Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet

It’s almost Friday and it’s this part of the week when my cravings for comfort food really start kicking in. It doesn’t help that it’s been dark and rainy non-stop for like, the last three weeks straight! So this week I whipped up this Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet, which has to be one of […]

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It’s almost Friday and it’s this part of the week when my cravings for comfort food really start kicking in. It doesn’t help that it’s been dark and rainy non-stop for like, the last three weeks straight! So this week I whipped up this Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet, which has to be one of the most comfort-food-y comfort foods of all time. Or maybe I should just call it “February food.” Creamy, cheesy, carby deliciousness in one easy skillet. Imagine chicken pot pie filling baked into rice and topped with cheese. If that doesn’t make you forget how dreary it is outside, I don’t know what will.

One Pot Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet

Close up of the cheesy chicken and rice skillet with a spoon scooping some of the rice.

Can I Make this with Brown Rice?

I don’t suggest using brown rice for this recipe. Not only will it require a lot of other changes to the recipe (the amount of liquid used, the cook time, etc), but I just don’t think the flavor and texture of brown rice would be a good match for this particular recipe. This one is supposed to be creamy, soft, and indulent. If you’re looking for a healthy chicken and rice recipe, I’d look for one that is designed to be healthy (and I’m sure there are some good ones out there!).

Can I Use Chicken Thighs instead of Breasts?

Yes, absolutely. You should be able to swap out chicken thighs for chicken breasts in this recipe without making any other adjustments. Use approximately 3/4 lb. chicken thighs.

Can I Use Fresh Vegetables?

Sure! I used frozen peas and carrots for this recipe because I intended this recipe to be more of a convenience comfort food, but you can certainly use fresh if you have them available. Fresh vegetables will likely need a little bit more time to cook, since frozen vegetables are blanched before freezing, so I would add your fresh vegetables at the same time that the broth is added, so they can simmer with the rice.

Can I substitute the Heavy Cream?

Yes, you do have some options here. If you want to make it just a little lighter, you can use half and half. If you’re looking for a non-dairy substitute, I would use coconut milk (the kind in the can, not the kind in a carton meant as a dairy milk substitute). Or, you can just leave the cream out and make it a non-creamy chicken and rice dish. The cheese on top will be plenty richness for some people!

How to Store the Leftover Chicken and Rice Skillet

After cooking your skillet full of comfort, divide the chicken and rice into single portions and refrigerate for 4-5 days. A quick reheat in the microwave and you’re back on the comfort food bandwagon. Unfortunately I haven’t tested freezing this one, but I suspect it would freeze well, since all of the ingredients used generally freeze well.

Front close up view of creamy chicken and rice skillet with a wooden spoon scooping some of the rice

 

Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet

This easy one pot Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet makes a comforting weeknight dinner during those long, dark winter months! Makes great leftovers, too!

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  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (~TN0~xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx
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  • 4 oz. cheddar, shredded (~TN0~xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx
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  1. Dice the onion and add it to an oven safe deep skillet (3 qt. capacity) along with the butter. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.

  2. While the onions are cooking, dice the chicken breast into small, 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chicken to the skillet and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes more, or just until the outside of the chicken pieces have turned opaque (the chicken will finish cooking through as it simmers with the rice).

  3. Add the rice, thyme, sage, salt, some freshly cracked pepper (about ten cranks of a pepper mill), and the chicken broth to the skillet and stir to combine.

  4. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come to a boil. Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let the skillet simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, replacing the lid each time. Cooking the rice in an excess of broth and stirring occasionally as it cooks will produce a saucy rice mixture.

  5. After 15 minutes, the rice should be tender and saucy (if not yet tender, let it continue to cook for 5 more minutes). Stir in the frozen vegetables (no need to thaw), replace the lid, and let it sit over medium-low heat for another 5 minutes to heat the vegetables through. Finally, add the heavy cream, stir to combine, taste, and add extra salt if needed (this will depend on the salt content of the broth you used).

