This green rice casserole is a delicious one-pot meal that the whole family will love. It's a simple, healthy and hearty dish that can be made in just 35 minutes. Plus, it's a great way to use up any leftover rice you might have!
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
The green rice casserole is a recipe I turn to when I'm in the mood for something heartwarming and filling. Chances are, you'll love it too.
- It's packed with nutrients. This casserole is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants thanks to the abundance of greens. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are especially good for you; they're low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
- Super easy and quick to make. This easy, cheesy green rice casserole comes together easily with just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Better yet, it takes just 35 minutes!
- It's incredibly satisfying. This casserole is the perfect comfort food. It's hearty without being heavy, and it will leave you feeling satisfied without being stuffed. Plus, it's so filling that you might not even need a side!
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make this green rice casserole, you'll need cooked rice, shredded cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese, sour cream, fresh spinach, kale, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, scallions, green chiles, salt, and black pepper.
Notes and Variations
- Rice substitute. I typically use long-grain rice or basmati rice in this recipe since that's what I readily have on hand. If you don't have long-grain rice, any type of rice will work (since you're using cooked rice!)
- Fresh vs. frozen greens. I've used fresh spinach and kale in this recipe, but you can totally use frozen chopped spinach or kale as well. Make sure to thaw and drain the liquid if you're going this route, no need to wilt on skillet.
- Add more vegetables. You can use other vegetables like bell pepper (especially green pepper), peas, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus, and corn to enhance the flavor of this recipe.
- Cheese substitute. This dish calls for ricotta and sharp cheddar cheese, but you can use your favorite cheese instead to match your taste buds. Check the vegan section below to find instructions to veganize this recipe!
- Adjust to spice tolerance. This recipe uses fresh green chili, but you can also use canned Hatch green chile or omit if you wish!
Make Vegan Cheesy Green Rice!
Thankfully, this recipe is really easy to veganize. You'll need to substitute dairy products with your favorite non-dairy versions below and follow the cooking instructions the same way!
My favorite vegan swaps are listed below.
- Swap regular butter for plant-butter (Country Crock is my favorite)
- Use vegan cheeses and sour cream. Kite Hill makes an excellent sour cream. I like Kite Hill Ricotta and Violife Just Cheddar shreds.
- Other ingredients are all naturally vegan so no need to make any other swaps.
📖 Make easy, creamy green rice casserole!
Preheat the oven to 320ºF/180ºC. Butter an 8x8-inch baking dish.
Bring a skillet over low heat, add the olive oil, minced garlic, scallions, and green chiles and cook for 2 minutes. Reserve.
To the same skillet, add chopped kale and chopped fresh spinach to wilt over medium heat. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice if you wish.
In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked rice, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, ricotta, sour cream and sauteed garlic, scallions and chiles. Stir to combine.
In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked rice, cheddar cheese, ricotta, sour cream, sautéd garlic, scallions, and chiles. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Mix the wilted leaves with the cheesy rice mixture.
Transfer the mixture to a prepared 8x8-inch casserole. You can also use a cast iron pan if you prefer. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is golden and melted, for about 20 minutes. Remove the casserole dish from the oven carefully, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!
👩🏽🍳Top Tips to Make This Green Rice Casserole!
These six tips will ensure the best cheesy casserole ever!
- Use long-grain rice. Long-grain rice has less starch than short-grain and as a result, is better suited for this dish. That said, you can use basmati rice or even brown rice for a healthier version.
- Rinse the rice thoroughly. Rinsing rice before cooking removes excess starch that can make the finished dish sticky. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer under cold water until the water runs clear.
- Don't overcook the veggies. Overcooked veggies can get mushy and change the flavor of your casserole. Sauté
- Sauté the onion and scallions before adding them to the casserole. This will help to bring out their flavor further!
- Use high quality cheese, and shred it yourself. Try to avoid pre-shredded cheese if at all possible. These tend to have potato starch or similar ingredients to prevent clumping. But as a result, they don't melt nearly as well.
- Be generous with the cheese. Cheese is always a good idea, and it helps to bind everything together nicely. Plus, who doesn't love a cheesy casserole? And if you do like cheesy casseroles, check out my green bean casserole with cream cheese! ?
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
The rule of thumb is that you should not keep cooked rice in the fridge for more than one day. Cooked rice can quickly become contaminated with bacteria, and refrigeration will not necessarily kill all of the bacteria present!
Yes, as long as you follow a few key tips! First, cool the casserole completely. Once cooled, place it in a freezer-safe container. I love using these Souper cubes to portion soups and casseroles before freezing. Finally, label and date the casserole so you know how long it has been in the freezer! When you're ready to eat, thaw the casserole in the fridge overnight and then reheat it in the oven or microwave.
Yes! If you're an omnivore family, you can add your favorite meats. Sometimes, I like to add eggs instead of ricotta to give it a similar silky texture but with added protein.
Yes! You can totally use frozen chopped spinach in this casserole. I also occasionally add frozen broccoli (to make this a broccoli rice casserole) or other frozen veggies to make this more hearty and filling.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
The cheesy casserole is the perfect dish to make ahead of time. Whip it up a day before the holidays, stick it in the fridge, and bake it when you're ready. Happy thanksgiving to us!
It'll free up some much-needed space on your already busy cooking holiday schedule. Plus, leftovers refrigerate well for 4-5 days after cooking.
Check out these amazing vegan / vegetarian holiday recipes:
Green Rice Casserole
- 2 cups basmati or long-grain rice, cooked
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup sour cream
- 5 ounces fresh spinach, thawed and drained if using frozen
- 5 ounces kale, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 or 2 green chiles, roughly chopped
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 320ºF/180ºC. Butter an 8x8-inch baking dish.
- Bring a skillet over low heat, add the olive oil, garlic, scallions, green chiles and cook for 2 minutes. Reserve
- In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked rice, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, ricotta, sour cream, spinach, kale and sauteed garlic, scallions and chiles. Stir to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to a prepared 8x8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly the remaining cheese.
- Bake until cheese is golden and melted, for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.