King Ranch Chicken Casserole is one of my all-time favorites. For one, it’s absolutely delicious. But two, it reminds me of some sweet times when I was growing up.
We didn’t really sit down at the table much for family meals when I was growing up. My parents did a lot of things well (I am so thankful for that), but for some reason, and I’m not sure why, family mealtime just wasn’t a frequent occasion in our household. My parents divorced when I was 10; neither of them cooked much, but King Ranch Chicken was a dish my mom made regularly (probably because I requested it so much!), and I absolutely loved it when she did. My mom always cooked better than she let herself think! Thanks, Momma!
I remember when I’d visit my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and we always sat down for mealtimes together. I loved that. Though sitting down with my parents for a meal wasn’t a regular activity for us, I remember relishing in the times we did prioritize a meal together. Because I dearly treasure those moments of gathering around the table together, and because I know how huge of an impact we can make in our families and our society just by sitting down and sharing a meal together, I’ve decided I’m going to do my very best to make sure my husband, kiddo and I are gathering ’round the ‘ole kitchen table as often as we can during the week, as well as inviting other people to join us. Being the guest at a table is really fun. 🙂
Yes, King Ranch Chicken is a bit of a nostaglic food for me. It is also so, so, so delicious and will lure people to join me at the table when they smell it baking in the oven, so it’s also a tool of bribery to get people to sit down with me and enjoy each other’s company over some suppertime grub.
And – rejoice!! My version of King Ranch Chicken Casserole is lightened up a bit. I am all for reducing a few calories without reducing flavor! Wahoo!
I’ll walk you through the steps, but the full recipe is at the bottom of the page!
First, melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat and add 1.5 pounds of chicken breast. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown, remove from heat, and then shred it with a couple of forks.
(Don’t you love that I just told you I lightened this recipe up, and two sentences later I tell you there’s butter in it? People, we don’t need to be scared of a little butter here and there! One tablespoon per what, 10 servings? You do the math. Go do two jumping jacks and you’ve just worked off that 1/10th of a tablespoon of butter you just consumed.)*
* I am not a nutritionist.
Dice up your veggies – 1/2 of a green bell pepper, 1/2 of a red bell pepper, and 1/2 of a sweet or yellow onion.
In the same skillet you used to cook the chicken, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the veggies and saute until they begin to get soft – about 5 to 7 minutes or so. Add 2 cloves of minced or pressed garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
Next, add in the cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, can of diced tomatoes with green chiles, cumin, chili powder, sour cream, and chicken. Stir until everything is well-blended and remove the skillet from heat.
Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish. Tear up 4 of the 12 corn tortillas and line the bottom of the pan with them like so:
Cover the tortilla pieces with about 1/3 of the chicken mixture.
Add about 1/3 of the package of cheese across the top of the chicken layer. This is the cheese I used, but you can use plain cheddar if you’d like! I’ve used both and they’re both yummy. Or, you can get totally crazy and use jalapeno jack!
Repeat the last few steps again – tear up another 4 tortillas and spread them evenly, then the next 1/3 of the chicken mixture, next 1/3 of the cheese, and repeat once more until you finish off the ingredients.
Pop the casserole dish in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes and then out comes glorious flavor!
I have also got to share this really easy black bean recipe with y’all soon! I jazzed up a couple of cans of black beans the other day when I was serving them as a side with my enchiladas and they were so good! I will make them again and again!
King Ranch Chicken Casserole makes fantastic leftovers, and you can also freeze it and reheat it for later.
I love the memories this casserole gives me from my childhood. I hope it can help you make some memories around your kitchen tables, too!
And, if you’re hankering for some dessert after supper – you can stick with the Tex-Mex theme and make a pan of sopapilla cheesecake. Sorry folks, that recipe isn’t lightened up one little bit, but something tells me you won’t regret a single bite of that! 🙂
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1.5 lb lean chicken breast
- Dash of salt and pepper
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ green bell pepper, diced (about ½ c – ¾ c)
- ½ red bell pepper, diced (about ½ c – ¾ c)
- ½ yellow or sweet onion, diced (about ½ c – ¾ c)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 10.75oz can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
- 1 10.75oz can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
- 1 c light sour cream
- 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 c light Mexican blend shredded cheese (I use cheese made with 2% milk)
- 12 corn tortillas