This King Ranch chicken is a casserole made with layers of corn tortillas, creamy chicken, vegetables and cheese, all baked to bubbly perfection. An easy dinner option that’s perfect for feeding a crowd!
There’s nothing better than a comfort food casserole, my family always requests chicken and rice casserole, beef noodle casserole and this zesty King Ranch chicken. This casserole is a great way to use up leftover chicken!
You can never go wrong with a cheesy casserole, am I right? This King Ranch chicken is a Mexican style casserole with plenty of chicken, creamy sauce, tortillas and of course, a healthy amount of cheese. This is an amazing dish to bring to a potluck!
What is King Ranch chicken?
King Ranch chicken is a layered dish that’s named after one of the biggest ranches in the United States. There’s no proven correlation between the actual place King Ranch and King Ranch chicken, but the name has stuck regardless. There are different variations of this casserole, but they all include chicken, cream soup and tortillas as ingredients.
How do you make King Ranch chicken?
The first step in this recipe is to make the filling, which is a blend of sauteed bell peppers and onions, diced chicken, cream of chicken soup, tomatoes with chiles and seasonings. The filling is layered between squares of corn tortillas and shredded cheese. The whole thing bakes in the oven, then dinner is ready!
Tips for King Ranch chicken
- Any cooked, diced chicken will work, including roasted chicken breast, chicken thighs, leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken.
- I use a blend of red, yellow and green bell peppers because it looks the nicest, but you can stick to one color if you like.
- You can use any type of shredded cheese that you like. I typically use cheddar and Monterey jack, but other great options are pepper jack or colby jack.
- The classic King Ranch casserole is made with diced corn tortillas, but if you’re not a corn tortilla fan you can use flour tortillas.
- This casserole can be assembled up to 6 hours before you plan to bake it. You may need to add more time in the oven to compensate for starting with a cold casserole.
This casserole is hearty enough to serve as a stand alone meal, but sometimes I like to complete the Mexican theme by adding a side of pinto beans and rice. Another great option is a simple salad on the side.
I like to top my King Ranch chicken with some fresh garnishes such as diced tomatoes and cilantro. Sometimes I even add a dollop of sour cream or diced avocado on top if I have it on hand. Other great toppings are pickled jalapenos, green onions, sliced olives or even shredded lettuce.
Ready to give this one a try? The casserole with the funny name is sure to win you over! It’s like a cross between a creamy chicken casserole and enchiladas, and that’s always a good thing in my opinion!
More great casserole recipes
- Chicken Noodle Casserole
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole
- Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
- Loaded Corn Casserole
King Ranch Chicken
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups bell peppers finely diced - can use any color of a combination of colors
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 10 ounce cans cream of chicken soup
- 1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles do not drain
- 4 cups diced cooked chicken
- 16 corn tortillas cut into squares
- 4 cups shredded cheese cheddar, Monterey jack, or a blend
- 2 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves chopped
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and bell peppers to the pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until tender.
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook for one more minute. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
- Add the chili powder, ground cumin, cream of chicken soup, can of tomatoes and chicken to the pan. Stir until everything is combined and heated through.
- Line the bottom of the dish with 1/3 of the tortillas. Spoon 1/3 of the chicken mixture over the tortillas and sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the chicken mixture.
- Add another layer of tortillas and continue until all the layers have been added, ending with the remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake covered for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
- Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then top with tomatoes and cilantro. Cut into squares and serve.