King ranch chicken. If that term doesn’t mean anything to you, you’re missing out on an American classic. Try this recipe and then get back to us.
Although the exact origin of king ranch chicken is something of a mystery, one thing is certain. Whoever created this American classic knew what they were doing. Layers of smoked chicken, roasted peppers, and corn tortillas are smothered in cheese and baked until golden. It’s a crowd-pleasing, make-ahead, take-it-anywhere type of casserole that’s inspired by the original but with no gloppy canned soup. It does take a little time to put together, but it’s soooo worth it. Just wait until the compliments and recipe requests start rolling in.–Angie Zoobkoff
How To Make This King Ranch Chicken Recipe In Advance
One of the great things about casseroles is that you can just slide ‘em in the oven and forget about ‘em for a while. The trick, however, is that quite often some prep work has to happen before you get to that point of just effortlessly sliding the whole shebang in the oven, and this king ranch chicken recipe is no exception. You can, however, assemble the casserole ahead of time, or even in stages, by doing some of the prep—shredding the chicken, chopping the vegetables, even toasting the tortillas—earlier in the day or week so that when it comes time to bake the casserole everything is at the ready. And your work definitely pays off. Rest assured this casserole makes 8 to 12 generous servings, so chances are you’ll have some leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day and don’t you love to make your coworkers envious?! That alone may be worth the time and effort that goes into this American classic.
King Ranch Chicken Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 1 H, 20 M
- 2 H
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter or mild vegetable or olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
- 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) chopped onion (about 1 large)
- 1 cup (125 grams) chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
- 1 cup (120 grams) chopped poblano pepper (about 2 medium peppers)
- 1 jalapeño pepper (30 grams), seeded and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped (about 5 grams)
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) chile powder
- 1 tablespoon (6 grams) ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups (415 ml) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
- One 10-ounce (283-gram) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
- 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) sour cream
- 2 pounds (908 grams) smoked chicken meat, coarsely chopped (about 5 cups shredded or chopped chicken; you can substitute roasted or grilled chicken)
- 1 cup (25 grams) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 2 cups (227 grams) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 cups (227 grams) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- Eighteen 6-inch (15-cm) corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) mild vegetable or olive oil, for frying the tortillas
- 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly slick a 13-by-9-inch (33-by-23 cm) baking dish with butter or oil.
- 2. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the bell pepper, poblano pepper, and jalapeño peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- 3. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Still stirring constantly, slowly stir or whisk in the stock and bring to a boil. Boil until the mixture thickens, which could take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- 4. Add the tomatoes and sour cream to the vegetable mixture in the skillet and stir to combine. Add the chicken and cilantro and stir again until blended.
- 5. Combine the cheeses in a small bowl.
- 6. Place a large cast-iron skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Lightly brush each tortilla on both sides with oil. Cook the tortillas, working with just a couple at a time, on the hot skillet or wok until lightly browned and crisp, flipping once, about 1 minutes per side.
- 7. Cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 6 tortillas, overlapping the tortillas slightly. Top with 1/2 of the chicken mixture and 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat the layers once, adding 6 more tortillas and the remaining chicken mixture and 1/2 the remaining cheeses. Top with the remaining tortillas and cheese. Lightly coat a sheet of aluminum foil with butter or oil and cover the baking dish, butter or oil side down.
- 8. Bake the casserole for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly and lightly browned on top, 10 to 15 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly and then sprinkle with cilantro, serve, and prepare to be serenaded by compliments.