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An old-fashioned King Ranch Chicken Casserole is an easy dinner that with just 10 minutes of prep! Serve it tonight with a side of chips and salsa, or stash it in the freezer for a later date. Your family will love the zesty, creamy layers of chicken, corn tortillas, veggies and cheese.

Overhead shot of a casserole dish full of king ranch chicken

How to Make King Ranch Chicken | 1-Minute Video

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

This King Ranch Chicken recipe is super comforting and has become a family favorite for busy weeknights! Made with a few shortcut ingredients like a store-bought rotisserie chicken and canned soup, this easy meal comes together in just 10 minutes. It’s warm, cheesy, and totally kid-friendly. Show up at any potluck, church supper, or family gathering in the south and odds are good that someone will bring a King Ranch Chicken casserole to share with loved ones.

What is King Ranch Chicken?

The original King Ranch Chicken recipe is named for King Ranch in Texas — one of the largest ranches in the United States. The Tex-Mex casserole doesn’t have any known ties to the actual ranch itself, and the origin of the dish is unknown.

While there are many different versions of Texas King Ranch Chicken Casserole, most recipes generally a sauce made with RoTel diced tomatoes with green chilies, condensed cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups, diced bell peppers and onions, as well as chunks or shreds of chicken. Corn tortillas or tortilla chips create layers with the sauce, and the whole dish gets topped with cheese. What’s not to love about that?! Unlike spicier Tex-Mex fare like beef barbacoa, this dinner is mild, creamy, and very family-friendly.

Horizontal shot of a plate of the original king ranch chicken recipe

The Best Chicken for a King Ranch Chicken Recipe

You’ll need cooked, shredded or diced chicken for this recipe, and a variety of options will work. Pick the most convenient method for you:

  • Boiled and Pulled Chicken: Boil about 1 ½ lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs until cooked through (about 20 minutes). When cool enough to handle, chop or pull the chicken. You’ll need a total of about 3 cups (more or less) shredded.
  • Rotisserie Chicken: This is a great shortcut! Purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, shred the meat, and use in the recipe as instructed.
  • Leftover Chicken: If you have leftover grilled or baked chicken from a previous meal, put those extras to good use in this casserole.
  • Canned Chicken: Yep, you can even use canned chicken in this casserole!
Side shot of a plate of old school King Ranch Chicken casserole

How to Make King Ranch Chicken

If you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner, a freezer meal to prep ahead, or a satisfying and delicious option to share with friends, then this easy King Ranch Chicken is the dish for you!

Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Condensed cream of chicken soup
  • Condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • Canned diced tomatoes with green chilies (such as Rotel brand)
  • Green bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Corn tortillas

Step 1: Sauté Bell Pepper and Onion

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté bell pepper and onion until tender (about 5 minutes).

Step 2: Combine Filling Ingredients

In a large bowl, stir together the sautéed pepper and onion with the chicken, soups, and tomatoes and chilies. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Chicken filling for king ranch chicken casserole in a large mixing bowl

Step 3: Arrange Tortillas in Pan

Spread half of the corn tortillas in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13-inch dish. Tip: cut the tortillas in half so that they fit evenly in the pan — it’s fine if they’re overlapping in some places.

Layers of corn tortillas in a casserole dish

Step 4: Layer Filling and Remaining Ingredients

Spread half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas and then sprinkle with half of the cheese.

Process shot showing how to make king ranch chicken

Repeat the layers one more time with the remaining ingredients, ending with the cheese on top.

Step 5: Bake

Bake the casserole in a 375 degree F oven (uncovered) for about 25-30 minutes. The dish is done when the inside is hot and bubbly and the cheese is nicely melted.

Spatula serving a slice of easy king ranch chicken from a casserole dish

What to Serve with King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Here are some sides that go with a simple King Ranch Chicken casserole:

Overhead image of a plate of original king ranch chicken recipe on a wooden table

Make Ahead

This is the ultimate prep-ahead meal to get dinner on the table quickly and easily — even on busy nights. Assemble the casserole, wrap tightly, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking. When ready to bake, allow the dish to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before putting it in the oven.

