one-pot cheesy cajun chicken and rice
bulk up white rice with tons of cauliflower rice and peppers for a creamy, veggie-packed meal. the chicken finishes cooking right on top of the rice. one-pot magic.
this is an outrageously, ridiculously good recipe, guys. cajun seasoning is a blend of really flavorful seasonings, so it’s packed with flavor with very minimal ingredients and effort.
yes, this recipe has the words “cheesy rice” in it - but it is packed with vegetables - seriously. two cups of cauliflower rice melt into the chicken stock and mingle with the starch from the rice to create a creamy risotto-like consistency. and then, ya know, we throw a little cheese in there too, to create a mind-blowing cheesy rice situation. the heat level is completely customizable based on how much spice each family member can handle.
one-pot meals can be a complete disaster since so many different elements have to cook together and somehow all be cooked perfectly, but as we all know - i am kind of a master at these. the timing and instructions are very specific for a reason - so set a timer and pay close attention once the chicken goes back in with the rice.
challenge yourself to make it THIS WEEK, and tag me @carochambers. i LOVED seeing all of your one-pot steak and potatoes recipes this past week!
one-pot cheesy cajun chicken and rice
Serves 4 to 6
Wide pot/pan/skillet with a lid (you can use a baking sheet as a lid!)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 to 5 teaspoons cajun seasoning, divided
2 to 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (such as olive, grapeseed, avocado)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 bell peppers (I used orange and red), diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 cups cauliflower rice
1 cup white rice (basmati or jasmine are my go-tos)
8 ounces (2 cups) grated sharp cheddar cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
Pat 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with 1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning per chicken breast - but do your thing! Cajun seasoning has some heat to it, so really lay it on thick for the spice lovers, and season it very lightly for anyone who doesn’t love heat. You can make everyone’s differently, just remember which chicken breast belongs to whom! Read the label of your cajun seasoning - if it doesn’t have any salt in it, also season the chicken breasts with salt.
Let the chicken marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Warm 2 tablespoons cooking oil in a wide (12 inch preferably) pot, saucepan, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat for several minutes, until beginning to smoke. Add the chicken breasts, rough-side down, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden-brown. Flip and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until golden-brown all oven.
Transfer chicken breasts to a holding plate.
If the pan has no oil left in it, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1 diced yellow onion, 2 diced bell peppers,1 to 3 teaspoons of cajun seasoning (depending on how spicy you can handle it!), and 1 teaspoon garlic powder to the pot and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until slightly softened.
Stir in 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, 2 cups cauliflower rice, and 1 cup white rice and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to the lowest heat possible, cover, and cook for 7 minutes. This timing is important so that the rice and chicken both cook perfectly, so set timers!
After those 7 minutes, uncover the pot, place the seared chicken breasts on top without overlapping them, and re-cover the pot. Cook for an additional 9 minutes.
After those 9 minutes, start checking the chicken for doneness every 1 minute. DON’T YOU DARE OVERCOOK YOUR CHICKEN! When it reaches 160°F internally, remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a cutting board to rest. It will continue cooking to reach 165°F.
Once the chicken is cooked through, taste the rice. When it’s tender, remove the pot from heat and stir in 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese and the juice of 1 lemon. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed - the amount needed will depend on the sodium level of your chicken stock. If the rice mixture is too thick, add another splash of stock! If it’s too liquid-y, keep stirring and cooking!
Stir in 1 cup finely chopped parsley.
Slice the chicken breasts into 1/2-inch thick pieces on the bias. Serve immediately, garnished with additional parsley and pepper.
Don’t own a wide pot with a lid? Use a 12-inch skillet and throw a baking sheet over top of it as a cover!
Most grocery stores now sell cauliflower rice, but this recipe will only require about half of it. You can freeze the other half, and cook it straight from frozen at a later time! You can also omit it with no issues.
As with most of my one-pot meals - I recommend stirring a few cups of spinach (tear it up with your hands as you add it) to the pot when you add the cheese if you want some greens in your meal!
Pepper Jack, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack would all be good in place of the Cheddar! If you have Parmesan, add 1/2 cup of that for a little extra flavor and cheesiness!
Use chicken thighs instead by cooking them over top of the rice mixture the entire time (as opposed to adding them once the rice has cooked for 7 minutes on its own).
I don’t recommend skin-on chicken here as the skin will get soggy and limp since it will steam with the lid on.