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King Ranch Casserole

king ranch casserole recipeMy good, good, friend Erin introduced me to King Ranch Casserole years ago when we were single girls living in Charleston. She is from Texas and this is a Texas staple. Many years have passed, now we have husbands and children, and I still love eating King Ranch Casserole. Whole Foods makes a mean King Ranch and whenever we go there for dinner, I always have some. It is not something you can eat every day, but every once in awhile it hits the spot. This is not a traditional version, but I think that even a Texan or two will like this.

These days, I don’t eat cream soups that come out of a can. I really just cannot bring myself to do it. And sadly, lots of casseroles call for a can of cream of something soup. I created this recipe to 1. get rid of the cream of something soup problem and 2. to lighten it up so that you can eat it more than once in awhile. Happily, this recipe delivers both the taste and richness, but far less fat.

king ranch casserole recipe4 chicken breasts cooked
3 Tablespoons butter
1 diced onion
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 small can green chiles
1 can Rotel
1 package corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese (I like the Mexican blend from Trader Joe’s)

king ranch casserole recipeThis is my favorite way to cook chicken for a recipe like this. Put the chicken in a large pot with a few carrots, celery, salt, and peppercorns.

king ranch casserole recipeCover the pot with water and bring to a bubble, then turn the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Drain the chicken out and let cool. Take the chicken off of the bone and shred.

king ranch casserole recipe Saute the onions in the butter over medium heat until soft.

king ranch casserole recipeAdd the chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Cook for another minute.

king ranch casserole recipeAdd the flour and cook for about 2 minutes.

king ranch casserole recipeAdd the chicken stock and bring to a bubble, and cook for about 5 minutes.

king ranch casserole recipeAdd the Rotel tomatoes and the green chilies. Simmer for a few more minutes.

king ranch casserole recipeCut the tortillas into quarters. Line 1/3 of them on the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

king ranch casserole recipeLayer the chicken and sauce on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese.

king ranch casserole recipe

You should end up with 2 chicken layers, and three tortilla layers. Top with cheese.

king ranch casserole recipeBake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

king ranch casserole recipeEven though this is not Texas Erin’s King Ranch Casserole, it is still really delicious and everyone in my family loved it. No easy feat.

Print

King Ranch Casserole


Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts cooked
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I like the Mexican blend from Trader Joe’s)

Instructions

  1. Put the chicken in a large pot with a few carrots, celery, salt, and peppercorns.
  2. Cover the pot with water and bring to a bubble, then turn the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Drain the chicken out and let cool. Take the chicken off of the bone and shred.
  3. Saute the onions in the butter over medium heat until soft.
  4. Add the chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Cook for another minute.
  5. Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken stock and bring to a bubble, and cook for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the Rotel tomatoes and the green chilies. Simmer for a few more minutes.
  8. Cut the tortillas into quarters. Line 1/3 of them on the bottom of a 9Γ—13 pan.
  9. Layer the chicken and sauce on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese.
  10. You should end up with 2 chicken layers, and three tortilla layers. Top with cheese.
  11. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

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  1. Glocal Girl

    April 5th, 2011 at 4:59 am

    Mexican food, my favorite!! X

  2. bakedbree

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    mine too!

  3. susan rodman

    February 2nd, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I have been making King Ranch Chicken for many years. I got my recipe from a Cajun lady. She makes it pretty much like you do except she puts Ranch beans in it and uses cream of mushroom soup. I do not care for beans and I pick them out, but they add a great flavor. I am going to try your recipe and betting I will just love it. I found your website, when looking for a good King Cake recipe and I think I am going to become a big fan of yours. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Michelle

    April 5th, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Yum! You’ve got me again πŸ™‚ I refuse to make casseroles because a) I won’t eat creamed soup out of a can and b) I didn’t grow up eating them. This however looks delicious and I think I’ll put it on next weeks menu, thanks!

  5. bakedbree

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    My mom never made casseroles either, except that I kind of love them. They are so easy.

  6. Andrea

    April 5th, 2011 at 6:07 am

    This looks delicious! I’ve been stuck in a rut with boring dishes for dinner~Not any more! Thanks for another great recipe, Bree!

  7. bakedbree

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Glad to add something to the rotation!

  8. jenna

    April 5th, 2011 at 6:18 am

    i hate canned cream soups…they wig me out too. i love that you created is minus the canned soup….it looks so flavorful!! πŸ™‚

  9. bakedbree

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    It was really easy and how I will make anything that calls for a cream soup from now on. I actually got the idea from Rachael Ray. I remembered seeing her doing something similar.

