The Original King Ranch Casserole Recipe: A 100-Year-Old Gift From Texas by Donna John

The Original King Ranch Casserole Recipe: A 100-Year-Old Gift From Texas

With the popularity of my healthier king ranch casserole recipe came the comments and emails asking about the original recipe. So I grabbed the box of recipes I've had since 1989 and found the original king ranch casserole recipe I made for my family back in the day. Last night, my husband got to enjoy it, and I'm so happy this easy recipe found its way out of the box.

This popular Texas casserole is cheesy, creamy and full of bold flavors. It's one of the easiest casseroles to make, using pantry ingredients. To make this Mexican-inspired casserole you will need cooked, shredded chicken, butter, a bell pepper in any color, an onion, a can of cream of chicken soup, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a can of tomatoes with green chiles, corn tortillas and cheddar cheese.

The casserole is quick and easy to prepare for the baking pan. You simply cook the onion and pepper in the butter until soft, then stir in everything but the cheese. The chicken mixture is layered with the corn tortillas and shredded cheese, then baked until hot and bubbly.

An article in The Dallas Morning News states that "even though the King Ranch Chicken Casserole didn't originate at the King Ranch, the dish still belongs to Texas, and its flavors and evolution showcase the history and people of our state. Texans know the secret ingredient to the casserole, and it's not condensed soup or bechamel, it's people." Lady Bird Johnson even had her own recipe for the casserole.

King ranch casserole is a dinner on its own, but you could add a side dish like a fresh salad, guacamole or cilantro lime rice.

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Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8


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Recipe Notes

  • You can use the healthier version of the canned soups.
  • Let the casserole sit for a few minutes before serving so it can firm up a bit.
  • A Mexican cheese blend could be used instead of cheddar cheese.
  • Freshly grated cheese melts better than the prepacked shredded cheese, so shred your own if you can.
  • I used the meat from half a rotisserie chicken.
  • To change things up, add some whole kernel corn, minced jalapeno or chopped poblano.

Here's how to make it: 

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add both soups, tomatoes and green chiles and cooked chicken. Season with black pepper, if desired.
  3. Stir will to combine.
  4. Put a layer of corn tortillas on the bottom of a lightly oiled 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with one-third of the chicken mixture and one-third of the cheese. Repeat three times, ending with cheese.
  5. Bake in a preheated 325-degree F oven for about 40 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving

Calories: 349

Total Fat: 18.7g

Saturated Fat: 9.4g

Cholesterol: 67mg

Sodium: 768mg

Total Carbohydrate: 24.6g

Dietary Fiber: 2.9g

Total Sugars: 2.9g

Protein: 21.2g

Vitamin D: 5mcg

Calcium: 256mg

Iron: 2mg

Potassium: 277mg

Recipe cooking times, nutritional information and servings are approximate and provided for your convenience. However, 30Seconds is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe, nor may you have the same results because of variations in ingredients, temperatures, altitude, errors, omissions or cooking/baking abilities. This recipe has been analyzed by VeryWellFit. However, any nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and it is up to the individual to ascertain accuracy. To ensure image quality, we may occasionally use stock photography.

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Donna John
Froze the leftovers for my parents. Great dinner. I've also eaten a version that calls for chicken broth. Lots of different recipes out there!
Elisa Schmitz
OMGoodness, Donna John , this looks delicious. Some serious comfort food here, and tis the season for comfort food, thank you!

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