King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a Tex-Mex classic that makes family dinnertime incredible. Loaded with chicken, veggies, cheese and tortillas for the ultimate casserole recipe.
This post was first seen on Savory Experiments where I am a contributor.
Who doesn't love a great casserole for dinner?! This King Ranch Chicken Casserole is loaded with incredible Tex-Mex flavors and of course loads of cheesy goodness. This simple recipe is perfect for a family dinner and can be made ahead of time and frozen.
My family and I are massive fans of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. It is always a constant request from family and a hit with all of our friends. My family may not be from Texas, but we sure do love this King Ranch Casserole. The casserole is layered with a homemade gravy, cooked chicken, cheese, and tortillas for a Mexican lasagna effect. The flavor comes from a blend of Tex-Mex inspired spices, but still kid-friendly and not too spicy.
What is King Ranch Chicken?
King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a classic Texas casserole, with layers of chicken, lots of cheese, flour or corn tortillas, and homemade gravy with veggies. The name originates from the historic King Ranch in Texas. Traditionally, this casserole is made with canned condensed soup, but I decided to make my homemade gravy that is creamy and packed with flavor.
- A Large and Deep Baking Dish:
- A Large Skillet
- A Sharp Knife and Cutting Board
- A Large Spoon
- Prep Bowls
- 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: You want to aim for about 2 cups of cooked chicken. This is about 2 large chicken breast, but you may need to use three depending on their size.
- Fresh Veggies: Onion and bell peppers are the main veggies that are used in the gravy. I like using a variety of colors of bell pepper, but you can pick your favorites.
- Chicken Broth
- Cheese: I use a combination of cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and Mexican cheese. This blend can be used or you can substitute in some Pepperjack cheese or Mozzarella for more creaminess.
- Sour Cream: Plain non-fat Greek yogurt can be subbed in if you prefer.
- Rotel: Any can of diced tomatoes with green chilies will work for this casserole. Also, you can use original or spicy to give the King Ranch Chicken more of a kick.
- Spices and Herbs
- Olive Oil and Butter
- Tortillas: Fajita size works best and flour or corn can be used.
- For Serving: Cilantro, diced green onions, sliced avocado, blender salsa, or sour cream are all great options for adding over the top of this chicken casserole.
Making the Casserole
- Season your chicken breasts then in a large pan over medium heat cook 5 minutes per sides or until cooker through.
- While the chicken is cooking, chop your bell peppers, and onion. Once the chicken is cooked though, remove from the pan and set on a plate and shred/chop.
- In the same pan you cooked the chicken in, add all your chopped veggies and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Once soft add in the flour and chicken broth and stir to create the creamy gravy. Once the gravy is thickened add in your spices and adjust to taste.
- Now, combine the gravy, chopped cooked chicken, sour cream, diced tomatoes, cream cheese and cheddar cheese then stir to combine. The mix will be thick.
- In a 13x9 inch pan spread a thin layer of the chicken gravy then put torn tortillas over the top. Repeat this layering of gravy and tortillas three times then top with a generous amount of shredded cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and enjoy topped with green onion, cilantro, homemade salsa, guacamole or sliced avocado.
Save Time: If you are looking to cut down on some prep work for this King Ranch Casserole you can use rotisserie chicken instead of making your own. Just cut that step out and go strait to making the gravy.
Layer it Up: Personally, I like to tear up my tortillas and layer the casserole so you get a bit of tortilla in each bite. Alternatively, you can lay the tortillas whole and create more of a Mexican lasagna effect. Also corn tortillas can be used instead of flour if you prefer.
Healthier Swap: Okay, so this King Ranch Chicken is by no means a meal fit for a diet. But, if you wish to make it a tad healthier you can swap out the sour cream for Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt instead.
More Dinner Ideas
Yes, the casserole can be frozen. Prep the recipe according to the post instructions, but instead of baking you can cover and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake it let the chicken casserole come to room temperature then follow the recipe baking instructions.
I would say the spice level of this casserole is mild. The peppers add a touch of spice, but nothing that would burn your lips. Of course you can pump up the spice level if you wish by adding in some diced jalapeno, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper. Alternatively, you can half the amount of peppers if you are serving this to young children, or those who would prefer minimal spice.
Store leftover king ranch casserole in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To extend the life of the chicken casserole you slice it, wrap each slice in foil, the store in a freezer bag. When frozen the casserole will stay good for up to 3 months.
I hope you and your family loved this King Ranch Casserole. Leave me a comment blow letting me know what you thought!
King Ranch Chicken Casserole Recipe
- 2 Large Chicken Breasts
- 1 Small Yellow Onion
- 2 Bell Peppers
- 3 tablespoon All Purpose Flour
- 1 ¼ Cup Chicken Broth
- 2 Oz Cream Cheese
- 4 Oz Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- 4 Oz Mexican Blend Cheese Shredded
- ½ Cup Sour Cream
- 1 10 Oz Can Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
- ½ tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper Optional
- 3 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
- 15 Flour Tortillas (Fajita Size) Corn with work too
- Diced Green Onions
- Sliced Avocado
- Homemade Salsa Or your favorite store brand
- Sour Cream
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven is preheating, season both sides of chicken breasts with salt, pepper and paprika. Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Place chicken in the heated skillet and cook chicken 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- While the chicken is cooking, chop your peppers (be sure to remove the seeds and ribs from inside), and onion. Once the chicken is cooked on both sides, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan you cooked the chicken in, add butter then all your chopped veggies and cook over medium heat until soft, about 7 minutes stirring occasionally. While the veggies are cooking, chop the cooked chicken into small pieces or shred.
- Once the veggies are soft add in the flour and stir until dissolved. Next, add chicken broth to create the creamy gravy. When the gravy is thickened add in cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper (optional) and adjust to taste.
- Drain the juice from the canned diced tomatoes and green chilies. Now, combine the gravy, chopped cooked chicken, sour cream, diced tomatoes and green chilies, cream cheese and cheddar cheese then stir to combine. The mix will be thick.
- In a 13x9 inch pan spread a thin layer of the chicken gravy mixture then put torn tortillas over the top. Repeat this layering of gravy and tortillas three times then top with Mexican shredded cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes on the center rack until bubbling and enjoy topped with green onion, cilantro or avocado. Enjoy!
Tortilla Options: You can use either flour or corn tortillas for this casserole. Personally, I enjoy flour but either work great.
Spice Option: To make the chicken casserole spicier you can add in some cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes or diced jalapeno pepper.
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