Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

Is there anything in life quite so beautiful as a gooey, cheesy casserole? Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole says, “I think not.”

Cheesy Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole. Healthy, easy and tastes just like a Chipotle burrito bowl!Now, ocean sunsets, the Grand Canyon, and every Tim McGraw song ever recorded might argue for the title and tiara, but I maintain that the casserole deserves recognition in the beauty department.  Oh sure they are ultra oozy, lose their shape immediately when cut, and are generally a food photographer’s worst nightmare, but their inherent value as a one-dish meal that’s comforting enough to cure a broken heart is worthy of respect. The casserole’s allure is of a deeper level—and I don’t simply mean that it has a good personality.

Cheesy Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole. An easy, healthy family dinnerPerhaps I am genetically disposed to love casseroles—growing up, every dish my mother cooked eventually turned into one—but I’ve come to embrace them. Dinners like this Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole are a friendly way to cook in large quantities, hit every food group with a single pan, and generate yummy leftovers for the rest of the week (read: get away with cooking one less meal.) Casseroles can also be adapted to suit any number of tastes and are categorically creamy, cheesy, and give me the warm fuzzies.

Skinny Mexican Chicken Quinoa CasseroleThe only two things about casseroles I will not embrace: the ubiquitous canned fried onion topping (I’m sorry but, why does this exist?) and cream of anything soup. Instead of the gobs of heavy, processed add-ins, Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole uses Greek yogurt, real cheese, and a mix of fresh and canned ingredients to create a healthy dinner that’s still reasonably easy to prepare on a weeknight.

Simply sauté the chicken and veggies, stir in the other ingredients, top with cheese, and bake! I love using quinoa because of its high fiber and protein content, but cooked rice (or farro or any other whole grain) can be swapped in easily.

The final selling point—Ben gave Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole his highest form of culinary praise: “It tastes just like a Chipotle burrito bowl.” Sold.

Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole. Healthy, easy, and cheesy!Official Casserole Fan Club, member number one right here. Anyone else care to join? We can wear sashes, create a secret handshake, and eat Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole directly from the pan. All interested parties, raise your forks!

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Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

An easy Mexican chicken casserole your entire family will love! Cooked quinoa is mixed with creamy Greek yogurt, two types of cheese, black beans, fresh vegetables, and Mexican spices to create a healthy, all-in-one dinner.

Yield: Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 large breasts)
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, well drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • Fresh cilantro, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large casserole dish (9×13-inch or similar) with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place 2 cups water and quinoa in a large saucepan, then bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, still covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  3. In a large, deep sauté pan or pot, heat the olive oil over medium high. Add the onion and bell pepper, then sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Continue to sauté until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, drained tomatoes and cook 1 additional minute. Remove from heat. Stir in the black beans, reserved quinoa, Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly in the pan. Top with remaining mozzarella and cheddar, then bake, uncovered until hot and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil, then continue cooking until the cheese is lightly browned, about 3-4 additional minutes, watching carefully so that the cheese does not burn. Let rest 5 minutes, garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve.
All images and text ©/Well Plated.

If you like this Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole, you’ll love these other healthy casserole recipes:

Healthy Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole. A lightened up version of the classic casserole recipe.

Healthy Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Cheesy Corn Chicken Quinoa Casserole — A lightened up, healthy corn bake made with simple, REAL ingredients. EASY recipe that our whole family loves. High protein and no canned soups! @wellplated

Cheesy Quinoa Casserole with Chicken and Corn

Mozzarella Meatball Casserole. FINALLY a healthy pasta recipe your entire family will love! Made with ground turkey, whole wheat pasta, spinach, and lots of fresh gooey mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella Meatball Casserole

Spicy Pizza Mac and Cheese. Homemade baked mac and cheese with your favorite pizza toppings like mozzarella and pepperoni

Pizza Mac and Cheese Casserole

About Erin Clarke

I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, lover of bourbon, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN...


  1. I could eat this meal every single day!!

  2. Umm i may have missed it – but how much quinoa?

  3. I am a huge fan of casseroles!! So making it with quinoa just guaranteed I’m going to love this!!

  4. Oh man mexican with quinoa is making this girl very very happy.

  5. Love the twist of quinoa. I am adding this to my freezer prep for Baby Guster. We are stocking the freezer with meals and this sounds perfect!

