Texas King Ranch Chicken Casserole is one of the best and tastiest casseroles in the world. King Ranch Casserole is a southern family favorite stretching all the way into Mexico. The Casserole is a balance of onions, peppers, cheeses with a luxurious sauce running all the way through the dish.
We cannot forget one more important ingredient that makes any casserole a little extra special; Cheese…In this recipe, the Mexican favorite cheese “Monterey Jack” tops the dish. We aren’t stopping there with the Cheese. This dish gets a special Mexican cheese called Queso Fresco. Queso Fresco can be described as a slightly salty and drier cheese with a flavor similar to mozzarella. It is awesome. If you haven’t tried this cheese before be sure to look for it in your grocery store. It’s common in grocery stores nowadays.
This dish is quick and easy and the perfect make-ahead weeknight dinner. Stores in the refrigerator perfectly. This casserole actually gets better stored in the refrigerator for a few days. One of those dishes that only gets better with time.
Watch Our How-To Video:
The BEST King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Two options on which direction you might go
- First… The Super Easy “I’m busy with life; please show me how to make this recipe with ease”
- Second…The “I’m a from Scratch kind of cook” and would like the full experience creating the dish.
Roasting a Whole Chicken (Optional)
In the video, I purchased a grocery store rotisserie chicken and removed the meat. In the video, I’ll show you how to remove all the chicken meat from the bones.
The key is using your hands. Your best kitchen tools.
Method 1 – Roast Chicken From Scratch
Planning Tip: Start a day ahead and roast your own chicken, or just roast a whole chicken the day of making your King Ranch Chicken Casserole. Both work. The flavor will improve in the refrigerator overnight. The advantage of cooking your own chicken is controlling the size of the chicken you use in case you like a hardy amount of chicken in your casserole. The biggest reason to roast your own chicken would be the seasoning. When roasting your own chicken, I’d suggest using similar seasons that are used in the recipe below.
A Great Step To the Perfect Roast Chicken
-Trussing the Chicken-
Watch the short video and you’ll learn an invaluable skill for life.
Option 2 – The Grocery Store Rotisserie Chicken
Lay the chicken flat on a cutting board and start by cutting off the hindquarters, next removing to the breasts, finishing using your fingers to remove the rest of the chicken from the bone. How to demonstration in the video on the recipe card below.
Preparing the Sauce / The Base
First, cut one medium-sized onion into medium/small dice. I like a little of both sizes to offer additional texture to the casserole.
Next: Slice Thin Slices of Poblano / Bell Pepper
Use a mandolin if you have one, if not just slice thin or dice to a size you like.
Next, add the peppers and onions to a medium-sized pot on medium-high heat and start sweating the vegetables. The idea is to remove some of the onion and pepper natural waters to help the casserole final texture not be too wet. Add a solid pinch of salt to bring out flavor and to help the peppers and onion release their natural waters.
Add Chipotle Peppers – 1 Tbsp or More If You Want More Spice or Additional Smokey Favor
Not as spicy as some may believe. They’re roasted Jalapenos. The roasting process sweetens the peppers.
Add Rotel 2 to 3 tablespoons or to taste
Time To Add Some Thickening Agents
Add 1 1/2 Tbsp of Flour to the pot and mix together. The flour will start to thicken the sauce quickly. Be sure to stir while adding the flour to help reduce any lumps.
You could make the Cream of Mushroom Soup the day ahead alongside the Roasting of the Chicken
Add 3 to 4 Tbsps of Rotel. When shopping check the 3 levels of hotness. Mild, Medium, Hot
Add 1 1/2 Cups of Chicken Stock – Le Cordon Bleu Chicken Stock Recipe Here (Click)
The Dry Ingredients (Recipe card at bottom of post )
- 1 Tsp Chili Powder
- 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Oregano
- 1/2 Cumin
Building the King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Soak corn tortillas in chicken stock for an about 40 seconds
Layout 6 tortillas in a 9 by 13 casserole dish and cover with a layer of chicken
Add some sauce on top of the chicken
After adding the sauce, sprinkle some of the Queso Fresco & Mexican cheese blend all over
Repeat steps above to create another layer
add corn tortillas, next add the rest of the chicken and sauce.
Then add slicked Monterey Cheese to the top layer
Top with more of the Mexican cheese blend and garnish with tomatoes and jalapenos ( Just don’t use if you don’t like jalapenos )
The Best King Ranch Chicken Casserole Recipe
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- 1 Whole Roasted Chicken shredded
- 1 Medium Onion
- 1 Poblano Pepper
- 1 Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 5 tbsp Cream Corn
- 1 tbsp Chipotle
- 20 Corn Tortillas
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 2 to 3 tbsp Rotel onion & peppers mix
- 1 1/2 tbsp Flour
- Package of Monterey Cheese
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 can Cream Corn
- 1/2 tsp Oregano
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 2 cup Chicken Stock
- 1/2 cup Queso Fresco
- Bag of Mexican Cheese blend
- Optional: Garnish with Jalapeno
- Roast a whole chicken or purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. The link roasting the perfect chicken.https://butter-n-thyme.com/perfect-roast-chicken/
- Once the roast chicken is at a temperature you can handle, shred the chicken away from the bone. The whole chicken will be used. Just cut it up and mix each part of the chicken together.
Building The Sauce
- Start by cutting the onion, poblano pepper, and red bell pepper into medium/small dice, use a mandolin if you have one. Add 3 Tbsp of butter to a medium-sized pot and melt, once melted add onion and sweat for a few minutes, then add the poblano and red bell pepper along with a pinch of salt. The salt helps the sweating process and releases the natural water.
- Next, add the chipotle pepper and Rotel (add to taste) along with the flour and mix well. Once mixed add the cream of mushroom (you could use cream of chicken soup as well) then add 2 cups of Chicken stock.
- You may need a little more flour to thicken just right. The reason is all flours do not absorb the same.
- Add all the season next, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper. Taste and adjust your season, salt level, etc. I added 5 Tbsp cream of corn to balance the flavors. Highly suggest you do as well.
Building the Casserole
- Spray 9 by 13 casserole dish, dip the corn tortillas into chicken stock for 40 seconds. Layout 6 corn tortillas per layer, then spread out part of the chicken, then sauce, then cheese plus some Queso Fresco, repeat same layering steps.
- On the presentation layer, start with the Monterey Cheese slices, then add the Mexican cheese blend, layout sliced tomatoes if you like jalapenos add them to the top layer for looks, and a little extra flavor. Finish with Queso Fresco.
Cooking / Backing
- Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. If you want to add additional browning you could then place the casserole under the broiler for a few short minutes.