Mexican Chicken Casserole

Mexican chicken casserole with cheese and crunchy tortilla chips.

Inside: The trick to making a Mexican Chicken Casserole without a can of condensed soup.

My Mexican chicken casserole uses leftover rotisserie chicken, cooked rice, canned black beans, corn, and fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles for a satisfying family dinner. No cans of soup were harmed for this hearty chicken and rice casserole recipe; instead, it uses cream cheese melted into the veggies and rice for a lush, creamy filling.

A serving of the Mexican chicken and rice casserole.

This homey Mexican casserole is pure comfort food in every bite. It’s got all the flavors you love combined with the satisfying crunch of corn tortilla chips (like eating tacos) and the gooey, cheesy richness of your favorite burritos and enchiladas.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • This Mexican chicken casserole is a delicious weeknight option and goes great with a plain green salad.
  • It uses everyday ingredients from the pantry mixed with some fresh veggies.
  • It’s a great way to use leftover rotisserie chicken and leftover rice.
  • No condensed or cream of chicken soup is needed.
  • The seasoning blend is smoky with a little spice but not hot. It’s good for kids and adults alike.
  • Makes a big casserole to feed the whole family – and leftovers are great for lunch the next day.


Ingredients for this recipe.
  • Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Breast – or other cooked chicken.
  • Olive Oil – no need to use a fancy finishing oil; your everyday stuff is fine.
  • Jalapenos – for less heat, remove the seeds and white membranes, for more spice, leave them in.
  • Onion – I used yellow onion, but red or white is fine too.
  • Sweet Bell Pepper – you can use red, yellow or orange. Avoid green as it has a more distinctive vegetal flavor.
  • Garlic – fresh garlic will give you the best flavor.
  • Kosher Salt – I prefer Diamond Crystal – it’s less salty by volume than Morton’s. If you use Morton’s, add about a third less salt.
  • Black Pepper – fresh ground black pepper will give you the best flavor.
  • Cumin – to give the chicken casserole a smoky Mexican flavor.
  • Chili Powder – use your favorite brand.
  • Cayenne Pepper – for just a touch of spiciness. You can add more or less according to your tastes.
  • Cream Cheese – I used full-fat cream cheese instead of Neufchatel; it has a smoother melting quality.
  • Leftover Rice – rice that’s been cooked and cooled or even chilled works best. Hot rice will continue to absorb liquids and can become mushy. Cold rice won’t absorb as rapidly and is better in this Mexican chicken casserole.
  • Ro-Tel Original – rotel tomatoes are a popular brand of fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles. Use the whole can, including the juices — it helps make the “sauce” for the chicken casserole.
  • Canned Black Beans – you can use any brand, but rinse and drain them well.
  • Frozen or Canned Corn – well drained, if canned.
  • Mexican Blend Cheese or freshly grated cheddar and Monterey jack.
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips – for the topping.
  • Cilantro – for the casserole and for serving.

Step-by-step directions:

Saute the vegetables with the spices.
  1. Sweat the onions, sweet bell pepper and jalapenos in olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and cook and stir for one minute. Add the kosher salt, black pepper, cumin powder, chili powder and cayenne.
Mix the spice blend to coat the vegetables.

2. Stir to coat the vegetables with the spices, cooking until fragrant.

Add the black beans, corn, Ro-Tel tomatoes and cooked rice.

3. Add the cooked rice, rinsed and drained black beans and corn and can of Ro-Tel (with juices).

Add the cream cheese.

4. Add the cream cheese. (This is the trick to making the sauce: juices from the canned tomatoes blend with the cream cheese as it melts, creating a luscious binder for the Mexican casserole).

Stir the cream cheese until it's melted.

5. Stir until it’s melted and evenly combined with the other ingredients.

Adding diced chicken and Mexican cheese blend.

6. Stir in the diced chicken and half of the Mexican cheese.

Stir in the cilantro.

7. Add chopped cilantro and transfer the chicken mixture to a greased 2-quart baking dish.

Put the Mexican casserole in a baking dish and top with crushed tortilla chips.

8. Top with crushed tortilla chips and bake for 20 minutes.

Adding cheese to the baked casserole.

9. Add the remainder of the cheese and bake the Mexican casserole for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and gooey.

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The baked and garnished dish.

Cooking Tips:

  • After adding the cream cheese, stir it until it’s completely melted and creates a creamy sauce. You don’t want lumps of cream cheese in the chicken casserole.
  • Be sure to use cooked and completely cooled rice. If you use hot rice, it will absorb more of the liquid and become mushy. I usually use leftover rice for this.
  • To have a gooey cheese layer on top, I recommend adding it in the last 10 minutes of cooking; it’s just enough time to melt without browning too much.
Scooping a serving of the Mexican chicken casserole.


