Updated: Aug 18, 2022
OMG, there’s a chicken casserole on my ranch! Actually, nobody knows why King Ranch Chicken is named after Texas’ King Ranch, but it’s got Tex-Mex flavors and the ranch is near the Mexican border. And, quite frankly, it’s a kingly casserole!
I base my recipe on First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson's classic from the 1960’s. I replace the margarine with butter, throw in a can of diced chiles for extra heat, add sliced scallions and parsley for extra green, and leave out the chicken stock so it doesn't get too runny. I'll frequently make one and a half times the recipe if I've got a group of 5 or 6 and some of them are big guys. This recipe is a website exclusive, you won't see it in my new cookbook!
KING RANCH CASSEROLE
Makes 6 to 8 servings
(This is my recipe. Lady Bird's original recipe is further down in this post.)
2 tablespoons oil (canola or olive)
18 ounces (2 packages) pre-cooked carved chicken breast, cut bite-sized
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 sweet onion, diced
1 can (10 ounces) Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
1 can (10.5 ounces) cream of chicken soup
1 can (10.5 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup sliced scallions, white and green parts
16 corn tortillas, quartered
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat, add diced chicken. Season with chili powder and heat through, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
In skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, cook till softened, 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, chiles, soups. Stir and simmer till incorporated, 5 minutes. Add parsley and scallions, stir.
In prepared baking dish, spread a few tablespoons of heated soup mixture, layer 1/3 tortillas. Making sure soup mixture covers edges of all tortillas as you go, layer 1/2 chicken, 1/3 cheese, 1/2 remaining soup mixture. Layer 1/3 tortillas, last 1/2 chicken, 1/3 cheese, last 1/3 tortillas, last 1/2 remaining soup mixture, last 1/3 cheese.
Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes then serve to whoops and hollers. I like to garnish with sliced red pimento and pickled jalapeño to give it added color!
Another plateful! I make this baby all the time.
Here is Lady Bird Johnson's original recipe, as provided by the White House:
A rib-sticking Texas delicacy.
First Lady Mrs. Lyndon B. (Lady Bird) Johnson's 1960’s recipe for...
KING RANCH CASSEROLE
¼ CUP MARGARINE
1 LARGE ONION, CHOPPED
1 CAN RO-TEL TOMATOES
1 CAN CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP
1 CAN CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP
1 CUP CHICKEN STOCK
10 CORN TORTILLAS
2 CUPS DICED COOKED CHICKEN
1 CUP GRATED LONGHORN CHEESE
PREHEAT OVEN TO 3OO DEGREES
IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN, MELT MARGARINE OVER MEDIUM HEAT, ADD ONION AND COOK UNTIL TRANSPARENT. ADD TOMATOES, SOUPS AND STOCK. COOK, STIRRING UNTIL THICKENED.
IN A LARGE FLAT CASSEROLE, LAYER TORTILLAS, CHICKEN AND SAUCE. TOP WITH CHEESE AND BAKE 30 MINUTES. SERVES 6