King Ranch Chicken Casserole
King Ranch Chicken Casserole Recipe – A creamy, cheesy and rich Texan classic, and guaranteed mood enhancer for cold winter evenings.
Over the holidays I visited my brother in Texas.
I’m always enamored by the vast variety of regional specialties found in Texas. It seems Texas pride reaches into every element of life, especially local dishes.
My brother introduced me to a Texas chicken casserole I had never tried before, King Ranch Chicken Casserole.
History Of Creamy King Ranch Chicken Casserole
King Ranch, one of the largest and most historically innovative ranches in the world, was founded in the 1800s by a runaway, Richard King, who made a name for himself later in life in both the steamboat industry and ranching.
These days many things are named after the epic King Ranch, from lavish leather car interiors and furniture to creamy casserole recipes.
I’m not sure there’s a final word on whether Texas King Ranch Casserole actually originated at King Ranch, or whether it’s just a popular Texan title to tag on.
Either way, this ultra-creamy enchilada-style chicken casserole is a massive hit with anyone who tastes it.
Epic in its own right.
Easy King Ranch Chicken Casserole Made From Scratch
When researching King Ranch Chicken Casserole, I found most recipes include condensed cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup.
However, I am not really a fan of adding processed condensed soup to any recipe. I find you can get better flavor and texture with fresh ingredients.
So I started from scratch with sour cream, green chiles, and tomatillo salsa verde, then tossed it with fresh cilantro and chopped chicken.
The result is a super silky casserole base with a hint of spice.
This King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a wonderful freezer make-ahead meal, and is also handy for potlucks and tailgating!
Chicken Casserole Ingredients
The creamy, savory chicken filling is layered in a casserole dish with shredded cheese and torn tortillas, then baked until golden and bubbly.
The rich sauce saturates the tortillas, forming tender decadent layers of spicy, cheesy goodness.
Here are the wonderfully simple ingredients you’ll need:Chopped Cooked
- Chicken – You can use leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken to make this recipe even easier. You can even us leftover holiday turkey!
- Sour Cream
- Onion – peeled and chopped
- Garlic – peeled and minced
- Jarred Tomatillo Salsa Verde – your choice of mild or hot
- Chopped Green Chiles – 13.5 oz can
- Chopped Cilantro
- Ground Cumin
- Shredded Mexican Style Cheese
- White Corn Tortillas
How to Make the BEST King Ranch Chicken Casserole
I think my Texan friends would approve of this Easy King Ranch Chicken Casserole Recipe.
It has a definitive Tex-Mex flavor, an overall luxurious quality, and can be thrown together in minutes to feed the masses! One casserole is enough to yield 16 deliciously satisfying servings.
Here’s how to easily put together this scrumptious dish:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a skillet over medium heat and add the butter, chopped onions, and minced garlic. Sauté for 3-5 minutes to soften.
2. Next, in a large bowl mix the sautéed onions and garlic, chopped precooked chicken, sour cream, salsa verde, chopped green chiles, cilantro, and cumin.
3. Tear the tortillas into rough pieces. Spoon one-quarter of the chicken filling in the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Top with 1 cup shredded cheese. Then spread a single layer of torn tortillas over the top.
Repeat layering the chicken filling, cheese, and tortillas three layers high, using up all the tortillas. Spread the last one-quarter of chicken filling and 1 cup of cheese over the top.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the King Ranch Chicken Casserole is golden and bubbly. Wait at least 5 minutes before cutting, and serve warm.
My brother would tell you it’s best with Cholula, a popular hot sauce in Texas, doused over the top.
Get The Full Texas King Ranch Chicken Casserole Recipe + VIDEO Below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can This Casserole Recipe Be Made Ahead of Time?
Yes! I love making this chicken casserole a few days before I am planning to enjoy it.
Simply allow it to cool completely before wrapping, and keep it in the freezer for up to three months or in the fridge for up to four days.
