Recipe: King Ranch Chicken

Carla's King Ranch Chicken

There are many things you learn when you marry a Texan. How beautiful a field of blue bonnets is. How hot and humid Houston is in the summer (and sometimes spring and fall too). How big the hair really is. But one of the best things I learned was that Texas has an unofficial state casserole: King Ranch Chicken.

There are actually many different variations on this recipe. Some are more elaborate like Home Sick Texan’s Slightly Fancy-Pants King Ranch Chicken Casserole recipe. Some are very basic like the version my husband Tom was served in school that used tortilla chips rather than corn tortillas. My version is a combination of ingredients from one or two recipe with the technique that comes from my mom’s chicken enchilada casserole (which I’ll share later).

Carla’s King Ranch Chicken Casserole


4 cups of finely shredded cooked chicken (I use chicken from my Slow Cooker recipe.)

1 can of RoTel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained

1 can of cream of chicken soup

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 medium to large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of chili powder

1 teaspoon of cumin powder

15 six-inch corn tortillas

2-3 cups of shredded cheddar or taco cheese


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spray a 9″x13″ baking dish with your favorite non-stick spray.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, Rotel, soups and onion.

4. Take four of your corn tortillas and use them to cover the bottom of the sprayed baking dish. Cut a fifth tortilla in two and use it to fill in the space left.

5. Place one-third of the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas and then cover the chicken with one-third of the shredded cheese. Repeat two more times.

6. Place in the middle of the oven. (If your pan is close to full, I recommend placing a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan on the shelf below the baking dish to catch any possible drips.)

7. Bake for 30 minutes and then check. If the cheese on top isn’t nicely browned, give it another five minutes. Repeat if needed.

King Ranch Chicken

You can also add a chopped bell pepper if you like. And you can adjust the heat by choosing different heat level of Rotel and by adjusting the amount of chili powder and cumin.