This is the antsy time of year. Let’s scratch our itch to spend more of our time out of the house and less of it in the kitchen with this easy, healthy recipe for from-scratch King Ranch Chicken!

Healthy King Ranch Chicken from scratch. Just as creamy and comforting as the Tex-Mex original, lightened up with every day ingredients. Ready in 30 min!

An all-in-one meal that will leave you with just one pan to wash in the end, this sped-up skillet version of classic King Ranch chicken casserole offers lean protein, fresh veggies, and Tex-Mex style comfort.

Hustle, and this recipe is ready in 30 minutes. Use that free time to go for a longer walk, stay for one more round of patio drinks (a Skinny Margarita perhaps?), or just do what I’ve been doing and turn your face up to the sky and relish the sun.

Now that warmer weather has (finally!) arrived, I can hardly sit still. Fast, healthy dinners are on the move, especially if they taste great reheated. Your future self will thank you for cooking this tonight when you’re enjoying the leftovers tomorrow.

Healthy King Ranch Chicken. Made from scratch and ready in 30 minutes!

If you live anywhere in the Midwest, you know I’m ahead of myself here.

The month of April tends to be a heartbreaker, so I’m sure that Mother Nature has a few cold snaps still in store. This King Ranch Chicken casserole recipe suits me then too.

With its layers of gooey cheese, tortillas, and hearty chicken all bathing in a velvety, creamy sauce, it’s comforting enough to soothe my cold-weather-weary soul right into spring.

Add the ease/deliciousness factor, and I fully anticipate to still be cooking it this summer and on into fall too!

So, What Is King Ranch Chicken?

I first heard about King Ranch Chicken on an episode of The Pioneer Woman.

It’s a Tex-Mex casserole that layers corn or flour tortillas with cheese, chicken, diced tomatoes, spices, more cheese, cream of this, and cream of that.

It was like an enchilada, pan of nachos, and your grandma’s best casserole classics rolled into one and baked to gooey bliss.

The name “King Ranch Chicken” allegedly hails from King Ranch, which is a large ranch in Texas. The recipe and the ranch don’t seem to have any actual connection to each other (at least not one that I can find), but I feel like if I showed up at King Ranch with a big pan of it, they might let me in the front door.

Easy King Ranch Chicken. Lightened up dinner casserole the whole family will love!

Honestly, the more I read about King Ranch Chicken, the more it reminded me of my Chicken Tortilla Casserole, but with the creaminess factor dialed waaaaaaaay up. And the more I read, the more I knew I had to create a healthy version of it.

I imagine my love Tex-Mex is well established by now. (Ahem, Mexican Chicken and Rice, Mexican Shrimp, Crock Pot Mexican Casserole, Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole…)

With it comes a deep affinity for taking recipes that are traditionally heavy on the processed “cream of” soups and making them from scratch instead. I also adore finding ways to make true comfort foods like King Ranch Chicken better for you while staying true to their cozy roots.

The Best King Ranch Chicken—Made from Scratch

To keep the casserole creamy, I used a moderate amount of reduced-fat cream cheese in the sauce. Just two ounces was all I needed to eliminate the canned soup entirely, and the resulting casserole was gratifyingly rich.

To make the casserole healthy, I loaded it with lots of fresh veggies. Instead of sour cream, we topped our servings with nonfat Greek yogurt and big slices of fresh avocado.

For the tortillas, an essential King Ranch Chicken ingredient, I opted for corn because I love the way their texture breaks down and mixes with the creamy sauce, thickening it further. (If you prefer, you can certainly can make this King Ranch Chicken with flour tortillas instead.)

Lightened up King Ranch Chicken casserole. Made without canned soup for a healthy one-pan meal.

My other major departure with traditional King Ranch chicken casserole was to cook the entire recipe in a skillet that I popped under the broiler to melt the cheese at the end, instead of layering everything in a baking dish.

The skillet approach cuts the cook time in half and reduces dishes too!

The name “King Ranch Chicken” might not have anything to do with the monarchy, but feasting on it certainly made me feel like a queen. Try the recipe, and you’ll feel like kitchen royalty too!

What to Serve with King Ranch Chicken

A skillet of king ranch chicken with avocado

King Ranch Chicken

4.98 from 40 votes
Healthy King Ranch Chicken from scratch. Just as creamy and comforting as the Tex-Mex original, lightened up with every day ingredients. Ready in 30 min!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour substitute a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend to make gluten free
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken broth or water
  • 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken breast about 1 medium breast (for cooking tips, see this post on How to Cook Shredded Chicken, Baked Chicken Breast, Crock Pot Shredded Chicken or Instant Pot Chicken)
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles drained (such as Rotel)
  • 3 (6-inch) corn tortillas torn into rough 1-inch(ish) pieces
  • 2/3 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese divided

For serving:

  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt


  • Place a rack in the upper third of the oven (usually the second-most slot from the top) and preheat the oven to broil.
  • In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not yet smoking. Add the bell pepper, onion, poblano and jalapeño. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt and stir constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, still stirring constantly, until they are thoroughly coated and the white bits of flour disappear, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Stir and cook until the mixture is somewhat thickened, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.
  • Break the cream cheese into the skillet in bits. Stir until melted. Gently stir in the chicken, diced tomatoes, torn tortillas, and half of the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
  • Place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned, about 1 to 2 minutes—do not walk away and watch the skillet the entire time to make sure it doesn’t burn. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve hot with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


Serving: 1of 4Calories: 327kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 21gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 61mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Best King Ranch recipe ever and I live in San Antonio and have been eating this my whole life. Thank you for the recipe that is probably how it should be made without canned soup. Outstanding! And can customize now to change how I want.5 stars

  2. I am from Texas and we actually eat King Ranch casserole. This recipe is very tasty and easy to make. I leave out the bell peppers because it causes heart burn. Lol So glad to see a recipe from Texas on your website. Being a teacher I have been making it in a cast iron dish for years. Love how someone else thinks the same way. Another good recipe is Texas Hash. I make it much healthier than the traditional way and it’s a one skillet recipe too.4 stars

  3. I’m a Texan and I admit I do love the classic recipe for King Ranch Chicken made with “cream of soup,” tons of cheese, and minimal veggies. BUT this recipe blows that old fashioned processed food recipe out of the water. Lots more colorful veggies, all fresh whole food natural ingredients, and still gives you that indulgent creamy, cheesy satisfying feeling that comfort food should! This is a real winner.5 stars

  4. This was so good, better then the canned soup, heavy version. Absolutely loved it and so did my husband, thank you!5 stars

  5. Good ideas but hailing from texas and having eaten this all over TX for over 60 years,it was never never made w flour tortillas. Gr-Grammas knew how to make the sauce without campbells. Thx for getting back to a sauce without “cream of”

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