Comforting, cheesy, healthy and delicious – This quick and easy Chicken Mexican Casserole is a fast and flavorful up way to enjoy your favorite Mexican cuisine! With only 8 basic pantry ingredients and 15 minutes of prep required, this quinoa casserole is the perfect healthy weeknight Mexican dinner!
Continue to read on for easy ways to customize this chicken casserole recipe, plus comprehensive tips for storing and freezing it too! And, don’t miss the in-depth step by step photos and video tutorial showing you exactly how to make this easy Mexican casserole with chicken!
Update: This post was originally published in January 2019. I’ve made updates to the post below to include more information about Mexican casseroles. Plus, there’s now a step-by-step video showing you exactly how to make this easy and healthy Mexican dinner!
Hi, friends! What are your thoughts on casseroles? Do you love them, hate them, or are you totally indifferent?
The word casserole tends to evoke mental images of sad vegetables and thick, cream-of-something soup in a 9×13-inch baking dish. But really, that’s not the case – casseroles can be delicious!!
Enter today’s healthy, yet utterly-delicious casserole recipe! This southwest chicken bake features plenty of tender-crisp vegetables with a moist, flavorful filing mixture made of chicken and quinoa (or rice!)! Baked until bubbly, this easy Mexican casserole is so delicious and a total lifesaver for busy weeknight dinners!
Chicken Mexican Casserole: recipe overview
Say hello to your new favorite chicken dinner! It’s Mexican food meets healthy and delicious with the perfect amount of cheese. Basically, this super easy cheesy quinoa bake is lightened up Mexican comfort food that is so good you may want to say sayonara to Taco Tuesday and opt for healthy Mexican Monday instead!
Fluffy, nutty quinoa mixed with tender, shredded chicken, mild green chiles, roasted kernels of corn, hearty black beans, pungent yellow onions, bright salsa verde and a generous amount of sharp colby jack and soft mozzarella cheeses. Baked until warm, melted and bubbly, it’s the perfect fix when you are craving Mexican food, but you also want a healthy dose of protein, fiber and general feel-good eats.
This healthy Mexican casserole is literally going to be your weeknight dinner lifesaver. With only 12 ingredients and 15 minutes of prep, you can simply throw everything into a casserole dish, give it a good stir, top with shredded cheese and bake. I mean, dinner doesn’t get any easier than that!
Why this Mexican recipe works!
- Economical + Pantry Ingredients! This Mexican bake recipe relies on easy-to-find ingredients and affordable pantry staples!
- Quick to prepare! You only need 15 minutes of hands-on preparation to make the ultimate Mexican casserole!
- One pan meal! Featuring chicken and grains, along with beans and plenty of colorful veggies, such as onions and corn, this Mexican casserole is the perfect one dish dinner!
- Flavorful! Plenty of robust Mexican seasonings and two types of cheeses make this Mexican hot dish a crowd pleaser!
- Nutritious! Most traditional casseroles can be thick, unpleasantly heavy! However, this shredded chicken casserole uses a few healthy swaps to lighten things up, yet still deliver a meal that packs a hearty and filling punch!
- Customizable! A great thing about casserole recipes is they are easy to adapt to suit any number of tastes and preferences!! Try swapping out the quinoa for rice, or using ground beef instead of chicken to name a few options!
- Prep ahead! You can prep this Mexican chicken casserole ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator or freezer! When it’s time to eat, all you have to do is pop the casserole in the oven, set the table and gather your family!
- Freezes great! This skinny Mexican casserole makes the best yummy leftovers!! Make this easy casserole once and store the leftovers in the fridge for easy lunches and heat-and-eat dinners!
Mexican casserole ingredients
You only need eight simple ingredients, plus a couple TexMex seasonings, to make the best Mexican layer casserole right at home!
What you’ll need for the best Mexican layer casserole
- Quinoa: This healthy Mexican casserole uses 1 1/4 cups quinoa which offers more dietary fiber and protein than rice! Be sure to read the notes section of the recipe card below – it includes tips for making perfect quinoa!
