Adopt Me, Texas! – King Ranch Casserole


As much as I love Texas, you’d think I’d been there more than once. You’d think I’d spent that one trip doing more than staying in my hotel and going to one mall. If you knew how much I loved Texas, you’d swear I had family there (besides my adopted Brother in insanity, Bill Gent) or had spent summers there as a child.

The fact is, I’ve spent a grand total of three days in Dallas in 2004, riding a bus for twelve hours to get there. It was the farthest I’d ever traveled from home and it was a grand adventure for me. I couldn’t wait to see my personal version of a foreign land and it was all I could do to wait on getting my luggage off the bus before setting off to meet a real live Texan!

My first real live Texan was a young man who held open the door for me as I entered the hotel. I greeted him with a BIG grin “Hey, how are you?”

“Good ma’am, and yourself?”

My heart sank in disappointment “Well shoot” I thought, “They talk just like we do.”

Y’all gotta keep in mind that I don’t get out  much here, I can fully see how me expecting Texas to be a foreign land is a bit unreasonable but in over thirty years it was the furthest I’d traveled (I hadn’t even flown at that point) so I had three decades of expectations riding on this.

I’m not sure what I expected out of the great State of Texas, but my disappointment at the similar (pretty much identical) accent was quickly replace with a marvel at how similar this massive place was to my home. Texas must be Alabama’s big brother, I decided after that first day, and then spent the rest of the time grinning happily in contentment at finding the world twelve hours from home every bit as warm and welcoming as it was in my neck of the woods.

So when Jacqueline emailed me about putting a King Ranch Chicken Casserole recipe on the site, I wanted to do it sooner rather than later as homage to the great state it originated from. I dearly hope I get to return there this fall on my book tour, maybe I’ll get to see a little more of it this time! Until then I can enjoy this gooey, cheesy, chickeny concoction all spiced up with the best of seasonings. This is a great casserole because you can make it the night ahead of time and store it in your fridge to pop in the oven right before supper.

I always say I claim dual citizenship with Tennessee because I’ve never lived more than ten minutes from the Tennessee state line all of my life, but if y’all Texans would allow me, I’d like to add a third “country” to my personal passport and claim part Texan, too! Reckon I could get adopted? I’d be a good little step child, honest!

You’ll need: Chicken, Diced Tomatoes, Chopped Green chilies, Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom, Cheese, Corn Tortillas, and chopped onions.

*There are several ways to get your chicken for this, my favorite is leftovers. I also like to buy a ten pound bag of leg quarters and boil them until done, then shred all of the chicken and freeze in small portions to toss in casseroles, dumplings, and stews. Today, though, we went with canned chicken, which is usually pretty expensive. I got this for $2.00 a can and it was one of those days where I’d been running around all morning and really felt it was worth spending the extra money to save time.

You can use fat free cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup if you like.

You’re also gonna need a few spices: Chili powder, pepper, salt, and garlic powder.

Because everything tastes better with chili and garlic powder, right?

Most folks don’t have to think about making salt and pepper shakers camera ready but mine got a little bath for this photo.

Pour a little bit of oil in a large skillet, about two tablespoons.

Add in your onions

and saute those, stirring often, until browned a bit.

Then dump in your chilies, cream soups, drained tomatoes, and chicken.

Add salt


Garlic powder

Chili powder

Y’all likely haven’t seen these measuring spoons before because I’ve never used them before. I picked them up at an antique mall several years back and thought they were pretty so I hung them up with some copper molds on my kitchen wall. Well lo and behold, I couldn’t find a single measuring spoon for this post. Don’t get me wrong, I have them all over the place – but I can never find them when I need them! I got frustrated looking and glanced up on the wall to find these. A quick washing and I was off to the races.

I always think of how nice it would be if someone just mailed me a set of measuring spoons and cups every week . Even at that pace, I’d still lose the little suckers and be waiting on my package at week’s end!

and stir.

Cook this on medium heat until heated through and bubbly, just a few minutes.

Tear half of your tortillas up into little pieces and layer them in the bottom of a 9×13 dish.

Little side note here: I really don’t like the taste of corn tortillas. In fact, I don’t like anything at all about corn tortillas, BUT I love this casserole so those of you who share my aversion to them can rest easy that the finished product of King Ranch is delicious!

