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Zesty King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Texans love their casseroles, especially ones loaded with spicy flavor. Zesty King Ranch Chicken Casserole is a traditional southern favorite that can be described as a Tex-Mex lasagna. This creamy, cheesy and easy casserole packs layers of chicken, tortillas, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers and more. The variety of ingredients in this king ranch chicken recipe make it one of the most flavorful of its kind. Pop this comforting dish into the oven for your next family dinner.


Possible substitutions: A small can of Ro-Tel Tomatoes and Diced Green Chilies for the tomatoes and poblano, or a small can of green chiles for just the poblano.

Cooking Time30 min

Cooking MethodCasserole


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium poblano, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or 1/2 cup canned tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons pimientos, chopped
  • canola oil for softening tortillas
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups chicken, cooked and diced
  • 1/3 cup green olives, sliced
  • 1/3 cup green onions, including tops, chopped
  • 2 cups longhorn or mild cheddar cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish or 3-quart casserole.
  3. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and chili powder, and saute for a minute or two.
  4. Raise the heat to medium. Quickly sprinkle in the flour and stir to mix. Pour in a small amount of the chicken broth, stirring constantly to remove lumps and allowing the flour to "cook" briefly.
  5. Gradually add the remaining chicken broth and the buttermilk, continue stirring until sauce has thickened, 3 or 4 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  7. Warm a heavy skillet over medium heat, add the butter or olive oil, and saute the chopped onion, green pepper, poblano, mushrooms, tomatoes and pimientos until onion is transparent, about 4 or 5 minutes.
  8. Fold into the mixture the diced chicken, olives and green onions, combining well. Remove from heat.
  9. In a small skillet, heat about half an inch of canola oil. Using tongs, dip the tortillas in the hot oil one at a time, for just a few seconds, so that they are softened. Cover the bottom of your baking dish with 4 of the softened tortillas.
  10. Layer the remaining ingredients in the following order: Half of the chicken/vegetable mixture, half of the grated cheese, half of the sauce, the remaining 4 softened tortillas, the remaining chicken/vegetable mixture, the remaining grated cheese, the remaining sauce.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes until casserole is heated through and bubbly.

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