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King Ranch Chicken Casserole

King Ranch Chicken Casserole has such a great Tex Mex flavor! It’s a creamy, cheesy, comforting dinner recipe that you’ll want to make over and over!

A HEARTY CASSEROLE RECIPE

King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a classic Tex-Mex dish that is sure to become a family favorite. This hearty and flavorful casserole is made with layers of tender chicken, corn tortillas, a creamy filling, and of course, cheese! It is the ultimate weeknight dinner option (that also makes for fantastic leftovers!)

A fork holding a bite of King Ranch Chicken Casserole.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’S):

What is King Ranch Casserole?

King Ranch Casserole is a layered dish that is made with corn tortillas, chicken, cheese, and a Tex Mex style sauce.

Why do they call it King Ranch Chicken?

The name “King Ranch” supposedly comes from the King Ranch, which is one of the largest ranches in the United States, located in South Texas. The casserole was named after the ranch because it was believed to have originated there. However, as with all good recipes, there are different theories about the exact origins of this dish and no one can find an actual connection to the ranch itself. But I bet that some hungry ranchers loved this filling and hearty casserole after a long, hard day in the sun on the ranch!

Can I use this as a freezer meal?

Certainly! This would be a great one to make a double batch of, enjoy one now and have one in the freezer for later or split it up into to two smaller square pans if you don’t need as much. Make two 8×8-inch pans (disposable pans are always nice- no dishes!) Since this recipe calls for a good amount of ingredients and some prep time, I think if you’re going to do all that shopping and prep work, might as well get two meals out of it! As always, just make sure you wrap it well to protect against freezer burn.

Do I have to use rotisserie chicken?

Nope! I used rotisserie chicken instead of using chicken breast or another cut of chicken that I’d have to cook up and increase the prep time even more. But, if you don’t want to use rotisserie chicken, you can use chicken breast, chicken thighs, legs, etc. and cook them fresh, shred the meat and use that instead. Cooking it up fresh also allows you to season it how you like while cooking.

Can I use a different ‘cream of something’ soup?

Sure! When I was looking to see what was most commonly used, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom were the most popular soups used. I used the combination of the two and enjoyed it. But, you can use just one or the other, or any other flavor combo you prefer. If you want to go a step further and make them homemade, I have recipes for both right here: Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup, Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup.

Could I substitute the chicken for another meat?

Well, this is a King Ranch Chicken recipe, so it’s in the name, but if you wanted to swap out the chicken for ground beef, I think that would be a delicious substitution.

Can I use different cheese?

You bet. Instead of cheddar, try it with Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or Pepper Jack.

How to store and reheat leftovers?

Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Reheat leftovers in the microwave, or cover them with foil and toss them in the oven until warmed through.

A serving utensil holding a scoop of King Ranch Chicken.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • onion, green bell pepper and red bell pepper – if you don’t like bell peppers then just leave them out.
  • petite diced tomatoes – we prefer the smaller bits of tomatoes but use what you can find. You will not drain the juices from the can.
  • cream of chicken soup – or you can make homemade cream of chicken soup.
  • cream of mushroom soup – or you can make homemade cream of mushroom soup.
  • chopped green chiles – do not drain the can. I don’t think these add much heat because this one little can is spread throughout the whole dish but if you are sensitive to any spice at all then leave it out.
  • chicken stock – this adds another layer of flavor to the casserole but you could substitute with some milk.
  • sour cream – this adds the creaminess to the dish. Plain Greek yogurt can be substituted for the sour cream.
  • chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder – you can substitute these spices and replace with a packet of taco seasoning if that is what you have on hand.
  • shredded cooked chicken – I went with rotisserie chicken but you can use any other cooked chicken you’d like to use.
  • shredded cheddar cheese – other cheeses can be used, see my FAQ’s above.
  • white corn tortillas – these can be swapped out for flour tortillas or yellow corn tortillas.
Rotisserie chicken, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, petite diced tomatoes, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, cheddar cheese, butter, onion, chopped green chiles, chicken stock, sour cream, chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, onion powder, and white corn tortillas.

