King Ranch chicken is a popular Tex-Mex casserole in the south. Think of King Ranch Chicken as a spicy Tex-Mex lasagna made with corn tortillas! Bruce smokes 3 chickens on the weekend, and then we use one for this dish. If you make it on the weekend, you can just pop it in the oven when we get home from work. Although there are recipes for using canned soup, we prefer to make this up with a home made sauce!
King Ranch chicken casserole is a bit of a southern tradition, and a great dish to make for a new mom and dad to take as a gift! You can make this with purchased rotisserie chicken, and freeze! Simply thaw overnight and bake!
Try some of our other easy weeknight meals!
Ingredients for the King Ranch Chicken sauce:
- 1 stick butter
- 4 cloves garlic shredded
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tablespoon cumin
- 2 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 2 tablespoon chipotle garlic powder (or regular garlic granules)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 7 oz. can green chilies
- 14 oz. can of tomatoes and peppers (Rotelle)
- 6 grinds fresh black pepper
Ingredients used to layer in the King Ranch Casserole:
- 3 cups chopped smoked chicken (can also use purchased rotisserie chicken)
- 15 corn tortillas
- 16 oz. freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 7 oz. cheddar cheese, freshly shredded, and divided
- 4.2 oz can of sliced Pearl olives, drained
- 2 fresh jalapeños seeded and sliced
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
Instructions for making the King Ranch Chicken sauce:
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven. Add in the shredded garlic. Sprinkle in flour, and stir with a wooden spoon and cook down for at least 5 minutes while stirring to form a roux. Add cumin, chili powder and garlic powder and stir to blend and cook down a few minutes more.
Now it is time to add the milk and broth. Bring to a simmer, while stirring. Add in the green chiles and tomatoes. Add black pepper, and if you like it spicy add in the cayenne pepper. Continue to stir and cook to allow mixture to slightly thicken. It will still be a soupy consistency, but don’t worry, it will soak up in the casserole.
Instructions for assembling the King Ranch Chicken Casserole:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a large deep casserole dish with oil. Place the sliced jalapeños in vinegar to do a quick pickle while you bake the King Ranch casserole.
Starting with torn corn tortillas, begin to layer as though you are making a lasagne. Overlap the corn tortillas in the pan. Now ladle on some of the sauce, and the chicken, and some shredded cheddar. Be sure to save some of the cheddar to put on top when you bake. Repeat these steps, with the final layer being tortillas. Now put a layer of sauce on the top of this.
If you are going to make ahead, allow this to set up a bit, and then cover with plastic wrap to put in the refrigerator. To prepare, just remove the plastic wrap and place on a rimmed cookie sheet into oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes. You want to look for it to be bubbling on the sides to know it is heated through.
At this point, remove from oven and put cheddar over the top, and then bake until bubbly. Remove from oven and scatter the olives, and jalapeños over the top. Sprinkle with cilantro. You can also serve the jalapeño on the side.
We like to serve this with a few things on the table to put on top. We have sour cream, salsa, extra black olives, and sliced avocado. We also serve black beans on the side.
Keywords: tex mex, king ranch chicken, casserole, easy meal