  • You can swap chicken for ground beef; brown the beef mince before adding the onions, peppers and garlic and proceed from there.
  • If you can access fire-roasted Hatch green chilies, use them instead of the jalapenos.
  • Add ¼-½ teaspoon of garlic powder and/or paprika and crushed red pepper flakes for a more pronounced flavor in the Mexican chicken casserole recipe.
  • Swap the spice mixtures (kosher salt through cayenne pepper with 2-3 teaspoons of your favorite taco seasoning.
  • Swap corn tortilla chips for your favorite Doritos.
  • You can garnish with as few or as many toppings as you like.
Serving the casserole with sour cream, jalapenos and avocado.


Make Ahead:

  • You can assemble the chicken rice casserole 1-2 days in advance up to the point of putting it into the casserole dish and store it covered with plastic wrap in the fridge.
  • Remove the casserole from the refrigerator about half an hour before baking so it can come to room temperature; otherwise, it will take longer to cook in the oven.
  • Refrain from adding the crushed tortilla chips and cheese until you’re ready to bake to avoid them getting soggy.


  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
  • Reheat in a 350° oven for 10-15 minutes until heated.
  • I recommend adding a fresh layer of crushed tortilla chips and cheese, as they get soft when stored in the fridge. To serve, add chopped fresh cilantro.


  • This casserole freezes well without the tortilla and cheese topping.
  • Use a baking dish designed for freezer-to-oven cooking. Bake the casserole uncovered for about 45 minutes at 350°.
  • Add the layer of crushed tortilla chips and cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes more or until heated through and the cheese is bubbly.


Can I freeze this recipe?

Yes. See instructions for freezing above.

Can I reheat leftovers in the microwave?

Yes. Reheat in 30-second bursts until warmed through. I recommend adding freshly crushed tortilla chips after heating so they’re crunchy.

A serving of the Mexican casserole recipe.

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Mexican chicken casserole topped with avocado, cilantro and jalapenos.
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5 from 3 votes

Mexican Chicken Casserole

Rich, cheesy with wonderful Mexican flair, this chicken casserole feeds a hungry crowd and can be made in advance and is so easy, you’ll want to make it every week.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword casserole, chicken, comfort food
Dietary Restrictions Egg Free, Gluten-Free
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1 2 quart casserole dish


  • 3 cups cooked chopped chicken chopped (I used leftover rotisserie chicken).
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced depending on how spicy you like it
  • 1 small diced onion
  • ½ diced sweet bell pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup leftover cooked rice
  • 10 ounce can Ro-Tel with juices or canned diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounces frozen or canned corn
  • 12 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese divided
  • cups lightly crushed tortilla chips
  • cup chopped fresh cilantro

FOR SERVING use your choice of:

  • additional cilantro
  • sliced green onions
  • sour cream
  • diced avocado
  • salsa tomato salsa or salsa verde
  • pico de gallo
  • diced tomatoes


  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl it in the pan to coat the bottom. Add 1 small diced onion, ½ diced sweet bell pepper, 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced.
  • Sweat the vegetables for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and fragrant. Stir in 2 large cloves garlic, minced and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin, ¾ teaspoon chili powder, pinch cayenne pepper and stir until the vegetables are well coated.
  • Add 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained, 15 ounces frozen or canned corn, 10 ounce can Ro-Tel with juices, 1 cup leftover cooked rice and stir to combine.
  • Stir in 4 ounces cream cheese until it melts completely and evenly coats the vegetables.
  • Stir in 3 cups cooked chopped chicken and ½ of the Mexican cheese blend.
  • Spray a 2-quart casserole with nonstick spray. Transfer the Mexican chicken filling to a casserole dish. Top with crushed tortilla chips and bake for 20 minutes. (if the chips start to become too brown, rest a piece of foil over the casserole).
  • Top with the remaining cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melty and gooey.
  • Serve with your favorite accompaniments.


Calories: 538.03kcal | Carbohydrates: 54.42g | Protein: 31.47g | Fat: 22.04g | Saturated Fat: 9.19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6.66g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 76.68mg | Sodium: 955.96mg | Potassium: 673.34mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2.6g | Vitamin A: 857.08IU | Vitamin C: 18.99mg | Calcium: 573.73mg | Iron: 2.56mg

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    The whole family loved this recipe.