This King Ranch Chicken casserole made in the crock pot is a simple weeknight recipe that everyone will love. This cheesy casserole with Tex-Mex flavors is easy, delicious, and comforting!
Slow Cooker King Ranch Chicken
Traditional King Ranch Chicken is made in a casserole dish and baked to bubbly perfection.
This slow cooker version keeps all the flavor of the original but with the added benefit of being made in the slow cooker and still as creamy and cheesy as ever.
It’s loaded with Tex Mex flavors thanks to the chili powder and Rotel. Instead of the traditional tortilla chips, we’re layering this crockpot chicken recipe with strips of corn tortillas. Almost like a deconstructed lasagna, Tex Mex style!
On days when you don’t feel like turning on the oven, you can’t beat slow cooker chicken meals. Especially when they’re budget friendly and can feed a hungry crowd!
However, if you want to still mimic the baked version, remove the slow cooker lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
What is King Ranch Chicken?
The history of this chicken casserole is much debated and often thought to have been created in the famous King Ranch in South Texas. Although a popular Tex-Mex dish, this easy dinner casserole has no connection to the largest ranch in the US.
The ingredients, such as Ro-Tel, green pepper, chili powder, and corn tortillas, give this slow cooker casserole a great flavor that is similar to many dishes found in South Texas.
Why you’ll love Crock Pot King Ranch Chicken
Easy to Make – With just 15 minutes of prep time, which includes shredding the chicken and chopping veggies, this is a dump-and-set recipe. Once it’s in the slow cooker, it’s completely hands-off!
Flavorful – Aromatics, smoky spices, zesty tomato flavors, creamy textures, and cheddar cheese to boot. This is a dish the whole family will love. A night without kids complaining about dinner is possible, my friends!
Complete Meal – This comfort food classic has everything you need to enjoy a complete meal. Of course, you could serve it with a side salad or some veggies, but either way, you’ll have every leave the table satisfied.
Leftovers – This makes enough to feed a crowd with the possibility of leftovers. A Tex Mex version of chicken bacon ranch sandwiches is a fun lunch idea!
Tools you’ll need
- Slow Cooker – Any Crock Pot will work but you know I love the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget because I can set the timer and after the allotted cooking time, it turns to WARM so it stays ready.
- Mixing Bowl – Use your favorite mixing bowl and spatula here. I highly recommend mixing bowls with grippy bottoms.
- Pizza Cutter – To make slicing the tortillas a breeze.
- Cutting Board – To make cutting your veggies and clean-up easy.
- Crock Pot Liners – These are great for easy clean up after the meal.
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.
- Cooked Chicken – The beauty of this recipe is that you can use leftover chicken or rotisserie from the store. Both are a total time saver come dinner time. If you don’t have leftovers, I often make instant pot shredded chicken.
- Onion – Any type of onion will work in this recipe, although I prefer to use white.
- Green Pepper – Fun fact: male peppers have 3 bumps and females have 4 bumps. I use green because I prefer a more savory than sweet bell pepper.
- Cream of Onion Soup – Or cream of chicken or mushroom. Use what you like or make homemade “cream of” soup.
- Ro-Tel – I get the mild version but feel free to grab a spicier version of Ro-Tel if that’s what you prefer.
- Chili Powder – For a little extra smoky heat.
- Minced Garlic – I always keep jarred minced garlic on hand. Fresh works too, of course.
- Corn Tortillas – Flour tortillas will not work well in this casserole since they absorb more moisture than corn.
- Shredded Cheddar – I used a mild cheddar but use what you like. You can also use a different cheese like a Mexican blend, Colby Jack, or Pepper Jack.
How to make Crock Pot King Ranch Chicken
This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Step One: Grab a large mixing bowl and combine the chopped chicken, onion, green pepper, soup, Rotel, chili powder, garlic, and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir to combine making sure everything is evenly coated.
- Step Two: Slice the corn tortillas into approximately 1” pieces, or strips. Use a pizza cutter or just rip them by hand. Layer 1/3 of the tortillas into the bottom of the sprayed slow cooker basin. You can also use a crock pot liner for easy clean-up.
- Step Three: Add 1/3 of the chicken mixture on top and repeat the layers, finishing with a topping of the remaining cup of cheese.
- Step Four: Cover and cook on LOW for 3.5 hours, then remove the lid and finish cooking for another 30 minutes.
What to serve with Crock Pot King Ranch Chicken
This is a whole meal on its own. It’s great with a bowl of tortilla chips for dipping, however, a side salad is always a good idea. Something light and crisp like an easy chopped veggie salad. You can also go all out and serve it with a Southwest fiesta salad!
You’ll also want to prepare some tasty toppings for people to load up their plates with. Sour cream, salsa, etc.
Tips & Suggestions
- This slow cooker recipe can be made ahead and prepped the night before.
- Do not skip spraying the basin of the crockpot. Either that or use a liner, or both. You don’t want anything to stick and burn at the bottom.
- If you prefer less cheese in yours, it’s not necessary to finish with a top layer of cheese.
- Speaking of cheese, I highly recommend grating it fresh yourself, rather than using a package of pre shredded cheese. It’ll melt much nicer that way.
- Adjust the spice level to your preference. Use mild or original hot Rotel. You can also use less or more chili powder, or for extra spice, a bit of cayenne pepper.
How to reheat and store Crock Pot King Ranch Chicken
How to store leftovers
Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container. If you’ve got a lot left, it’s great for meal prep to portion it out into separate containers. That way you can have some to take for lunch the next day and freeze the rest right away if you want.
How long will it keep in the fridge?
Leftover crock pot king ranch chicken will keep fresh for up to 4 days in the fridge.
Can I freeze it?
You can! It’ll keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. Just make sure you allow it to cool completely first, then wrap it tightly to avoid freezer burn. Thaw in the fridge overnight when you’re ready to enjoy it again.
How to reheat leftovers?
If you’re warming up a dish for yourself, it’s easiest just to pop it in the microwave. If you’re reheating more than that, you can reheat it in the oven or on the stovetop on medium-low.
Can I make this in the oven instead?
Definitely! Arrange everything in a prepared (sprayed) baking dish just as you would in the slow cooker, then bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes until bubbly.
Is this a good make ahead recipe?
Absolutely, it is. You can prep the ingredients beforehand, like chopping veggies and chicken, grating cheese, etc. Or you can assemble it and freeze it before cooking it or after. It’s got the elements of a convenient casserole with the ease of a slow cooker meal!
Can I use flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas?
I don’t recommend swapping the corn tortillas for flour tortillas. They are not as thick and sturdy and tend to get mushy. However, technically you can use what you like. If you’re not afraid of a little softer texture, then by all means!
Need more crock pot chicken recipes? Try these:
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