Friday, November 6, 2015

Chicken Fajita Casserole

Chicken Fajitas? In casserole form?

You mean, no screaming hot plate of peppers and chicken to burn my hands on? No constructing-every-portion-as-you-go? And, if you aren't constructing fajitas along the way, does that mean no extraneous plates of toppings lying around that you will eventually have to wash later that night?

If all that hasn't convinced you, how about this? Layers of tortilla, Spanish rice, smoky chicken, and sautéed peppers and onions, all tied together with a super-cheesy queso sauce?

Yep. You had me at queso :-)

For me, this is comfort food at its best. You know, being a Mexican food-aholic and all. I love chicken fajitas (all kinds of fajitas, really) but I don't order them all that much. For one, they are usually expensive. Second, I don't really like that sizzling hot plate that restaurants bring out. I'm always afraid I'm going to burn myself. So, when it became obvious last week that I needed a Mexican-food fix, I thought why not try out this casserole idea I'd been kicking around for awhile?

I used some shortcuts to make this casserole speedier. Shortcut #1- Rotisserie chicken. I simply took all the leftover meat I had and tossed it with some Taco Seasoning

By the way, I love having Taco Seasoning already made and ready to go in the cupboard. So convenient. 

Queso, oh my. I used shredded queso cheese that I bought at the grocery store for this wonderfully cheesy sauce. 

You can't have fajitas without peppers and onions!

Shortcut #2- I used a bag of frozen Spanish Rice that I had on hand. You could make fresh Spanish Rice to use in the casserole, or save time and use leftover rice! 

Cut up some tortillas, and then it's time to construct the casserole. 

I created my casserole by liberally spraying my pan with cooking spray. Then I layered tortilla strips on the bottom, followed by a layer of Spanish rice. After the rice came a layer of peppers and onions, followed by the chicken. Finally, I poured about half my cheese sauce over the pan before repeating the layers all over again. After I had added the rest of the queso, I sprinkled the top of the casserole with a blend of Mexican cheeses. I popped this bad boy in the oven for 30 minutes, and it came out looking like dis-

Oh. Yeah.

Casseroles are the best, aren't they? I sprinkled fresh cilantro over the top of the casserole when it came out of the oven, and then served it with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. I found the casserole to be a one-pot meal, but you could definitely round out the spread with a salad or other vegetable. 

It's getting to be that perfect time of year for casseroles, so make this tonight! Nothing says comfort like coming home to a hot, cheesy casserole after a chilly fall day :-) 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour 
1 1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups queso cheese
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded
3 soft taco size tortillas, thickly sliced
1 1/2 cups Spanish Rice
1/4 cup blend of Mexican cheeses, shredded
1 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
garnish- Salsa, Guacamole, sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 375º. Liberally coat an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray, set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. When warm, add peppers and onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until veggies start to soften. Remove from heat, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside. Wipe out pan with a paper towel.
3. Heat butter in the skillet. When melted, add flour. Stir around the pan for 1-2 minutes to cook out some of the raw flour taste. Begin adding milk slowly, generously whisking after each addition. Once all the milk has been added, add the cheese. Stir until the cheese is completely melted. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk. You want the sauce to be pourable. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Add taco seasoning to the chicken, toss to combine.
5. Begin building the casserole- place a layer of tortillas on the bottom of the pan. Top with 3/4 cup of rice. Spread half the pepper mixture over the rice. Top with 3/4 cup of chicken. Pour half the queso sauce over the casserole. Repeat layers, starting again with tortillas. After adding the remainder of the queso, top the casserole with the Mexican cheese. 
6. Place casserole in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, and sprinkle cilantro over casserole. Slice, and serve immediately with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. 

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  1. What a great recipe! I wouldn't have thought to make chicken fajitas into a casserole. Pinned and Tweeted. Thanks for sharing at Snickerdoodle Sunday.

    1. I do love this recipe. So many things to turn into casseroles! It's definitely that time that time of year that I'm craving something warm! :-)

  2. This and the salad in the last post are now part of my Pinterest ;)


    1. Yum, good choices! I'm kind of wishing I had some of this casserole right now. For breakfast. LOL.

  3. YUM! This sounds wonderful! Perfect for Cinco de Mayo :)

    1. Thanks Kris! I wish I'd made some for Cinco de Mayo, as I'm craving some now! LOL :-)

      Hope you had a great holiday!

  4. Replies
    1. My grocery store has quite the wall of pre-shedded cheeses, which is where I found shredded queso. It's a white cheese. Some of the bags are labeled as quesadilla cheese. Granted, the ones I've bought have been the Kroger brand, so if you are at a different store and don't see any labeled queso, they might not have that particular kind. If you can't find queso, I think a bag of shredded Mexican-blend cheeses would substitute beautifully.

  5. Oh my word, this looks amazing! Pinned and ready for our next Mexican meal.
    I never considered freezing left over rice. I need to try that :)

    1. I'd never thought about freezing rice either until I was left with a huge batch of Spanish Rice on the verge of dying. Freezing the rice is perfect for using it in a casserole! I bet it would work if you were using the rice in a dish like fried rice too 😃

    2. This recipe was soooooo good! My husband said "Give a thumbs up to the person who posted this". So that should tell you it is awesome! I made my own Spanish Rice but it was all so delish!

    3. I'm so glad it was a hit! I always love to hear that 😃

  6. This was so good, my husband loved it. Couldn't find queso so used the Mexican blend. It was great and your rice was wonderful. I cooked it the night before as well as some chicken, made it easy to throw together. Looking forward to trying your soup with leftover rice.

    1. I'm so glad you liked it! I've been starting to have a craving for this one lately, it might be time to indulge 😃

  7. I made this tonight for dinner. I was getting a little worried because the queso cheese was not melting in the sauce very well. I came to the conclusion that it wasn't going to melt entirely. I decided to use it anyways and once the dish is baked, you don't really notice it. I used the 90 Minute microwave Spanish rice and used more mexican cheese on the top. Overall, it was very tasty. Next time however I think I would an a little mince jalapeño and chopped tomatoes.


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