King Ranch Chicken Casserole

3 mins read

This comforting and hearty King Ranch Chicken casserole is made with layers of corn tortillas, cheese, and a creamy chicken mixture loaded with bell peppers, tomatoes, and green chiles! Perfect for potlucks or family get togethers!


All about this King Ranch Chicken Casserole…

This classic southern casserole recipe is rumored to have started in Texas!  This classic has earned a spot in most people’s heart thanks to the easy recipe, its comforting nature, and ability to feed the masses. 

Although its namesake is the King Ranch, the largest Ranch in all of Texas, there’s no history linking the cheesy, creamy casserole to the ranch itself. In fact, there’s no written history of where the casserole DID come from. But Texans happily claim it as their comfort food mascot. 

Ingredients Needed:


Notes on some ingredients:

  • Chicken: this recipe uses cooked and shredded chicken, you can make this yourself ahead of time or grab a rotisserie chicken and shred it to save time. If you want to make your own, you can use the method I use here in this Shredded Mexican Chicken where the chicken is seared and then poached, it makes perfectly tender and moist chicken, just skip the seasoning mixture.
  • Tortillas: corn tortillas are the best for this recipe, the texture of the corn blends in with the casserole. Flour tortillas tend to get a chewy, and have a less than optimal texture when baked in sauce.
  • Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles: any brand will work, Rotel is a popular brand to use. Store brands will work just as well. If you are unable to find either, you can always use a can of diced tomatoes and a can of diced green chiles.
  • Cheese: Monterey Jack is a classic Tex Mex cheese and that’s why it’s used in this recipe. Feel free to substitute with any cheese of your choice that melts well.
  • Jalapeño: this dish has a very mild heat, if you are concerned about the heat amount, you can substitute the jalapeño with a green bell pepper or leave it out completely.

How to Make (step-by-step):

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter. Once melted add the onion, and bell peppers. Cook until the veggies are tender. Add in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir to coat the veggies in the seasonings.
  2. Sprinkle the flour into the skillet. Stir to coat the veggies in the flour, will end up with a thick paste. Cook for a couple minutes to ensure the flour is cooked. Pour in the broth and stir. Bring mixture to a boil while stirring and let simmer while stirring for about 2-3 minutes until thick.
  1. Add the diced tomatoes with green chiles and sour cream to the sauce. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the shredded chicken to the sauce and stir, coating the chicken completely in the sauce.
  3. Briefly fry the corn tortillas in a small amount of oil. Not enough to make them crispy, just enough to soften and heat briefly. This brings out the corn flavoring of the tortillas and also helps keep some texture when baked in the dish. This is the same method that is used when making enchiladas.
  4. Layer the casserole: tortillas, chicken mixture, cheese and repeat. Ending with a layer of tortillas topped with cheese on the very top. Bake the casserole until bubbly and warmed throughout.

Expert Tips:

  • Use corn tortillas. I think traditionally it would be made with flour, but I love using corn tortillas. The flavor and texture is perfect for casseroles! 
  • Fry the tortillas briefly before layering. This is the same thing I do when making enchiladas. A brief frying in a small amount of oil in a cast iron skillet helps bring out the flavor of the tortilla and helps them hold up a bit more against the liquid of the casserole so they’re not mush. 
  • Use leftover or rotisserie chicken. Having shredded chicken on hand makes this recipe come together quick and easy! 

King Ranch Chicken Casserole: FAQS

Why is it called King Ranch Casserole?

It’s named after the King Ranch in Texas, the largest ranch in the state. Although there is no history of the dish originating there. No one has come with definitive information on who or where this dish was created.

Can I freeze King Ranch Chicken?

Yes! Prepare the dish according to the recipe. Allow to cool to room temperature. Wrap tightly in two layers of foil and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, remove to the refrigerator overnight. Allow dish to warm at room temperature for 30 minutes before reheating.

What do you eat with King Ranch Chicken Casserole?

Any Tex Mex side dish will pair nicely with this dish. Some ideas include: Charro Beans, Borracho Beans, Homemade Tortilla Chips, Cornbread, Salad, or roasted vegetables.


More Recipes To Enjoy:

Recipe first published August 28, 2019. Updated November 1, 2022 with new images and information. Recipe is unchanged.

 Photography by the talented