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King Ranch Casserole | The Recipe Critic

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King Ranch Casserole is your solution if you’re looking for a dinner that is both delicious and easy to make! It’s a creamy dish with layers of chicken, cheese, and tortilla chips that your family is going to want on repeat.

Looking for more family-friendly casseroles that are simple and loved by all? We’ve got you covered! Try million dollar spaghetticheeseburger casserole, or crack chicken casserole next!

Close view of king ranch casserole in a baking dish with a wooden serving spoon.Close view of king ranch casserole in a baking dish with a wooden serving spoon.

What is King Ranch Chicken?

This King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a winning dinner for almost everyone that tries it! The combination of tender chicken, creamy sauce, tortilla chips and plenty of cheese is so irresistible. It has delicious Tex Mex flavors with satisfying textures that are so delicious. Plus, it’s simple to throw together for busy weeknights!

King Ranch chicken gets its name from the King Ranch in Texas, although the actual history of the dish is unknown and there is no direct connection between the recipe and the ranch. But it does make me think of something you would eat on a ranch! It’s like a pan of chicken nachos, and your favorite comforting casserole rolled into one bubbling meal of heavenly comfort food.

Ingredients Needed

This king ranch chicken casserole recipe uses many pantry staples for a crowd-pleasing affordable dinner! It’s a great recipe for using up leftover shredded chicken, if you have it. You can find exact measurements for each ingredient in the recipe card below.

  • Olive Oil: For sautéing the vegetables.
  • Bell Peppers: One green bell pepper and one red bell pepper add color, flavor and texture.
  • Yellow Onion: Sautéed with the peppers to add wonderful savory flavor.
  • Chicken: Use any cooked chicken. Rotisserie chicken is my go-to because it’s convenient and adds so much extra flavor.
  • Fire Roasted Tomatoes: The extra char from the canned fire-roasted tomatoes adds major depth of flavor in this recipe.
  • Green Chiles: For just a little kick of heat! If you’re sensitive to spice, use mild or leave them out completely.
  • Canned Soup: A combination of cream of mushroom soup and cream of chicken soup create the creamy sauce that holds the filling ingredients together.
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper give this dish lots of depth and bold flavor.
  • Cheese: A blend of cheddar cheese and pepper jack cheese for melted cheesy goodness. For maximum flavor and better melting, grate your own cheese from a block.
  • Corn Tortilla Chips: Soaks up the sauce, and adds great texture to the dish.

How to Make King Ranch Chicken

King ranch chicken casserole comes together with very little effort. The simple steps are straightforward and easy to follow. Once you sauté the veggies, mix them with the chicken, soup, and spices. Then assemble all of the layers in a pan and bake! Here’s how to make it:

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Sauté Veggies: In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add in the green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and onion. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Combine: In a large bowl, mix together the sautéed vegetables, shredded chicken, tomatoes, green chiles, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Mix the Cheeses: In a separate bowl, mix together the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses.
  5. Assemble Casserole: In the bottom of the baking dish layer enough tortilla chips to cover the dish in an even layer. Pour ½ of the chicken mixture on top of the tortilla chips and ½ of the cheese mixture on top of the chicken.
  6. Repeat: Repeat these layers 1 more time for a total of 2 layers of chips, chicken, and cheese, ending with the last layer of cheese.
  7. Bake: Bake the casserole until the top is bubbly and golden about 20-30 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
First photo of the creamy chicken mixture ingredients in a bowl. Second photo of the chips layered in a baking dish. Third photo of the creamy chicken mixture layered on top of the chips. Fourth photo of cheese sprinkled on top of the casserole.First photo of the creamy chicken mixture ingredients in a bowl. Second photo of the chips layered in a baking dish. Third photo of the creamy chicken mixture layered on top of the chips. Fourth photo of cheese sprinkled on top of the casserole.

Tips and Variations

Here are some helpful tips and ways to make this casserole recipe your own! I know your family is going to love this chicken casserole as much as mine does!

  • Make it Spicy: If you like a little heat, add a diced jalapeño to the vegetable mix and add an additional teaspoon of chili powder.
  • Using Tortillas: Some recipes use corn tortillas or flour tortillas in place of the chips but I prefer the way the chips absorb some of the liquid. If preferred, you can layer tortillas instead of the chips.
  • Rest After Baking: Allow at least 10 minutes for the casserole to rest, so the flavors have a chance to meld and the casserole can set slightly.
  • Sides: Looking for some sides that would pair deliciously to make this a complete meal? Serve this with air fryer corn on the cob, homemade refried beans and/or Mexican rice.
  • Toppings: We love to add toppings like sour cream, sliced avocado or guacamole, and fresh cilantro.

Top view of a wooden serving spoon sitting in the dish of king ranch casserole.Top view of a wooden serving spoon sitting in the dish of king ranch casserole.

Storing Leftovers

  • In the Refrigerator: Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat: Heat leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warmed through. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave. 
  • In the Freezer: To freeze, transfer leftovers to an airtight freezer-safe storage container and for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Top view of a serving of king ranch casserole on a plate garnished with cilantro and sour cream.Top view of a serving of king ranch casserole on a plate garnished with cilantro and sour cream.

More Delicious Casserole Recipes

Here are some of our other go-to casserole recipes that your family will devour! They’re warm, comforting, and so easy to make! For more dinner inspo, check out my full list of casseroles!

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  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

  • In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat, add in the green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and onion. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender.

  • In a large bowl mix together the sauteed vegetables, shredded chicken, tomatoes, green chiles, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper.

  • In a separate bowl, mix together the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses.

  • In the bottom of the baking dish layer enough tortilla chips to cover the dish in an even layer. Pour ½ of the chicken mixture on top of the tortilla chips and ½ of the cheese mixture on top of the chicken.

  • Repeat these layers 1 more time for a total of 2 layers of chips, chicken, and cheese, ending with the last layer of cheese.

  • Bake the casserole until the top is bubbly and golden about 20-30 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
If you like a little heat, add a diced jalapeño to the vegetable mix and add an additional teaspoon of chili powder.
Some recipes use corn tortillas or flour tortillas in place of the chips but I prefer the way the chips absorb some of the liquid.

Serving: 1servingCalories: 277kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 19gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 1120mgPotassium: 279mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 954IUVitamin C: 38mgCalcium: 230mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.



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