Spread half of your chicken mixture over that.

and sprinkle with half your cheese

Add the rest of your corn tortillas, all torn up

Then glob the rest of your chicken mixture over that

Smear it around…

and more cheese!

Lots of folks make their King Ranch casseroles in three layers, but I just do two.

If you wanna do three go right ahead. Whatever cranks yer tractor.

Two does it for me :)

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about thirty minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and your stomach is growling from the smell.


Yum di di dum dum yum yum yum!!

King Ranch Chicken Casserole
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup*
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup*
  • 4 ounce can diced green chilies
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 12 - 14 corn tortillas (six inch)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Place oil in large skillet. Add onions and saute over medium heat until onions are lightly browned. Add chicken, cream soups, chilies, tomatoes, and all seasonings. Stir and cook over medium heat until bubbly.
  2. Tear tortillas into small pieces. Place half of pieces in 9x13 inch dish. Top with ½ of chicken mixture and ½ of cheese. Top with remaining tortilla pieces, remaining chicken mixture, and remaining cheese. bake at 350 for thirty minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned around the edges.

*Can use fat free

Can assemble this the night before, store in the fridge, and bake when you get home!

The stars at night, are big and bright.. ~clap clap clap clap~ ….


It’s Spring Break, do you know whats in your freezer?

It’s spring break at my house and as it turns out, I’m not the only one who has been busy in the kitchen. The kids have created a new sport of freezing toys in cups…apparently it is quite fun.

It started out with one but when I opened the freezer today…

This is just what is in the door

I don’t know what this My Little Pony did, but I sure do hope I never get Katy Rose mad…

Lego men be afraid – be VERY afraid

They ran out of room in the door, so Gumby was waving at me from the ice bin

Poor guy, valiant to the end.

~shakes her head~ He almost made it, too…

I hope you’ve had a great week. Mine has been filled with lots of work and little sleep so I’ m going to disconnect as best I can tomorrow and hope to get some time in with my kidders. Sunday is the last photo shoot for the book, we’re working on the cover so I’ll keep you posted. I’m going to have ye olde husband take photos during the shoot to share with you on our Southern Plate Family Page on Facebook so we should have those uploaded Sunday night, be sure to hop on over and join us there!



I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think,

all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read,

and all the friends I want to see.

– John Burroughs

Submitted by Steaksmom Submit your quote here!


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  1. Del says

    I had some leftover chicken in the fridge and just had to try this recipe. I must say it turned out great. My husband and my 79 year old Mom loved it too.

    I just love this site and plan to buy several copies of your cookbook for Christmas presents this year.

    Thank you for sharing so much of your family lore. I feel as if I know you.

  2. Jenn D says


    Welcome to Texas!!! It’s a wonderful place to call home and now it’s even a better place!! I just made this casserole and LOVED it!! More importantly, so did my family . . . especially my pickiest eater in the whole wide world 15-month old who only eats peas and turkey . . . devoured it . . . her little lips were smackin’ away!!

    I’ve made several of your recipes and they are ALWAYS wonderful!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and your stories with us! I live in a very small town and it’s nice to get out (even if it is on the internet) and meet new people!! Thank you for bringing us together!! Can’t wait for your cookbook!!

  3. Kathryn says

    Hi Christy!

    I was wondering if it would be ok to assemble all of the ingredients together and freeze the casserole and bake it at a later date. Would that mess up anything up? I want to make this for some of my girlfriends- we do a monthly dinner swap and this recipe looks delicious!

  4. Madeline says

    This is soooo stinkin good! This will be one of my regulars now! All I had was flour tortillas and they worked great. I thought they would get soggy, but they didn’t at all. Wonderful recipe!

  5. Anna says

    I made this tonight and we loved it!! My father’s wife actually made King Ranch Casserole a couple of years ago when I went to visit. At the time, my grandfather was living with them. You know how elderly people tend to have small appetites? Well, my grandfather is a really skinny guy, and he ate 3 huge servings of this casserole.

    I always have to fiddle with recipes, and I did the same with this one. I forgot to buy a can of cream of chicken soup at the store (and for some reason it completely slipped my mind that I could just make some quickly on the stove, which is what I usually do for cream of ____ soup when it’s in recipes). So I made a small casserole of this using only the cream of mushroom and used half a container of Emerald Valley salsa in place of the tomatoes, onions and green chiles. This salsa is incredible and made the prep even easier. Oh and I baked it in my brand “new” vintage Pyrex baking dish that came in the mail from eBay yesterday 😀 The dish really was new- the seller found it in her mother’s closet, unused and still in the original box after so many decades!