- Chicken: You will need 3 cups of fully cooked chicken for this Mexican quinoa casserole recipe! I like to use rotisserie chicken or leftover cumin chicken to make this casserole; however, you can use any cooked chicken you have on hand!
- Salsa: 1 1/3 cup of Mexican salsa helps keep this southwest casserole with chicken moist and provides delicious flavor! This recipe calls for salsa verde, also known as green salsa, which gives the casserole filling a bright, slightly zesty and tangy flavor!
- Onion: Half a small yellow onion adds the perfect touch of delicate, astringent onion flavor! You can use a red onion if you prefer a stronger flavor!
- Corn: Fresh produce, such as corn, is essential to Mexican cooking! You will need 3/4 cup of roasted corn kernels for this easy casserole recipe! If corn is in season, you can use grilled corn-on-the cob if you have any leftovers! However, for convenience I tend to use canned or frozen kernels of corn.
- Beans: Beans are a must when making hearty Mexican layer casseroles! This baked Mexican chicken dish calls for 3/4 cup of canned black beans – make sure you rinse and drain the beans well before using!
- Mexican spices: A combination of garlic powder, ground cumin, chili powder, kosher salt, and ground black pepper provide a mix of savory and spicy flavors!
- Cheeses: You can’t have a casserole without the gooey cheese topping! This Mexican quinoa casserole uses a a duo of shredded cheeses – Jack cheese and mozzarella cheese – for maximum richness and flavor!
Mexican-style casserole variations
Are you looking to make a few changes or additions to this simple Mexican casserole recipe? Wonderful – I encourage you to make this southwestern casserole your own! Get creative and experiment in the kitchen! Or simply eliminate ingredients you don’t like and substitute them with ones you love! Below are some ideas to help get you started!
Substitutions for chicken Mexican casserole
- Rice: One of the most popular Mexican ingredients is rice. While this chicken casserole recipe calls for quinoa to keep things healthy, you can absolutely substitute any cooked grain! For example, white rice, brown rice and farro can easily be used in this Mexican chicken dinner!
- Ground Beef: If your family prefers red meat to chicken breasts, swap out the rotisserie shredded chicken for beef! To make a Mexican ground beef casserole, you will need to brown the beef in a skillet before proceeding with the recipe.
- Barbacoa Beef: Make an authentic Mexican casserole by swapping out the chicken for barbacoa beef!
- Turkey: This Mexican dinner is one of the first things I make with leftover turkey at the holidays! I simply swap the rotisserie for shredded turkey meat!
- Mexican Salsa: If you prefer red salsas to green sauce, you can swap out the green salsa for an equal amount of either chunky traditional salsa (salsa fresca) or fire roasted tomato salsa!
- Beans: Another extremely common ingredient to Mexican cuisine is beans! You can swap the nutty, earthy black beans out for super creamy pinto beans if you prefer!
- Seasonings: If you are in a pinch simply season your tex mex casserole with taco seasoning!
Ingredients you can add to chicken casseroles
Mexican recipes are extremely versatile and adaptable, casseroles especially! This skinny Mexican casserole is great way to use up any leftover meats or vegetables you have hanging out in the refrigerator, along with any fresh herbs from your garden! Below is a list of some ingredients commonly used in Mexican cooking that taste great in this casserole recipe!
- Mexican sauces: If you prefer a chicken enchilada casserole, swap out the salsa for enchilada sauce instead!
- Jalapeños or Chipotles: Make your Mexican food hot and spicy by adding your favorite Chili peppers, such as jalapeños, poblanos, green chiles, or chipotles in adobo, to this shredded chicken bake!
- Tomatoes: If I’m cleaning out my pantry, I’ll often use rice and add a can of diced Ro-tel tomatoes and chiles (drained!) to make a rice taco casserole!
- Bell Peppers: I will always chop up and throw in a fresh bell pepper if I have one on hand! Red bell peppers are my favorite as they add a delicious sweet flavor!