  10. Gina Walker

    April 5th, 2011 at 8:33 am

    So, can I just ask what the fear of canned cream of soup is about? Very curious! πŸ™‚
    This looks like a great recipe! πŸ™‚

  11. bakedbree

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    There are a lot of chemicals, I don’t like things that are creamy, and the way that it comes out of the can. The whole experience is something that I try to avoid.

  12. Becks

    April 5th, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Definitely going to try this! Delicious!

  13. bakedbree

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    It is really good and easy. Everyone in my family ate it and that never happens.

  14. Amanda

    April 5th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    This looks so good, I have everything except the tortillas…I might have to make this later on in the week!

  15. bakedbree

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    let me know what you think!

  16. Donna

    April 5th, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I have a question – isn’t Rotel a tomato, pepper & seasonings ingredient? So if so. why isn’t casserole red looking, not as picture shows? This does sound delish & I do want to make it as soon as I know if there is more than one Rotel or if there is only one ???? Thanks,

  17. bakedbree

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Because it is really diluted in the chicken stock mixture. There is only one can. I promise.

  18. Marie

    April 6th, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Suggestions for replacements for a) rotel (i live in Canada) and b) cream soups??

  19. bakedbree

    April 7th, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    diced tomatoes and some jalapeno. And I would just use the thickened chicken stock method that I described in the recipe. You can add mushrooms and celery if that is the kind of soup that the recipe calls for.

  20. Barbara

    April 6th, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Just about every casserole recipe back in my day had canned soups as an ingredient. These days the only canned soups I have in my pantry are cans of chicken broth….for emergency use only when someone gets sick!

    This looks like a delicious casserole. Love the idea of layering with corn tortillas!

  21. bakedbree

    April 7th, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I know, that is why I rarely make them. I think that from now on, I am just going to do the thickened chicken stock. It was easy and tasted rich, but it isn’t really.

  22. ChloeB

    April 6th, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Wow! This looks very tasty. I’ve never heard of King Ranch Casserole, but it looks delicious and easy to make. I’m getting married on April 30 and I am so excited to use your recipes! I know my husband-to-be will be just as excited to try them πŸ™‚

  23. bakedbree

    April 7th, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Congratulations! King Ranch is a Texas thing… I had never heard of it either until I met my friend Erin.

  24. ang

    April 7th, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    i know what the warren’s are eating tonite! xo

  25. bakedbree

    April 7th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    yeah!

  26. Donna

    April 7th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    OMG, I make this for tonight’s supper & it was very good! My husband said to put it in my tried and true book. It did take me a while to make it but well worth it & I also used more cheese than called for in recipe but we love cheese though. The cheese got brown & crusty – soooo good! Thanks & I will be trying more of your recipes.

  27. bakedbree

    April 7th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    so glad!

  28. Robyn Marshall

    April 9th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    My boyfriend is in love with this! ( …and he insists it isn’t a “casserole”. haha)

  29. bakedbree

    April 10th, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    lol… thanks Robyn!

  30. Melanie

    April 12th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I got this recipe from a TX friend too! And haven’t made in so long because of those darn canned soups. Thank you for figuring out a healthier alternative – now I can’t wait to make it for the fam!

  31. Hunter

    April 13th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Wow, looks amazing!

  32. Jen

    April 23rd, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I’ve never heard of it either (and I’m Texan!). But, I do make something very similar that I call Mexican Chicken using cream of mushroom and cream of chicken and uses Nacho Cheese Doritos instead of tortillas. We ate it for Sunday dinner as kids. It was rotated with chicken and rice every other Sunday. It is heaven, but not so good for you. I am for sure going to try this one on my family next week!

  33. bakedbree

    April 24th, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    How did your mom make chicken and rice?

  34. Brenda S

    April 27th, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    This was DELISH! It was a little more labor intense then I am used to. My sister-in-law suggested putting it in two 8″ casserole dishes and freezing one since it is way too much for 2 people. Also, a time saver would be to use the chicken off of a rotisserie chicken. I used flour tortillas and they soaked up the broth and tasted like noodles.

  35. bakedbree

    April 27th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    so glad! good idea freezing half too.

  36. bobt

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    You non texans always make the same mistake… FRY THE CORN TORTILLIA… or bake it, heat it on a griddle… The ones you buy a bloody raw and should be finished.

  37. bakedbree

    May 7th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    They cook when they are cooked in the casserole…

  38. Shannon Chin

    November 28th, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Hahaha. I didn’t see any mistake in the recipe. πŸ™‚ To each his own.

  39. Lisa

    May 10th, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Sounds delicious! Would love to make this for a gluten-free friend who’s going through cancer treatments right now. Anyone know if there are gluten-free corn tortillas available anywhere?

  40. bakedbree

    May 13th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I am not sure to be honest. I do not eat gluten free, so I cannot say with certainty. Sorry!

