KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE

What’s the point of me cooking a casserole during the hottest day of summer? It may seem crazy, but the stomach will eat whatever it wants. My stomach desires King Ranch Chicken Casserole. This creamy, cheesy chicken casserole recipe makes me feel like I’m in comfort food heaven after months of eating only summery fridge salads.

WHAT IS KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE?

King Ranch Chicken Casserole, a traditional Texan dish, is made with layers of chicken and cheese. It also includes a rich, creamy gravy. (Read more about the history of this casserole). King Ranch Casserole, like many casseroles, is often made with canned condensed broths. If you know me, you’ll know I don’t like canned condensed soups. So I created a homemade version of this classic recipe with simple, creamy chicken gravy.

MY WAY, KING RANCH CHICKEN CHICKEN CASSEROLE

This is one of those recipes in which there are many variations. Kinch Ranch Chicken Casserole is a slightly different version. It has less sauce and more texture. This was achieved using crispy tortilla chips (thick rectangular chips) in place of raw corn tortillas. I also used less creamy gravy than you would normally find in a King Ranch Chicken Casserole. It’s still creamy and cheesy and delicious but less gloopy.

Please, NO CHICKEN SOUP CREAM!

Condensed soup is not something I like to use in my recipes. I prefer making a quick roux in the pan and thickening the recipe. This is a simple recipe with no complicated ingredients. To see the steps, scroll down to the photos below the recipe!

THE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN – SHORTCUT

King Ranch Chicken Casserole can be made easier using pulled meat from a rotisserie bird instead of the raw chicken breasts. To replace the chicken breasts, you’ll need 2-3 cups of shredded chicken rotisserie chicken. Start the recipe by adding butter, onion, bell pepper, and chili powder to the skillet.

HOW SPICY IS THIS KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE

My casserole’s spice level was almost impossible to detect. Two ingredients will affect the heat level: the chili powder (Rotel) and the diced tomatoes with chiles green (Rotel). The heat level of chili powder (chili seasoning and not ground red chilies) can vary from brand to brand. However, the one I currently have (a generic grocery store brand) has zero heat. This is also true for canned diced tomatoes containing green chiles. Some brands are hot, while others are mild. Some brands label them as mild or spicy, while others are spicy. If you want to reduce the heat, be sure to pay attention.

KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE

King Ranch Chicken Casserole is made from scratch and includes layers of chicken, tortillas and cheese. It also has a creamy sauce that’s free from canned soups.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 1.5 cups per person

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. 1 lb.
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder ($0.30)
  • 1 Tbsp of cooking oil ($0.04)
  • 2 Tbsp Butter ($0.26)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.21)
  • 1 green bell pepper ($0.63)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.02)
  • 1 cup chicken broth ($0.13)
  • 1 10oz. Can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel) ($0.45)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream ($0.22)
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded ($1.69)
  • 5 cups tortilla chip strips* ($1.00)
  • 2 green onions ($0.23)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place the breasts of the chicken on a cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap and pound the chicken until it is about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with chili powder.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, swirl it to coat the skillet and add the seasoned chicken breast. The chicken should be cooked until golden brown on both sides, and the meat is cooked through. This takes approximately 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let cool.
  • While the chicken cooks, dice and shred the bell pepper and onion. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  • Once the chicken is removed from the skillet, stir in the butter, onion and bell pepper. Sauté the bell pepper and onion in butter on medium heat until softened and translucent.
  • Add the flour along with the bell pepper and onion to the skillet. Continue to cook for another minute or until the flour is incorporated into the skillet.
  • Stir the chicken broth into the skillet. Let the broth simmer for a few minutes before it thickens to a gravy. The skillet should be taken off the heat.
  • Drain the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles. Chop the cooked chicken. Mix the tomatoes and chicken into the gravy.
  • Stir the chicken, tomatoes, and gravy together. Add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese to the mixture and mix until well combined.
  • Layer some tortilla chip strips in a casserole dish measuring 9×13 inches or 3 quarts. Spread half the chicken mixture over the chips. Add more tortilla chip strips to the top, about half as many as before. Finally, spoon the rest of your chicken mixture over the top. Then, top it with the remaining 1.5 cups of shredded cheese.
  • Bake the casserole for 15 minutes in a preheated 350oF oven or until the cheese melts and the casserole bubbles around its edges. After baking, sprinkle sliced green onions over the top. Serve hot.

NOTES

These are thick rectangular tortilla chips. These chips are Mission (I used a generic). They are ideal for this recipe because of their thick texture.

NUTRITION

Serving Size: 1.5 Cups Calories 508.43 Kilocalories: 27.02 G Protein: 30.35 G Fat: 29.47g Sodium 708.7 mg Fiber 3.17 g

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