- Roasted Vegetables: Pack your healthy Mexican chicken bake with even more nutritional goodness by adding in leftover vegetables, such as roasted cauliflower florets or roasted sweet potato cubes!
- Mexican seasonings: Add more drool-worthy flavor to your easy chicken casserole by adding in dried Mexican oregano and smoked paprika!
- Herbs: Fresh cilantro is the most common Mexican herb; however, chives and parsley also work well in this easy shredded chicken dinner!
- Doritos: Doritos are definitely not an authentic Mexican ingredient; however, they still taste amazing with a cheesy Mexican casserole! Add a fun “nacho cheese” twist to your southwest casserole by finely crushing a small bag of Doritos and dusting the top of your casserole before baking! Alternatively, you can also crush tortilla chips and use those!
How to make a Mexican casserole?
Quinoa casseroles are quick and easy to prepare, which make them perfect for busy weeknight dinners! Just 20 minutes in the oven and your family will be enjoying this delicious and rotisserie chicken Mexican recipe!
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish (or similar size casserole dish) with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook the quinoa according to directions on package. Once cooked, remove the quinoa from heat, fluff and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. (Tip: Look at the notes section of the printable recipe card! There’s a step-by-step guide to making perfectly fluffy quinoa at home!)
- Mix casserole ingredients: Add the shredded chicken, salsa, onion, green chiles, corn, black beans, garlic powder, cumin and chili powder to the bowl containing the quinoa. Stir to combine. Next, fold in the pepper jack and mozzarella cheeses before seasoning generously with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the Mexican chicken and quinoa mixture to the casserole baking dish. Top with more cheese!
- Bake the rotisserie chicken casserole for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and hot.
- Serve: Remove the salsa verde chicken casserole from the oven and top with your favorite Mexican toppings, such as avocado, cilantro and a dollop of sour cream! Serve and enjoy!
Below is a list of basic kitchen tools you will need to prepare this baked Mexican dish!
- Measuring cups and spoons.
- Casserole dish. You will need an 8×11-inch baking dish or pan.
- Mixing bowl and kitchen spoon. You will need a large mixing bowl and a spoon for stirring together the casserole filling!
Tips for the best healthy chicken casserole!
- Rotisserie chicken: If you are using rotisserie chicken to make this Mexican casserole, make sure you remove and discard the skin prior to assembling and baking this Mexican recipe.
- Customize it: This recipe for Mexican chicken casserole is extremely flexible and easy to customize! I recommend adding or substituting your favorite Mexican ingredients! (Scroll up to read all about how you can customize this quinoa bake with fresh produce, bold spices and more!)
- Quick dinner: Meal prepping will ensure you get this easy chicken casserole on the table in 25 minutes or less! Use cooked or leftover quinoa or rice, along with rotisserie chicken to prep this Mexican dinner in a flash!!
Making healthy Mexican casserole step-by-step photos!
Below you will find a picture collage showing you exactly how to make this healthy chicken casserole recipe, step-by-step! Please scroll down for the printable recipe card, which contains detailed instructions and measurements!
Shredded chicken casserole recipe: FAQ
How long to bake this chicken casserole?
This Mexican shredded chicken casserole recipe calls for baking the casserole in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven for 22-25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the cheese is melted. However, the exact length of time to cook your casserole will vary depending upon the strength of your oven (and proper calibration!).
Can you make this chicken Mexican casserole in advance?
Yes, you can make this healthy Mexican chicken casserole up to 2 days in advance!
Make ahead Mexican casserole! To make this recipe in advance, assemble the casserole according to the instructions in the recipe, but do not bake it. Cover the casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. You can store the unbaked, assembled casserole in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
How long will a quinoa casserole keep?
Leftover Mexican quinoa casserole makes wonderful heat-and-eat lunches! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, your leftover shredded chicken casserole will keep for up to 3 days.
Can you freeze this healthy Mexican casserole?
This Mexican shredded casserole freezes beautifully! You can freeze this chicken and quinoa casserole both before or after baking!!
