Main dish Tex-Mex

King Ranch chicken casserole

King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Homesick Texan

Casseroles are an ancient dish, found all over the world. Yet for some reason, whenever I hear the word, I don’t think of France (the origin of the name), I think of church suppers, potlucks and home.

We Texans, like most Americans, love our casseroles. Though what usually sets a Texan casserole apart from its neighbors is the spices used. Not shy with the peppers, most Texan casseroles have a bit of a kick. And one of the most popular casseroles we make is King Ranch Chicken Casserole, a soft, slightly spicy, cheesy mixture of tomatoes, corn tortillas, chicken, cream and peppers. It goes down easy and is the ultimate comfort food.

Casseroles today have a sort of retro appeal, yet I find they’re a terrific dish to prepare in the cooler months. Not only can you make them ahead of time, they can also feed many, freeze well and taste terrific as leftovers.

The rise of the casserole’s popularity occurred in the mid-part of the last century, an advent that coincided with the introduction in 1934 of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup—that ubiquitous ingredient found in almost every casserole recipe. It was the rare pantry that didn’t have a few cans of these on the shelf when I was young. And I know people that still swear by it as a secret ingredient, such as my Cajun friend who throws it into his etouffee in place of using a roux.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Homesick Texan


Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup used to get me in trouble as a kid. Why? Because I was the rare person (maybe the only person) who actually enjoyed eating it as it was intended—as a soup. I liked to alternate eating cans of it with Graham crackers topped with melted chocolate chips as my after-school snack. So when my mom needed a can for a casserole, sometimes she’d find her supply depleted because I’d had the urge to whip up a pot of liquid, mushroomy joy. It was not a pretty scene.

In hindsight, however, I shudder to think I used to savor this pasty white liquid riddled with tiny dots of processed mushrooms. I realize I probably ate it because it was one of the few commercial food items on hand in a house filled with health-food-store fare. Eating it was a bit of rebellion. So now that I’m a bit wiser about food, when I make casseroles today I don’t use canned soup. Instead, I make my sauces with butter, chicken broth and flour. Classic American casserole heresy, perhaps. But the results are just as delicious.

King Ranch Chicken is basically an enchilada casserole, but it’s creamier than most. And yes, most recipes for it call for canned cream soup. This certainly makes preparation simpler, but it can taste just as good without. But before discussing my recipe specifics, let’s take a look at the legend of this dish.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Homesick Texan

Sadly, the history and origin of King Ranch Chicken is a bit murky. While the name invokes that epic south Texas ranch—so gigantic it covers more ground than the state of Rhode Island—the ranch claims no ownership on this recipe. Some surmise that perhaps it was a ranch-hand that developed the dish, but this has not been proven. Then there are those who say someone tacked on the name “King Ranch” because that ranch is emblematic of the state itself in both its size and its myth. Yet one has to ask why the recipe calls for chicken, when both the ranch and the state are known for its beef.

While the casserole could have been named after the ranch, since nobody has come up with a clear connection to it in regards to this dish, I’ve developed my own theory. Are you familiar with Chicken A La King? It’s a creamy mixture of chicken, mushrooms and bell peppers served on toast. Now let’s take a look at what makes up King Ranch Chicken: chicken (of course!), bell peppers, cream of mushroom soup, with the addition of tomatoes and green chiles (such as a can of Ro-Tel), all layered on corn tortillas. Do you see where I’m headed with this? I believe that someone added ingredients found in traditional Texan dishes—such as the spicy tomatoes and corn tortillas—to their traditional Chicken A La King recipe. In naming this new, Southwestern Chicken A La King they added the word “ranch”—because it conjures up a certain Texan feeling—and did away with the “a la.” And voila! King Ranch Chicken.

