Is there anything in life quite so beautiful as a gooey, cheesy casserole? Mexican Chicken Casserole says, “I think not.”
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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, especially at this most blustery time of year.
Oh sure, casseroles 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 creamy, cheesy Mexican chicken casserole’s allure is at a deeper level—and I don’t simply mean that they have a good personalities.
5 Star Review
“This was delicious. Very easy to make without tons of chopping and fairly hands-off, just cook, combine and then bake. I also love that it’s perfect for lunch leftovers. Everything I love about a casserole, but that I don’t feel too terrible about eating because the base of its healthy whole ingredients.”— Lauren —
Perhaps I am genetically disposed to love casserole recipes.
Growing up, my mom’s trusty 9×13-inch baking dish was among the most well-used and duly-splattered tools in our kitchen.
Today, now that I’m the one doing the cooking, I am all about the casserole, especially when they are as delicious and simple as this easy Mexican chicken casserole.
Casseroles are a friendly way to cook in large quantities, hit every food group in a single pan, and generate yummy leftovers for the rest of the week.
Like Chicken Nachos, casseroles can also be adapted to suit any number of tastes and are categorically creamy and cheesy, leaving me with a welcome case of the warm fuzzies.
The only thing about casseroles I will not embrace: the ubiquitous cream of chicken soup. Hate me if you will, but that is a place I will not go.
Better Ingredients for Easy Mexican Chicken Casserole
Instead of the gobs of heavy, processed add-ins, this healthy, easy Mexican Chicken Casserole uses Greek yogurt (my secret healthy swap for sour cream!), real cheese, and a mix of fresh ingredients like bell peppers and canned pantry staples like black beans to create a healthy dinner that’s still reasonably easy to prepare on a weeknight.
Simply sauté the chicken and veggies, stir in the black beans and other ingredients into the chicken mixture, top with cheese, and bake!
To serve, feel free to pile on more favorite Mexican flavors and toppings, like salsa, green onions, green chilies, or crush tortilla chips.
- Mexican Chicken Casserole With Rice. I love using quinoa because of its high fiber and protein content, but if you’d prefer using rice, cooked rice (or farro or any other whole grain) can be swapped in easily to make Mexican chicken casserole with rice. All are healthy carbohydrates. See this Mexican Chicken and Rice for another version.
- Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Casserole. Check out my Crock Pot Mexican Casserole (similar ingredients, but this one is already adapted to a crock pot, so I’m 100% sure of the results).
- Instant Pot Mexican Casserole. Another nutrient-packed, easy Mexican dinner in one pot – WIN!
- Mexican Chicken Casserole with Corn Tortillas. You might like this slow cooker Taco Casserole or this Chicken Tortilla Casserole, which have layers of them.
- Mexican Chicken Casserole Dip. And if what you were actually looking for was a dip…Ben actually eats his casserole with tortilla chips, as if he were scooping up a dip (he does the same thing with this Mexican Casserole and Healthy Beef Taco Skillet). Naturally, I scolded him but then tried a bite that way myself.
- To Store. Mexican chicken casserole is fabulous leftover! Keep in fridge in airtight container for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Reheating Mexican chicken casserole in the oven at 350 degrees F until it’s warmed through. Cover the dish with aluminum foil to keep the top from becoming too brown. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave. Feel free to add a little more cheese on top!
- To Freeze. Casseroles make great freezer meals! You can fully cook and then freeze the whole, or portions of, casserole for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe, airtight container. To reheat from frozen, thaw completely overnight in the refrigerator, and then reheat at 350 degrees F, about 20-30 minute cook time, until warmed through.
Meal Prep Tip
You can prepare the casserole elements in advance, then assemble and bake the day of. To save on prep time the day of, store cooked quinoa, cooked chicken, chopped veggies, and beans separately, then mix it together with the yogurt and cheese just before baking.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Casserole Dish. The 9×13 is your gateway to infinite casserole possibilities.
- Cutting Board. I love this non-slip one.
- Dutch Oven. This baby will last your lifetime. This one is also great and easier on the wallet.
More Easy Mexican Chicken Recipes
- Chicken Enchilada Skillet
- Crockpot Mexican Chicken
- Mexican Chicken and Rice
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos
- King Ranch Chicken
- Fiesta Chicken
Official Casserole Fan Club, member number one right here. Anyone else care to join?
We can wear sashes, create a secret handshake, and eat healthy Mexican chicken casserole directly from the pan, with or without tortilla chips.
All interested parties, raise your forks!
Frequently Asked Questions
Mexican chicken casserole would be baked prior to freezing. Foil pans work great for freezing casseroles because you can simply place them directly into oven after defrosting. Glass Pyrex dishes can also go from freezer to oven.
Yes! You can use chicken thighs or chicken tenders for Mexican chicken casserole instead of chicken breasts, or a combination of the two, if you prefer dark meat.
While I have only tested the recipe as is, you could try swapping the chicken for plant-based “chicken,” or omit the meat entirely and supplement additional beans and quinoa to fill up the dish.
Rotisserie chicken is a great shortcut. You would skip the chicken sauté step in the recipe, and instead add the rotisserie chicken in along with the beans.
Mexican Chicken Casserole
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size 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 ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic about 2 cloves
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (15 ounces) well drained
- 1 can black beans (15 ounces) , rinsed and drained
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese divided
- Fresh cilantro for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large casserole dish (9×13 inch or similar) with nonstick spray and set aside.
- 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, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- In a Dutch oven or similar large, deep sauté pot, heat the olive oil over medium high. Add the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper. 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 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and drained tomatoes and cook 1 additional minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the black beans, reserved quinoa, Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly in the pan. Top with remaining cheddar and mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and the casserole is hot, about 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil, then continue cooking until the cheese is lightly browned, about 3 to 4 additional minutes, watching carefully so that the cheese does not burn. Let rest 5 minutes, sprinkle with chopped cilantro, and serve.
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