To prep and freeze Mexican casserole: Assemble the shredded chicken casserole according to the recipe instructions; however, do not bake it. Cover the casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil. Store the prepared Mexican Chicken Bake in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When ready to use, thaw the healthy Mexican casserole overnight in the refrigerator. Then, bake according to the recipe instructions, adding 15-20 minutes to the bake time.
Freezing leftovers: Store leftover Mexican chicken recipe in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Pro-tip: Portion out leftover Mexican Chicken Casserole into individual servings and freeze for an easy microwave meal (perfect for lunches)!
How to reheat baked Mexican casseroles?
You can reheat this Mexican quinoa bake one of two ways!
- In the oven: Place leftover casserole into a baking dish and lightly tent the top with aluminum foil. Reheat in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven until warm throughout.
- In the microwave: Add an individual serving of leftover shredded chicken casserole into a microwave-safe container. Place a microwave-safe lid on top of the container, arranging it so the lid is slightly cracked at the side to form a vent. Reheat at 50% power, stopping and stirring the casserole every minute, until the dish is warm throughout.
What to serve with a Mexican chicken bake?
Nutritious and delicious – this Healthy Mexican Casserole eats like a complete meal! It’s filled with protein-packed chicken and beans, super-grain quinoa, and fresh vegetables!! However, there are a number of side dishes you can serve to round out this Mexican rice and chicken casserole! Below are some of my family’s favorite Mexican side dishes!
- Queso, Salsa and Chips: No Mexican meal is complete without a basket of salty tortilla chips along with fresh pico and silky queso for dipping.
- Guacamole: Creamy, rich guacamole makes a delicious side or topping option for Mexican chicken!
- Slaw: Crisp and fresh Mexican Cabbage recipes or slaw for pulled pork perfectly complements hearty Mexican dishes with chicken!
- Salad: TexMex salads, such as Southwestern salads with tortilla chips and Mexican chopped salads, pair perfectly with cheesy chicken casseroles!
- Cold Salads: If you prefer beans and cold veggies to greens, try serving your chicken bake with a zesty Mexican Bean salad or Corn Tomato Avocado Salad.
- Cowboy Beans: Baked Mexican chicken casserole with a side of charro pinto beans makes for some super satisfying Mexican
- Corn: Mexican corn on the cob (Elote) or Mexican corn salad (Esquites) are two of my favorite Mexican side dishes to serve with chicken casseroles!
This healthy quinoa casserole is packed with all your favorite Mexican flavors and it’s so easy to make! Loaded with protein and fiber, this one pan bake is a healthy take on comfort food and perfect for weeknight dinners!
Until next week, friends, cheers! To casseroles done right!
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More easy Mexican dinners!
If you love this easy Mexican meal, try one of these delicious Southwestern recipes next!
- Barbacoa Shredded Beef
- Mexican Stacked Enchiladas
- Black Bean Tacos
- Pork Carnita
- Chicken Fajita Casserole
- Skirt Steak Fajitas
The best Mexican Chicken Casserole recipe! 👇
(Full printable recipe with step-by-step video!)
Healthy Mexican Chicken Casserole
- 9x13’’ baking dish (or similar sized casserole dish)
- Saucepan (to cook quinoa)
- 1 ¼ Cups Uncooked Quinoa
- 3 Cups Cooked Chicken – shredded or chopped (If using Rotisserie – make sure you discard the skin)
- 1 1/3 Cup Salsa Verde Click on ingredient name for homemade salsa recipe (SEE NOTES for salsa amount)
- ½ small Yellow Onion – finely diced
- 1 (4.5 ounce) Can Chopped Green Chiles - drained
- ¾ Cup Roasted Corn Kernels – canned or frozen (drained if using canned)
- ¾ Cup Black Beans – drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp EACH: Garlic Powder, Cumin and Chili Powder
- 1 ½ Cups Colby Jack, Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack Cheese - freshly shredded, divided
- 1 ¼ Cup Mozzarella Cheese – freshly shredded, divided
- Optional Garnish: Pico de Gallo
- Optional for Serving: Sliced Scallions, Chopped Cilantro, Sliced Avocados or Guacamole, Sour Cream
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13’’ baking dish (or similar-size casserole dish) with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook the quinoa according to directions on package. Once cooked, remove from heat, fluff and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer cooked quinoa to a large bowl.(Tip: See the notes section below for how to perfectly cook quinoa!)