But in the end, it doesn’t really matter where the name comes from—it’s how it tastes. This is the quintessential home-cooked meal, a perennial favorite that no matter how sophisticated your palate, you’ll never refuse a heaping plate of the gooey, cheesy, tomato-y delight. It sticks to your bones and makes your tummy warm—plus it travels well and is always a big hit at potlucks.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Homesick Texan

Here’s my recipe, which is a sort-of fancy-pants version that doesn’t call for canned soup. (Though you hardly notice the lack if you’re a true fan of the canned-soup version, and it doesn’t taste too sophisticated—this is still simple food.) The one I grew up eating, however did use canned soup, and came from my grandmother (it was a favorite dish served when she and my grandfather used to get together with their friends and play the domino game 42). You’ll also find this version in countless church and Junior League cookbooks—and I have to admit, processed canned soup aside, it’s still tasty.

So if you’re looking for an easy yet tasty meal, why not tuck into a heaping, pleasing plate of King ranch chicken? Your mouth, as well as your friends and family, will thank you.

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King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Homesick Texan
5 from 4 votes
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Slightly fancy-pants King Ranch chicken casserole

Servings 12
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken--either breasts, thighs or a combination
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons ancho chile powder or chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded, stemmed, and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups 6 ounces shredded pepper Jack
  • 1 1/2 cups 6 ounces shredded cheddar1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar

Instructions

  1. Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the lime juice, 2 teaspoons of the ancho chile powder, and a generous dash of salt and pepper. In a skillet heated on medium, cook the chicken in the olive oil on each side for about 10 minutes. When the chicken is done (after about 20 minutes), shred it with two forks. Taste and see if it needs more salt and pepper. There should be about 3 cups of chicken.


  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium low, and add the onions, red bell pepper, and poblano pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until the onion and peppers are soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Stir in the flour, cumin, cayenne, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder, and cook for 1 more minute.


  3. Pour in the chicken broth and cook on low until the mixture is thickened, a few minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and Ro-Tel cover the pot, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


  4. Uncover the pot, and add the sour cream, the remaining 2 teaspoons of lime juice, and the cilantro, and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat.


  5. Preheat the oven to 350° F and have ready a 9×13 baking dish.


  6. To heat up the tortillas, start with 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large skillet heated on medium-high, and add the tortillas, one at a time, cooking about 30 seconds per side or until softened. Add more oil as needed.


  7. To assemble the casserole, ladle 1/2 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish. Layer half the tortillas along the bottom of the pan (on top of the sauce). To make sure entire pan is evenly covered, you can rip some of the tortillas into strips to fill any gaps. Add half the chicken, half the remaining sauce, half the remaining cilantro and 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese.


  8. Repeat the layering, leaving the cheese layer on top. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling. If you like, top with additional sour cream and cilantro for serving.


Recipe Notes

If you can’t find Ro-Tel tomatoes, you can use a can of regular diced tomatoes and a 4-ounce can of diced green chiles, or if tomatoes are in season, can use two cups of diced fresh tomatoes with the diced green chiles.)

  1. That looks like the perfect dish for a rainy, autumn day, which is what it is in my neck of the woods. Yum. Wonderful.

  2. I am a lover of casseroles! This one sounds wonderful – and it’s always fun to get a history lesson, even if it is a bit murky!

  3. Canned Cream of Mushroom soup tastes like neither cream nor mushrooms. It tastes like mildewed library paste.
    I’d rather not go into how I know what that tastes like.

  4. Anonymous

    You can also make it with crushed up Doritos instead of tortillas.

  5. This is great comfort food – perfect for upcoming colder days. In fact, given how freezing cold it is in the office today, I’ll be happy to have a portion of it for lunch. Alas, no one serves casserole around my office, I’ll have to stick with soup.

  6. intheyearofthepig

    42…oh man I miss the game. I have taught numerous people how to play, but unless you grew up with it, the appeal for the cunning involved to be a great player just doesn’t seem to be there, the games just aren’t the same and no where near as enjoyably vicious. My grandpa would regularly lay down after two or three tricks, having a hand that would always guarantee he made his bid, infuriating the rest of us.

    My mom used to put broccoli into our King Ranch sometimes to make it more healthy I guess, which I have to say is pretty gross, but with a job, three boys, a husband, and grandparents across the street to feed, I don’t blame her for anything she did to save time in the kitchen. Plus cheese, jalapenos, and cream of mushroom soup were sufficient enough to mask the broccoli so that even my little brother ate it.

