Hearty weeknight meals can be a rare thing, which is why casseroles are so great. They come together in a snap and can even be made far in advance and placed in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use them.
I adore this super easy sausage and rice casserole. It uses Lipton chicken noodle soup to boost the savory flavor of the dish. The rest of the ingredients are pretty standard fridge and pantry staples, making this dish the perfect option for when you forget to plan for dinner!
- 1 Lb. Sausage (or less, depending on your taste and preference)
- 1 Cup Onions, Chopped
- 1 Cup Celery, Chopped
- 1 Green Pepper, Chopped
- 2 Packages Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup (Dry Ingredients)
- 4 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Cooked Rice
Start by browning the sausage. I like to use a nice non-stick pan for this, but sausage has a pretty high fat content so it shouldn’t stick too much if you would rather use a stainless steel pan. Cast iron works well too, but it does hold a lot of heat so be careful when you start adding the other ingredients.
Crumble and move the sausage around the pan until uniformly brown. It will continue to cook when we bake the casserole, but you'll want it to be cooked fully before mixing with the rest of the ingredients anyway. The size of the pieces is up to your personal preference, but I like to keep mine in somewhat larger chunks of around ¾-1 inch.
Once thoroughly cooked, remove the sausage from the pan. You can cook the next ingredients in the sausage fat for a richer, more decadent casserole or alternatively wipe out the pan and add some oil (such as avocado oil) for a slightly healthier version.
Reheat the pan with the fat or oil and add in your chopped onions, celery, and green peppers. Sauté everything together until the onions become translucent and the other veggies have softened up a bit. This usually takes a few minutes. Be sure to keep everything moving in the pan so the vegetables get nicely pan-fried instead of steamed!
In your casserole pan of choice, add the water, both packages of Lipton soup, and cooked rice. Stir very well to combine and make sure the soup packet incorporates with the water as much as possible. In an oven preheated to 350 degrees, bake the casserole for 45 minutes with a heatproof lid on. After 45 minutes, remove the lid and bake for 15 more minutes.
Allow the dish to cool slightly, and then serve while warm. Enjoy your delicious, hearty meal!
What to Serve with Sausage and Rice Casserole
Sausage and rice casserole is a very hearty and savory dish. It does have some veggies in it, but these mainly function as flavor and don’t really add any lightness or crunch. For this reason, I like to serve my casserole with something like green beans, peas, or asparagus. These fresh, crunchy vegetables lighten up the meal a little bit and add some nice color to your plate.
Alternatively, this dish also goes great with a nice salad. Any salad works fine, but I love the crunch of romaine of iceberg with a few simple toppings and a light dressing. This meal is all about being easy to throw together, so use whatever you have at home!
Swapping out ingredients in this casserole is very easy to do. You can use almost anything you have at home to spice up the flavor, texture, and taste of this versatile dish. I’ll go into detail on a few of my favorite swaps below!
The vegetables in sausage and rice casserole don’t add a ton of volume to the dish but are mainly there for flavoring. The onions are pretty necessary (in my opinion) and add a lot to the dish. Sausage and onion go well together, but you could use something like a shallot or even a leek if you didn’t have any handy.
The celery can be left out if you don’t like the flavor or texture. You can also switch out the green peppers for peppers of your choice, or even add in red and orange bell peppers to make the dish more colorful! Spicier peppers like jalapenos could be added as well, either as a topper or cooked inside the casserole itself.
Basically any kind of ground sausage will work for this easy casserole. You can buy it in links and remove the skin, or just ground in a package. Things like kielbasa would also taste great here!
Something I like to do sometimes is use a spicy and sweet Italian sausage mixture. This gives a great depth of flavor and varying textures as well. You can adjust the sweet to spicy ratio to your liking. Even andouille sausage slices would work really well here, just cut them into bit sized pieces and crisp them up in a pan first!
You might have some success with other ground meats such as beef, turkey, pork, or even chicken! You’ll probably need to season a bit more heavily here since they don’t have all the flavor that sausage has “built in”. Just brown them in the same way as you would the sausage and add your seasoning before the meat has finished cooking all the way.
With a little tweaking, you can swap out the rice in this casserole. Cooked brown rice can be used as well, but might absorb water differently than white rice. Keep a close eye on the casserole while it’s in the oven and use a bit less water. That way you can add a little more if necessary, but you won’t be stuck with a soggy dish.
You could make this a noodle casserole as well, but you would need to change a few things. Start by cooking the noodles (macaroni would work well) about ¾ of the way to al dente according to package instructions. When combining ingredients in the casserole pan, add 2 or fewer cups of water instead of 4. Use your best judgement while it’s in the oven, and taste a noodle or two before removing to make sure the consistency is to your liking.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze:
This casserole, like most casseroles, freezes very well! Feel free to make it in advance, and then cover tightly with cling wrap, foil, and a lid once cooled completely. It should keep nicely for at least a few months in the freezer, and when you’re ready to reheat simply remove everything and replace the heat safe lid to bake at a lower temperature (around 300-325) until warmed through.
Once cooked, my sausage and rice casserole stays good in the fridge for a few days. If you’re not feeding a crowd, I would recommend portioning off your leftovers and freezing the remainder in the casserole pan right away.
How to Make Keto
The rice is going to be the main non-Keto part of this dish, and it’s tricky to find a low-carb swap that will have the same properties. Cauliflower rice could be used, but I would recommend using much less than 4 cups of water before baking in the oven. You could also leave the rice out entirely and bulk the dish up with more meat, veggies, or even some cream cheese!