  6. I made a similar dish a while back and it remains one of my faves! Super high protein, tons of flavor, and pretty healthy!? Score! Plus leftovers go great for tacos and enchiladas

  7. I grew up in a casserole-less home, zero casseroles served up here! So I rebelled and started making casseroles when I moved out. Your Mexican casserole looks scrumptious and I’m ready to eat it right now even though it’s only 9 a.m. here. That bubbly cheese on top just makes me so happy, that and that fact that bathing suit season is officially over where I live….but wait, yours is nutritious so I can hit up the hot tub at the YMCA after all =)

  8. Healthy casseroles for the win! I always crave filling comfort food like this when the weather turns cool.

  9. This is one casserole that I could get into eating! My kind of comfort food!

  10. Thanks for the honorable mention! This looks delicious! (By the way, I don’t like those french-fried onions either)!

  11. Dude, just pass the whole casserole! Mmmm!!!

  12. This is my kind of casserole!! I used to be a fan of the creamy of anything soup when I was a kid (before I knew better) now it just tastes like floury glue. Love that this is made with real, healthier ingredients but still looks so ooey gooey and cozy!

  13. I absolutely love this idea!! Have been wanting to do a quinoa casserole for a while. Thanks for the inspiration! xo

  14. scrumptious…where do I start…quinoa, cumin, quinoa, chicken, quiiiiinoooaaaa!!! Such a fabulous idea Erin!

  15. This looks like my kind of meal, always going back for seconds…and maybe thirds :)

  16. Love this healthier version. And your photos are gorgeous!

  17. I love this recipe! And I love these photos. You made the casserole look delicious! Although, I totally disagree on those canned fried onions. I could eat those all day err day.

    • High praise from someone I consider a casserole queen! Thanks Karly :) As far as the onions, we can leave them on, split an entire casserole, and the top section is allll yours. Deal?

  18. This looks incredible! And the photos…I could have a whole helping (or two) of this right about now! And I totally can’t ever get enough of Mexican food. Love this!

  19. Oh yes, I’m raising my fork so I can dig in right away! This quinoa casserole looks gorgeous! Tasty comfort food with amazing flavors that I won’t have to feel guilty about – yes please :)

  20. Erin, you made this casserole look so good. . and that’s not an easy thing to do!! I’m with you on the canned fried onion topping and the cream of anything soup. . leave it out!!! Love and pinned!! How is Milwaukee treating you?

    • As always, you are too sweet :) Honestly, I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of the city yet–we are still getting settled, but I’m hoping to take advantage of the nice weather and play hooky for a day downtown before Ben starts work Monday!

  21. Erin, these photos! … and that casserole! I am in heaven. Pinned!

  22. You had me at Chipotle Burrito Bowl; holy yumness!

  23. Is this freezer friendly? I have a feeling we are going to like it and want to make lots of it for later!

    • Hi Amy, It is absolutely freezer friendly! I actually froze half after I made it, and the leftovers still tasted great. I recommend thawing overnight in the refrigerator. You can then reheat it in the oven (you may want to cover it with foil and add a little extra cheese on top) or warm up individual servings in the microwave (which is what we did.) I hope you love it!

  24. I’ve never made a quinoa casserole and I really want too… must change that soon!

  25. Absolutely love a good casserole this time of year, nothing more comforting…Although, I have an embarrassing confession, I LOVE canned green bean casserole with, (gulp) store-bought fried onions….It’s a horrible horrible guilty pleasure I’m ridiculously ashamed of!

  26. Oooh! This has everything I love! And you pulled off the photography for this casserole beautifully! I’ve still been too scared to photograph a casserole ;)

  27. Hmmm, that secret handshake part makes membership sound mighty tempting. Will meeting be held monthly? haaha… this looks great Erin! Love the addition of greek yogurt!

  28. As a girl who lives no where near a Chipotle, I think I need to make this myself to experience what everyone else is talking about. Casseroles = the best thing about fall! Hehe, I love that the casserole is anthropomorphized–nice ;)

  29. This looks amazing! I can’t wait to make it!! Quinoa was one of the “I’m too scared to use” ingredients until I found your blog – now I can’t get enough of it! THANK YOU!!

    And that casserole dish in the photos – BEAUTIFUL!! Any chance you can share the details? I have been on the lookout for one.

  30. If food could be a spirit animal, casserole would be mine! But I’m totally with you on being ant-canned fried onions :) This casserole looks like my every dream come true!

  31. Wow this recipe looks so so so delicious! I love Mexican flavours so I am sure I will love this recipe! I’ve gotta give this a try soon ;-)

  32. Count me in as member number two! This casserole looks gorgeous and perfect for fall!

  33. Nope, nothing better than a nice cheesy casserole! I love comfort foods like this! Great flavors here!

  34. Don’t they call this hot dishes where you live now? hehe :)

  35. I’m currently in apartment pack mode, and then will be sleeping on the streets (aka my sister’s guest bedroom) for a week, but once that’s all said and done this will be one of the first dishes I make in the new kitchen!