  41. faye saba

    September 24th, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Most corn tortillas are gluten free I think. I am allergic to wheat, oats and barley I buy either yellow or white corn tortillas all the time. There are also gluten free flour type tortillas now too I think made by Mission for burritos ect. they are good but they do have egg.

  42. KochFamily

    July 6th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Bree,

    I’ve loved everything I’ve made from here. I”m about to try this for a dinner party. What dessert do you suggest to pair with it? My guest does not enjoy peanut butter.

    Thanks!

  43. mary

    September 2nd, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Bree, this casserole is in the works right now-I tweaked it a bit-instead of rotel I used fresh garden tomatoes and anneheims and pasillo peppers that I roasted and froze earlier this summer and i am using pepper jack/medium cheddar combo for cheeses. I am waiting for the chicken to come off the smoker so I can shred and assemble but so far all of the pieces look fab. Can’t wait for Greg to come home from work and so his happy food dance. Thanks again for the inspiration! Hope all is well in Kansas! mary e

  44. bakedbree

    September 3rd, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Hi Mary, your tweaks sound delicious! Life is good in KC, but we miss all of our SJE friends.

  45. Debbie Caraballo

    September 2nd, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I’m a Texan and have been eating King Ranch Casserole most of my life – which is a LOOONG time! So happy to find this lighter version! I have no aversion to the cream soups, really – but this looks delicious and much fresher. Thanks a bunch!

  46. bakedbree

    September 3rd, 2011 at 8:41 am

    You are welcome Debbie!

  47. Colleen

    September 7th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I’m excited to make this for dinner this week and I’m crossing my fingers that the kids like it! One question: How many tortillas do you use? I bought the thick package of corn tortillas, but I noticed smaller packages on the shelf, too. Could you be more specific?

  48. bakedbree

    September 11th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Smaller package, but it depends on how large your your pan is.

  49. gdlemaire

    January 25th, 2012 at 6:23 am

    A couple comments:
    1. The man who wrote is right, you can and probably should dry fry with only a drop of oil or butter patted on the Corn Tortillas to finish them off properly.
    2. For the lady in Canada – use a can of “small dice” tomatoes and chop up a Jalapeno pepper (with seeds for more heat, without seeds and white interior pith for milder taste) then cook the Jalapeno or just throw it into the diced tomatoes and mix it up well. For that matter, you could add 2 cans of the diced Chili’s (Old El Paso, or Hatch Chili’s) and skip the Jalapeno all together.
    3. Baked Bree: You tell people in the body of the recipe to boil the chicken in a pot with carrots, celery, onion and peppercorns – but these ingredients are not listed in the recipe? Is it safe to assume everyone has celery and carrots? I think you need to list these items in the regular ingredient listing.
    4. For the lady who suggested using a roasted chicken from the store for a fast fix – great idea! Often the roasted chicken has a lot of flavor from that style of preparation, but of course the boiled version is good also!

    I’m from TX and make KRChicken from time-to-time only because of the creamed soups in it which I know are not good for your health… but I can’t wait to try your recipe, it’s sounds delicious and a lot healthier too! Thanks!

  50. bakedbree

    January 25th, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    The recipe actually calls for cooked chicken, I just mention that my favorite way to cook it is with carrots and celery.

  51. Shannon Chin

    November 28th, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Gives the chicken, and the broth a much better flavor, like a quick stock. I always do this when I am doing chicken for shredding or making broth. πŸ™‚ My favorite too. I also add onion, peppercorns, a bay leaf and some slices of lemon (a Rachael Ray additon that I always do now). πŸ™‚

  52. Gerontologist

    July 21st, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I am a wife of 34 years to a retired United States Marine. I have been cooking meals for all of these years that are very tasty (I am told on a regular basis) and I have not been afraid to use canned soups in any of them that call for it.

    The only thing that I really have a distaste for and would never use is Spam.

    I make King Ranch Casserole and I have to tell you that your recipe does not look like King Ranch Casserole. It looks very dry.

  53. bakedbree

    August 6th, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Well I guess we have to agree to disagree. I am sure that they are tasty, I prefer not to feed my family chemicals and processed food.

  54. Shannon Chin

    November 28th, 2017 at 11:29 am

    If you only wanted to criticize, you should have just kept your opinion to yourself. Everyone has their own preferences and tastes. This happens to be hers. WHy take time to be negative?

  55. JWHW

    November 30th, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    For richer flavor, you could instead make a roux with chicken broth. That’s what I use to make white sauce for chicken enchiladas. It would work really well for those who would prefer richer, creamier flavor without using canned soups. You have more control over consistency, for those who are interested. I don’t think it would interfere with the flavor. Just a thought!

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