King Ranch Casserole

King Ranch Casserole is just like any other good Southern casserole (you know — a creamy, dreamy, oh-so-delicious hot mess), but with its own unique Texas flair. It’s similar to a Tex Mex lasagna: layers of toasted flour tortillas are smothered in a cumin- and chili powder-spiked cream sauce, along with heaps of grated cheese. To say it is hearty is an understatement — this dish was meant to warm souls and mend heartaches.

King Ranch Casserole

Serves 6 to 8


2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Mexican-style chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (from roughly 1 rotisserie chicken)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cayenne, to taste
12 (6-inch) flour tortillas
2 to 3 cups grated cheddar cheese, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a medium baking dish, such as an 11×7-inch casserole.

2. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, and jalapeño and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and green chiles, followed by the garlic, flour, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir until fragrant and starting to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add the stock and heavy cream, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. Fold in the sour cream and chicken. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, or cayenne to taste.

4. While the stock and cream are simmering, lightly spritz the tortillas with cooking spray. Arrange the tortillas on two large sheet pans and toast in the oven until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

5. Layer 3 tortillas in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread 1/3 of the chicken mixture over the tortillas, followed by 1/3 of the cheese. Continue with another layer of tortillas, chicken, and cheese, followed by a third layer of tortillas and the remaining chicken. Reserve the remaining cheese and tortillas.

6. Bake the casserole until bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Crush the reserved tortillas. Sprinkle the crushed tortillas and remaining cheese over the casserole and return to the oven until cheese the is melted, about 10 more minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes
Make-Ahead Casserole: To prepare the casserole in advance, assemble it completely, reserving the crushed tortillas and cheese for the topping. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking or add an additional 10 to 15 minutes to baking time.
Freezer Casserole: The unbaked casserole can be frozen up to one month; thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake as directed.

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