All hail the King Ranch Chicken Casserole

All hail the King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

35 minutes



If you clicked on this recipe in hopes of finding a healthy meal that fits into your calorie budget and won’t ruin your diet, then move on because the only thing this dish is going to nourish is your guilty pleasures.

The origin of the King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a little hazy, but many believe it comes from Texas and is named after the famous King Ranch. Though the King Ranch doesn’t take ownership of the recipe, variations of the King Ranch Chicken Casserole can be found in many Junior League cookbooks.

Regardless of where it comes from, it is the royal patriarch of all comfort foods. Like a lasagna, this Tex-Mex casserole is built in layers of tortilla chips, creamy chicken and vegetables, and then topped with cheese.  This irresistibly cheesy, creamy, spicy will satisfy everyone’s cravings, making this dish a party, potluck and cookout favorite.

Remember, calories don’t count when you’re having fun. For a video tutorial on how to put this masterpiece together, visit



  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Chicken Base:

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can mild Rotel tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 15 yellow corn tortillas, cut in half, then in thirds
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Cilantro, for garnish


  • 1 Preheat oven to 350F.
  • 2 In medium bowl, mix together the two shredded cheeses.
  • 3 In large bowl, place chicken, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and cayenne. Toss well and set aside.
  • 4 Melt butter in large skillet and stir in flour. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • 5 Add chopped onion, poblano pepper and yellow pepper; cook and stir just until tender, but not browned.
  • 6 Add drained tomatoes. Cook and stir another 2 minutes.
  • 7 Slowly add chicken broth, continuously stirring.
  • 8 Add cream, stirring until fully incorporated and heated through. Remove and set aside 1/3 cup sauce.
  • 9 Add chicken to skillet. Stir to heat through.
  • 10 Add sour cream, lime zest, cilantro, salt and pepper; mix well and remove from heat.
  • 11 Spray 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  • 12 Add reserved 1/3 cup of sauce to bottom of prepared baking dish using spatula to spread throughout bottom of pan.
  • 13 Add 1/3 of corn tortillas to bottom of dish, overlapping as needed. Spoon chicken mixture over top. Set aside.
  • 14 Sprinkle 2 cups cheese on top of chicken mixture. Repeat layers two more times, ending with remaining 2 cups cheese.
  • 15 Bake in casserole dish at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned on top.
  • 16 Allow casserole to rest at least 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  • 17 Serve with dollop of sour cream and freshly chopped cilantro, as desired.


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