This quick and easy, queso smothered chicken casserole is packed with flavor and absolutely irresistible. This oven baked Mexican chicken and rice uses 4 ingredients for an easy weeknight dinner or meal prep. Smother cooked rice in salsa con queso, then layer moist and delicious seasoned chicken on top and cover it all in shredded Mexican cheese. Everything is baked in the oven for a cheesy Mexican casserole, sure to please the crowd.
Sometimes, or all the time, I need some queso and my fix for some cheesy goodness. This is the perfect recipe when you are craving some Mexican restaurant queso, but want to prepare a semi-healthy dinner. The chicken is packed with protein to keep you full and the rice provides some carb-y goodness.
This salsa con queso chicken recipe is very easy to make and only requires a few ingredients, which I usually have on hand, therefore it is a win win! I top my casserole with some of my favorite taco pairings including shredded lettuce, nonfat greek yogurt (or sour cream) and some more salsa. The shredded lettuce really made this dish feel nice and fresh.
What Do You Need to Make Queso Smothered Chicken Casserole
To make this queso smothered chicken and rice casserole, you will need those things! I typically have all of this on hand, making this Mexican chicken and rice dish easy to whip up. This is not a complicated dish to make, at all, and only takes a couple minutes and ingredients:
- Taco seasonings
- Salsa con queso
When cutting chicken small, I prefer to use chicken tenderloins as they are already thin and are generally easier to work. However, I had small chicken breasts and used that. It requires more cutting but tastes the same. Chicken cutlets are another great option as they are very thin and cook easily. If you are not a chicken fan, that is totally okay, I will only judge you just a tiny bit. This recipe would be great with other meats, just be mindful as we will be putting it back into the oven to finish cooking. Chorizo, ground beef or ground chicken are great substitutes.
You can make your own blend of taco seasonings or use a store bought one. I prefer to make my own blend. I make it in large batches and put it in a reusable container.
I used extra long grain rice, a white rice. At my house, I have pounds and pounds of that but you can use an alternative rice. As this is a Mexican chicken and rice dish, Mexican rice would be great in this recipe, as it is a cheesy Mexican casserole; however, any rice you have will work great. Of note, this recipe requires the rice to be fully cooked beforehand. However, you can use my stovetop rice recipe or my instant pot rice recipe to cook the rice. Alternatively, use a quick cook or already cooked rice.
Salsa con Queso
How can we have queso chicken and rice without queso? Now what is salsa con queso you ask? Salsa con queso is in the grocery store and is near the tortilla chips in my local Publix. It is a jarred sauce/dip that consists of salsa and queso, hence, salsa con queso. I loving having salsa con queso in my house as it is pretty low calorie for what it is, cheese. There are a variety of different brands but I use the generic one, it is cheaper! However, you can also make your own using Velveeta, or a similar cheese, and salsa. Purchase a pre-made salsa or make my homemade skinny salsa recipe.
Those are the main four ingredients in this recipe; however, you can add tons of other ingredients to customize this recipe. Beans provide for additional protein but make sure to choose fully cooked beans. Corn makes the dish slightly sweeter and more filling. Including vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions or cauliflower, makes this a well rounded dish.
Prepping Queso Smothered Chicken Casserole
Make sure to have your oven preheating before beginning this recipe. It is quick and easy to make so preheating the oven should be first. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
This recipe will not go over how to cook rice. Therefore, you can use my stovetop rice recipe or my instant pot rice recipe to cook the rice. Alternatively, use a quick cook or already cooked rice. Make sure to have the rice ready to go before beginning the chicken portion. I like to make my rice just a bit more 'wet' as it will dry out a little in the oven. Add a bit more water when making the rice. In addition, I like to have both of my cheeses ready to go before moving onto the chicken.
The casserole dish should be ready to go as you will want to move fast once the chicken gets started. Grease a casserole dish, I use an eight inch by eight inch clear dish, with cooking spray. Add the rice and salsa con queso, mixing together. Spread evenly down across the bottom of the casserole dish. Then let's get cooking!
How to Make Salsa Con Queso Casserole
The hardest part of salsa con queso chicken is cooking the chicken, and that is not even hard. Slice the chicken into small, bite-size pieces. When cutting chicken small, I prefer to use chicken tenderloins as they are already thin and are generally easier to work. However, I had small chicken breasts and used that. It requires more cutting but tastes the same. Chicken cutlets are another great option as they are very thin and cook easily.
Heat oil or cooking spray in a pan over medium/high heat. Once heated, add the cut up chicken and season with taco seasonings. You can use store bought taco seasonings or make your own. Sear the chicken on the stove until it is just about cooked. I love to use a thermometer probe to know exactly where my chicken is at on the cooking scale. If you do not have one, that is okay, just use your best estimate. I cook the chicken until it is about 155-160 degrees as it will continue to cook just a bit more in the oven and we do not want over done chicken.
Add the ALMOST ready chicken to the top of the cheesy rice, in a single layer. Evenly sprinkle on the shredded cheese across all of the chicken.
Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and the cheese is melted. You can really see how cheesy this cheesy mexican casserole recipe is, look at this cheese pull!
How to Make Queso Chicken and Rice Healthier
To make this dish healthier, I have a couple ideas. Obviously, you can reduce the amount of cheese but who wants to do that, especially when this is a cheesy Mexican casserole, we need cheese! Substituting riced cauliflower for the rice would be a really great idea. In addition, add some vegetables in; however, be mindful of cooking times.
More Salsa con Queso Recipes?
Queso Smothered Chicken Casserole
- 1 pound chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon taco seasonings
- 2 cups cooked rice
- ½ cup salsa con queso
- ½ cup shredded lite Mexican cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Grease a casserole dish with cooking spray. Add the rice and salsa con queso, mixing together. Spread evenly down across the bottom of the casserole dish.
- Slice the chicken into small, bite-size pieces, about one inch by one inch.
- Heat cooking spray in a pan over medium/high heat. Once heated, add the cut up chicken and season with taco seasonings. Sear the chicken on the stove until it is almost fully cooked, to about 150-160 degrees.
- Add the almost cooked chicken to the top of the cheesy rice, in a single layer. Evenly sprinkle on the shredded cheese across all of the chicken. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and the cheese is melted.
How many WW points is this now?! Click on the link below and it will take you to the recipe I made within your own WW app. Your specific points will be calculated, and you can track that.