If you grew up in the Houston area, or probably anywhere in Texas for that matter, then you have had King Ranch Chicken. Maybe you had it at a church potluck, or your grandma made it, or you were lucky enough to have a parent who knew how to make it. Regardless, you know what King Ranch Chicken is. It is the most classic Tex-Mex casserole out there and growing up in East Texas, I had it at least once a month throughout my childhood. It is mild, creamy, bursting with Tex-Mex flavor and pure comfort food for me. I’m so excited to share with you my updated version!
Why is it Called King Ranch Chicken?
One of Texas’ biggest mysteries! Rumor has it that it was named after the biggest ranch in Texas, King Ranch. Maybe it was created there? Maybe it was just named after it? We may never know, but what we DO know is that this casserole is the epitome of Tex-Mex cuisine and everyone in and out of Texas needs it in their lives.
One of the main questions that I get about this recipe is, “Where is the ranch dressing?” Nope no ranch dressing, just named after an actual ranch!
Let’s Make It!
My mom’s version was great but was the classic version with canned cream soup and not a lot of flavor. As I have become more experienced in the kitchen, I have realized that it is SO easy to make a roux and my own creamy sauces. I changed the original up by making my own sauce and added some extra spices and flavor. I also added fresh poblanos, onions, and garlic. It is amazing, easy, and actually fun to make!
Once your sauce is made, you add a can of Rotel (classic ingredient), sour cream, and green chilies. Then stir in your pre-cooked chicken. I like to use rotisserie because it is easy!
How to Serve
Now, let’s talk about THE salad that MUST accompany this casserole. My family calls it “Frito Salad” and for some crazy reason it just pairs so perfectly. It’s a basic iceberg lettuce salad topped with tomatoes, black olives, canned Ranch Style Beans or pinto beans, Catalina dressing, and crunched up Fritos. Definitely give it a try when you make the casserole.
I finally got to make my favorite Tex Mex casserole on Good Things Utah today! Click here to watch my cooking segment!
I’m definitely sharing a huge piece of my heart with this recipe. It’s my favorite Mexican style casserole and I think my late mother would approve of my updated, homemade version. I hope your family loves it as much as mine!
King Ranch Chicken
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 poblano or pasilla pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 (14.5 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
- 1 (10 oz) can Rotel Tomatoes, drained
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream, (light is ok)
- 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 20 corn tortillas, torn into fourths
- Cooking Spray
- Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and poblano, sauté 10 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook 1 more minute.
- Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Whisk in broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 2 minutes or until thickened then remove from heat. Add green chilies, Rotel tomatoes, sour cream, and chicken. Stir to combine well.
- Add a single layer of tortillas (slightly overlapping) to the bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with 1/3 of chicken mixture. Add a thin layer of each of the cheeses. Repeat layers 2 more times. Add any remaining cheese to the top.
- Cover with non-stick foil and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.