If frozen, allow the casserole to thaw completely before reheating. Bake uncovered in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly hot.
Is This Casserole Gluten Free, Low Carb and/or Keto-Friendly?
This recipe is naturally gluten-free, but be sure you double-check the ingredients list for your corn tortillas and shredded cheese: some brands use gluten-based preservatives.
You can easily make this casserole keto by substituting the white corn tortillas for a keto-friendly tortilla made with coconut, almond and/or cassava flour.
Looking for More Favorite One-Pan Recipes?
- One-Pot Chicken Noodle Casserole Recipe
- Chicken Pot Pie Stuffed Peppers Recipe
- Mom’s Best Beef Pot Roast Recipe
- Easy Jambalaya Recipe
- Mexican Street Corn Chicken Chili Recipe
- Buffalo Chicken and Rice Skillet Recipe
- Balsamic Steak Sheet Pan Dinner Recipe
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- 5 cups chopped cooked chicken (use leftovers or a rotisserie chicken)
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 16 ounces jarred tomatillo salsa verde, mild or hot
- 13.5 ounces chopped green chiles
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 4 cups shredded Mexican style cheese
- 20 white corn tortillas
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a skillet over medium heat and add the butter, onions, and garlic. Sauté for 3-5 minutes to soften.
- In a large bowl mix the sautéed onions and garlic, chopped chicken, sour cream, salsa verde, chopped green chiles, cilantro, and cumin.
- Tear the tortillas into rough pieces. Spoon one-quarter of the chicken filling in the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Top with 1 cup shredded cheese. Then spread a single layer of torn tortillas over the top. Repeat layering the chicken filling, cheese, and tortillas three layers high, using up all the tortillas. Spread the last one-quarter of chicken filling and 1 cup of cheese over the top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Wait at least 5 minutes before cutting. Serve warm!
Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!
Amazing and delicious, this recipe is a keeper for sure! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find corn tortillas or green chillies at our local grocery store so I used Tostito chips instead and it was still fantastic. Finishing off the tiniest bowl of leftovers for lunch today. It was a huge hit!
The extensive range of local delicacies that may be discovered in Texas never fails to captivate and amaze me. It dordle would seem that pride in Texas extends into every aspect of life, particularly the cuisine of the state.
I’ve only made this recipe one time and really liked it. Do you think I would be able to make this in a crockpot by prepping it the night before and cooking it the next day? I was thinking the tortillas might get too soggy.
AMAZING! I did make my own tomatillo salsa to use in it but other than that, wouldn’t change a thing! Can’t wait for leftovers:)
Made this tonight and it was excellent, everyone loved it, I will make it again. Used only about half the white corn tortillas to cut back on the carbs. Yum!
I made this recipe. It was great. Please let me know what size the tortillas should be.
Will it taste good with the boneless chicken breast too? The sauce looks so amazingly delicious
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I’ve been making this recipe for family for 2 years. Everyone loves this! I’ve even made it with tortilla chips instead of corn tortillas. I sometimes add red and green bell peppers with the sauteed onions, or I’ll use canned tomatoes. I always use a full hen, and cook it and let it simmer in well seasoned water to absorb garlic and onion. It really makes this a super special dish. My daughter in law always requests this dish at least once a year. My parents, brothers, sisters, uncle’s and aunts love it!
This is the greatest recipe ever!!!! It’s become my favorite staple. Sometimes I add black olives, tomatoes, poblano pepper (and leave out the green chilies) and it is SO GOOD– you just cannot go wrong with it. Thank you for sharing!
I made this tonight and it was amazing. Thank you for the recipe!
I added spanish rice w/ spices and a can of tomatoes and w/green chiles
I’m keto, changed the corn tortillas with shaved chicken breast…..still amazing! Great recipe!
The ultimate test for any recipe is if my kids eat it and they asked for seconds!!! Definitely adding this to my recipe rotation !