  36. I have never added quinoa to a casserole before…something that I need to try! This casserole is incredibly delicious Erin, I could definitely devour a bowl of it’s cheesey goodness right now.

  37. Chipotle burrito bowl? I’m totally in! I could pretty much eat that every single day!
    I need to embrace the casserole more. I mean, I have some awesome recipes that are super tasty, but I guess I always forget to make them! Well, you rock … I’m inspired! Casseroles 4 life! :)

  38. Midwesterners are predisposed to like casseroles :) (or “hot dish” as us Minnesotans like to call them)

  39. This is beautiful for sure!! Love me a mexican casserole! Pinned!

  40. I dont know if anyone notices this, but as a mexican woman I must point out that this has nothing mexican at all, maybe the image North Americans have of mexican food (which is almost an insult to mexican cuisine) but this, as good as it might or might not be, is not mexican an.

    • Hi Elizabeth, in no way did I ever intend the title of this recipe to be offensive. The warm flavors reminded me of Mexican food I had experienced, but in no way would I say this is an authentic dish— merely an interpretation. I sincerely apologize if I caused any harm.

  41. Love this so much yay!!! One I can enjoy and even take to the neighbors!! Thanks!

  42. Looks and sounds great! Calories? Cholesterol? Would like some idea before enjoying it. Thanks

    • Hi Margie! I don’t actually post nutritional information for any of my recipes for a variety of reasons (you can read them in detail on my FAQ page here:, but I do know that there are many free calculators available to calculate nutritional info online. I don’t endorse any one in particular, but I do hear good things about I know that isn’t the answer you were looking for, but I can assure you that this dish is packed with lean protein, whole grains, veggies and dairy too!

  43. Another great recipe Erin, thanks…my daughter will love this one, she is so into Quinoa……can’t wait to give her this recipe too…..

  44. Omg! Eating this as I type! Love it so much! Totally agree with the normal crap that is in casseroles! Keep giving is more no-crap-casseroles!!!!

    • Kaci, I’m so happy that you like it!! Now that cold weather (a.k.a. comfort food season) is here, I think we can all use more healthy casseroles, so I’m glad to hear your suggestion. Stay tuned, and thank you so much for taking time to leave your review here. It really means a lot!

  45. Hi Erin! I must say that this recipe is one of my top FAVORITES! I made it last weekend for my husband and I and we both rate it a full on 5! This weekend i have guests coming over so i was wondering if this dish is ok to prepare a night before. For example would it be ok to prepare the quinoa and chicken with all the ingredients cooked and put it in a casserole dish and put it in the fridge, then next morning put the cheese overtop and bake it. Please let me! Looking forward to your reply. Thanks again!

    • Hi Saba! I’m so, so happy to hear that you and your husband loved this, and I’m honored you’d want to serve it to guests too. Great question, and you can absolutely make it ahead! (I’ve actually done it this way myself). I’d store the cooked quinoa and cooked chicken + veggies + beans separately, then mix it together with the yogurt and cheese just before baking. Since you’ll be starting the filling cold, you’ll need a longer baking time too, so cover the dish for the first 10-15 minutes or to keep the top from burning, then uncover and continue until it’s hot. I hope that helps, and have a great time at your dinner party!

  46. A great recipe! We modified it to increase protein and reduce fat by 1) using 1.25 lbs of chicken, 2) non-fat yogurt, 3) part-skim mozzarella and 4) only 1/2 cup of cheddar, but a good Vermont one. We also used fresh roma tomatoes instead of fire-roasted to reduce sodium.

    Dinner for two for two nights. Thanks!

    • Hi Emma, I am so excited that you and your family enjoyed this recipe! I love good cheddar cheese, so I bet that made this dish even more delicious. Thanks so much for taking time to let me know how it turned out for you! Have a wonderful night.

  47. This was great! Flavorful, healthy and satisfying. Plus really flexible. I cooked the quinoa and sautéed the onion, bell pepper and chicken the night before. Then I just had to mix in the other ingredients and bake. Super fast supper!
    After we had it two nights, I froze the remaining serving. A week later, it reheated just fine for lunch: I couldn’t tell it had been frozen.
    Blue ribbon winner for “do-ahead meals”!

  48. I needed a non-simple carb casserole for a friend in chemo. I doubled it so my family could eat it too. Everyone loved it!

    • Hi Sarah! I am so excited to hear that you, your family and your friend enjoyed this! Thank you so much for letting me know, and all the best to your friend as she recovers too.

