Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other casserole recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Chicken Tortilla Casserole Recipe

Packed with chicken, beans, tomatoes, and tortillas, this chicken tortilla casserole is one of my favorites, no matter the season. The best part is that once this casserole is baked, it can be customized by anyone in your family. Top it with guacamole, sour cream, spicy peppers, or anything your heart desires, and it will be a delicious weeknight meal.

Why this recipe works.

Casseroles have received a bad rap. They are convenience food, but that doesn’t mean that they need to lack flavor or that they are not homemade. This Chicken tortilla casserole is a masterclass in quick cooking with a big reward. The prep is where all the magic happens. This can be made up to a day before baking, so all the work is finished leaving only the baking. To start, onions, bell pepper, and jalapeños are sauteed to create a base layer of flavor. Spices and fire-roasted tomatoes are simmered with chicken breast to trap in all the flavor from the chicken. Chicken is shredded, beans are added, and everything is layered with flour tortillas and cheese for a full meal. As with any good casserole, the best is the customization that can happen when serving. Add cilantro, salsa, sour cream, avocado, or anything on your list to make everyone happy.

White marble surface with white baking dish filled with baked chicken tortilla casserole with melted cheese on top with serving missing scooped onto white plate with avocado sliced up and chopped up cilantro in small wooden bowl.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Bell pepper is the sweet pepper flavor needed in this dish. The pepper flavor comes through without the heat to keep everyone happy.
  • Chili powder is a mixture of other spices that does all the work for us. Any brand of chili powder will work, no matter the blend.
  • Fire-roasted diced tomatoes have so much flavor. The tomatoes are canned and at peak ripeness, but first, they are roasted over an open fire to add immense flavor.
  • Chicken breasts are an easy item to keep on hand in the freezer. The simplicity of cooking them in the tomato mixture keeps this recipe using one skillet before becoming a casserole.
  • Kidney beans add a creamy, healthy starch and increase the protein. Canned beans are a pantry staple and come straight out of the can cooked perfectly for a quick weeknight meal.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make chicken tortilla casserole including raw chicken breasts, kidney beans, bell peppers, cheese, cilantro, tomato sauce, tortillas, spices, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Cook the vegetables. Dice up the onion and bell peppers. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper to the pot, as well as the salt, and let the mixture sauté for 4 to 6 minutes.
  1. Add the spices and tomatoes. When the vegetables are just beginning to brown, add the chili powder and cumin. Mix those into the hot onion and bell pepper and let them cook for about a minute. Then add in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Mix the tomatoes together to ensure everything is well incorporated.
  2. Poach the chicken breasts. To the tomato mixture, add the chicken breasts, nestling them in amongst the juice. Cover the stockpot and let the chicken poach for 12 to 15 minutes. Once fully cooked, remove the chicken breasts and set them aside.
  1. Add the beans and shred the chicken. To the tomato mixture, add the kidney beans and mix them in so they begin cooking. Separately, using a knife or two forks, shred the chicken breast into rough, bite-sized pieces. Once the chicken is fully shredded, set it aside to add back into the tomato mixture later.
  1. Layer the casserole dish. Once the tomato and bean mixture has simmered, remove it from the heat. Using a ladle, add ½ cup to the bottom of the greased 9×13 baking dish, spreading it out to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Then add flour tortillas, one at a time, to create a layer. For a 9×13 baking dish, this will generally be two 8-inch round flour tortillas. Add the shredded chicken back to the tomato mixture and stir it in to incorporate. Then add ⅓ of the chicken and tomato mixture to the first layer of tortillas. Add ⅓ of the shredded cheese and ½ of the chopped cilantro. Repeat the same process twice, beginning with the flour tortillas and ending with the shredded cheese on top.
  1. Bake the casserole. Place the assembled casserole in the preheated 350°F oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling on top and the mixture has been warmed through. Remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • When cooking the vegetables, make sure to allow the oil in your stockpot to come to heat before adding in the onion and bell peppers. This is advantageous for two reasons: 1) the correctly heated oil will ensure that the stockpot is nonstick, and 2) the vegetables will begin to cook at the correct temperature immediately once added to the kettle.
  • Rather than guessing as to whether the chicken is fully poached, make sure to check the internal temperature using an instant-read thermometer. The interior temperature of the chicken should read 160°F when fully cooked.
  • If making this casserole ahead, it can be assembled to the point where the last layer of cheese is added on top. Cover the casserole and place it in the refrigerator until it is ready to be baked. Always note that it will take longer to bake a recipe that is not at room temperature. Generally, the bake time will be double the stated time in the recipe.
White baking dish filled with baked chicken tortilla casserole with serving missing showing layers of casserole.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Can chicken thighs be used instead of chicken breast in this recipe?

