King Ranch Chicken Casserole is an old-fashioned, easy dinner recipe packed with flavor! Layers of tortillas, creamy chicken, cheese, and more…this recipe is comfort food at its finest! King Ranch Casserole can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to cook making this a great family-friendly weeknight dinner recipe!
King Ranch Chicken Recipe
This casserole can easily be categorized as comfort food. Creamy, cheesy, flavorful layers combined into one Texas inspired casserole!
Made using a few shortcut ingredients, this family favorite, comforting meal can be prepped in only 10 minutes! Perfect for any potluck, picnic, or gathering!
After only a 30 minute cook time, the hardest part of this easy casserole is waiting for it to be cooked before diving in!
Why is it called King Ranch Chicken?
This Tex-Mex casserole gets its name from the famous King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas which is known as the largest size ranch in the world. More than 800,000 acres sprawling across 75 plus miles of land!
Unfortunately, short of the name, this casserole actually has no record of being historically connected to the ranch itself.
The original dish seems to date back to the 1940’s or 50’s, however, over the years, it has been tweaked and can be made from canned soups or homemade from a roux.
What is King Ranch Chicken Made of?
While there are several different recipes of Texas King Ranch Chicken Casserole, typically you will find that this quick casserole is made with shredded chicken, canned soup, Rotel diced tomatoes, corn tortillas, and lots of cheese.
Some people add in veggies or green chilies, and some choose to use tortilla chips or Doritos instead of cut up corn tortillas.
This dinner is creamy, mild in heat, and family-friendly. Whether you have picky eaters you’re serving or not, this will be recipe everyone enjoys!
Why You’ll Love this Rotel King Ranch Chicken Casserole
After one bite of this tasty Tex-Mex dish, you’ll see just why its a favorite classic recipe with so many!
- Flavor- combining the Rotel with tender chicken, loads of cheese, and tortillas creates a mouthwatering flavor combination that just cannot be beat.
- Easy- with only about 10 minutes of prep time needed, you simply combine some shortcut ingredients, cut up the tortillas, and start layering. Easy peasy.
- Versatile- there are so many ways to change this up. Use tortilla chips or Doritos in place of the corn tortillas, add some beans, peppers, ground beef in place of chicken, and more!
- Make Ahead- short on time? Feel free to make this casserole up to 2 days in advance and store covered in the refrigerator.
- Freezer Friendly- you can assemble the casserole and freeze up to 2 months OR freeze the leftovers, either way works great!
The Best Chicken for King Ranch Chicken Casserole
This recipe calls for cooked, shredded or diced chicken! Pick whichever method works best for you!
- Slow Cooked and Shredded- 1lb chicken breasts placed in the slow cooker with some salsa, seasonings, or just water. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or high for about 4 hours. Shred.
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken- place 1 cup water or broth on the bottom of your Instant Pot. If frozen, pressure cook for 10-12 minutes followed by a 5 minute natural release. If thawed, cook 8-10 minutes followed by a 5 minute natural release.
- Rotisserie Chicken- such a great shortcut to this recipe! Simply de-bone and toss into this great recipe!
- Canned Chicken- yep, another great option when short on time!
- Boiled and Pulled- place chicken breasts in boiling water until no longer pink and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. About 20 minutes. Shred.
- Leftover from a different meal- if you have any baked, grilled, or leftover chicken from a previous meal, feel free to use it!
Rotel King Ranch Chicken Casserole Ingredients
Printable recipe card with exact ingredients and step by step directions are below.
- Onion- diced
- Green Pepper- diced
- Vegetable oil
- Boneless, skinless chicken- cooked and shredded
- Cream of Chicken soup/Cream of Mushroom soup- you can substitute with Cheddar Cheese Soup, Cream of Mushroom Soup or any of the cream soups.
- Rotel- mild or spicy, any type works
- Chili powder
- Salt/ Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Corn Tortillas- cut into small pieces, you can also use flour tortillas if in a pinch
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
How to make King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Saute Onion and Green Pepper.
Add in the cooked, shredded chicken.
Mix in the creamed soups, Rotel, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic.
Cut tortillas into small pieces.
Grease a 9×13 baking pan and layer 1/3 tortilla pieces on the bottom of the pan.
Top with 1/3 chicken mixture and 2/3 cup cheese.
Repeat layers 2 times, ending with cheese.
Bake in preheated oven, 350 degrees, for about 30 minutes.
Remove and serve with desired toppings.
- Use cooked ground beef in place of the cooked, shredded chicken.
- Add in black beans to the creamy chicken mixture.
- Use Doritos or Tortilla Chips in place of the tortillas.
- If in a bind, use flour tortillas in lieu of corn.
- Add sour cream, green onions, black olives, and/or avocado prior to serving.
How to serve
Chicken King Ranch Casserole is a great dish to enjoy on its own! However, if you would like to add some sides to it, you can add homemade refried beans, a simple side salad, Mexican Corn Casserole, or load it up with added toppings such as salsa, sour cream, olives, onions, green onions, tomatoes, avocados, and more!
Refrigerator: Store any leftovers of this easy casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freezer: Cover and store frozen for up to 2 months. Simply thaw and reheat (or bake if uncooked).
This casserole is the ultimate meal-prep friendly casserole! Assemble the casserole as recipe states. Rather than cooking, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator up to 2 days. When ready to bake, allow casserole to sit at room temperature a bit so its not chilled, about 30 minutes.
For a freezer friendly option, cover the casserole unbaked and store in the freezer up to 2 months, or until ready to cook. Thaw and bake as directed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this dish spicy? Nope, if made as directed, this recipe is quite kid-friendly and not hot at all. Of course, if you prefer heat, feel free to add jalapenos, hot sauce, or use hot Rotel.
Can I use flour tortillas in place of corn? You CAN, however, I recommend corn because the corn flavor really compliments the other flavors. Plus, corn tortillas hold their shape and texture better in this recipe.
Can I make King Ranch Chicken without tortillas? Yes! Feel free to use Doritos or Tortilla Chips. If you can’t have tortillas altogether, feel free to omit and make a cheesy chicken casserole without! Same flavors, just no tortillas!
More Casserole Recipes You’ll Love
Ultimate King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- 1 onion *diced
- green pepper *diced
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 lb chicken *boneless/skinless, cooked and shredded
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 10 oz Rotel
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- black pepper *to taste
- 14 corn tortillas *cut into small pieces
- 2 cups cheddar cheese *shredded
- Add oil to a skillet and saute the onion and green pepper for about 5 minutes.
- Add in cooked, shredded chicken.
- Mix in the cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, Rotel, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Cut tortillas into small pieces.
- Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.
- Layer 1/3 of the tortillas pieces on the bottom of the pan.
- Top with 1/3 chicken mixture and 2/3 cup shredded cheese.
- Repeat layer 2 times, ending with the cheese.
- Remove and enjoy!
Recipe updated 9/22/21