  7. The whole soup aisle makes me sad. So many people hate soup because of the endless parade of over-salted, under-flavored cans masquerading as “soup”.

    This casserole, on the other hand, looks incredible.

  8. Thank you for your “fancy-pants” version, it sounds delicious! I’m sure I’ll be able to dig up the poblano, Ro-Tel, and ancho chile somewhere in the UK 😉

    And thanks for your blog! It’s a little slice of home for this expat Texan.

  9. I LOVE King Ranch casserole! Do you know where to find Ro-Tel up here in NYC? I haven’t been able to find it up here and I know my mama would laugh if I asked her to ship some up here!

  10. Anonymous

    We retired to the central highlands of Mexico. I regularly take King Ranch Chicken to pot lucks in the neighborhood. At first my neighbors (a mixture of Mexicans, Canadians and Americans) didn’t know what to make of it. Now it’s a regular request and there is never any left for lunch the next day. A pity.

  11. Robyn–It’s absolutely a perfect rainy-day dish.

    Deborah–I wish I knew the true origin of the name, but no matter because the casserole tastes so good!

    GeorgeH–OK, I won’t ask why you know what mildewed library paste tastes like, but I have to admit I am a bit curious.

    Kate Wall–Thanks for the tip! I’ve never had rattlesnake and would love to try some (though one friend laments it tastes just like chicken).

    Anon–Yes, some people use crushed up tortilla chips–do the chips stay crunchy or do they get soggy?

    Radish–I know! Sadly casseroles are more a homemade dish rather than a restaurant dish. But with the rise of comfort food’s popularity here in NYC, I’m surprised there isn’t a restaurant devoted to casseroles–if restaurants devoted solely to peanut butter and macaroni and cheese can survive, surely a casserole place would thrive as well.

    InTheYearOfThePig–My granparents have tried to teach us grandkids how to play 42, but sadly we’re not that good. Perhaps we can brush up on our skills at Thanksgiving.

    William Conway–Thanks! And yes, canned soup tastes nothing like the real thing.

    Beguile_Me–I think Mexgrocer.uk sells all those things if you can’t find them in your local shop. And you’re very welcome–thanks for reading!

    Hello Sunshine–Do you live near a Key Foods? I’ve heard they stock Ro-Tel. Especially the ones in Brooklyn. But never underestimate the power of a care package from Texas–she may laugh, but there are just some things, such as Ranch Style Beans, that you will never find in NYC.

    Anon–Yep, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love King Ranch Chicken. When you have a crowd there are seldom leftovers.

  12. Do not believe the hype when you go to Phoenix. Avoid Los Dos Molinos at all costs. The best New Mexican food in town is at any of the Arriba! restaurants. And believe them – the 3 chili marks on the menu are crazy hot. Sam’s Cafe might be a good lunch pick.

  13. In my non-texan family, we have a very similar recipe called

    Viva el Pollo

    6 chicken breasts
    1/4 t celery salt
    1 onion
    Cook and bone chicken.

    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 grated onion
    1/2 cup milk
    4 oz salsa
    4 oz can green chilis
    Mix above ingredients together.

    3/4 cup grated cheddar
    6 corn tortillas

    Grease casserole dish. Place 3 T chicken broth in dish. Layer 1/2 of torn
    tortillas, chicken, cheese and sauce. Repeat. Bake at 350.

  14. I like casseroles because they’re the perfect thing to make on the weekend and then take to work for lunch during the week. This one sounds great and I know my husband would be crazy about it. He can’t get enough of that tex-mex sort of thing.

  15. Great theory on the name — and the ‘fresh’ casserole too.

  16. When I moved to Rhode Island, I landed smack dab in potluck country, where the pressure to come up with new things to bring to dinner can be intense. I’ve never seen a King Ranch casserole at one of these dinners, so guess what I’ll be bringing? The fancy-pants version, of course.

