserole that has a few tricks up its sleeve to taste great as leftovers days later. It's dairy-free, healthy and super simple. Make it for the family or make it for yourself for a delicious meal prep for the next few days!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Asian
Keyword bread crumbs, chicken and rice casserole, chicken casserole, dairy free, dairy free diet, easy meal prep, food prep, gluten free, healthy meal prep, leftovers, meal prep, miso
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author strawberryandcream

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces coconut milk (1 can)
  • 2 heaping Tbsp miso paste
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups cooked rice (⅔ cup uncooked)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped, for topping
  • ½ cup bread crumbs of your choice, either homemade or store-bought, for serving
  • 1 tsp chili flakes, for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, pour in the coconut milk. Microwave it for about 30 seconds to warm it up.
    Add the miso, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika and salt. Mix everything until the miso dissolves and the spices are well incorporated.
  • Add the rice to the coconut and spices mixture.
    If your rice was in the fridge for at least a day, let the mixture sit on the counter for about 20 minutes, so the rice can soak up some of the coconut milk and soften.
  • Mix in the cooked chicken pieces.
    Pour the mixture into a 9-inch by 11-inch casserole dish (or something similar).
    Cover the dish with aluminum foil, so it doesn't dry out, and bake for 30 minutes.
    Carefully remove the foil from the dish and bake in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
  • To serve, scoop some out onto plates or bowls. Top with fresh herbs, a generous amount of crunchy bread crumbs, and a tiny pinch of chili flakes.
    Enjoy! If you have leftovers, store them in airtight containers in the fridge for up to three days.

Published by strawberryandcream

Hello! I am on an epic adventure to learn how to cook and bake. So far I have only given myself food poisoning twice and made myself sick about a half a dozen other times. I am notorious for making poor substitutions, being clumsy in the kitchen & getting sent to the ER, and creating food that just looks downright nasty. But alas! I will prevail and learn how to master the art of feeding myself! :)

6 thoughts on “Easy Dairy Free Chicken Casserole

    1. strawberryandcream – Hello! I am on an epic adventure to learn how to cook and bake. So far I have only given myself food poisoning twice and made myself sick about a half a dozen other times. I am notorious for making poor substitutions, being clumsy in the kitchen & getting sent to the ER, and creating food that just looks downright nasty. But alas! I will prevail and learn how to master the art of feeding myself! :)
      strawberryandcream says:

      Thank you so much! Do you like casseroles?

  1. Loooks soooooo yummy!!! And thank you for sharing your meal prep secrets, literally agree with everything you said about how left over food looses its taste and texture… Definitely will be trying your lifesaving tips 🙂

    1. strawberryandcream – Hello! I am on an epic adventure to learn how to cook and bake. So far I have only given myself food poisoning twice and made myself sick about a half a dozen other times. I am notorious for making poor substitutions, being clumsy in the kitchen & getting sent to the ER, and creating food that just looks downright nasty. But alas! I will prevail and learn how to master the art of feeding myself! :)
      strawberryandcream says:

      Thank you!! It’s so sad when a great meal turns into blech boring after just one day. Do you meal prep a lot? 🙂

  2. Great ideas on brining those leftovers back to life! Korean Gochujang is another red pepper chili based spice that goes good on those old leftovers. The chicken and rice dish look oh so ono!

    1. strawberryandcream – Hello! I am on an epic adventure to learn how to cook and bake. So far I have only given myself food poisoning twice and made myself sick about a half a dozen other times. I am notorious for making poor substitutions, being clumsy in the kitchen & getting sent to the ER, and creating food that just looks downright nasty. But alas! I will prevail and learn how to master the art of feeding myself! :)
      strawberryandcream says:

      Oh yes, I love dabbing some gochujang on my food! Everything from scrambled eggs to leftover chicken casserole go great with that stuff!

what do you think? :)