Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Casseroles typically aren’t high on my list of foods I am drawn to make, or eat for that matter, but as soon as I saw this one I knew it would be an exception.  And not only that, I knew we would love it – and we really did!  This has to be one of the best new recipes I have tried in a while.  I was hoping to have the leftovers for lunch the next day, but there weren’t any.  Andrew loved it so much, I think he actually ate more than me.  I’ve already made it twice in two weeks, which I almost never do – I call that a winner!

It’s definitely quick enough for a weeknight, and can easily be adapted to suit your own tastes.  I’m sure it would be great with some black beans, corn, and/or minced jalapeños mixed in.  However, we love it so much the way it is, I doubt I’ll be making any changes.  Half of the tortilla chips are mixed in while the rest of the ingredients are cooking, to soften them and add substance.  The other half are added at the end, just before sticking the whole thing under the broiler so that they stay on the crispier side and add texture.  I just can’t say enough good things about this dinner, and I know it will be a frequent repeater in our house.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole
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2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1¾ cups chicken broth
5 cups tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Pat the chicken breast halves dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a 10-12 inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.)  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, shallot, garlic, chipotle, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer.

Stir in half of the tortilla chips.  Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium-low heat until cooked through (reading 160° F on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle.

Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the tomatoes, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro.  Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browning, about 2-3 minutes.  Top with remaining cilantro and serve, allowing the casserole to cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Pink Parsley, who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated

41 Responses

  1. The only casserole I make regularly is a Mexican-style lasagna, so this tortilla casserole is right up my alley! My husband pointed out that we have 1/2 bag of semi-stale tortilla chips, so I’m thinking I’ll make this recipe soon.

  2. I am usually not a casserole person, but this one looks amazing.
    I just might try it out!
    Thank you.

  3. I LOVE chipotles, they are an obsession for me, they’re just that good I made my first batch of chicken tortilla soup a couple of weekends ago and hoo baby, it were so good! Thanks for this recipe, definitely on the to-do list.

  4. Oh my gosh – this looks so incredibly good!!! I have been craving chicken tortilla soup lately (I love the recipe you posted for it quite a while ago), but now I’m going to make this – I love everything in it. My biggest complaint about casseroles is that we never finish them, but if this was a good amount for the 3 of you then it’s perfect for us. Thanks for this recipe!!! 🙂

  5. Yay!! I’m glad you like it as much as we do! CI has never let me down!

  6. This looks fantastic!!!! I love your clear photos.

    P.S. I made the peanut butter filling and frosting for the chocolate cupcakes last night; they are sitting on the table waiting for my students as I type. Thanks for a great recipe!

  7. I like this! It´ s not often you find a relatively healthy casserole dish. I myself am not a casserole kinda girl either, but every once in awhile it is nice to pull leftovers out of the freezer…especially during the kitchen rush of Thanksgiving week.

  8. Mmm, what a tasty casserole! It sounds so easy and delicious!

  9. I’ve made this recipe several times and I agree that its fantastic. I’m going to add it to my menu next week for an easy pre-thanksgiving meal.

  10. This looks great! I’m a big fan of casseroles but I think that is only because I was born and raised in the Mid-West…haha. This looks great and I love the crunchy top!

  11. That looks delicious!

  12. I am so happy you posted this, I saw this on her site as well and wanted to make it but now that you give up a thumbs up, I’m on it!

  13. I sooo have to make this – husband will love it! Thank you for posting this!

  14. This casserole looks great! Thanks for sharing the recipe with your foodie friends.

  15. You even make casseroles pretty! I’m impressed. 🙂

  16. I’ve been craving a mexican casserole lately – this looks perfect!!!

  17. This looks so pretty! It is going on my list to make SOON! 🙂

  18. This recipe looks wonderful and I will definitly try it. But I wanted to comment on another recipe of yours I tried. The Baked Ziti that you posted over the summer. I have a baked ziti recipe but thought I would try yours instead and it was a hit. Exactly as you said it would be. The white cream sauce added the special touch. I find myself coming back to your blog for recipes. The recipes are great but your added comments are always right on for me. Thanks.

