This Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole literally takes 5 minutes to prep and only requires 5 ingredients! It's baked in the oven for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
This Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole literally takes 5 minutes to prep and only uses 5 ingredients.
★ Why You'll Love this Recipe ★
This dish is so unbelievably good and so easy! Using just a few simple shortcuts and some ready-made, fresh ingredients is the secret.
★ Ingredients You'll Need ★
What's in this Chicken and Rice Casserole?
This is a layered casserole, similar to a lasagna with a Mexican or Spanish flair. You really and truly only need 5 ingredients to pull this off!
Here's everything you need:
- cooked rice
- Cooked chicken. Grilled, rotisserie, or leftover chicken works great. You can even use canned chicken, just drain it first.
- Salsa. Use fresh salsa or your favorite jarred salsa.
- Cream cheese. Whipped cream cheese spreads best or if using a block, letting it get to room temperature makes spreading easier.
- Mexican shredded cheese. A store-bought blend of cheese adds nice flavor or you can try creating your own blend of cheeses.
If you want to be fancy you can garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley but that's totally optional!
★ How to Make this Recipe ★
Layer everything in a casserole dish.
First, start with rice or I like to use a rice and quinoa blend for added texture, flavor and healthy benefits. However, any rice works as long as it's cooked. You can buy pre-cooked rice that works great to save time, you can use leftover rice (had Chinese food lately and have leftover white rice?), or you can make some quick minute rice.
The next layer is chicken. Again, as long as you use cooked chicken, any chicken works. I like to use the Short Cuts chicken which is grilled chicken, ready to go. It comes in a 9oz package, I just chop it up a little more into smaller bite-size chunks. You can also use rotisserie chicken or use leftover chicken.
Next is cream cheese. No real trick here other than to make sure it's soft so it spreads better. You can opt for whipped cream cheese or bring it to room temperature for easier spreading.
Next, salsa. This is the fun one. You can choose any kind of salsa you want. Go traditional with a classic restaurant-style red salsa, or go for a black bean and corn salsa. Ideally it will have tomatoes. You could even do one jar or red salsa, one jar of black been and corn salsa to really add some depth of flavor, very easily.
Finally everything gets topped with shredded cheese. A blend of Mexican cheeses really works best here. Garnish optional — cilantro or fresh parsley work well to add some bright green color to this dish.
★ Tips & FAQs ★
Since I love fresh avocado, if I have a ripe one, I'll slice it up and add this to the top right before serving. It adds a cool and refreshing yet creamy element to the dish.
Another topping idea that's super easy and adds some crunch is tortilla chips. Smash them up and crumble them on top, right before serving.
Love a little heat? Try adding a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce before you dive in.
What does this Mexican chicken and rice casserole taste like?
Even though this casserole is made with just 5 ingredients, it's PACKED with delicious flavor.
The taste is similar to chicken tortilla soup with rice, no beans (unless they're in the salsa) and a really yummy creamy texture and flavor that comes from the cream cheese. It's a perfect balance to the tomatoes and bit of spice you get from the salsa.
There are no tortillas involved since we're starting with rice and quinoa but you won't miss them and it saves a bunch of time not having to roll things up. However, this dish overall, is similar in taste to chicken enchiladas. Definitely Mexican vibes but very subtle heat and that can be adjusted by choosing a mild salsa vs. a hot salsa.
This 5-layer chicken casserole is so easy to make.
Watch the how-to video to see how this easy chicken dinner recipe all comes together! Video is located beneath the full recipe below.
Perfect for an easy weeknight dinner.
The easy prep of this dish makes this perfect for weeknights. This casserole is also freezer-friendly but you really don't need to make it ahead because it literally takes all of 5 minutes to put together. You can freeze and reheat leftovers though.
Feeding a crowd or a large family?
Go head and double the recipe. Just use a large baking dish and you may need to extend the cook time by about 10-15 minutes or until the center of the casserole is nice and hot. Remember, everything is cooked, so you just need to heat this dish to get it hot enough to serve.
★ More Recipes You'll Love ★
Want more easy dinner ideas?
Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole (5 Ingredients)
- 8.5 oz cooked quinoa and brown rice or 1 ½ cups
- 9 oz Short Cuts Chicken Breast, chopped or 1 ¾ cups chopped cooked chicken
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 16 oz salsa (any kind works!)
- 1 cup Mexican blend cheese
- In an 8x8 square baking dish layer cooked quinoa and rice, then chopped chicken. Drop small chunks of cream cheese over top of chicken spread out evenly as best as possible. (Easiest when you use room temperature cream cheese or microwave it for 10 seconds or so to get it to spread better.)
- Next pour salsa evenly over the cream cheese layer.
- Finally, top with shredded cheese in an even layer.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375˚for 35 minutes. Remove foil for the last 5 minutes of cooking to melt cheese.
- Top with optional toppings and serve hot!