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King Ranch Chicken Casserole

King Ranch chicken casserole is a spicy, cheesy chicken dish loaded with all the flavors of the Southwest. We know you’ll love it as much as we do!

I’ll be honest, before we made this King Ranch chicken, I’d never heard of it. Which is weird considering I lived in Texas for seven years.

Apparently, this chicken casserole origin’s are matter of debate. Most people believe it originated at the King Ranch in Texas.

A slice of King Ranch chicken on a white plate.

However, according to Houstonia, (a magazine based in Houston, Texas), as of 2016, the family has never taken credit for the recipe.

I read over the article, written by Victoria Haneveer, and it was extremely interesting.

The author included details about the history of King Ranch Chicken. I’ve included a link to the article here.

A close-up view of the casserole as it's cooling.

Well, that article got me curious about King Ranch itself. So, I decided to Google them.

They have an informative website with links to the history of the ranch dating all the way back to 1853.

If you’re curious about the origins of the King Ranch, I encourage you take click this link to their website. You could even book a tour!

How to make King Ranch Chicken?

There are only five (5) steps to making this Tex-Mex infused casserole. We’re providing some recipe information below.

The recipe card is listed at the bottom of the page along with detailed instructions. Use the pictures found in the post to help you through the process.

Garlic, chicken and other ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. and spraying a nine (9) by thirteen (13) in casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

After that, cook the onions with butter over low to medium heat until they’re soft. Toss in the garlic just before the onions are done.

Next, grab a large mixing bowl and combine the chicken, cumin, garlic, green chiles, onions, sour cream, salsa verde, and tomatoes.

The garlic, chicken and other ingredients have been mixed.

Now, cut up the tortillas and lay part of them into a casserole dish.

Sprinkle some of the filling over the tortillas. Then, add some of the cheddar cheese.

The chicken filling layered over tortilla pieces.

That’s the first layer of the King Ranch chicken.

Keep repeating tortillas, filling, cheese over and over until all the ingredients are gone.

More tortillas have added to the cheese and filling.

By the time you’re done, the topping should be shredded cheddar. Once everything is gone, toss the chicken casserole into the oven.

Let it bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

A top-down view of the baked King Ranch chicken casserole.

Last, let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving. That’s it, the King Ranch chicken is done!

Kim and I hope you enjoy the dish and we wish you all the best!

Can you freeze King Ranch chicken?

Yes, it can be frozen before or after it bakes. If you freeze it, then set it in your fridge to thaw before baking.

A piece of the finished casserole served on a plate.

How do you make King Ranch chicken from scratch?

That’s an easy one to answer; however, it would take a lot of steps. Including, making your own salsa verde, seasoned chicken, and diced green chiles and tomatoes.

Top-down view of a large square of King Ranch chicken.
A close-up view of the casserole as it's cooling.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

4.8 from 29 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12 Servings


  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup White Onion (diced)
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 5 Cups Chicken (cooked and chopped)
  • 2 Cups Sour Cream
  • 16 Ounces Salsa Verde (jarred)
  • 10 Ounces Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • 4 Ounces Green Chiles
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 4 Cups Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
  • 20 Small Corn Tortillas (cut into fourths)


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch or 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray, then set aside.
  • In a medium skillet, melt the butter over low-medium heat, then add the onions. Cook the onions until they begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • In a large bowl, combine the onions, garlic, chopped chicken, sour cream, salsa verde, tomatoes, green chiles, and cumin. Set aside.
  • Cut the tortillas into quarters. Spread one fourth of the chicken filling into the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 1 cup of shredded cheese, then place a layer of tortillas over the cheese. It’s okay if the tortillas overlap some. Repeat this process of chicken filling, cheese, and tortillas 2 more times (total of 3 layers) making sure to use all the tortillas. Spread the last of the chicken filling on the top, then top that with the last cup of cheese.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sides are bubbly. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.


The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients and a serving size of 1.5 cups of the King Ranch chicken. Actual calories will vary. Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container, in your fridge, for up to 3 days.


Serving: 1.5 Cups | Calories: 413kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 644mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g
Recipe Rating


Wednesday 28th of September 2022

Thank you for this original recipe. I’m happy to find this one without canned soups as well!


Thursday 29th of September 2022

We're so glad you found it, Bonnie! We have several canned soup substitutes it you ever need them. Hope you have a wonderful day! :)


Saturday 13th of February 2021

Thank you for a King Ranch Casserole without 2 cans of highly salted cream of something soup. Refreshing. I've been making this casserole for over 40 years and found it in Cook Book from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo that I purchased in 1980. No cream of anything soups, corn tortillas, whole boiled chicken, dipping tortillas in broth before creating layers which were then filled with the chicken mixture. Real dried peppers, roasted then boiled in some of the chicken stock. Nothing easy to the recipe, but OH MY, the best casserole ever eaten. Totally Tex-Mex.

Christine A Gubbins

Thursday 16th of June 2022

@John, Lost my original copy of King Ranch Casserole which had no canned soup. So glad to find yours! Christine


Sunday 14th of February 2021

No problem Susan and thank you for this lovely comment! We hope you have a wonderful day :)