Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

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Where do I begin? Recently, one particular boy says I never make casseroles. He’s right, but I was surprised because casseroles are sort of old school. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with that. I started searching for an easy casserole recipe when I stumbled on this one from the Kitchn. Easy it is, but it wasn’t exactly what I expected. This casserole is more of a stew that I ended up serving over rice, not something the original recipe suggests to do. In the end, I think that I’ll need to make a real casserole another day. In the meantime, you’ll enjoy this meal because it’s really easy to prepare, makes plenty of leftovers, and tastes even better the next day.

I changed a few things. I cooked my own chicken thighs and chopped them up rather than buy a rotisserie chicken to shred. I also dumped everything into the casserole pan rather than use a bowl. Saves you from washing yet another item.

Season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and cook it up in a heated skillet for about 6 minutes each side. Set it aside and let it cool before you chop it up into bite-sized pieces. You don’t want to burn your hands. In the meantime, dump chopped onion, black beans, canned corn, diced tomatoes, and green chiles in your casserole pan. Throw in a bunch of seasonings: chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and salt. Chop up your cooled chicken and add it to the pan.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Mix it all up and pour a cup of chicken broth over it. Pop it in the oven for 40 minutes until it’s thickened. Yeah, right. This is where the recipe went south. It NEVER thickened. Not even a bit. I suppose the idea was for the liquid to condense, but that didn’t happen. Once I realized this, I quickly made some rice. You can get these quick rice packages that cook in 2 minutes in the microwave. It’s not instant rice! You’re just heating up fully cooked rice. I always have a few on hand for times like these.

While zapping your rice in the microwave, sprinkle a ton of shredded cheese and stick it back in the oven for 5 minutes (not the 10 minutes the recipe states). Let it cool for 15 minutes. Maybe now it’ll thicken? Nope. I think it’s so you don’t burn your tongue.

Serve it over rice garnished with green onions and cilantro.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Not what I expected and frankly, I was disappointed. This wasn’t a casserole at all. It’s a stew! It tasted good, but not fantastic. Whatever. I wasn’t going to let it go to waste so I covered the pan with foil and stuck it in the fridge for another day.

The next day we had salmon for dinner, but the day after that, I pulled out the “casserole” and exclaimed that it was leftovers night. And guess what? It tasted amazing. The flavors infused into something quite special, almost like enchiladas. Not sure if it’s a make again for us, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 large white onion diced
  • 14.5 ounces canned black beans drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounces canned corn kernels drained
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces diced green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • cooked rice

Instructions
 

  • Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425F.
  • In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook in the skillet for about 6 minutes on each side, until it's browned and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
  • In a 9×13-inch baking dish add white onion, black beans, corn kernels, diced tomatoes and their juices, and diced green chiles (do not drain). Next add chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin, and kosher salt.
  • Chop cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the baking dish. Stir to combine. Pour in chicken broth.
  • Bake until the mixture is heated through, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice scallions and coarsely chop fresh cilantro.
  • Sprinkle the casserole with 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese and bake until melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the scallions and cilantro before serving. Serve over rice.
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