King Ranch Chicken and Rice Bake

Stop what you are doing and add this King Ranch Chicken and Rice Bake to your menu! It is ridiculously delicious. Chicken, rice, cream of chicken soup, Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, Velveeta, and cheddar cheese. Super simple to make and ready to eat in under 30 minutes. This just might be my favorite Tex-Mex casserole. I wanted to eat the entire pan myself!

cheesy king ranch chicken and rice casserole topped with lettuce and tomatoes with text overlay

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Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole

I have a love affair with King Ranch Chicken casserole. I just can’t get enough of the flavors! Chicken, Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, cream of chicken soup, and Velveeta cheese. Traditionally, King Ranch Chicken Casserole is layered in a baking dish with corn tortillas or tortilla chips. This recipe uses rice instead of tortilla chips. We’ve made several versions of King Ranch Chicken, but this one just might be my favorite! It is crazy good! Comfort food at its best! We are obsessed with this casserole! You MUST make it!

What is King Ranch Chicken? 

King Ranch chicken is a popular Tex-Mex casserole. Its name comes from King Ranch in Texas, one of the largest ranches in the United States. Despite the name, the casserole wasn’t actually created at King Ranch. It is not known who created the recipe or how it got its name.

cheesy king ranch chicken and rice casserole topped with lettuce and tomatoes

How to Make King Ranch Chicken & Rice Bake

This casserole is very easy to make with only a few simple ingredients. Start with cooking some rice in a saucepan on the stovetop. While the rice is cooking, prepare the sauce. In another saucepan or microwave-safe dish, melt Velveeta cheese. Stir in cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, and Rotel tomatoes. Stir and cook on medium-high heat until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the sauce, chopped cooked chicken, and the cooked rice. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the casserole with shredded cheddar cheese and bake in the oven until bubbly.

Tips & Frequently Asked Questions

  • I use rotisserie chicken for the chopped cooked chicken in this recipe. You can use any cooked chicken that you have on hand. Chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and chicken tenderloins all work fine.
  • You can use 4 cups of any cooked rice that you enjoy. White rice, brown rice, instant rice, long-grain rice, basmati rice, Mexican rice, Spanish rice – anything goes. 
    • I like to use 2 packages of Knorr Mexican Rice in this casserole for extra flavor.
  • You can use any flavor of cream of condensed soup. Cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, or cream of celery soup all work great.
  • Is King Ranch Chicken spicy? If you are sensitive to spicy food, make sure to use Mild Ro-tel.
  • Feel free to add onions, green bell peppers, poblano pepper, or chopped red bell pepper to the chicken mixture.
  • I topped the casserole with cheddar cheese. You can substitute any cheese that you enjoy. Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese are also delicious.
  • Can King Ranch Chicken & Rice be made in advance? Yes! You can assemble the casserole and refrigerate it overnight before baking. You may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time if baking straight from the oven.
  • Can King Ranch Chicken & Rice be frozen? Yes! Assemble the casserole and cool completely. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze.
    • When ready to bake the casserole, thaw and bake as directed.
cheesy king ranch chicken and rice casserole topped with lettuce and tomatoes

What to Serve with King Ranch Chicken & Rice Casserole

This is a great casserole for a potluck, church supper, or anytime you need to feed a crowd. We like to top the casserole with our favorite taco toppings – sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and jalapeños. We usually serve this with some spicy black beans or our favorite Mexican chopped salad. This has quickly become one of our all-time favorite weeknight casseroles. You must add this to your menu ASAP!

Looking for more yummy side dish options? Here are a few of our favorite recipes from the blog that go great with this casserole:

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cheesy chicken and rice casserole topped with lettuce and tomatoes with text overlay

King Ranch Chicken & Rice Bake

Yield: 6 people
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Stop what you are doing and add this King Ranch Chicken and Rice Bake to your menu! It is ridiculously delicious. Chicken, rice, cream of chicken soup, Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, Velveeta, and cheddar cheese. Super simple to make and ready to eat in under 30 minutes. This just might be my favorite Tex-Mex casserole. I wanted to eat the entire pan myself!

Ingredients:

  • 2 (5.4-oz) packages Knorr Mexican Rice
  • 4 cups cooked chopped chicken
  • 1 (10.5-oz) can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 (10-oz) can Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies, undrained
  • 8- oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • ½ cup chicken broth or water
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Cook rice according to the package directions.
  • In a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, melt Velveeta cheese. Stir in cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, and Rotel tomatoes. Cook over medium-high heat until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, combine cheese sauce, chopped cooked chicken, and cooked rice. Pour rice mixture into prepared pan. Top with ½ cup cheddar cheese.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Notes:

  • I use rotisserie chicken for the chopped cooked chicken in this recipe. You can use any cooked chicken that you have on hand. Chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and chicken tenderloins all work fine.
  • You can use 4 cups of any cooked rice that you enjoy. White rice, brown rice, instant rice, long-grain rice, basmati rice, Mexican rice, Spanish rice – anything goes. 
    • I like to use 2 packages of Knorr Mexican Rice in this casserole for extra flavor.
  • You can use any flavor of cream of condensed soup. Cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, or cream of celery soup all work great.
  • Is King Ranch Chicken spicy? If you are sensitive to spicy food, make sure to use Mild Ro-tel.
  • Feel free to add onions, green bell peppers, poblano pepper, or chopped red bell pepper to the chicken mixture.
  • I topped the casserole with cheddar cheese. You can substitute any cheese that you enjoy. Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese are also delicious.
  • Can King Ranch Chicken & Rice be made in advance? Yes! You can assemble the casserole and refrigerate it overnight before baking. You may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time if baking straight from the oven.
  • Can King Ranch Chicken & Rice be frozen? Yes! Assemble the casserole and cool completely. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze.
    • When ready to bake the casserole, thaw, and bake as directed.

Steph

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cheesy king ranch chicken and rice casserole topped with lettuce and tomatoes with text overlay

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Comments

  1. This was really delicious. Followed the recipe exactly we put it on tortillas and topped with some sour cream & black olives. My daughter ate this with tortilla chips. So good!

  2. When making King Ranch casserole, I always use a small container of fresh Pico found in the vegetable section of grocery store. I mix it in with the chicken/soup mixture. Gives it a fresh taste!

  3. This was really good. Probably the best new recipe I've tried in a few months. Thanks!

    This would also make a really good freezer meal for a friend needing food.

    1. Becky – the Velveeta melts easily and makes a real creamy mixture. I've never used colby jack in any King Ranch Chicken recipe. It won't melt the same as Velveeta.

  4. Very stupid question, I know—Do you just use the 1/2 cup of water/chicken broth for the rice OR do we make the rice according to package directions and then add 1/2 cup more in the recipe. Sorry for my ignorance.

    1. Marilyn – my directions weren't clear. Prepare rice according to package directions and then add an additional 1/2 cup water or chicken broth to the rice/chicken/rotel mixture. I updated the instructions. Thanks!

  5. Oh this looks wonderful. Love so many of your recipes. They have become family favorites. May I ask how much rice would you use if it is already prepared? I keep cooked rice in my freezer so I can just pull it out to serve and not have to wait for it to cook.

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