  6. Turn on the oven's broiler, top the skillet with the shredded cheese, and place the skillet in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Serve hot.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Finished Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet garnished with parsley

 

How to Make Chicken and Rice – Step by Step Photos

Onion and butter in a skillet

Dice one yellow onion and add it to a deep skillet (3 qt capacity) with 2 Tbsp butter. Sauté the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until it’s translucent.

Diced Chicken on a cutting board

While the onions are cooking, dice one boneless, skinless chicken breast into small 1/2-inch sided pieces. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for just a few minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked and opaque on the outside (it will finish cooking through as it simmers with the rice).

Cooked chicken in the skillet with rice and herbs

Once the chicken pieces are partially cooked, add 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried sage, 1/4 tsp salt, some freshly cracked pepper (about 10 cranks of a pepper mill), and 1 cup long grain white rice (uncooked). Stir to combine.

Chicken broth being poured into the skillet

Also add 3 cups chicken broth to the skillet. Stir to combine again.

Chicken and rice ready to simmer

Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure to replace the lid each time. Cooking the rice in an excess of liquid and giving it a stir every now and then makes it end up more saucy instead of fluffy rice grains.

Frozen vegetables added to the skillet

After 15 minutes, the rice should be tender and saucy. Add 1/2 lb. frozen peas and carrots and stir them into the rice. Return the lid and let the chicken, rice, and vegetables sit for another 5 minutes or so to heat the vegetables through.

Heavy cream being added to the skillet

Finally, stir in 1/3 cup heavy cream. Give the chicken and rice a taste, and add salt if needed (this will depend on how much salt your broth contains).

Shredded cheese added to the skillet

Turn the broiler on in the oven. Top the skillet with 4 oz. shredded cheddar, then place the skillet in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. (You do not need to move the oven’s rack up closer to the broiler, leave it in the middle.)

Close up of chicken and rice being scooped out of the skillet with a wooden spoon.

I garnished with a little parsley for color, but it’s not needed to flavor this dish.

A wooden spoon lifting chicken and rice out of the skillet with melted cheese stretching between

The post Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops with Vegetables

Easy dinners are my jam! I love these Sweet and Sour Pork Chops because they’re a super fast alternative to take out, they require NO chopping, you need only a few pantry staples to make the sauce, and it meal preps well. What else could I want? Avoid Hockey Puck Pork Chops If you’ve avoided […]

The post Sweet and Sour Pork Chops with Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Easy dinners are my jam! I love these Sweet and Sour Pork Chops because they’re a super fast alternative to take out, they require NO chopping, you need only a few pantry staples to make the sauce, and it meal preps well. What else could I want?

Close up view from the front of Sweet and Sour Pork Chops with Vegetables in the skillet

Avoid Hockey Puck Pork Chops

If you’ve avoided making pork chops in the past because they turn out dry and tough, you’ve got to give this method a try. Giving them a quick sear in a hot skillet then finishing them off later in the sauce allows the the outside to brown and heats them through before the pork chops have a chance to dry out.

If you’re new to cooking meat or pork in particular, I always suggest investing in an instant read thermometer so you know as soon as your meat has reached a safe temperature. Cooking meat beyond that point is how you usually end up with a dry, tough hockey puck. For pork chops, the safe internal temperature is 145ºF. I use this Digital Instant Read Thermometer, which retails for under $15, but is absolutely priceless in the kitchen.

Can I Reduce The Sugar in the Sweet and Sour Pork Chops?

Sweet and sour sauce is a sugar based sauce, by nature. You might be able to get away with reducing it by a tablespoon or two, depending on your taste buds (the sauce will be a lot more tangy that way), but this just isn’t a recipe to make if you’re living a low-sugar lifestyle. Unfortunately I don’t cook with sugar substitutes, so I’m not sure how they would perform here.

Close up overhead view of pork chops in the skillet with vegetables, covered with sweet and sour sauce.

Sauce Options:

This is a SUPER simple sauce, but if you want to spruce it up a bit you can add a little grated fresh ginger, a pinch of red pepper flakes, or even a dab of sriracha or chili garlic sauce. Another option is to use my Homemade Teriyaki Sauce in place of the sweet and sour sauce.

