A healthy Tex-Mex chicken recipe, featuring chicken baked in Ranchero sauce and topped with Monterey Jack cheese.
I was first introduced to this dish at a Tex-Mex dive my husband and I used to frequent when we were dating. It was a pounded-out, flat chicken breast, smothered in a tomato-based ranchero sauce, and perfect for slicing, topping with a little avocado, wrapping up in a toasty flour (or corn tortilla) and devouring. I ordered it every, single time, and I felt pretty good about myself too. I mean passing on beefy fajitas, fried and stuff poblano peppers and enchiladas smothered in a Tex-Mex beef gravy, oozing with cheese can be a little tough on one’s willpower. However, after just one bite, this chicken dish was a welcomed change, bursting with flavor.
There was no looking back on my behalf. I was glad to trade the others in for the healthy baked chicken dish called Mexican Ranchero Chicken. Once our kiddos came to be, going out to eat became more of a chore than a luxury, and our Tex-Mex dive days were over, but my love for that ranchero chicken was never-ending. So I did what any foodie longing for a long-lost favorite would do: I replicated it at home. And, it turns out this is a pretty darn easy Tex-Mex recipe to replicate.
It starts with an easy homemade ranchero sauce, made using canned tomatoes, a few sautéed veggies and smoky spices. Then chicken breasts are pan-seared, and baked for a short time in the oven, smothered in the sauce, just soaking up all the ranchero goodness, and topped with melty Monterey Jack cheese. Now, I am not the only one who gets pumped up over ranchero chicken. The husband loves it, and the kiddos do too. It’s an easy family weeknight dinner, and one I highly recommend to any lover of Tex-Mex cuisine. Enjoy.
- 2 pounds chicken cutlets about 6 thinly-sliced chicken breasts, patted dry
- 3 tablespoons Canola oil
- 1 tablespoon TAK's Tex-Mex Spice Blend or taco seasoning
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups Easy Ranchero Sauce or store-bought ranchero sauce
- 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro optional
- 1 avocado sliced, for serving (if desired)
- 12 flour or corn tortillas for serving if desired
Preheat oven to 325° and have ready a 9x13" baking dish.
On a large work surface, pat the chicken dry, drizzle with 1 tablespoon Canola oil and sprinkle with Tex-Mex seasoning. Rub all over to evenly adhere to both sides of the chicken breasts.
Add 2 tablespoons of Canola oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the chicken for 2 minutes on each side, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer seared chicken to a large plate and set aside until ready to use.
Add 1 cup of Easy Ranchero Sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Nestle the chicken into the sauce, and add enough ranchero to just cover the breasts. Top with Monterey Jack cheese Pour ranchero sauce over the chicken, top with the cheese and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
Carefully remove the aluminum foil, increase the oven temperature to 375° and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. No need to wait on the oven to preheat. Just put the chicken right back into the oven. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired. Allow to cool slightly and serve alongside sliced avocados and warm flour or corn tortillas. Enjoy.
Pair Baked Chicken with Ranchero Sauce with: