This King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a family favorite. It’s a classic Texan casserole with chicken, melted cheese, tender cooked vegetables, spices, and corn tortilla chips. It’s quick and easy – ready in under 30 minutes!
Love chicken dinners with Mexican flavors? Try our Mexican White Chicken Chili!
Easy King Ranch Chicken Recipe
This is a good one, friends! This simple King Ranch Chicken Casserole is one of our favorite weeknight meals. It’s so easy and is ready in under 30 minutes. It’s perfect for those who need to come up with dinner on the fly!
We’re willing to bet you already have most of these ingredients in your kitchen. Plus, this recipe is great for using leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken.
And it has vegetables! (You can barely even tell!) So, we like to call it very kid-friendly. If anything, the vegetables make it festive and colorful, while also adding some nutrition. They’re tossed in a creamy seasoned sauce made with condensed soups. They blend right in!
Add in some corn tortilla chips and some shredded cheese and you have King Ranch Chicken Casserole. One pan, 30 minutes, and you’re done. Let us show you how to make this super simple casserole!
Why is it Called King Ranch Chicken?
King Ranch Chicken Casserole is named after the largest ranch in Texas. You’ll find Texas’s most popular casserole dish at almost every potluck dinner, school function, picnic, family reunion, etc. It’s THAT popular!
It’s a well-loved comfort food among Texans and you’ll find out why soon enough! But you definitely don’t need a special function to make this dish. We think it makes the perfect weeknight meal.
The ingredients for this recipe are simple and affordable. You may already have a bunch of them in your pantry! Make sure to check out the recipe card below for exact amounts.
- Olive Oil: For cooking the vegetables. You can use another cooking oil if you’d like (avocado oil, vegetable oil, or sunflower oil, for example).
- Yellow Onion: You can substitute red or white onions.
- Red Bell Pepper: We like to use red bell peppers to add a little sweetness to the dish. Yellow or orange peppers would be the best substitutes.
- Cooked Chicken: A great way to use up leftover chicken. You could also use a rotisserie chicken.
- Cream of Chicken Soup: You could use Cream of Vegetable or another creamy soup. But the chicken flavor makes a difference!
- Cream of Mushroom Soup: Again, you could use Cream of Vegetable or another can of Cream of Chicken Soup.
- Rotel Tomatoes: We used mild Rotel so that it’s kid-friendly. Try regular or hot Rotel if you want it to be a little spicier.
- Chili Powder: You can substitute paprika for chili powder if you’re all out.
- Cumin: This spice adds a very distinct flavor to this dish. We don’t recommend substituting!
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese: You can also use a Mexican cheese blend.
- Corn Tortillas: We like to use corn tortillas for a richer and more authentic flavor. But you can also use flour tortillas.
- Cilantro: This is optional, but we highly recommend it!
How to Make King Ranch Chicken Casserole
This recipe is so simple! You’re going to love how easy it is to put together. Plus, it’s quick! It only takes about 30 minutes.
- First, saute the onions and peppers. You’ll do this until they are soft and tender. It’s best to use a large oven-safe skillet so you can make everything in one pot.
- Then add the other ingredients. You will add the soups, tomatoes, and chicken to the cooked vegetables.
- Season the mixture and fold in the chicken and cheese. Next, add the spices and fold in the cooked chicken and shredded cheese.
- Then add the tortillas. You want to be sure that the tortillas are covered with the creamy sauce.
- Get the mixture oven-ready. You can keep it right in the skillet if it’s oven-safe. Or pour the mixture into a greased baking dish.
- Top with shredded cheese. Add more cheese on top! We want a gooey, melty layer of cheese over everything.
- Bake for about 20 minutes. Make sure that you cover it for the first 20 minutes with foil. This will help the casserole cook faster.
- Finish baking uncovered. Finally, remove the foil and bake for the final 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Garnish and serve! You’ll want to let the casserole rest for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, like cilantro, if you’d like!
Tips for Success
Here are a few suggestions when making this dish. We love how simple this recipe is and the fact it can be catered to your family’s liking!
- Use up your leftover meat. There are no hard rules for this recipe. If you have leftover turkey or ground beef, you can also use that for this recipe! We just recommend making sure whatever meat you put into the casserole filling is pre-cooked.
- Add some crunch! For a crunchy twist… add crunched up corn chips (or even Doritos) to the top.
- Fancy it up. For extra flavor and a little pizazz, you can top it with sour cream, green onions, cilantro, salsa, avocado, etc.
This recipe is great on its own or you can pair it with your favorite Mexican side dishes. Here are some of our favorites!
- Make it a platter. Serve with extra warm tortillas, cilantro lime rice, and/or refried beans.
- Serve it with a fresh green salad. You can make a quick salad made of tossed greens, tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, and fresh peppers. It will be a great way to balance out the meal.
- Use it as a quesadilla filling. Get some large burrito-sized tortillas and make fancy quesadillas with casserole. It’s a great way to use up leftovers.
- Add a fried egg and some hash browns. Serve it for breakfast, or better yet – breakfast for dinner!
- Don’t forget your favorite hot sauce! We love to add a drizzle of our favorite hot sauces once it’s on our plates, so the kids don’t have to eat it spicy. But we love the heat and it’s so good with this dish!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Here is the best way to store leftovers. You can store them in the fridge or the freezer.
- Fridge: Just put any leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. We recommend reheating in the microwave.
- Freeze: This dish freezes well before or after baking. So, if you want to freeze any leftovers, make sure that they are covered tightly or in an air-tight container. They should be eaten within 3 months. Ideally, defrost the leftovers in the fridge before serving again.
Can I Make This Ahead?
This recipe is great for when you are planning ahead. You can make this casserole ahead of time and either store it in the fridge or freezer. Here’s what to do:
- Fridge: This casserole can be prepped up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. When ready to bake, remove the casserole from the fridge an hour before baking and let it come to room temperature. Then bake as directed in the recipe.
- Freezer: Make sure that you wrap the casserole really well before freezing. Then, thaw overnight in the fridge before baking as directed. You can freeze this before or after baking. The reheating time will still be about the same.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- 1 (10.5 oz) can cream of chicken soup
- 1 (10.5 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 (10 oz can) diced Rotel tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 5 corn tortillas, cut into triangles
- Cilantro, optional garnish
- Preheat oven 350°F.
- In a large **oven-safe skillet, sauté onion and bell pepper, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cream of chicken and mushroom soup, Rotel, chili powder and cumin. Stir until well combined.
- Fold in the chicken and 2 cups of shredded cheese, stir until combined. Fold in the cut tortillas, making sure to cover them completely with the creamy filling.
- Transfer casserole to a greased 9x13 casserole dish or keep it in the skillet if it is oven safe. Top the casserole with remaining 1 cup of cheese.
- Lightly cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until hot and bubbly, about 10 minutes more.
- Let casserole rest 10 minutes to set up before serving. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 503Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 1221mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 29g