What Kind of Pork Chops Should I Use?

This recipe is designed for use with boneless center cut pork chops, approximately 1-inch thick. If you use thinner pork chops they will cook faster. If you use thicker pork chops or bone-in pork chops, they will take much longer to cook through. Again, an instant read meat thermometer is invaluable! 

Close up of Sweet and Sour Sauce being spooned over a pork chop in the skillet, surrounded by vegetables and sauce.

 

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops with Vegetables

A few pantry staples are needed for these juicy Sweet and Sour Pork Chops with Vegetables, making them a quick and easy alternative to take-out.

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar ($0.32)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar ($0.96)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup ($0.20)
  • 1/4 cup water ($0.00)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce ($0.08)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch ($0.02)
  • 4 boneless, center cut pork chops, 1-inch thick (about 1.5 lbs. total) ($5.50)
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper ($0.05)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.08)
  • 12 oz. frozen stir fry vegetables ($1.65)
  1. Add the brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, water, soy sauce, and cornstarch to a bowl and whisk until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Set the sauce aside.

  2. Season the pork chops with a pinch of salt and pepper on each side.

  3. Preheat a large skillet over medium, or just slightly above medium. Once the skillet is nice and hot, add the cooking oil and swirl to coat the surface. Add the pork chops and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are nicely browned. Remove the pork chops to a clean plate and cover with a second plate (turned upside down) to keep them warm.

  4. Add the frozen vegetables to the skillet and continue to cook and stir over medium for about two minutes, or just long enough to take some of the ice off (they may still be icy in the center). Give the sauce a brief stir in case any of the cornstarch has settled, then add it to the skillet with the vegetables. Continue to cook and stir until the sauce begins to simmer, at which point it will thicken and go from a cloudy brown to a shiny glaze.

  5. Add the cooked pork chops back to the skillet with the vegetables and sauce. Let the pork chops simmer in the sauce for 2-3 minutes more, or until the internal temperature reaches 145ºF. Serve hot, over rice or noodles.

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

A plate with rice and sweet and sour pork chops with vegetables, a black fork on the side of the plate.

Step by Step Photos

Sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl, unmixed.

Make the sweet and sour sauce first, so it’s ready to add to the skillet when you need it. Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup water, 2 tsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp cornstarch in a bowl. If you want to jazz this up a bit you can always add some grated fresh ginger or even some crushed red pepper.

Whisk the sweet and sour sauce ingredients

Whisk the sweet and sour sauce ingredients together until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. The uncooked sauce will have a cloudy brown appearance.

Season center cut pork chops with salt and pepper

Season four boneless center cut pork chops (about 1-inch thick, 1.5 pounds total for all four) with a pinch of salt and pepper on each side. 

Browned Pork Chops

Heat a large skillet over medium, or just slightly above medium. Once hot, add 2 Tbsp cooking oil (your preferred type) and swirl to coat the skillet. Add the pork chops and cook on each side for about 5 minutes, or until they are browned. The pork will return to the skillet later, so they don’t need to be all the way up to 145ºF at this point. Remove the pork chops to a clean plate and cover with a second plate to keep them warm.

Add frozen vegetables and sweet and sour sauce to the skillet.

Add a 12oz. bag of frozen stir fry vegetables to the skillet and continue to cook over medium for about 2 minutes, or just until they begin to thaw. Give the sweet and sour sauce a brief stir, then add it to the skillet with the vegetables.

Cooked stir fry vegetables and sweet and sour sauce in the skillet

Continue to cook the vegetables and sauce, stirring often, until the sauce begins to simmer. Once it reaches a simmer, the cornstarch will thicken the sauce and it will go from cloudy to a shiny glaze. 

Pork Chops added back to the skillet with the vegetables and sauce.

Add the pork chops back to the skillet with the sauce and vegetables, and let them simmer in the sauce for a few minutes more, or until they reach an internal temperature of 145ºF. Serve hot over rice or noodles!

The post Sweet and Sour Pork Chops with Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.