Mexican Chicken Casserole Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 30 min.
This Mexican chicken casserole is just the ticket when you want a substantial but simple meal. Cooked chicken, canned soup, evaporated milk and aromatic vegetables create a dish—and an aroma—that will make your mouth water.

Updated: Jul. 12, 2024

Casseroles and bakes are some of the simplest dishes you can make, and this Mexican chicken casserole is a great way to get dinner on the table. Chicken and cheese mixed with rice, soup and milk form a hearty, rich casserole, with onions and peppers as the main seasonings. Each bite has just the right combination of chicken meat and luscious, melted cheese. This recipe comes together quickly and takes about 30 minutes to bake, and it’s a great choice for those nights you crave something creamy and truly tasty.

Mexican Chicken Casserole Ingredients

  • Onion: Starting off with some cooked onion gives this casserole a good, savory base flavor.
  • Green pepper: Using green peppers instead of red, yellow or orange adds a more interesting flavor to the casserole. The other colors tend to be a bit sweeter and more mild, while the taste of green peppers stands out among the cheese and cream. Plus, green bell peppers are usually less expensive than the others.
  • Jalapeno peppers: Jalapenos provide some spice; if you’re not keen on too much spice though, remove the seeds before adding the peppers to the pan. Remember to wear gloves when cutting them up, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Butter: What better way to soften up those aromatic vegetables than to saute them in butter? Use unsalted butter to better control the amount of sodium in the dish.
  • Condensed cream of chicken soup: Cream of chicken soup provides a creamy texture and is easier to use than making your own cream sauce. Add it to the recipe undiluted.
  • Evaporated milk: Milk in casseroles provides more moisture in general, but evaporated milk specifically is a lot richer because it’s so much more concentrated than regular milk. It also has less fat than cream, so you increase the richness of the casserole without making the dish too rich.
  • Long-grain rice: Rice very easily soaks up all that lovely soup and milk, creating a creamy, substantial foundation for the chicken and cheese.
  • Chicken: Adding cooked chicken shortens the preparation time.
  • Colby-Monterey Jack cheese: This mix of shredded cheeses melts very well when baked. The mix of orange Colby and white Monterey Jack also gives the chicken Mexican casserole a slightly more interesting appearance.
  • Green onions (optional): Add some sliced green onions as a garnish when serving.

Directions

Step 1: Cook the aromatics and combine the ingredients

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, cook the onion, green pepper and jalapeno peppers in butter until they become tender. In a large bowl, combine the soup and milk, then stir in the rice, chicken, 2 cups of the cheese and the onion-pepper mixture.

Step 2: Bake the casserole

Pour the casserole mixture into a greased 13×9-inch baking dish, then bake it, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and bake the casserole for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the casserole is heated through and the cheese has melted.

Mexican Chicken Casserole Variations

  • Use turkey instead of chicken: If you don’t have cooked chicken that you’re trying to use up, but you do have turkey (or you’ve scored a great deal on some turkey breast or tenders at the market), you could try using that in place of the chicken. The taste of the casserole may be slightly different, just because turkey and chicken don’t taste exactly the same. Cook raw turkey before adding it to the casserole.
  • Use nondairy substitutes: If you can’t have dairy products, use canned coconut milk in place of the evaporated milk; don’t change the amount. This could change the taste of the casserole a bit. Use a dairy-free cheese substitute that melts well, and keep an eye on the temperature in the oven because some cheese substitutes need to be cooked at a lower temperature. As for the condensed cream of chicken soup, you could look for dairy-free whipping cream (not whipped cream!) or find a homemade dairy-free cream of chicken substitute recipe. These contain plant-based milks and chicken broth or seasoning, along with a few other ingredients.

How to Store Mexican Chicken Casserole

For leftover casserole, divide up the remaining food into servings and put them in an airtight container. Use them within three days. Or freeze individual servings in freezer-safe containers for up to three months.

Can you make Mexican chicken casserole ahead of time?

You can bake the casserole up to three days ahead of time and refrigerate it; be aware, however, that the rice will continue to soak up moisture, so the texture may be softer than it would be for freshly made casserole. To reheat an entire casserole, take it out of the refrigerator a half hour or so before reheating it; that lets it warm up and reduces the chance that the baking dish will be damaged from the sudden transition from cold to hot. Preheat the oven to 325° to 350°, and bake the casserole, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. You may want to cover the casserole during the last 5 to 10 minutes to avoid overbrowning the top and drying out the casserole. Check the casserole with an instant-read thermometer to ensure it’s reached at least 165° internally. Check it in multiple spots, especially if your oven tends to heat unevenly.

Mexican Chicken Casserole Tips

Can you use raw chicken instead of cooked chicken in chicken Mexican casserole?

You could use cubed raw chicken, but with a couple of warnings. First, if the chicken was originally frozen, ensure that it’s completely thawed. Using frozen or partially frozen raw chicken in this recipe will require a much longer cooking time, and you risk either overcooking the casserole or undercooking the chicken. Second, you are still going to need to cook the casserole for a longer time to ensure even thawed raw chicken cooks thoroughly, and you’re going to have to rely on checking the temperature of the dish as a whole because the chicken is in small pieces, scattered throughout the dish. Ensure the interior of the casserole reaches 165°.

If you really don’t have a lot of time, pick up a rotisserie chicken and add the shredded meat. And if you want to experiment, try making your own rotisserie-style chicken at home.

Can you customize Mexican chicken casserole?

Casseroles are one of those dishes where you can mix in foods that you’re trying to use up as you clear out your refrigerator. If you’ve got any cans of black beans or diced tomatoes and chilis that are nearing their best-if-used-by date, drain them and try adding them to this recipe.

You can also adjust the spices, adding ground cumin or chili powder if you want more depth or spice. Just be sure you keep an eye on how many spicy ingredients you put into the recipe, if you or your family don’t want too much heat. You can add some garnishes just before serving this casserole too; try sprinkling chopped cilantro over the top or adding dollops of sour cream or a sour cream substitute to each serving.

What can you serve with chicken Mexican casserole?

While this casserole contains some onion and peppers, it doesn’t really contain that much in the way of veggies. Serve a vegetable dish like this Mexican layered salad for a fresh, crunchy side that stays on theme.

Watch how to Make Mexican Chicken Casserole

Mexican Chicken Casserole

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 30 min
Yield 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 4 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 3 to 4 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • Sliced green onions, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet, cook and stir the onion, green pepper and jalapeno peppers in butter until tender. In a large bowl, combine soup and milk. Stir in the rice, chicken, 2 cups cheese and onion mixture.
  2. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until heated through and the cheese is melted, 5-10 minutes longer.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 401 calories, 21g fat (13g saturated fat), 93mg cholesterol, 551mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 1g fiber), 24g protein.

I've had this Mexican chicken bake recipe for 30 years. Since my kids, grandkids and guests of all ages request it often and it takes only about 30 minutes to make, I have it at least once every other month! —Linda Humphreys, Buchanan, Michigan
Recipe Creator