  17. If you’re up for trying something new and different, you can eat Rattlesnake at Rustler’s Rooste while in Phoenix.

  18. Melissa

    I am another homesick Texan in NYC, and just picked up a box of Lammes pralines when I was in Austin this weekend. 🙂 Love the King Ranch Chicken – one of my mom’s friends gave us a recipe when I was little, and I like to make it about once a year as a treat. It’s some serious casserole, ya know?! 😉

  19. christie

    Not even sure how I stumbled across your site, but I’m loving it! I’m a Texan so many of your recipes are things we eat often and can make without a recipe. The grass is always greener, I guess, as I love to come to NYC to eat!

  20. Anonymous

    Unfortunately, the tortilla chips do not remain crunchy. But it’s easier to cut and serve unless you’re really good about tearing up your tortillas into little pieces.

  21. Yummy! I would love to try this… But I have to find where to buy ancho chile powder first…

  22. this casserole sounds and looks so comforting. Surprisingly in our culture we dont really have casserole dishes , thats why they are kind of exotic for me too. If i’m making casserole its defi got to be a big thing. !Like how you ‘ve layered with tortillas. Ive never had that version before. Have to try this out .

  23. Oyyy that looks LUSCIOUS! Funny, I always assumed casserole was an American thing; I so think of the 50s housewife and all that jazz when I think casserole. And the Campbell’s commercials don’t help any! Funny, I used to like eating/drinking Cream of Mushroom as a soup too… and when I got a bit older and was in the middle of “I want to be fat” phase, I used to add a can of that to a can of chunky NE clam chowder and heaven was had. Umm… yea anyway… hahaha. This looks really good and is perfect to bring to work!!!

    BTW, thanks for stopping by my new site! I’m glad I am encouraging people – I should post a “Why Bento?” post soon… – it’s so good for the environment, too! Unfortunately it’s a bit hard to find bento gear in NYC- not impossible, but you’ve really got to search- so if you need help, just email me and I’ll try to point you in the right direction (you’ll have to tell me what kind of stuff you’re looking for, of course).

  24. I made this years ago, and I always kind of wondered about the name. Your theory sounds as good as any I’ve seen. Like the fancy pants recipe!

  25. Tatsu–Good to know, I’ll look up Arriba!

    Ana–Love the name! And that is very similar.

    Yvo–It is perfect for work, either for leftover lunches or for sharing with your officemates. Never heard of anyone mixing cream of mushroom with NE clam chowder–talk about cream overload! As for the bento box, I think Danielle found one in Chinatown, but if I don’t have any luck I’ll hit up your ebay store!

    Julie–They are indeed the perfect thing to make on the weekend to reheat during the week. I think they always taste better the next day.

    Alanna–Thanks! I wonder if I’m anywhere close to the true origin of the name.

    Lydia–Hey! You’ll make all your neighbors happy and I bet they ask you for the recipe!

    Melissa–Mmmmm, I love Lammes pralines! And it’s indeed some serious casserole–fills you up and sticks to your bones.

    Christie–Welcome, and you’re right, the grass is always greener…you always miss what you can’t have!

    Anon–Oh well, still, it’s a great tip!

    Anh–They don’t have ancho chile powder in Australia? If they have anchos, you can make your own. Or you could use just regular chile powder.

    Kate–It’s classic American comfort food! I love that a casserole can be exotic to someone, but then again, foods common to your part of the world are exotic to me!

    Kalyn–Thanks! The name is kind of a mystery, but it doesn’t really matter because it tastes so good.

  26. *gasp* Oh my goodness, I had forgotten about King Ranch casserole! Used to love it at the cafeteria at school/college/university whenever they made it.

    I can smell it now. Thanks for the reminder.

    By the way, I went to El Paso Taqueria on 97th between Park and Madison today with some friends. I had the chile relleno; it was ok, but truthfully I had a more delicious one at a southwestern cafe in a small town outside of London!!!

    But all that aside, I LOVE NYC.

  27. Wow why do I always forget about this treat from childhood!? MY GAWD my grandmother used to have chicken ala King at her DAR and Junior League Luncheons waaaaay back when! CRC is maybe my most fav casserole. Still a little too hot here to whip one up but will think of you when I do!