    Anyway, thanks for the fantastic recipe. We really enjoyed it and my fiance would have eaten even more if I wasn’t saving the rest of it for dinner later this week. I see King Ranch Casserole being made often in our home from now on.

  6. says

    WOW!!! this looks so good!! I am going to make this as soon as I my flatmates get back. I have such an affection for southern cooking, I love your site. I just came across it for the first time today, but you can be I’ll be back.



  7. crissy says

    My husband hates casseroles,but loves corn tortillas,so I’m gonna try this .It sounds wonderful and simple.I hope it’s worth heating up my already hot kitchen for 30 minutes. Wish me luck.

  8. Becca says

    Hi yal, I am from Houston, Texas and I love this recipe. I used-ta make it with either boiled chicken or canned chicken, but after living in Santa Fe, NM now for 10 years, I highly recommend using rotisserie chicken, it is so much more flavorful. And try substituting with Rotel Tomatoes w/green chilies or using fresh green chilies (frozen Green chilies, too) Wow…what a difference it makes.
    Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes and I love hearing the southern accent, no matter where it’s from.

  9. Melinda says

    for the king ranch casserole one can of rotel works great instead of the tomatoes and chopped green chilis!! My mom has been making this recipe for years and I just love it, now my kids love it to!

  10. Jwp says

    It is best to use fresh corn tortillas. These are not found
    at HEB or WALMART. Take an adventure and look around.
    The best part is the left over chicken,you can not beat it for that dish.
    It is the best for this dish.

  11. Katie from Illinois says

    Hi Christy!
    I love King Ranch Casserole but recently went vegetarian. I discovered that using drained & rinsed black beans in place of the chicken is a great way to keep making this recipe. Also I swap the cream of chicken for cream of celery. Using beans is also great if you’re trying to save a few bucks!

  12. Marianne says

    Well shut my mouth and call me for dinner!!!! I have been wanting this for awhile now and just couldn’t find the recipe!!! You must have heard my brain this morning, LOL. And as a born and reared Texan (grew up in the First Capital of the Republic of Texas) I welcome you as an honorary Texan!! Gotta get baking now, have to make cookies and my Grandmother’s Sour Cream Pound cake for my best friends birthday tomorrow!! Take care and thanks for all that you do!!!

    • ChristyK says

      The print button is right below the main recipe about halfway down the page and above the picture of Texas and all those frozen red cups(lol!). Took me a while to find it too!

  13. Sheila Shapley says

    This is basically what my family calls Chicken Ranchro, I think we just made up that name. But it uses Ro-tel tomatoes.
    I received a recipe for this dish when my husband was preaching a revival in LA (that is Louisiana not the place in CA) anyway I got back to SC and tried to make it but I didn’t know what Ro-Tel tomatoes was and couldn’t find anything called that. So I just made do with a can of regular tomatoes but it was missing that punch.
    Later that year the Lord sent us to that foreign mission field called TX. We lived and served a church there for about four years. Then back to SC. But before I left TX I bought a case of Ro-Tel. But by then you could sometimes find them in the grocery store.
    I was telling this story about the Ro-Tel at the family gathering after my father-in-law’s funeral in AR. One of my husband’s cousin kids looked at me and with all seriousness, when I said I use to not know about Ro-Tel, “Well how did you make dip?”

  14. ChristyK says

    I commented on Facebook that I was making this as a result of finding the Facebook post! :) I was waiting in my car for the rain to die down so I could go into the store. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna get until I saw this post. It’s in the oven now and I can’t wait!

  15. Dorie says

    Recipe sounds great….but…my comment is about the bath your salt and pepper and spices took! I’ve done the same thing when guests or holidays come around!! I guess all great minds think alike, or at least all great minds want people to think they are dust free!!!! 😛

  16. Sassy says

    I make a dish almost identical to this called Viva La Chicken, the only difference is that we use a jar/medium size tub of Salsa instead of tomatoes and chilis. I just texted my SIL who originally gave me the recipe and told her that her Viva La Chicken is actually King Ranch Casserole LOL

  17. deborah says

    I have been making King Ranch Casserole since the 70s’s and am from south texas ya’ll ! We always made this with velvetta..yummm ! and rotel tomatoes yeah baby! (Get the mild not the hot of course.) We use the corn torillas and quarter them before placing them in the casserole dish. If you want to add some mexican spices Goya makes some that already come together called adobo. Look in the mexican food area of the food store. Also cumin is a nice mexican spice lots of people put in their food that is interesting to try. A little goes a long way. I just love me some KRC! The legend is that it originated here by someone, maybe a cook or ranchhand that make this dish on the King Ranch here in South Texas. Who knows? I just know it’s yummy!

