From-Scratch King Ranch Chicken Recipe

If you're not from Texas, you may not be familiar with King Ranch Chicken — the unofficial "state casserole" of the Lone Star State. But in a state where barbecue and Tex-Mex rule the roost in regard to the most popular cuisines, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Texan who isn't a fan of this layered, tangy, and cheesy casserole dish. "The thing I love about this recipe is that it is kind of like a Tex-Mex lasagna," says recipe developer Jessica Morone. "It has bold flavors, melty cheese, and just enough heat." 

But Morone's recipe is slightly different — and arguably fresher — than the more classic version. "King Ranch Chicken recipes traditionally use a canned creamy soup in them, but in this version, there is no canned soup involved, it is all homemade. So you can control the seasonings more by adding more or less salt, pepper, garlic powder, or chili powder, and it is just fresher overall," she says. So go ahead and whip up this homemade version and don't be afraid to adjust the seasonings, to taste.

Gather the ingredients for From-Scratch King Ranch Chicken

The ingredients for King Ranch Chicken are readily available and inexpensive, too, so it's a great meal to cook for a crowd. All you'll need is sour cream, chicken broth, butter, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, corn tortillas, shredded chicken (already cooked — a great way to use leftover chicken from a previous meal), a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles, Mexican blend shredded cheese, and diced jalapeños. Then, if you like cilantro, go ahead and buy some to serve on top of the casserole. 

Do your prep and make the sauce

To get started, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease a 9 x 9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Then, grab your sour cream, chicken broth, melted butter, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and place them all in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until they're well combined. 

Layer the casserole ingredients

Now it's time to build your casserole, and you'll notice it's not all that different from building a lasagna. Start by pouring a third of the sauce you just made into the bottom of the dish. layer the halved tortillas on top of the sauce, being sure to fully cover the dish (you'll use about four of the tortillas). Evenly scatter half of the chicken on top of the tortillas before spooning a third of the diced tomatoes over the chicken. Sprinkle a third of the cheese on top of the chicken and tomatoes. 

You'll repeat this layering order (sauce, tortillas, chicken, tomatoes, and cheese) a second time, then finish by adding a final layer in a slightly different order — tortillas, sauce, cheese, and tomatoes. You'll finish by sprinkling the diced jalapeños over the top. 

Bake the casserole and serve

All that's left to do is to bake your King Ranch Chicken! Cover the casserole dish with tin foil and bake it in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the foil off the dish and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven when it's hot and bubbly while the cheese is turning a nice golden color. 

Now that it's ready to serve, simply sprinkle it with cilantro, slice it up, and dish it out. "You can top this with more sour cream. For drinks, this would be great served with a crisp Mexican lager. As for sides, it could be good with some rice and beans on the side, or a salad," Morone says. 

If you don't finish the whole casserole in a single sitting, Morone advises it'll keep in the fridge for up to five days, or you can freeze it for up to three months.

From-Scratch King Ranch Chicken Recipe
5 from 54 ratings
Try this recipe to bring a Texas classic casserole to life with layers shredded chicken, corn tortillas, and cheese.
Prep Time
Cook Time
king ranch chicken on plate
Total time: 55 minutes
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 12 corn tortillas, halved
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes & green chiles
  • 2 cups Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapeño
Optional Ingredients
  • Cilantro, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly spray a 9 x 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the sour cream, chicken broth, melted butter, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and ground pepper until well combined.
  3. Pour one-third of the sour cream sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Layer 4 of the cut-up tortillas in the dish over the sauce. Top the tortillas with one-half of the chicken. Spoon about one-third of the diced tomatoes and green chilis mixture over the chicken, then top with about one-third of the cheese.
  4. Repeat the layers with another one-third of the sauce, 4 tortillas, the remaining chicken, one-third of the tomato and chilis, and one-third of the cheese.
  5. Add the remaining tortillas on top, followed by the remaining sauce, cheese, tomatoes and green chilis, and the diced jalapenos.
  6. Cover with foil and then bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes until it is hot and bubbly.
  7. Top with cilantro if desired, then cut and serve.
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