    Also, love 42! My mom and dad used to have the neighbors in to play it weekly. I spent many nights at the Dixie Chicken at A&M playing 42 and drinking ice cold long necks. 😀 Ah the memories my 3 remaining brain cells have stored up over the years!

    Thanks for the smile this morning!

    BZ

  28. YUM YUM!! Also a recipe from my childhood. And thank you, thank you, for your tact and diplomacy — I applaud that you’ve found a tasty “fancy-pants” way to make this traditional dish without condensed soup, and that you still post the original recipe without being snobbish about it’s canned soup. In my kitchen, I usually eschew most pre-packaged foods — except canned soup. I love it anyway! It’s comfort food. 🙂

    Oh, and I haven’t had any luck finding RoTel at my Key Foods in Astoria, but I did find it in a Wal-Mart in New York State (up in Ten Mile River). I agree with you that there’s no shame in having a Texas care package sent — my parents regularly send me RoTel, Wolf Brand Chili (for super-fast Frito Pies), Chili-Cheese Fritos, and Albert’s salsa. Now if they could just figure out how to ship me Owens Sausages!!

  29. Chocolate chips, graham crackers and Cream of Mushroom soup?

    Your Mom must have been terrified.

    When did you straighten out your palate ?

  30. You must, must, MUST go to Pizzeria Bianco, downtown. check out slice.com for info. Easily one of the best pizzas in the nation. A cannot miss.

  31. Oh, how we love KRC. When our son visits it’s a requirement that we have it for dinner his last night here.

    I’m glad for the fancy-pants version. We’re trying to cut back on sodium intake and, wow, is the canned soup version full of salt! I was going to come up with a lower sodium version, now I don’t have to!

    We use flour tortillas and Velveeta cheese in our version, without the bell pepper and chile powder.

  32. I love that last photo, of the person holding the casserole! I have a new infatuation with casseroles made with corn tortillas, similar to enchiladas and mexican-style lasagnas, so this sounds great. We don’t love chicken, so I was thinking substituting some meaty hunks of portabello mushrooms might be nice.

  33. Did I miss the step where you add the Ro-Tel? 🙂

    (I’m making this tonight — my mom had a freezer full of chicken thighs.)

    I’m just going add it to the sauce…

  34. Olivia–Yep, it’s perfect cafeteria food! Sorry you didn’t love El Paso Taqueria. I’ve been there before, and it’s fine, but that’s hilarious that the chile rellenos in London are better than the ones here! Glad you’re loving NYC! Is it your first time here?

    Blue Zebra–This is a indeed a classic DAR and Junior League Cookbook dish. And those evenings at the Dixie Chicken sound like a blast!

    TexanNewYorker–Ha! I reckoned enough people would want the soup version that it would be smart to publish it. Heck, it’s the one we all grew up with! As for the Owen’s, if you freeze it and then overnight it, the sausage arrives A-OK.

    Tommy–Yes, my mom was horrified with my taste in food. I reckon I grew up around the age of 23 or so.

    TMayson–Yes! I keep reading about this place, and while it seems stange to eat pizza in Phoenix, I’m looking forward to finally trying it, especially since Ed Levine says it’s the best pizza in the US.

    O’Dub–I love it with flour tortillas!

    Mercedes–Thanks! Portabello mushrooms are good, as are beans if you want to make a meatless version.

    Anita–Oops! Um, yes, thank you for pointing that out to me. I’ve updated the entry, but you’re quite right–just dump it into the sauce.

  35. Anonymous

    I loved Cream of Mushroom soup as a kid, and I still do. It’s utterly nasty until you cook it and then it just magically transforms into soupy goodness.

    As for good places to eat when you visit Phoenix, I know of one. It’s called California. You turn left and go until you hit a big body of water. Tell ’em I sent you! 🙂

  36. Me again, reporting back:

    When I told Mom what I was making, she said “Oh, I used to make that!” She promptly pulled her version out of the recipe box. Hers has 2 cans of Ro-Tel and no chicken broth (could it be because it’s obviously clipped right off the Ro-Tel label) and looks like gringo chilaquiles in the photo. 🙂

    While it was cooking, she told me it smelled a LOT better than the “real” version, and afterwards, she said it was a LOT better than “the soup kind”.