  18. says

    Here in Texas, receipes for King Ranch Chicken are like ones for homemade vanilla ice cream – you know, the’re all different, but end up tasting just about the same – DELICIOUS!! Can’t wait to add this one to my collection! Since I’ve failed to try a receipe from Southern Plate that I don’t like, I’m sure this one is great, too!!

  19. says

    TEXAS is more than a State, It’s a State of Mind :)) I saw a bumper sticker once that said “I wasn’t born in TEXAS, but I got here as fast as I could”. I was born here & I LOVE your page & recipes & stories! I’m drinking a cup of your “Famous Vanilla Chai Tea” right now <3 I am hooked! Thanks for what you do! I'm never disappointed when I look at your page. You always make me smile!

  20. Valerie says

    That was hysterical! All I could think of was that scene every Saturday morning when Pee Wee Herman would open his fridge and his food would always be “up to something” on Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

  21. Jennifer E. says

    Not meaning to be picky, but man you put a lot more work into this than is needed. I don’t usually use canned chicken (the flavor is just not as good, but have done it in a pinch). I cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker, debone and use the meat for several meals. I use the dark meat for King Ranch Chicken.

    I do use Rotel instead of the peppers and tomatoes. All I do is dump everything (except the tortillas) in a big ole mixing bowl and after mixing together, just start layering-but starting with a bit of the chicken mixture to coat the bottom of the pan first so the tortillas do not stick to the bottom. I do my tortillas different too. I quarter them and lay them in a solid layer (a pizza cutter works great to cut up a stack of them). If I do not do this, then we have more “soup” than what we like. I almost always make this triple sized in a large roasting pan, because it is my family’s favorite and we like to have leftovers. (If I do that, I have to use one of the breasts in addition to the dark meat.)

  22. Vikki says

    Well Christy, I’ve kinda thought of us a sisters ( you being the much younger sister) or at least cousins, since the first time I read you blog. I was all set to sign the Tx adoption papers too, till I read that part about not liking corn tortillas. I’m sorry to say that’s a dill breaker…lol teasing. But seriously, I just can’t imagine someone that doesn’t like to pop 2-3 in the mirco wrapped in damp paper towels. smear them with butter, fold and dip in hot sauce and call themselves happy. Heck I wrap cheese stuffed hotdogs in corn tortilla and fry ’em up and call em texas corndogs (shhhhh don’t tell the Tx State Fair corndog folks I said that).
    Thanks for all you do, love your recipes but I enjoy hearing (reading) your stories just as much. Feels like I’m reading bout family.

  23. Andrea Spencer says

    I have a recipe VERY similar to this but instead of chicken, you use ground beef and instead of tortillas, you use Doritos. It is called Dorito Delight. It is delish! I can’t wait to try this one with the chicken! Thanks!

  24. trinity says

    We use spicey doritos in place of tortillas…same thing but different…adds good flavor
    ..King Ranch is the largest Ranch in Texas…larger than most towns….google King Ranch, Texas

  25. Michelle says

    Hi! I had this years ago and decided too look for a recipe. Most look pretty much the same. My only concern was the corn tortillas. Like you my family and I don’t like them, but you say they are good in this recipe? I may try it the “right” way first. I love Texas too! Lived there for 9 years. If it wasn’t for the fact that my family is all in Georgia we probably would have settled there after my husband retired from the Army.

  26. Betty Grubbs says

    I was born in Atlanta, Texas, East Texas Piney Woods, but we lived across the state line in Arkansas but I am proud to be a Texan by birth. I live in Tennessee and they say the say quote “I am not from here but got here quick as I could.”

    Kristy, when I married and moved to Ohio, I thought i was on another planet also. My kids and grandkids still live there so I go back north but I am always glad to come back across that Ohio river and head to Tennessee, I love it.

    Thanks for the recipe and all your encouragement.


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