  19. Hey, I was just wondering how spicy would you consider the chipolte peppers in adobo sauce. I’m kind of a lightweight when it comes to spiciness, but I love mexican inspired dishes. If it’s way super spicy do you have any recommendations on something I could substitute it for?

    • Hi Jeanene,
      The chipotles are really not spicy at all in this dish – I barely notice them. I think they just lend a smoky flavor. Just be sure to remove the seeds, otherwise it might be a lot spicier!
      🙂 Annie

  20. This was so good! The next time I make this I’m going to add black beans and corn- put it over shredded lettuce with sour cream and salsa on top and I think it will make perfect nachos too! Thank-you so much for the recipe! 🙂

  21. This recipe was delicious! The flavor of the chipotle peppers is so good! We added just a little dollop of sour cream on top. Thanks for sharing this easy and tasty dish.

  22. This was delicious. 🙂 My 3 year old gobbled it up too. I did remove the seeds from the chipotles & think next time I need to cover the chicken while it cooks (at the end) cause the tortillas got a little too cooked while waiting for my chicken to come to temp. Thanks for the great recipe!

  23. Fabulous recipe! My husband and I loved it and ate almost the entire skillet. I am making it again tonight and adding corn and black beans per another reader’s suggestion.

  24. Just wanted to say this is a GREAT recipe! I just made it this week and yummy! It was a little spicy but I just garnished it with some light sour cream and slices of avocado. It was delish. Love your blog. 🙂

  25. Wow, I’m so glad you posted this in your 2009 recap. It looks awesome and I can’t wait to try it out. Mmmmmm!

  26. Hi Annie

    I just made this tonight and it was a hit with my husband, 8 year old and 5 year old. I only used about a tsp of chipotle pepper and it was still a bit spicy (gotta have less spice for the kiddos). I asked if this was a keeper and both nodded a hearty yes. Thanks so much for posting this!

  27. Delicious!!! Thanks so much for the recipe. My 2 year old and 6 year old both ate it without any trouble. I loved the smokiness of the chipotles.

  28. OMG! This was so good! I made this tonight and it was excellent! I’m lazy so I used my Cuisinart mini-prep to mince the shallots, garlic, chipotle peppers, and tomatoes. The peppers gave it some kick for sure, but we love spicy food, so it was perfect! Thanks!

  29. I made this tonight and it was delicious. I didn’t have any of the peppers and I added black beans. It was a hit…even with my one year old!

  30. Wow! This was the first of many recipes I printed off of your blog, Annie, and it was a HUGE HIT! My husband usually just eats and I say should I make this again…yes/no. Well, with this casserole, one bite and he was raving! He said what “is that” taste, oh wow this is so good! He and I ate all but one little serving the he asked to take to lunch today! We loved it, thanks, I love your blog!!!

  31. This was so good! Thanks for all the great food!

  32. Hi Annie, I just wanted to let you know that my husband and I absolutely LOVE this recipe. I think I’ve made it 4 or 5 times in the last few months. It tastes great as written or with extra veggies added in. My super, super picky SIL is in college and lives with us during the school year and she even loves this. It’s definitely become a favorite in our household. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful recipes. I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve made from your blog. Keep up the fabulous work! 🙂

  33. Just made this tonight. Very yummy. I left out the cilantro, since I can’t stand it, and added a little cumin and chili powder. Used baked tortilla chips to make it a little healthier. Very easy and delicious. Thanks!

  34. Hi Annie:

    Does the chicken tortilla casserole freeze well? If so, how long will a dish like this typically last in the freezer?


  35. I finally got around to making this after having it bookmarked for awhile – and YUM! My husband and I both thoroughly enjoyed this. Love the smoky flavor and the bit of spice created by leaving the seeds in the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I can already tell that this will be a frequently requested meal in our home.

  36. hi annie,

    i just wanted to ask, did i need to leave the sauce in the heat while shredding the chicken?

    • If you read the recipe, it specifically says, “Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle.”

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