  37. Homesick Houstonian

    Its funny, I’ve been trying to come up with a decision for my fantasy restaurant i may or may not open one day and I can’t decide between squash casserole or broccoli casserole as a “vegetable” (true texas style menu listing there)… I totally forgot about King Ranch Casserole (obviously not a “vegetable”)

    I never liked it until I tasted it at Whole Foods Kirby. They pretty much do it like their chicken enchiladas with green sauce… except with more cheese and sour cream. I know the tomatillo sauce may be incorrect, but boy is it delicious with all that sour cream and chicken!!! (the dairy ingredients are mixed with the filling rather than the sauce)

    Put that on the list of whole foods recipes i should’ve printed out before i moved…..

  38. Homesick Houstonian

    I have that same theory about the name king ranch. I also used to love cream of mushroom until I tried it as an adult and found it disgusting.

    Did you know that you had more tastebuds as a child? Children taste things stronger, which is why many kids don’t like spinach, broccoli, and spicy or bitter foods. The flavors are simply too strong. As you get older and kill and regenerate your tastebuds over and over they decrease in number, numbing your sense of taste which is why you can enjoy more foods and be more adventurous and its also why some of the sweeter and creamier things are suddenly bland.

    isn’t it funny, having a sophisticated palate is a matter of having less taste?

  39. Ummmm! I need a spoon to be able to dig into this. Looks really delicious and sounds truly fantastic.

  40. I hadn’t made this Texas delight since we moved to the east coast last year–thanks for reminding me–we had a version of King Ranch for dinner last night (thanks to my prolific jalapeno plant on the patio)–closed my eyes and I was back in Austin. I always enjoy your “take” on things. Keep ’em coming.

  41. Hmm, I don’t think I’ve ever had King Ranch, but it certainly looks casserole-licious!

  42. When I think of comfort food, casseroles always come to mind. Yours makes me want to go make one for dinner this evening.

  43. Anon–Hey, another one who used to love the canned stuff!

    Anita–Yea! Glad it got your mom’s stamp of approval!

    Homesick Houstonian–That’s funny, when trying to decide what to write about, I was vacillating between squash casserole and King Ranch. Tomatillo, chicken and sour cream are three of my favorite flavors together. And I did not know we had more tastebuds when we were children. Interesting!

    Meeta–You’ll need a very, big spoon!

    Texana–Congrats on your prolific jalapeno plant! I’m going to try growing them next year on my fire escape.

    S’Kat–I love that word–
    “casserole-licious”–I want it on a T-shirt!

    Cynthia–Yep, me too. They’re so easy and warm.

  44. Skip the rattlesnake, it is served as a novelty and is not even all that good… it tastes like chewy chicken!

    It is hard to find rattlesnake made well in Phoenix now, but it not a local delicacy.

    What part of town are you going to be staying in? Do you think you might enjoy an Arizona spin on Mexican food? Do you want to try something more exotic?

  45. The closest thing I ate as a child was some kind of enchilada casserole my mom made with ground beef. It wasn’t bad (as her cooking went), but I would have much rather grown up on this!

    I’ve never been to Phoenix, but I’ve heard that there’s great gelato to be had there at a place called Arlecchino. Maybe not what you’d go to Phoenix for, but hey…

  46. Looks terrific and I can just imagine how it would get snarfed down around here.

  47. Anonymous

    A North Carolina Texan…Thanks for the nudge to my memory and for the fancy pants version, grew up with the Cream of Mushroom version and in my recent “older snobbier” years abandoned that recipe. I look forward to trying Fancy pants!

  48. Ooooh, I am so excited! I have been looking for a King Ranch Chicken recipe that does not use canned soup for what seems like ages. About a year ago I finally re-engineered Texas Gold Bars with butter and other fresh ingredients instead of margarine and a box of yellow cake mix. Thank you for your brilliant blog… from another homesick Houstonian in New York.

