King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Chances are, if you’re from the South, you’ve had King Ranch Chicken Casserole. If not, you’re in luck! This Tex-Mex casserole is bursting with zesty, creamy layers of chicken, corn tortillas, veggies, and melted cheese.
It’s an easy to make dinner with pantry staples you probably already have in your kitchen. Make this easy chicken casserole for a crowd (Bonus: it’s a potluck dish that travels well!) or for a cozy family dinner that will leave you with plenty of leftovers.
Looking for another easy chicken casserole? You have to try my Sour Cream Chicken Enchilada Casserole next!
I grew up on this meal and simply call it King Ranch Casserole. It’s still one of my favorite comfort foods. There are many variations of this recipe floating around, but I like to think this one is the original King Ranch Chicken recipe.
What is King Ranch Chicken Casserole?
King Ranch Chicken Casserole was named after the largest ranch in the United States, King Ranch, located in Texas. Fun Fact: King Ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island! This dish has no connection with the ranch, but it may have gotten it’s name from of its large size. Because of this, its a perfect casserole to bring to a potluck.
There are many versions of King Ranch Chicken, but most have a sauce made with Rotel, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, and seasonings. This zesty sauce is layered between corn tortillas, chucks of chicken, vegetables, and cheese.
Baked to perfection, this chicken casserole with cream of mushroom soup is easy comfort food at its finest. Unless you want to add extra spice, this baked Rotel chicken is a mild and kid-friendly casserole.
Ingredients for King Ranch Chicken Casserole:
- Chicken – cooked and shredded or diced. You can cook the chicken any way you like – baked, broiled, slow-cooked, or grilled. You could also shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken or use canned chicken to make life easier.
- Corn tortillas – For this chicken casserole with tortillas, I recommend using corn tortillas. Flour tortillas tend to take on a gummy texture when mixed with the sauce.
- Condensed soup – cream of mushroom and cream of chicken
- Rotel – diced tomatoes with green chilis. For added spice, I use the “hot” version, but you can use “mild” for a more kid-friendly meal.
- Veggies – onion and green bell pepper
- Cheese – any cheese that melts well, such as: cheddar, American, a Mexican blend, or Colby jack. Grate a fresh block of cheese yourself for best results, rather than using pre-shredded cheese. I usually make this recipe for King Ranch Chicken with freshly grated yellow American cheese.
- Spices – You can get creative and use any spice combination you like, but I recommend a mix of: chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper.
How to Make King Ranch Chicken
This easy King Ranch Chicken Casserole is all about the layers. Start by cooking the chicken and cutting it into cubes (or shredding it). Then, in a large bowl, mix together the soups, Rotel, and spices to form the sauce.
To assemble the casserole, it’s best to lay all the ingredients out in separate bowls. When making this recipe, I have individual bowls for chicken, cheese, veggies, and sauce to stay organized.
Step 1: Spread a layer of chicken at the bottom of a greased 9×13″ baking dish.
Step 2: Cover chicken with a layer of corn tortillas, making sure to leave no holes. You can tear the tortillas to assure full coverage, if need be.
Step 3: Sprinkle onions and green bell peppers over the corn tortillas.
Step 4: Sprinkle an even layer of cheese.
Step 5: Using a spatula, spread the sauce evenly over the cheese layer.
Repeat these steps one more time to make 2 layers total. Sprinkle an extra layer of cheese on the top and bake uncovered.
I know you want to dig in right away, but it’s best to let the casserole sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it. I like to serve King Ranch Chicken with a side of tortilla chips and guacamole or Air Fryer Green Beans for extra veggies.
This make ahead casserole is convenient to assemble in advance, making it an ideal choice for a large gathering or weeknight dinner meal prep. You can assemble this corn tortilla casserole up to one day ahead of time.
Make the chicken casserole according to directions, then before baking, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or foil and put it in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to cook, take the casserole out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature on the counter for at least 30 minutes before baking it.
How to Freeze Casserole
This is a casserole that freezes well. I suggest you simply double the recipe so you can eat one now and later!
Make King Ranch Chicken Casserole according to directions and freeze the casserole before baking. To prevent freezer burn, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then cover with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to eat, thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, allow the casserole to come to room temperate on the counter for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Leftover casserole should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze leftover baked casserole in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
More Comfort Food Recipes to Try:
- Texas Toast Sloppy Joes
- Smoked Sausage and Potatoes Skillet
- Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Bowl
- Sour Cream Chicken Enchilada Casserole
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- 9×13" baking dish
- 3 cups chicken cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 2 cups cheese freshly grated, saving some to sprinkle on top
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13" baking dish.
- In a large bowl, combine the cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, can of Rotel, and all the spices. Stir well to make the sauce.
- Step 1: Add half of the cooked chicken to the bottom of the dish.
- Step 2: Cover with a layer of corn tortillas making sure to leave no holes. You can tear the tortillas to assure full coverage, if need be.
- Step 3: Spread half of the onions and bell peppers over the tortillas in an even layer.
- Step 4: Sprinkle with a layer of cheese.
- Step 5: Using a spatula, evenly spread half of the sauce over the cheese.
- Repeat these steps one more time until all ingredients run out. This will give you a 2 layer casserole. Sprinkle additional cheese on top before baking.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Let the casserole sit 10-15 minutes before serving.
- I don’t cook the vegetables because the time in the oven softens them. If you don’t want a crunch from the onions and bell peppers you can sauté them first.
- You can make this casserole as mild or as spicy as you would like depending on the spice level of Rotel you use (I like to use hot Rotel) and the amount of spices you add to the sauce. Use more or less depending on your flavor preference.
- Let the casserole sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it to allow for the casserole to cool slightly and thicken.