HOW TO MAKE KING RANCH CASSEROLE 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, make the sauce by stirring together the diced tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, chopped green chiles, chicken stock, sour cream, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder together until well combined. Add the cooked veggies and stir everything together.

collage of three photos: diced vegetables cooking in butter in a skillet; Tex Mex cream sauce ingredients in a bowl; cooked diced veggies added to cream sauce in bowl.

Add about ½ cup of the sauce mixture to the bottom of the baking dish and smooth it out. Add ½ of the shredded chicken.

collage of two photos: cream sauce spread on bottom of casserole dish; shredded chicken layered on top of the sauce.

Spread ½ of the leftover sauce on top. Followed by ⅓ of the shredded cheddar cheese.

collage of two photos: more cream sauce spread on top of chicken layer; shredded cheese added on top of sauce.

Lay out half of the cut tortillas on top. On top of the tortillas, add the remaining chicken, followed by another ⅓ of the cheese.

collage of two photos: cut corn tortillas put down in a layer on top of the cheese; another layer of shredded chicken and shredded cheese on top of corn tortillas.

Spread out the remaining tortillas. Smooth out the remaining sauce.

collage of two photos: final layer of cut corn tortillas placed in casserole dish; the last of the cream sauce spread on top of the tortillas.

Top with the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbly along the edges and the cheese is very lightly browned.

collage of two photos: shredded cheddar cheese on the top of the layered casserole; fully baked King Ranch Chicken Casserole with melted cheese.

Allow to set up for 10 minutes before garnishing with cilantro if using and serve.

A serving of King Ranch Chicken Casserole being held above the baking dish.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

Close up looking at a large scoop of King Ranch Chicken Casserole.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

A chicken casserole with layers of creamy sauce, chicken, cheese, and tortillas.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Wait Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 medium onion, small diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, small diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, small diced
  • 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 10.5 ounce can cream of chicken soup
  • 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
  • 4 ounce can chopped green chiles (do not drain)
  • ½ cup chicken stock (or broth)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12 (5-inch) white corn tortillas, cut into 6ths
  • fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 minutes.
    A skillet with melted butter, onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper.
  • While the veggies are cooking, make the sauce by stirring together the diced tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, chopped green chiles, chicken stock, sour cream, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder together until well combined.
    A mixing bowl with diced tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, chopped green chiles, chicken stock, sour cream, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder.
  • Add the cooked veggies and stir everything together.
    A bowl with diced tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, chopped green chiles, chicken stock, sour cream, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder and cooked veggies.
  • Add about ½ cup of the sauce mixture to the bottom of the baking dish and smooth it out.
    Veggie rich sauce on the bottom of a glass baking dish.
  • Add ½ of the shredded chicken, spread ½ of the leftover sauce on top, followed by ⅓ of the shredded cheddar cheese.
    A baking dish with sauce, shredded chicken, and cheddar cheese in layers.
  • Lay out half of the cut tortillas on top.
    Cut tortillas on top of other layers of the King Ranch Casserole.
  • On top of the tortillas, add the remaining chicken, followed by another ⅓ of the cheese.
    Layers of King Ranch Chicken Casserole in a baking dish.
  • Spread out the remaining tortillas.
    cut corn tortillas layered in a casserole dish.
  • Spread on the remaining sauce.
    sauce layered on top of tortillas in casserole dish.
  • Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.
    Layered King Ranch Chicken in a baking dish.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbly along the edges and the cheese is very lightly browned.
    A baked King Ranch Chicken Casserole in a glass dish.
  • Allow to set up for 10 minutes before garnishing with cilantro (if using) and serve.
    A fork holding a bite of King Ranch Chicken Casserole.

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 524kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 790mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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