  49. Blair–Ha! Isn’t that what they say about all strange meats? I’m staying in the Biltmore area–thanks for the link!

    Melissa–How odd is that? Not only is Phoenix home of the best pizza in America, but it also has amazing gelato? Who knew?

    Scribbit–It’s family friendly and tummy pleasing–a pan never lasts long!

    Anon–Enjoy! It’s not quite the same, but I actually prefer it now to the canned-soup version.

    Robiin–I LOVE Texas Gold Bars, but I don’t think I’ve ever had them but with yellow-cake mix. A new recipe for me to play around with–thanks for reminding me about them, sadly, I’d forgotten.

  50. that looks absolutely delicious. I am definitely going to try out that recipe sometime. Thank you for sharing!!!

  51. Oh my god, I just stumbled across your blog and it’s a trip down memory lane. Haven’t thought of ranch-style beans in YEARS, but when I would get home and my mom was pulling King Ranch Chicken out of the oven for dinner, I knew it was going to be a good night. can’t wait to make this!

  52. Lubbock here! Just found your blog. I am a Texan born and bread but boy oh boy do I love NYC. It is good stuff! My King Ranch Chicken is my husband’s favorite of favorites!

  53. This looks SO good! Love your pictures and I’m glad to have the fancy pants version of the recipe.

    For Phoenix we love Bandera in downtown Scottsdale – part of the same chain as Houstons.

  54. Two others I’ve marked to try in the future – don’t remember who recommended or why they’re on my list 🙁

    Roaring Fork Restaurant in Scottsdale –

    Los Sombreros Mexican Restaurant got an excellent in 2007 from Zagats –

    Enjoy your time in the Grand Canyon state.

  55. verily

    I adore king ranch chicken. This is the recipe I request whenever I visit my parents. My mother, not a native Texan, mistakenly called it “chicken sopa” for ages; she also mispronounces the Ls in tortilla, so I’ll forgive her.

    Our recipe is slightly different. No broth in the soup mix, and no additional onion or bell peppers. Instead, the chicken is poached in water or broth to cook it. After it’s taken out, we dip the tortillas in the leftover broth to soften them up.

  56. oh wow,
    i made your fancy pants version for my home and a friends.
    i loved it.
    it reminds me of a dish my mom used to make except hers was more of a white version with out tomatoes but with more green chilies.
    delicious.
    cant wait to make it again.
    ps
    (iheartyourblog)

  57. Wow, this recipe sounds great, and I love the name “Slightly Fancy-Pants King Ranch Chicken Casserole”. I’d say that name fits it too. 🙂 I’m new to your blog..I linked from a comment you left on one of my favorite food blogs. I will definitely visit often!

  58. Hey Darlin’, not sure if you know this but you got a mention in the Sacramento Bee today. Every week the food section mentions a food website to check out and yours was it. 🙂

  59. Jessica–You’re welcome–enjoy!

    Sarah McColl–Yes–any night with King Ranch chicken is destined to be a good one!

    Brooke–Howdy, Lubbock! NYC is wonderful, but so is Texas! And I can see why King Ranch chicken would be your husband’s favorite–so flavorful and comforting.

    Jean–I’d forgotten about Scottsdale–and it’s just down Camelback road from where I’m staying. If I have time I need to head over there. Thanks!

    Verily–That’s a good idea, dipping the tortillas in the chicken broth, I’ll have to try that!

    Iheartmies–Thanks, I’m so glad y’all enjoyed it! That puts a big ol’ smile on my face!

    Belinda–Welcome! And ha! Yes, it’s just oh so slightly more fancy than the original but not enough for the casserole to be unrecognizable. I look forward to seeing you again!

    Garrett–Oh wow! Very cool. Perhaps Arnold will start reading the blog now!

  60. I had never had King Ranch Chicken before…that is until last night when I made your fancy pants version. Even my chicken-hating husband LOVED it and wants it on our rotating meal menu. Do you normally serve it with a side dish?

    Anyways, it was DELICIOUS!

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