Excelente and super easy to make it. Love it. Thanks for sharing
This is a new family favorite. It would also make an amazing dip for tortilla chips.
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Mmmmmm….. yummy!! I’ve made this a few times following the recipe and it’s so good. Seldom any leftovers in our house of 7. When I made it last night, I added an 8oz container of a “Mexican Street Corn” dip that I thought looked interesting while shopping and then later couldn’t decide what to do with it…lol… (it’s in the grocer case by the hummus), anyway, it has been in the fridge making me feel guilty for waste, then I just threw it in the chicken mixture. It made this dish that everyone already loves even more satisfying!
I hate it when someone makes a lot of changes to a recipe then gives it a poor rating. I have not made this as written, so I cannot review the actual recipe, but I think that this is a great base to get creative with and I am sure great as written. I didn’t have all of the ingredients listed, so for a somewhat healthier keto/low carb version, I substituted full fat plain yogurt for the sour cream. I also added some chili flakes instead of chopped chilis and added a small can of sliced olives and added some seasoning (taco and/or cajun to taste) and low carb tortillas.
Loves this recipe- supper easy to make and pretty quick too. Will be making again!
The flavor was great! I knocked a star off because I followed the recipe to a tee but my sauce broke. I suspect it was the acid from the salsa verde and the sour cream cooking together (I had my skepticism when I read the recipe, but figured I’d give it a shot anyway). Next time I’ll add some cornstarch or something to stabilize the sauce, but I’ll definitely try again!
I’ve made this over and over again haha – follow it by the book then sometimes have thrown in jalapeños. Even made it once for my in-laws and now my mother in law makes it! Thank you for sharing ❤️
Side note – if you completely alter the recipe and it doesn’t “turn out right” I don’t think you are entitled to leave a less than 5 star review. It isn’t the chef/recipes fault for your lack of cooking skills.
5 Stars! Delicious and much easier than making chicken enchiladas. Made enough for 2 very generous casserole dishes, perfect to share with my neighbor. Made cilantro rice & black beans on the side. Will be making this on a regular basis. THANK YOU!
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I make this recipe on a bi-weekly basis. This recipe is enough for us to have dinner 2-3 nights especially if we serve it over rice or with a side. Ive made this recipe just like it is posted at least 10 times and it was delicious. I have been adding things recently to it such as jalapeños and extra green chilies since we love spice and it is even better. I will be making this dish for the rest of my life! Thank you so much for this post.
This was delicious. Of course, I modified it slightly, but only to suit our spice preferences.
It was good! We used flour tortillas and they weren’t the best option but it was what I had on hand. The flour tortillas ended up being soggy and didn’t add much to the dish. Next time I will use corn tortillas! I also cooked the chicken, verde sauce, onions, garlic, chopped jalapenos, cumin and chilis in my crockpot and then shredded the chicken after cooking it for 6 hours. After that I added the sour cream and a bit of cream cheese to the mixture in the crockpot. I hope it sets up a bit overnight in our refrigerator, it was sloppy after I let it set for 10 minutes out of the oven.
Hi, if I divide all the ingredients in half (we are a small family), what type of baking dish should I use?
You can use an 8X8 inch or a 9X9 inch pan. :)
It’s baking! I can’t wait! I cooked the chicken in the crockpot with everything but the sour cream. Drained it then shredded the chicken in the chilies and added the sour cream. It looks amazing!
Super excited to make this for my husband tonight! Do you think I can prepare it this morning then put in the fridge until I’m ready to bake it? Thanks so much!!
Yes, you can definitely make this recipe ahead of time. Just give it a few more minutes in the oven if it’s cold when you put it in.
It was good, I like my food spicy so when cooking the chicken in the crockpot I added one packet of taco seasoning and a packet of ranch. I also use a 7 oz can of Chiles and 7ounces of chopped up jalapeños. It had the right amount of kick without being overwhelming. I will make it again super good.