  49. Just made this tonight and took my first bite! It’s delicious – thank you for a great recipe!!

  50. Made this for dinner tonight and we loved it! Might have to chop up a jalapeño to throw in there next time too :)

  51. Made this last night, followed it to the ‘T’ and it was a huge hit! Thank you and this will definitely be one I will keep in my recipe book. My husband doesn’t typically eat healthy food but loved it and our neighbors came over for dinner and loved it as well. Thanks!

    • Cynthia, I am so, so happy to hear this, especially the part about your husband not usually liking “healthy” food, as that is forever my goal—to make healthy food that tastes, well, not healthy :) Thanks so much for trying this recipe and for letting me know that you and your neighbors enjoyed it!

  52. My family really enjoyed this! I served it with tortilla chips, which my son proceeded to load up with the casserole, as if it were a dip. One thing I did which helped speed the preparation was to make the quinoa earlier in the day. This gave the quinoa plenty of time to soak up the liquid so it was the perfect texture for mixing in to the other ingredients.

    Thank you!

    • Jocelyn, my husband loves to eat this dip-style too! Must be a guy thing :-) Great tip about the quinoa, and I’m so happy to hear that you all enjoyed it. Thanks so much for letting me know!

  53. Erin – I have been wanting for some time to try quiona and after reading the ingredients list decided this was the right recipe to try it with. I made it last night and it was phenomenal! I did not tell my husband what was in it until after he finished with the praises – because he is finicky and anything new is ‘bad’…..He absolutely loved it! I made it exactly as you posted. This is a keeper recipe! Will be looking for more of your recipes with quiona! I have house guests this weekend and have 3 other 2014 fav recipes of yours on my menu! Your recipes initially caught my eye because they are indeed healthier ingredients but still packed with ingredients that provide great flavor. Keep up the great posts!

    • Yvonne, this comment made my day! Isn’t it great when you can trick your family into eating healthy? :) I hope you enjoy the other recipes you try, and if you like quinoa, keep an eye out for recipes with rice and farro too. You can usually swap the quinoa right in with great results. Enjoy and thanks again!

  54. I’ve been following your blog for quite a while but this is my first time commenting…I made this for lunch today and it was insanely delicious! Even my son, an otherwise healthy eater who despises quinoa and casseroles, gave it a two thumbs up and even asked for seconds! I made the red velvet cinnamon rolls last week (I posted it on my blog and linked back to you) and my husband declared they were, hands-down, the best cinnamon rolls he had ever eaten. I followed both of the recipes to a t (but I slathered cream cheese frosting on the red velvet rolls instead of your glaze). Thanks so much for the wonderful, drool-worthy recipes- I really love that you post healthy recipes and decadent, indulgent dessert ones as well! Please continue to do what you do so well-and belated congrats on the re-naming of the blog :)

  55.  This casserole was AMAZING but I am curious what actual serving size / calorie count is – any idea?

    • Christine, I’m so excited that you loved this recipe!! It’s a favorite of ours too. I don’t actually do calorie counts for any of the recipes on my website, (you can read the reasons why on my FAQ page) but I do know that there are a variety of free online calculators available. A quick Google search should give you some options.

  56. I had a friend over for dinner tonight and decided to make this.  Four of us were eating and we finished the whole thing because it was so delicious!  My friend asked for the recipe and is planning on making it for another dinner gathering in a few weeks.  This will definitely be added to our list of meals to make regularly.  Thanks Erin : )

  57. This was SO good! Husband, toddler, and mommy approved. I made this on Sunday night, and popped in the oven when we got home from work/school for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Will definitely make this one again, my husband even requested me to make it again :) Can’t wait to try some more of your recipes!

  58. I found your blog/recipe on a post from Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats (in honor of Cinco de Mayo). I made this last night- and loved it.  Thank you!  I look forward to exploring your blog further.

  59. Thank you for this recipe. I made it tonight and it was delicious! My husband said it was “good” which means he loved it! Looking forward to trying more of your recipes. 

  60. Can I substitute brown rice for the quinoa? I’m allergic to quinoa (weird I know) but really want to make this dish! Thanks!

  61. I found this on Pinterest and plan on making it for girl’s night.  Any suggestions on sides and desert?

  62. Delicious, thank you! I love your website. :) 

  63. Hi Erin, just wondering whether if i eliminate the chili powder and cayenne pepper it will still be ok….?

    • Hi Monique! Both spices are pretty important to giving the casserole flavor. If you are sensitive to spice, you could omit the cayenne, but I would definitely keep the chili powder. I hope you love the recipe if you do try it!

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