Want to up your dinner casserole street cred? Start by using fresh ingredients and a simple blend of Mexican spices. Then, turn them into this easy Mexican Chicken Casserole. Stacked mile-high with juicy, shredded chicken, corn tortillas, melty shredded cheese, and a smoky tomato sauce, this casserole is savory, filling, and extremely flavorful.
Perfect for feeding a crowd or as a make-ahead dinner option! The leftovers do not disappoint.
If poultry and Mexican food are two of your favorite things, be sure to bookmark our Baked Ranchero Chicken with Ranchero sauce and melty cheese, and these easy, make-ahead Crock-Pot Chicken Enchiladas!
HOW TO MAKE MEXICAN CHICKEN CASSEROLE
- Cook Peppers and Onions
- Make the Sauce
The prep work is fairly minimal for this dish. You’ll want to preheat the oven and have ready a 9×13″ dish.
Go ahead and knock out cooking the chicken as well, unless you’re using rotisserie chicken (see options on that below). Have your cheese grated and ready, and last of all, get those tortillas soaking in the broth so they’re ready for stacking when you need them.
COOK PEPPER AND ONIONS
Jalapeño peppers and chopped onions serve as the beginning of a beautiful Ranchero-style sauce! You’ll cook them in a bit of oil over medium-high heat until softened.
Be sure to use a pan on the larger side, as you’ll eventually house 4 additional cups of broth in it, as well as a can of tomatoes!
MAKE THE SAUCE
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat. Very slowly drizzle in the broth, whisking all the while.
Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for about 5 minutes (or until the mixture has thickened). Stir in the canned tomatoes and spices, and simmer for about 5 minutes more.
ASSEMBLE THE CASSEROLE
First, you’ll put down a thin layer of sauce, just enough to coat the bottom of the dish. Next, on goes the first set of layers: tortillas, sauce, chicken, and cheese. Repeat with that exact same set of layers again. You’ll finish it off with a final layer of tortillas, a thin layer of sauce, and the remaining cheese.
Transfer the dish to the oven and bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes, or until it is completely warmed through and the edges are hot and bubbly!
MEXICAN CHICKEN CASSEROLE INGREDIENTS
Mexican Chicken Casserole is best made with corn tortillas, as they are sturdier and are much less likely to get soggy and “disappear” into the other ingredients. The tortillas will soak in chicken broth prior to use, which ensures they don’t dry out during the cooking process and are easy to cut into.
If you’d prefer, you can use corn tortilla chips in the place of corn tortillas. There would be no need to soak tortilla chips.
You have options when it comes to the chicken for this recipe. I always make a quick batch of my oven-baked chicken breasts for casseroles — it’s easy, simple, and the recipe is super versatile. You could also use leftovers from a roasted chicken or grab yourself a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred away!
The cheese mix for this recipe is a standard Tex-Mex combo of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. If you don’t want to purchase two different types of cheese, I suggest going with Monterey Jack over Cheddar as a stand-alone for this dish.
Freshly grated cheese is always best, as it is eons better both texture and flavor-wise, but if time doesn’t allow, feel free to grab a bag of pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend and use that.
The sauce is sort of like a creamy, Ranchero sauce, and it’s made up of the following ingredients:
- Diced Onion and Jalapeño
- Low-Sodium or Unsalted Chicken Broth
- Canned Tomatoes
Ingredients like chopped onions and hot peppers add fresh flavor to the sauce. All-purpose flour is used as the thickener, while the broth and canned tomatoes make up the body.
Dried spices like paprika, cumin, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper turn this sauce into a Mexican flavor explosion!
WANT TO MAKE IT “OVER-THE-TOP” DELICIOUS?
Want to make this Mexican Chicken Casserole a little bit extra? Add a few taco toppings to the mix! This is especially fun if you are using this dish to feed a crowd.
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro
- Grated Cheddar or Monterrey Jack
- Sliced Jalapeños (Pickled or Fresh)
- Sour Cream or Mexican Crema
- Guacamole or Sliced Avocados
- Hot Sauce or Taco Sauce
HOW TO STORE IT
Your casserole will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. You can either seal the top of the dish tightly with plastic wrap or transfer the contents of the dish into an airtight container.
CAN IT BE FROZEN?
Yes! This Mexican Chicken Casserole is a total a keeper when it comes to freezer-friendly meals. Southern Living gave out a great make-ahead tip when it comes to freezing casseroles:
Line the baking dish with enough aluminum foil so that there is overhang on all sides. When it is done cooking, let the hot casserole cool a bit, then carefully remove it from the pan by lifting up the foil on both sides. Wrap up the casserole in the foil, then wrap it again in another layer or two of foil. Label the foil then store in the freezer until you’re ready to reheat it!
SERVE IT ALONGSIDE…
This dinner already comes fully loaded with protein and vegetables and is completely satisfying all on its lonesome. However, if you’re trying to stretch it into multiple dinners or you’re serving it to company, it never hurts to have a side or two ready to go.
Below, you’ll find our favorite picks for serving alongside Mexican Chicken Casserole:
5 MORE MEXICAN DINNER IDEAS YOU’LL LOVE
- Doritos Casserole
- Sour Cream Enchiladas
- Mexican Ground Turkey Pasta Casserole
- King Ranch Casserole
- Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas
Mexican Chicken Casserole that comes stacked with a delicious combination of shredded chicken, corn tortillas, a savory, smoky red sauce, and melty shredded cheese!
- 15-20 corn tortillas cut into quarters
- 5 cups unsalted chicken broth, separated
- 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
- 1 ¾ cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 ¾ cup freshly grated Monterrey Jack cheese
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 white onion diced
- 4 jalapeños seeded and diced
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes drained
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh cilantro (optional)
Preheat oven to 375° and have ready a 9x13” greased baking dish. Have ready the cooked and shredded chicken, and set aside. Combine the Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and set aside. Place the tortillas in a shallow dish (like a pie dish), and pour over 1 cup of chicken broth. Set aside and allow to soak.
Add olive oil to a large rimmed sauté pan over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Add the onion and jalapeños and sauté until softened and onions are translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
Sprinkle over the flour and stir until it coats vegetables. Very slowly drizzle in the remaining 4 cups of chicken broth, whisking constantly until the flour has completely dissolved and no lumps remain. Allow mixture to come to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for about 5 minutes (or until the mixture has thickened).
Stir in the tomatoes and spices and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
Spoon a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish and then add a layer of tortillas. Add a layer of sauce over the tortillas, followed by a layer of chicken and then a third of the cheese mixture. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, sauce, chicken, and half of the remaining cheese. Add one more layer of tortillas, along with the remaining sauce, and cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro (if desired) and set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.