This recipe is so good! I shred the chicken it has a better texture. Also I use only 4 oz green chili’s to make more kid friendly for my picky one
I made this last night and all my family love it. It’s a great gluten free dinner for my family since 2 of us are gluten free. I changed mexican cheese for cheddar cheese since Ixm not a big fan of mexican cheese. Thanks for the great recipe.
I was lacking the required amount of sour cream, so I made up the difference with a block of cream cheese that I whipped in the Kitchen Aid. AMAZING!! I highly recommend this if you only have 1 cup of sour cream left.
What a great idea! :)
I did add a couple yellow squash and zucchini, for extra nutrition, and a couple seeded jalapenos in place of the canned chilis cuz I am a Texan, But LOVE this!!!! Soo much better than the canned soup version!
In New Mexico we call this dish Chicken Enchiladas.
Great base recipe for those that do not want to use canned soup. I cut this down to four servings, but made the following adjustments: Upped the cumin to 1 tsp for four servings and added 1/2 tsp ground coriander, along with 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves. I love cilantro. Added one jalapeño to the sautéed onion mixture. Used 6 oz of salsa verde, a 4oz can of green Chile’s and upped the sour cream for the 4 servings (possibly 3/4 cup). Used about 1 1/2 cups of shredded chicken and added in about 1/4 cup of water + 1 tsp of chicken base to add a another layer of chicken flavor. Used white cheddar and Monterey Jack combo for cheese. And I made homemade corn tortillas (used 5). The end result was something that finally cured my craving for authentic Mexican flavors without the restaurant!
Thank you for coming up with something that didn’t require a sodium laden addition to achieve flavor!
Big hit!! Only thing I did different was the salsa, I couldn’t find salsa Verde so I used regular salsa, and I cut back on the diced green chillies cuz we are big wussies with too much spice lol. It was sooooo good!!
As true as the other reviews, this recipe was a huge hit! I made it exactly as written. For those who like measurements instead of sizes, my large sweet yellow onion chopped up to be a little over two cups and it was just right. This is a definite keeper for many occasions and a feed-all casual dinner!
Just tried this tonight for dinner and it was such a huge hit and feeds an army!!! Love it!
1) This was delicious and will be making again
2) There’s actually no ranch in this recipe
LOL! Yes, the title actually refers to the famous King Ranch in Texas, not the ingredient. However, maybe we should make a version with ranch dressing in it?
Tweek it as you wish
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Hi, I had a quick question and hope you can get back to me quickly as I am in the process of making my grocery list. I wanted to make this recipe, “King Ranch Chicken Casserole”, for a potluck that’s on Sunday. I was wondering if you used White Onions or Yellow Onions for your recipe as you did not specify. I want to make sure I make it with the correct ingredients, so everyone will love this dish. I have never made it before, so I’m not sure what is best. Thank you for your time.
You can use either. I almost always use sweet onions, but this casserole will taste great no matter which variety you choose. :)
Our family loves this recipe. With four teen boys , I’m always looking for something they will all like… this is it! On a cold day in Colorado, like today, this is a go-to recipe. Thanks for making it so yummy without the processed soup!
I saw this question in the comments, but not an answer. Is the amount for the green chilies 13.5 oz. as printed OR should it have been 3.5 ounces? Thanks!
You will need 3 – 4.5 ounce cans, or 13.5 ounces. :)
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Wonderful!!!! This was my first time making King Ranch and my whole family loved it. They said it a keeper. I also appreciate there is not canned cream soups! Thank you for sharing this great recipe. Regards Maria
I am guessing that you meant a 3.5 oz can of chiles, not 13.5 oz. Made it with the one 3.5 oz can and it was fantastic!
Hi, Sommer. I love your blog and your recipes. I live south of Houston, TX, and I have to say, your King Ranch Chicken Casserole is very different from what I am accustomed to. We have always used cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups and Rotel tomatoes. That said, your recipe absolutely sounds delicious, and I am anxious to try it. Thanks for sharing this new version of a classic Texas dish!