How to Freeze King Ranch Chicken

Freeze the casserole before baking. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, cover with foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, allow the dish to come to room temperature on the counter for 30 minutes, and then bake according to recipe instructions.

To Bake from Frozen

Cover the dish with foil for the first 30 minutes, and then continue baking the frozen casserole for about 15-30 more minutes (uncovered), or until heated through.

Storage

Leftover casserole will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze the leftover baked casserole in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Close overhead image of a casserole dish full of the best king ranch chicken casserole recipe

Recipe Variations

  • Use any combination of condensed soups that you prefer — only cream of mushroom, only cream of chicken, or try other flavors like cream of celery or cream of onion.
  • Make it spicy. I typically use mild Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, which have a little bit of kick, but don’t overpower the dish and make it too spicy for the kids. If you prefer more heat in your casserole, use a can of spicy Rotel.
  • King Ranch Chicken with Tortilla Chips: Instead of using corn tortillas in the casserole, substitute with coarsely crushed tortilla chips for added crunch.
  • King Ranch Chicken with Doritos: Instead of plain corn tortillas, give the dish more flavor and crunch by layering the chicken filling with coarsely crushed Doritos (any flavor will work).
  • Try different cheeses. Instead of cheddar, you can use Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack (for a spicy casserole) or Colby.
Side shot of a plate of old school King Ranch Chicken casserole

More Chicken Casserole Recipes to Try

Overhead shot of king ranch chicken casserole

King Ranch Chicken

4.75 from 16 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 6 – 8 servings
Calories 477 kcal
A cozy and comforting King Ranch Chicken Casserole with just 10 minutes of prep!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, not diluted
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, not diluted
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, not drained (I used mild Ro-Tel brand)
  • 14 corn tortillas (about 5-6 inches in diameter each) (or as many tortillas as needed to cover the dish)
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190C).
  • Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté bell pepper and onion until tender (about 5 minutes). 
  • In a large bowl, stir together chicken, condensed soups, tomatoes and chilies, and sautéed bell pepper and onion.
  • Arrange half of the tortillas in an even layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. I like to cut the tortillas in half so that it’s easier to cover the dish. It’s fine if they overlap some, too.
  • Spread half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas. Sprinkle with half of the cheese.
  • Repeat layers with remaining ingredients, finishing with cheese on top.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes (or until heated through and bubbly).

Video

Notes

Make Ahead: Assemble the casserole, wrap tightly, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking. When ready to bake, allow the dish to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before putting it in the oven.
To Freeze: Before baking, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, cover with foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, allow the dish to come to room temperature on the counter for 30 minutes, and then bake according to recipe instructions.
To Bake from Frozen: Cover the frozen dish with foil for the first 30 minutes, and then continue baking the casserole for about 15-30 more minutes (uncovered), or until heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the casseroleCalories: 477kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 38gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 864mgPotassium: 762mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 682IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 355mgIron: 3mg
Keyword: chicken casserole, King Ranch Chicken, King ranch chicken casserole
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made half of recipe for just me & my husband in an 11&7 glass dish. Enjoyed so much & have 1/2 left for tomorrow or the next day. Had sour cream on top, green onions, & my husband’s homemade salsa with Tostitos on the side-yummy!

    1. Hi, Jess! I think that might work, but you’d want to slice the chicken really thin or dice it into small pieces so that it cooks through easily. You might also need to adjust the total cooking time just to make sure that the meat is fully cooked.

  2. 5 stars
    After two nights of leftovers, I put some sour cream on top. Over the top went over the moon! I and all of my family and everyone I have ever made this for, absolutely loves it. I use a whole chicken and the basic 4 colors of bell peppers. 1/2 each. Makes 2- 11×9 pans.

    1. Correct! If I don’t make that note, I often have folks ask me if they should prepare the canned soup before using it in the recipe. When I say not diluted, that just means that you should use the condensed soup directly from the can without adding extra water or liquid to it. Hope that makes sense!

  3. 5 stars
    I have tried 3 or 4 different King Ranch Chicken recipes, but my husband was never impressed until this one. And, this was the easiest of all of them.
    Thank you!