Every family has that one dish that evokes fond memories and nostalgia. For my family, it’s the King Ranch Chicken Casserole. It was the go-to dish my grandmother would make whenever there was a family gathering, be it birthdays or Sunday dinners. As kids, my cousins and I would wait impatiently by the kitchen, lured by the tantalizing aroma, occasionally sneaking a bite when grandma wasn’t looking.
Last summer, my neighbors invited us over for a potluck dinner. As fate would have it, I chose to make this casserole. To my surprise, their grandmother had a similar story about this dish! That evening, we all bonded over shared stories, laughter, and of course, the King Ranch Chicken Casserole. It truly is magical how a dish can bridge generations and create beautiful memories.
How to Prepare King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Ingredients for King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- 1 tbsp of cooking oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium-sized red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 medium-sized green bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 can (10.5 oz) of creamy mushroom soup
- 1 can (10.5 oz) of creamy chicken soup
- 1 can (10 oz) of diced tomatoes mixed with green chilies
- 1 cup of broth made from chicken
- 2 dollops of sour cream
- 2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of roasted ancho chile powder
- 1/2 tsp of dry oregano
- 1/4 tsp of smoky chipotle chile powder
- 1 full chicken (around 3 pounds), either shredded or diced
- 1 pack (8 oz) of grated Cheddar cheese
- 10 corn tortillas (6 inches each), sliced into four pieces
Directions for King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- Start by setting your oven’s temperature to 350°F (175°C).
- In a large pan, warm the oil over high flame. Add the onion and bell peppers and sauté until they soften slightly.
- Transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl and introduce the soups, tomatoes and chilies blend, broth, sour cream, and all the spices. Stir until you have a smooth sauce.
- In a 9×13-inch baking dish, layer a little sauce, half the chicken, half the tortillas, and half the cheese. Repeat the layers.
- Top with the remaining sauce, ensuring you save 1/2 cup for later, followed by the cheese.
- Cook in the preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes or until you see it bubble.
- For a crispy finish, set your oven to broil and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Serve it steaming hot and watch the smiles spread!
What’s the origin of the King Ranch Chicken Casserole?
The exact origins are debated, but it’s commonly believed to have been named after the famous King Ranch in Texas. However, there’s no direct connection between the casserole and the ranch itself.
Can I use other cheeses in the recipe?
Yes! While Cheddar is traditional, feel free to experiment with Monterey Jack, Colby, or even Pepper Jack for a spicier kick.
What can I serve alongside the casserole?
A fresh green salad, roasted vegetables, or Spanish rice pair beautifully with this rich dish.
How long can I store leftover casserole?
In a sealed container, it should keep well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Always ensure it’s reheated thoroughly before serving.
Can I freeze the King Ranch Chicken Casserole?
Absolutely. Before baking, cover it tightly and it can be frozen for up to 2 months. Remember to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before baking.
Can I use flour tortillas instead of corn?
While corn tortillas are traditional, flour tortillas can also be used. They provide a different texture and flavor but are equally delicious.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium white onion diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper diced
- 1 10 1/2 ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 1 10 1/2 ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers (such as RO*TEL®)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 1 3 pound cooked chicken, torn into shreds or cut into chunks
- 1 8 ounce package shredded Cheddar cheese
- 10 6 inch corn tortillas, cut into quarters
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Saute onion and bell peppers in the hot oil until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add both cans of condensed soup, diced tomatoes with chile peppers, chicken broth, sour cream, cumin, ancho chile powder, oregano, and chipotle chile powder; mix until sauce is well-combined.
- Spread a few tablespoons of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Layer with 1/2 of the chicken, 1/2 of the sauce, 1/2 of the Cheddar cheese, and 1/2 of the tortillas.
- Spread the remaining chicken over the tortillas. Spread all but 1/2 cup of the remaining sauce over the chicken, then top with another 1/3 of the Cheddar, and the remaining tortillas. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup over top, and sprinkle with the remaining Cheddar.
- Bake casserole in the preheated oven until bubbling, about 40 minutes.
- Turn on the broiler and broil until the top is golden, 2 to 3 more minutes.
- Serve hot and enjoy!