When it comes to easy Tex-Mex recipes, King Ranch Chicken Casserole is literally a king. Loaded with chicken, tortillas, bell peppers, and cheese, you’ll finish the entire thing on your own. The secret to its creaminess? Creamy, condensed soup.
Easy King Ranch Chicken Casserole Recipe
Packed with classic Tex-Mex flavors, King Ranch chicken is a creamy, layered casserole made with convenient ingredients like shredded chicken and canned soups. Seasoned with cumin, chili powder, and oregano, it’s an ode to the lone star state.
Wonderfully spicy and smokey, lots of melty cheese adds richness to cut through all the spices in this recipe. Adding poblanos and sweet corn can add sweetness and crunch to this already flavorful oven-baked party. Made in one pan and a single baking dish, you’ll love that it’s an easy clean-up meal too.
In a nutshell, if you like my Crack Chicken recipe(s), you’ll LOVE this casserole just as much! 💕
What Is King Ranch Chicken?
King Ranch is a popular potluck dish in Tex-Mex cuisine. It’s a layered casserole made with tortillas, shredded chicken, canned soup, bell peppers, spices, and lots of cheese. It’s sliced and served with toppings like sour cream, salsa, cilantro, diced onion, and avocado.
Why Is It Called King Ranch Chicken?
King Ranch chicken dates back to Texas in the 1940s and 1950s when canned soup was a kitchen staple because of the war. It’s named after King Ranch in southern Texas, the largest ranch in the world. However, the recipe wasn’t first made there. It has more to do with the fact that it’s a Tex-Mex recipe with popular ranch-style ingredients.
Packed with Tex-Mex flavors, don’t forget to check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full ingredient amounts.
- Butter: Use salted or unsalted butter.
- Olive oil: Vegetable, corn, and canola oil work too.
- Yellow onion: White onion is a good substitute.
- Red bell pepper: You can also use a three-pack of red, green, and yellow bell peppers.
- Green bell pepper
- Shredded cooked chicken
- Ground cumin
- Chili powder: This is not the same as red pepper flakes.
- Dried oregano: Leave it out if you’re not a fan.
- Canned cream of mushroom soup: I love Campbell’s but feel free to use your favorite.
- Canned cream of chicken soup
- Canned diced tomatoes with green chile peppers: Rotel is my favorite brand, but you can also use regular canned tomatoes and add jalapeño to taste.
- Cheddar cheese: Any sharp cheese is great for this recipe. Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, Muenster, and even mozzarella will work.
- Corn tortillas: Flour tortillas will make a more burrito-style Ranch chicken.
How to Make King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Can anything really go wrong with a cheesy, creamy oven-baked casserole? I think not.
- Prepare the baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Set it aside.
- Cook the peppers. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and bell peppers. Stir well and cook for 4 minutes or until the peppers have softened.
- Add the chicken. Mix the chicken into the pan. Add the cumin, chili powder, and dried oregano. Mix well to combine.
- Add the soups. Pour in the cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, and canned tomatoes. Stir to combine. Remove it from the heat.
- Assemble it. Arrange 1/3 of the tortillas on the bottom of the baking dish. Top it with 1/3 of the chicken mixture and then sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Make sure the final layer is cheese.
- Bake. Pop the baking dish into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Once the cheese is melty and bubbly, remove it from the oven and serve.
Tips for Success
Following these tips might make the owners of King Ranch invite you over to make this dish for them.
- Use tortilla chips. Since they’re going to absorb the moisture from the filling and soften anyways, you can go ahead and use tortilla chips instead. However, you will need to significantly reduce the amount of salt you add to the recipe.
- Use poblanos. Replace the green bell peppers with poblanos. They’ll provide similar sweetness but change the flavor enough to keep things exciting.
- Use leftover cheese. Shred all the bits of leftover cheese (Hello Feta!) you have in the fridge and use them in this recipe. It’ll be like a unique cheese blend.
- Line it with foil. For easy clean-up, line the baking dish with foil. Once you’re done, throw it out and you’ll barely have to wash the casserole dish.
- Add corn. Mixing in 1/2-cup of sweet corn will also add a bit of sweetness to the dish.
King Ranch chicken is often served on its own because of how filling it is. However, as long as you control the serving size, you can get away with adding a couple of side dishes to the menu.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Refrigerate any cooled leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also cover the baking dish with foil and refrigerate it.
- To reheat it, microwave it for up to 2 minutes or until warm. You can also reheat it in the oven at 375˚F for 15 minutes.
Can I Freeze King Ranch Casserole?
- Yes! Wrap the cooled baking dish in foil and then in plastic wrap. Place it in a freezer-friendly bag and freeze it for up to 3 months.
- You can also slice it and pop it into a freezer-friendly container.
- Place it in the fridge a day before serving so it has time to thaw. Reheat it as usual.
More Easy Casseroles
- Cheesy Ground Beef and Cauliflower Rice Casserole
- Cheesy Zucchini Casserole
- Broccoli and Cheese Chicken Quinoa Casserole
- Chicken Enchilada Potato Casserole
- Feta and Cheddar Hash Brown Casserole
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 10.5 ounces condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 10.5 ounces condensed cream of chicken soup
- 10 ounces diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, like Rotel
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 10 corn tortillas, torn into 2-inch pieces
- Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Melt butter and heat up oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
- Add onions and peppers to the melted butter; cook for 4 minutes, or until tender, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the chicken and season with cumin, chili powder, and dried oregano.
- Then, add in the condensed soups and tomatoes. Mix and stir until everything is combined.
- Remove from heat.
- Arrange ⅓ of torn tortillas on the bottom of the baking dish, then top the tortillas with ⅓ chicken mixture and ⅓ shredded cheese.
- Repeat with two more layers, finishing with shredded cheddar cheese on top.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 8 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
- Chicken: You will need to use cooked chicken for this recipe. I almost always use leftover chicken breasts or pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred the white and dark meat.
- Vegetables: If you are pressed for time, use a frozen mix of onions and bell peppers. Thaw before cooking.
- Condensed Soup: Condensed cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup is a concentrated form of soup. It’s thick and creamy. Please don’t use regular, thin mushroom or chicken soup as a substitute in this recipe.
- Make Ahead: This is a great casserole to prep ahead. Assemble the casserole, cover it tightly with foil, and keep it refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you are ready to bake it.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.