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Baked chicken and rice in a steam oven is the comfort food dinner you didn’t know you were looking for.
I’ve been cooking this dish (and tweaking it) for a good couple of years and it really is one of those recipes that I think every steam oven cook should have up their sleeve. It’s perfect for nights when you have a table full of people to cook for and no idea what to make.
At its simplest, the recipe requires you to sweat onions and garlic in butter, throw in some rice and chicken stock, then pop a few spice-rubbed chicken thighs on top and get the whole lot into the oven.
Cooking the onions and garlic straight in your steam oven means they sweat down quickly and perfectly without the additional step of going on the stove, and without getting too browned. The rest of the ingredients go in and the whole pan goes back in the oven for exactly 30 minutes, by which time you’ll have perfectly cooked rice and fork-tender chicken.
There’s no lid, no stirring (except to fluff the cooked rice), no fuss. I highly recommend popping a separate pan of chunky-cut vegetables in to roast at the same temperature for the same time, and you’ll have dinner plus a side dish ready in one hit!
I first spied the baked chicken and rice recipe this is based on over at RecipeTin Eats, and I notice in the time since I last looked at it, it’s become one of the site’s most popular recipes. I’m not surprised, because it’s fabulous. I am notoriously picky when it comes to recommending entire food blogs but Nagi’s recipes are so carefully tested and explained and they always, always work.
Other favorite chicken recipes around here:
What kind of chicken to use in baked chicken and rice
We’re going to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs today, for a few reasons.
I know that most people seem to have a preference for boneless chicken because it’s easier to deal with and easier to eat. I get it.
Here, the fact that the chicken is boneless also serves another purpose: it will cook in exactly the same time that the rice does, so there’s no messing around with having to cook the elements of the dish separately.
Note that in the original recipe, Nagi uses bone-in thighs so they’ll cook at the same time as the rice. But her recipe is for a conventional oven, where the rice takes far longer to cook than ours will (almost an hour vs 30 minutes). Using boneless chicken in that case would give you overcooked chicken by the time the rice is done, but here they’re perfect.
The other reasons I recommend cooking with chicken thighs is that they have a lot more flavor and, cooked right, are more tender than breast meat. Yep, you read that right. A well-cooked thigh can be tender to the point of falling apart, without becoming stringy and dry (especially in the steam oven!). They’re a good mix of light and dark meat and have a small amount of fat which basically makes them self-basting. Skinless thighs aren’t noticeably fatty to eat, they’re just juicy and soft.
Can you use chicken breast for this dish instead? Yes, I think you could if you absolutely can’t get into the idea of thighs. I’d add them to the rice and liquid only for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, though, or they’ll be way overdone.
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How to make baked chicken and rice in your steam oven
By the time you’ve cooked this once or twice it’ll be second nature, but let’s go through it step by step just for the first time.
You’ll need to start with a preheated oven, so put that on while you prepare your ingredients and trim the chicken (I only trim if there are large areas of fat or sinew, but it’s always worth checking).
Mix the spices together (or grab your favorite premade spice blend if you want to save time or alter the flavors), and chop the onions and garlic.
Sprinkle the spices over both sides of your chicken and set that aside. You can rub the spices in if you like but I find it sticks just fine by the time it’s had a couple of minutes to sit.
Put the onions, garlic and butter into your pan. I use my favorite 12”/30cm shallow cast iron casserole for this, as for so many combi steam dishes. If you don’t have cast iron, a ceramic or Pyrex baking dish would work too – it needs to be roughly 10”/25cm square or 9×12”/23x30cm rectangle. Put the pan into the oven for 5 minutes, until the onions and garlic have softened but not taken on any color.
Give the onions and garlic a quick stir, then tip in the rice and stir so each grain is coated with the butter. Add the stock/broth and give the pan a very gentle shake so the rice is evenly spread over the bottom, then lay your chicken on top.
Rather than spreading the chicken out flat when you add it to the pan, tuck the edges of each piece under so it stands taller and rounded (as if they were still on the bone). This helps to ensure the chicken cooks evenly without the edges getting overdone.
Put your pan straight into the oven and set your timer for 30 minutes, during which you can prepare a side dish, drink a glass of wine and get someone else to set the table!
When the dish is cooked, you’ll need to remove the chicken pieces to a plate, then use a fork to fluff the rice before returning the chicken so it sits atop that buttery delicious rice. For adults, serving whole chicken portions is fine, but for kids I usually slice or shred the chicken so it’s in bite sized pieces. Not as pretty but much more accessible for little ones whose knife skills aren’t developed yet!
Pat yourself on the back and wait for everyone to tell you this is the best dinner you’ve made in ages, because it will be.
Leftovers, if you’re lucky enough to have any, reheat beautifully using combi steam. They also make for excellent, if not at all authentic, burrito-style wraps if you need to stretch them a little further! Add a handful of shredded cheese and a smear of canned refried beans and it becomes like a whole new meal.
Happy cooking, see you here again soon.
Steam Oven Baked Chicken and Rice
- 1.3 lb chicken thighs 600g boneless and skinless (4-6, depending on size)
- 1 tsp paprika I love smoked, my kids and husband prefer sweet
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 onion small (or 1/2 large one), finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tbs butter olive oil if you must, but the butter is a key part of the flavoring in this dish
- 2 cups long grain rice 400g I have also used Basmati with success, same liquid ratios
- 3 cups chicken stock 750ml
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, use 60%. If not, don’t worry! Just set to combi steam at the correct temperature and the oven will work out the humidity for you.
- While the oven heats, trim any excess fat from your chicken, Mix together the paprika, thyme, garlic and onion powders, pepper and salt in a small dish. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken.
- Once the oven is at temperature, put the onion, garlic and butter into a heatproof casserole pan or baking dish. Put the dish into the oven for 5 minutes, until the butter is melted and the onion and garlic have softened.
- Add the rice to the pan and stir so all the grains are coated in the butter, then pour in the stock. Lay the chicken on top of the rice (it’ll look like it’s swimming, but don’t worry).
- Return the pan to the oven (no lid) and cook for 30 minutes, by which time the chicken should be golden and tender, and the liquid should have fully absorbed into the rice.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and fluff the rice, then return the chicken. For kids, I often slice the chicken before taking the pan to the table, to make serving and eating easier.
- Serve hot with roasted vegetables or a green salad alongside.
- This recipe is based on one from RecipeTin Eats (Nagi’s recipes are truly wonderful – I highly recommend a visit if you’re lacking in dinner inspiration!). I’ve altered the ingredients to suit our tastes, plus I use boneless chicken instead of bone-in, and the rice and liquid ratios are changed to suit combi steam rather than conventional oven cooking. The cooking times are substantially altered, because the combi steam version takes a full half hour less than the regular oven one, and you won’t need a lid for your pan.
- I use 4 to 6 chicken thighs, depending on how many people I need to serve – the overall weight isn’t so critical, I just try to make sure each person has one thigh.
- The quantity of rice is generous as that’s what we like, and I always serve this with a salad or some roasted vegetables to balance the meal out (you can roast the veg in a separate pan at the same time as the rice and chicken cook).
- You can easily adapt the spices in this dish. If you don’t have the ones I’ve listed below, use a tablespoon or two of your favorite premade spice mix instead. I’ve tried a Moroccan spice blend, a Cajun one and even a mild butter chicken curry powder and they’ve all worked brilliantly.
Over to you – if you try this recipe I’d love to know about it! Share your comments below or on Facebook, tag @steamandbake on Instagram, or pin all your favourite Steam and Bake recipes over on Pinterest!
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