One Pan Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole

So one pan cooking has been around forever.  Mom threw everything in a roaster or crock pot.  In college everything I made went into a hot pot and nowadays things are either in a baking dish or a stock pot.  It’s not new but it sure is awesome.  I mean HELLO… one pot to clean (well okay minus the plates or utensils… that is unless you’re a caveman).  This recipe I’ve been making ever since I bought my first house.  I had bought some chicken breasts and veggies.  I had rice on hand and a half open jar of salsa in my fridge.  Working long hours at my day job, helping to run my family’s pizza shop and running my own web company I didn’t have much free time.  Cooking back then wasn’t really a priority.  I mean I loved it but it wasn’t a priority.  Sad I know but it’s the truth.

I can still remember the first time I made this.  I had just got home from tutoring on a Saturday morning at the local library and I had 4 hours of down time until I went into the pizza shop.  I fed the cats (because lord knows if you didn’t feed them as soon as you walked in the door there was hell to pay) and put the rest of their canned food in the fridge.  It was there that I saw the chicken (that I had to use up), the half full jar of salsa, cilantro and stock.  This dish just kind of was a ‘dump it all in the pool’ type recipe.

Mexican Chicken Salsa One Pan Casserole2

I’d love to tell you that it turned out amazing the first time I made it.  Yeah, no, it didn’t.  It was HORRIFIC!  The rice was hard as a rock, dry as I didn’t use enough liquid and the chicken was rubbery.  I way under cooked it. So I tried it again… and again.. and again.  Honestly this dish took me about 8 times to get right AND to make it repeatable quality-wise. Remember, I’m a perfectionist.

This dish is one of those dishes that you can repurpose into unbelievable leftovers. Truth be told, I’ll often make this dish, not eat it as I have it shown in the photos but instead actually use it for leftovers.  It’s PHENOMENAL in burritos (or freezer burritos!) or Mexican chicken rice bowls.  And OMG don’t even get me started with this on nachos!  OMG… it TOTALLY takes cheese and nachos to a whole new level!

Mexican Chicken Salsa One Pan Casserole Collage

This is one of those dishes I make about once a month and usually 2 trays at a time. One is for dinner one night and different lunches for Mr. Fantabulous and I throughout the week.  The other I let cool, chop up and then turn into freezer burritos.  The first time I made this for Mr. Fantabulous he came up from the studio where he was practicing his guitar and started sniffing around.  When this bakes you can smell the Mexican spices.  Now you can easily add chopped jalapenos or more chillies to the mix but he’s not one for super spicy foods so I keep it to medium salsa and one can of green chillies.  He ate 2 plates of this at dinner raving over how good it was.  So much so that he asked for this again the next night.  By day 3 I was sick of it and figured he would be so I made some burritos out of them.  Well the next day I get a text message “OMG honey these burritos are amazing!”

Mexican Chicken Salsa One Pan Casserole1

This dish is really adaptable meaning you can add in what you want veggie-wise.  I’ve added in chopped asparagus, broccoli, no beans, roasted corn, fresh tomatoes, tomatillos – you name it.  The sky is the limit.  I’ve also made this with wild grain rice though keep in mind that rice will need about another 20 minutes to cook before it’s done as wild grain rice takes longer to soak up the liquid. As for the salsa go with any jarred stuff or use your own.  Try it with Salsa Verde for a great flavor with a twist!

One final thing is if you want a more creamy version, add in a block of cream cheese to the mix. If I have it on hand I’ll add it in but it’s not necessary. With football season upon us, this makes a KILLER dish to take with you or to server on the buffet table.  Plus next time you’re invited for a potluck, make this!  You will definitely be the hit of the party!

Mexican Chicken Salsa One Pan Casserole3

One Pan Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole

Rating 

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Ingredients
  • 3lb (about 4 large) boneless skinless chicken breast (or thighs), pounded to even thickness
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa (mild/medium/hot/OMG I wanna die fire hot)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh corn
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 small can minced green chilis
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • *for creamy add in 1 8ounce block cream cheese (cubed)
  • 2 cups cheddar, shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (375F for convection).
  2. In a 9x13” casserole pan add all of the ingredients (only half of the cilantro though) EXCEPT the cheddar and chicken.
  3. Mix to combine and then place the chicken into the mixture trying to submerge as best as possible.
  4. Cover tightly with foil and if the mixture is at the top of your pan it’s wise to put a larger rimmed pan beneath it in case there are drips.
  5. Bake for 1 hour.
  6. Remove from the oven, remove the chicken and carefully set aside.
  7. Mix in the 1 cup of the cheese into the rice mixture left in the pan.
  8. Place the chicken back in the pan gently pushing down into the rice.
  9. Top with the remaining cheese and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. The rice mixture should not be dry. It should have some liquid left (if you need more, add more stock). The liquid will absorb more into the rice as it cools.
  10. Garnish with the remaining cilantro.

 

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6 Responses to “One Pan Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole”

  • Savy says:

    Can anyone tell me the nutritional facts for this dish.??? And ho3 much is a serving. Please please thank you

    • TKWAdmin says:

      I do not provide nutritional information as I’m not a nutritionist. For me personally I just type the ingredients into an online calorie type application.

      As for servings, I treat this as 4-6 meals, it depends on how large the chicken is.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Sheridyn Weaver says:

    I’m going to make this tonight! It sounds so delicious!

    What do you do with the leftovers to make burritos? How do you freeze them?

    Thanks, from Australia

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Sheridyn!

      All I do is take some 10-12″ round burritos shells, lay some shredded cheese down, add some of the rice mixture and then chopped chicken. Roll them up tight for a burrito and then wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap. Place them in a freezer safe bag and freeze.

      To serve you can unwrap and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or just microwave for a few minutes. However if you want (which is what I do most often) is if I know I’m having them for dinner or lunch, I’ll take a couple out of the freezer and pop them in the fridge to defrost safely. Then when it’s time to eat I just bake or microwave. To serve I just top with some guac, sour cheese or maybe some salsa.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Carrie says:

    This looks phenomenal! Definitely will have to try it with the cream cheese, because that makes everything better, right? Thanks for the great idea!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Thank you so much Carrie! My apologies for missing your comment 🙁

      This recipe will most definitely be a keeper in any household!

      And yes, the cream cheese in it ROCKS!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

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