- Mix casserole ingredients: Add the cooked chicken, salsa, onion, green chiles, corn, black beans, garlic powder, cumin and chili powder to the bowl of quinoa. Stir to combine. Fold in 1 cup of jack cheese and ½ cup of mozzarella. Generously season with salt and pepper. (SEE NOTES)
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
- Add Cheese + Bake: Sprinkle the remaining cheeses evenly over the top of the casserole. Transfer the casserole dish to the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve: Remove baking dish from the oven and let stand for 3-5 minutes. Top with your favorite Mexican garnishes. Serve hot and enjoy!
- If your quinoa and the chicken quinoa mixture seems on the dry side, add more salsa one tablespoon at a time. If you cooked the quinoa according to the directions below, you shouldn't need more salsa.
- Baked quinoa casserole leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Pro-tip: Portion out leftover quinoa casserole into individual servings and freeze for an easy microwave meal (perfect for lunches)!
- Unbaked quinoa casserole can be assembled and covered tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight and bake per the recipe instructions, adding 15-20 minutes to the cook time.
- Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer with cool water and drain well.
- Transfer quinoa to a saucepan and add 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook quinoa, stirring occasionally, until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes, reducing heat as necessary.
- Remove pan from heat and cover. Let the quinoa steam, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove lid, fluff and season generously with salt and pepper. Proceed with recipe.
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Jennifer Cooper says
I was having several friends over for dinner and looking for a casserole I could prepare in advance and then stick in the over during our happy hour. I needed something gluten free for one of my guests. I’ve been making a Mexican chicken casserole for years but it has cream of chicken mushroom soup – lots of sodium. I searched for a healthier version and found this. I added a can of roasted corn and black beans. I put the jalapenos and hot sauce on the side with other toppings – sour cream, guacamole, salsa, sliced black olives, and diced green chilies. It was perfect!
Everyone loved it. This will be my new version!
Susan Moore says
I have made this recipe numerous times and it is always a hit! Thanks for sharing!!!
I’m thrilled to hear you enjoy the recipe and have made it multiple times!! Thank you so much for coming back and letting me know how this casserole went over!
Cheers and warm wish for a very happy New Year,
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
When it comes to casseroles I’m firmly in the love camp, mostly because they so often involve lots of melty cheese. This looks delicious, Chey! I’m going to have to try it soon!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
My kind of casserole Chey! I LOVE adding quinoa to dishes. Makes it so hearty. This one will definitely be added to our weekly menu! Pinned and will be trying soon!
Honestly I’m on the fence about casseroles…it all depends. Typically if it has Mexican or Italian origin, I’m in. Some casseroles can be too monotonous, but not this one. And I love quinoa, so most definitely putting this one on the menu!!
This casserole is absolutely perfect for weeknight dinner! And using quinoa, genius! Packed full of flavors!
Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers says
I am a casserole lover! I love all the flavours and texture together in one bite. This one looks so perfect and I love the use of quinoa!
Kelsie | itsy-bitsy kitchen says
I love that you suggested adding roasted sweet potatoes–I’ve been on a huge sweet potato kick lately so I’m totally trying this with a few mixed in :). Sounds fabulous! Have a great weekend, Chey!
I don’t enjoy Mexican food very often as it’s rather heavy for me. However, quinoa totally makes the difference here (Besides, I’ve never used quinoa in a casserole – interesting). This dish loaded with chicken, legumes, and cheese (of course!) looks and sounds perfect. And I’m telling you – even though I haven’t tried this casserole yet, it’s already my favourite 🙂
What a mouthwatering and protein rich casserole! I love mine with an extra portion of avocado dip :-))