Absolutely, Sharonk! This is not the King Ranch Casserole most Texans know, not to say this can’t be good. As a matter of fact, Sommer’s recipe closely resembles my Chicken Enchilada casserole.
LOL! Yes, I know that is the classic preparation. Secretly I have an aversion to adding canned soup to flavor recipes. It’s a personal problem. ;)
I adjusted the recipe to taste like the one my brother introduced me too… without the canned soup. I figure there are others out there like me.
The very moment I see that a recipe, any recipe, calls for canned cream of… soup, I move on to find a different recipe. They put “thickening agents” in those soups to make them seem as if they’re chock-full of cream, but they’re not. Those thickening agents leave you with a gloppy taste and mouth feel. Ick!
I liked it but it was too spicy for my kids. Next time, I will cut the onions by half.
Thank you thank you thank you for creating and sharing a recipe for this casserole that does not include any cream of soup. I cannot stand any dish that includes cream of soups and this is the first recipe for King Ranch Casserole that I have found that doesn’t have that in it. Thank you
I followed the recipe exactly and it came out battery. Any ideas?
I’m sorry that happened. I’m guess it that you used a very watery salsa verde. It that possible?
I covered four chicken breasts in jar of salsa verde and cooked low and slow in crock pot for about 7 hours to really infuse flavor. When I got home from work, I pulled out chicken and let cool slightly then cut it up (~4.5 cups). So very tender! Then I put recipe together and popped it in the oven. Topped with sour cream, more salsa verde (or Herdez guacamole salsa – addictive!), diced tomatoes, diced avocado, and green onion. It was absolutely delicious!
I made this recipe exactly as directed Except I used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and I used canned chicken breast. It was absolutely delicious and so easy and quick to make!
10 STARS, SOME REASON I cant get the stars to clic, I posted a comment that actually appeared on my search. So I see I must post it here too. I made this mayebe a couple months ago, WOW! I was skeptical at first being all king ranch recipes are basically all the same! This was screaming “try me” I will never make the old ways again, this is in a category of it’s own! Delicious and thank GOD I tried it. Rotisserie chicken is the way to go!
This is delicious and so easy to make!
PENOMINAL! I actually already commented on the recipe posted before hitting “read me” I posted a picture as well. IT’S A KEEPER! Followed as it said, no changes, after all if I changed it, I wouldn’t be reviewing for others on this specific recipe! I hate when people do that crap. If you don’t make don’t review, want opinions on the recipe at hand.
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Can you make this the day before and heat up? Do the corn tortillas need to be heated prior to placing in dish?
Easy and wonderful. Everyone loved it.
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Does this freeze well?
Absolutely! Just wrap it very well, so it doesn’t get freezer burn. :)
Has anyone successfully assembled, frozen and then baked at a later date? Thinking about making this for a friend who just had a baby. I thought about assembling it and taking it to them the same day. That way they could immediately bake and eat or put in the freezer for later? Suggested baking times from frozen? Thanks all!
For a real splurge – make it with Doritos instead of corn tortillas. Nacho cheese and regular. YUMMO.
Niiiiiiiiiiiice! I’m going to have to try that. :)
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I have made this dish many times with cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup. But, I can’t wait to try your version. It looks delicious!
My boys would love this and make ahead meals are huge for my family during the week. Lol might sneak some kale in there too
Oh my goodness this sounds delicious. And so perfect for a cold night.
My family will LOVE this casserole!!!
I love any meal you can make ahead and stick in the freezer!
Now this is one yummy looking casserole!
My boys love this cheesy, hearty casserole!
Now, this is only way to get over the hump! Great recipe, Sommer!
Thank you. Sounds really good, but really fattening.
Hey Liz, LOL! It is a splurge, but you could make the same recipe with low fat sour cream and low fat cheese. :)
Sounds so very American and delicious!