Quick King Ranch Chicken Casserole


Usually made by layering creamy chicken and tortillas (lasagna-style), this classic Tex-Mex-inspired chicken casserole gets speedier for an easy weeknight dinner when we mix everything together in a skillet, then pop the whole pan under the broiler to make the cheese topping gooey. Serve this healthy chicken casserole recipe with a side salad for a filling meal.

Active Time:
25 mins
Additional Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
5 cups

What Is King Ranch Chicken Casserole?

King Ranch casserole is a chicken casserole with a Southwestern spin. Originating in Texas, King Ranch casserole has layers of chicken, tortillas, peppers and tomatoes with green chiles all swimming in a creamy sauce usually made with a can of condensed soup. We made this classic chicken casserole with weeknights in mind by skipping the layering and mixing everything together in a skillet. The casserole is topped with cheese and then popped under the broiler so you can enjoy this ooey-gooey classic chicken casserole in just 30 minutes.

Is King Ranch Chicken Casserole Healthy?

It certainly can be! Here's how we gave King Ranch chicken casserole a healthier spin:

1) Add Veggies

We bulk up our King Ranch chicken casserole with plenty of onion, bell peppers and poblanos. Vegetables add color and flavor to the casserole without adding too many additional calories. Poblano peppers are usually mild, but if you want to keep the heat to a minimum, you can leave out the jalapeño and substitute extra bell pepper, red or green, for the poblano.

2) Skip the Condensed Soup

Condensed creamy soups like cream of chicken or cream of mushroom are convenient, but they can add a lot of sodium and calories from fat. You can get a silky, creamy sauce simply by sprinkling flour over the veggies right before adding unsalted chicken broth to the pan. The flour combines with the broth, creating a thick sauce as it heats up. We give it a creamy texture by adding a few tablespoons of reduced-fat cream cheese, stirring until it melts.

3) Use Cooked Chicken Breast

We like lean, cooked chicken breast for this recipe. Leftover chicken breast or poached chicken breast is the best option. Rotisserie chicken is convenient, but it tends to be high in sodium, so keep that in mind if you choose to go that route. Boneless, skinless cooked chicken thighs are also a good option, adding only a marginal amount of added fat and calories.

Additional reporting by Hilary Meyer


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion

  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • ¾ cup chopped poblano pepper

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup unsalted chicken broth

  • 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

  • 1 (10 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained

  • 2 (6 inch) corn tortillas, torn into pieces

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat broiler to high.

  2. Heat oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, poblano and jalapeño; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until they are thoroughly coated, about 1 minute.

  3. Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in cream cheese until melted. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, tortilla pieces and salt. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

  4. Place the skillet under the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro.

    Quick King Ranch Chicken Casserole
    Christine Ma

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

332 Calories
14g Fat
21g Carbs
30g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 332
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 30g 59%
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 77mg 26%
Vitamin A 1974IU 39%
Vitamin C 65mg 73%
Folate 45mcg 11%
Sodium 376mg 16%
Calcium 165mg 13%
Iron 2mg 9%
Magnesium 44mg 11%
Potassium 443mg 9%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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