This easy Mexican Chicken Casserole has all the right stuff: a creamy sauce, two kinds of cheese, plenty of tender chicken, and your favorite Mexican seasonings. Great for busy weeknights!
A Creamy, Cheesy Mexican Casserole Everyone Will Love
I do a lot of skillet cooking, grilling, and roasting. Those are all great ways of bringing out the true, deep flavors in everything from flank steak to broccoli! But, if you’re looking for a more hands-free dinner idea (without sacrificing taste and nutrition), you might just need to reach for that tried-and-true crowd pleaser: a casserole. 😍
Now hear me out: I know some of us have family members who are firmly anti-casserole, but have they tried this one? It’s a bold and feisty chicken bake with corn chips, black beans, chopped tomatoes, and lots of cheese. A far cry from those boring, under-seasoned casseroles we all had as kids, right?
Seriously, if you like Mexican and Tex-Mex food, try this easy dish. You’re going to love it!
To make this recipe, you’ll need chicken, cheese, a few fresh and canned veggies, and some creamy sauce. Here’s the list:
- Chicken: I use cooked, chopped chicken breast, but you could also use dark meat.
- Tortilla Chips: The chips should be lightly crushed.
- Canned Corn and Beans: One (15 ounce cans) of each. Rinse and drain them before using.
- Chopped Tomatoes: You can freshly chop the tomatoes, or substitute canned tomatoes, salsa, etc.
- Bechamel Sauce or Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute: To give the casserole its creamy base.
- Mozzarella Cheese: We’re going to stir a little shredded mozzarella cheese into the sauce, to make things even cheesier!
- Mexican Blend Cheese: Shredded Mexican blend cheese is layered throughout the casserole.
- Seasonings: You can use chili powder and cumin, or substitute pre-made taco seasoning if you prefer. You’ll also need salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnishes: Fresh cilantro, chopped jalapeno pepper, and green onions.
What is Bechamel?
Bechamel is also known as “white sauce” – a simple, creamy sauce made with butter, flour, and milk. It often includes a little nutmeg, but you can leave that out if you prefer.
To make bechamel, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour to make a paste, and cook this for a minute or two (don’t let it brown). Finally, add 3 cups of warm milk, whisking over the heat until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper, as well as a pinch of nutmeg if you like.
How to Make This Easy Casserole
To make Mexican chicken casserole, all you have to do is layer the ingredients in your baking dish, and bake until bubbly. That’s it! The result? A warm, melty chicken dinner that will feed a crowd. Let’s do this!
- Make the First Layer of Ingredients. Before you start, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13×9 baking dish, and sprinkle a cup of the crushed tortilla chips every across the bottom of the dish. Heat the bechamel or cream of chicken soup, and whisk in the mozzarella. Pour ⅓ of this over the chips. Top with about ¾ cup of the Mexican blend cheese, a third of your chicken, ⅓ of the beans and corn, and ⅓ of the remaining chips.
- Make the Second and Third Layers. Repeat the bechamel, cheese, chicken, beans/corn, and chip layers two more times.
- Top the Casserole. Top with the remaining cheese and the chopped tomatoes.
- Bake. Slide the casserole into the oven, uncovered. Let it bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until it’s hot and bubbly, and the cheese is completely melted.
- Rest. Once the casserole is done baking, take it out and let it sit for at least 5 minutes, to firm up.
- Enjoy! Garnish your Mexican chicken casserole with cilantro, green onions, and chopped jalapeno, and serve.
Check out these helpful hints for creating this simple casserole. They are guaranteed to make your meal a savory success!
- Use Any Chicken: Shredded rotisserie chicken, previously frozen cooked chicken, chicken that you poach or grill just for this recipe – it’s all good. Remember, if you do use frozen or chilled chicken, it should still be fully cooked (and it may take longer for the casserole to bake).
- Or Use Beef, Pork, Etc.: Alternatively, try making this recipe using ground beef, leftover shredded beef, cooked pork shoulder, sausage, or whatever you like!
- Substitute Veggies: I kept it easy with canned beans, canned corn, and fresh tomatoes. But the sky is truly the limit here. Mushrooms, zucchini, onions, celery, green beans, and even broccoli would all be great in this easy meal.
- Add Carbs: Stretch this dish even further by layering in cooked rice, cooked potatoes, or even your favorite egg noodles.
Side Dishes and Toppings
While Mexican chicken casserole is basically a one-dish meal, it also plays well with all kinds of yummy side dishes and toppings. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
- Salad: Any kind of fresh veggie salad would go perfectly with this recipe. Try Avocado Tomato Salad for a refreshing, salsa-like option that’s bursting with flavor and nutrition.
- Rice: Rice is always a hit around here – and seasoned rice is extra welcome. This easy Instant Pot Mexican Rice would make a fantastic side for Mexican chicken casserole.
- Cowboy Caviar: Also known as Texas Caviar, Cowboy Caviar is part salsa, part dip, part side dish… and totally scrumptious! You’ll love this fresh, nutritious blend of all of your favorite Southwest ingredients.
How to Store and Reheat Mexican Chicken Casserole
- You can store this casserole in the fridge, covered tightly with plastic wrap. If you prefer, portion it out into food storage containers instead. Either way, it’ll keep in the fridge for around 3 to 4 days.
- To reheat, just place the desired amount in a baking dish, and bake at 350°F until heated through.
Freezing/Make Ahead Instructions
- Mexican chicken casserole can be frozen baked or unbaked. All you have to do is make sure it’s cool (if you already baked it), cover it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil, and then freeze. It will keep in the freezer for around 3 months.
- To serve, take the casserole out of the freezer while the oven preheats, and then place it in the oven until done. It should take between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours to fully heat through. Check it a few times as you go.
Mexican Chicken Casserole
- 1 pound cooked chopped chicken breast
- 3 cups crushed tortilla chips
- 1 can (15 ounces) corn, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups bechamel sauce (see recipe in notes below), or use my recipe for homemade Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- finely chopped jalapeno pepper, for garnish
- chopped green onions, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13×9 baking dish.
- Crush the tortilla chips lightly, and sprinkle 1 cup of them across the bottom of the baking dish.
- Heat the bechamel sauce or cream of chicken substitute, and whisk in the mozzarella cheese. Pour 1/3 of the sauce over the crushed chips, and sprinkle with chili powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper.
- Top with a layer of about 1/2 of the Mexican blend cheese and 1/3 of the chopped chicken.
- Over the chicken, layer on 1/3 of black beans and 1/3 of corn, and sprinkle with rest of the chips.
- Repeat with the bechamel sauce, mexican blend cheese, chicken, black beans, corn, and chips. Continue layering one more time, or until the ingredients are all used up.
- Top the casserole with remaining Mexican blend cheese and chopped tomatoes.
- Bake the casserole in the preheated oven until hot and bubbly and the cheese is fully melted, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Let the dish rest for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro, green onions, and chopped jalapeno peppers; serve.
How To Make Bechamel Sauce
- To make bechamel, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour to make a paste, and cook this for a minute or two (don’t let it brown).
- Finally, add 3 cups of warm milk, whisking over the heat until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper, as well as a pinch of nutmeg, if you like.