Yes, thighs will have more flavor and fat than breasts. The thighs can take longer to cook but are an easy substitute for breasts.

Can this recipe be frozen before it’s baked so it can be pulled from the freezer and consumed later?

Yes, this can be fully assembled and, instead of baking, placed in the freezer for future use. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to three months. When ready to serve, thaw in the refrigerator for two days before baking.

What are good toppings to serve with this casserole?

The toppings are the part of this recipe that everyone can have fun with and make their own. Diced avocado, scallions, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and pickled hot peppers are all great options.

Hand holding spoon with serving of chicken tortilla casserole showing all layers of tortillas, beans, chicken, and tomatoes with rest of casserole below.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More casserole recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

White marble surface with white baking dish filled with chicken tortilla casserole with melted cheese on top with serving removed and placed on a white plate.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

4.75 from 8 votes
Packed with chicken, beans, tomatoes, and tortillas, this chicken tortilla casserole is one of my favorites, no matter the season. The best part is that once this casserole is baked, it can be customized by anyone in your family. Top it with guacamole, sour cream, spicy peppers, or anything your heart desires, and it will be a delicious weeknight meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 15 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 large bell pepper seeds removed and diced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • ¾ tsp cumin
  • 2 15-oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
  • 1 15-oz can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of neutral oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and salt. Sauté until the vegetables are translucent and beginning to brown, 4-6 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin. Stir the spices into the hot oil to bloom the spices for 30 seconds.
    1 medium onion, 2 large bell pepper, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp chili powder, ¾ tsp cumin
  • Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir to incorporate. Place the chicken breasts over the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a low simmer. Once at a simmer, cover and cook until the chicken breasts reach 160°F, 12 to 15 minutes. After the chicken has cooked, remove the breasts from the pot and set them aside to cool. Add the kidney beans to the tomatoes and stir to combine.
    2 15-oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb), 1 15-oz can red kidney beans, 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the breasts into small pieces.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Remove the tomatoes and beans from the heat. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and spread ½ cup of the tomato mixture over the bottom of the baking dish. Add the shredded chicken to the mixture and combine. Lay two tortillas over the thin layer of tomatoes. The tortillas will overlap. Add ⅓ of the tomato mixture and spread evenly. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese and ½ of the chopped cilantro. Repeat these layers two more times ending with the final two cups of cheese on top of the casserole.
    6 flour tortillas, ½ cup chopped cilantro, 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Bake in the preheated 350°F oven until the cheese is beginning to brown and the casserole is bubbling throughout, 45-55 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 304kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine Southwestern
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Baking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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9 Comments

  1. Preparing to try this today. I don’t want to throw off the sauce to chicken balance, so here’s my QUESTION:
    Are there only two chicken breasts used, as in the recipe? Your video and the photos show four in the pan. Maybe you fileted the two in half?
    Thanks so much for clarifying.

    1. Hello! The recipe is written for one pound of chicken breast. Mine were smaller and look like a lot but equaled the one pound.

  2. 5 stars
    As an unintended variation, I was about to assemble this to put it in the oven when I found out evening plans had changed, and dinner had to be ready in 15 min.
    So, we put the finished sauce on tortilla chips, and topped it with cheese and cilantro.
    It was quite tasty, thank you.

  3. Kaleb, I’m a home cook who’s been cooking more years than your age – but you taught me a new trick! The idea of poaching the chicken in the sauce as it simmers is genius. The chicken was so infused with flavor and not dry at all. It made for a wonderful tortilla casserole that will be my go-to from now on. (I noticed you use the same trick on your Chicken Enchiladas, which I will try next!) Thanks for your wonderful recipes, and for sharing your joy in nature and in doing things the right way. You inspire me!

  4. 5 stars
    WOW! A new favorite. I cut the recipe in half since it’s just two of us…and it was perfect! Thanks, Kaleb..you nailed it again. 🎉