King Ranch Casserole (with leftover turkey)

As with most casserole dishes, there are many variations of King Ranch.  No matter the recipe, the key components seem to be poultry, tortillas, cheese and a creamy sauce.  All good things in our book.  Looking at several different recipes, we put together this King Ranch with the following ingredients:  leftover cooked turkey (most recipes use chicken, but we had previously grilled a turkey breast and had tons leftover), onion, red bell pepper, garlic, tortillas, chicken broth, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, Rotel, green chiles, jalapeno and cheddar cheese seasoned with chili powder.


Several of the recipes call for soaking the tortillas in different ways (warm the chicken broth, cut the tortillas into strips first, etc.)  We went with a simple method of pouring the chicken broth into a bowl, then placing the whole tortillas in the bowl to soak.


Soak the tortillas while you prepare all the other ingredients.


Chop up the onion and red bell pepper.


Mince the garlic.


De-seed the jalapeno and chop it up.  Because the recipe only calls for one jalapeno and it will be well-dispersed among the other ingredients and layers, this dish is not spicy.  Feel free to add a little more jalapeno if you like your food more spicy.


Dice up the turkey (or chicken.)


Grate the cheddar cheese…


…then put it in a bag or bowl and toss it with the chili powder.  This adds a little color and a nice extra dimension of flavor to the cheese.


Heat a couple tablespoons of Canola or vegetable oil over medium-high heat and saute the onions and red bell pepper until they are soft — about 5 minutes.


Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant — about 30 seconds.  Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.  (Foreshadowing:  you may want to set it aside somewhere near the area where you will be assembling the casserole.  Just a suggestion.)


Remove the tortillas from the broth and cut them into strips.  Save the broth to add it to the sauce.


Combine the soups, Rotel, green chiles and jalapeno.


Add the chicken broth.  If you used a little more broth for soaking the tortillas, you’ll want to measure out 2 cups for the sauce.  More than 2 cups will make the sauce too runny.


Stir all the sauce ingredients together.


In a shallow baking dish coated with a nonstick spray, begin layering the ingredients, starting with the tortilla strips.  Upon reflection, I should have used more strips, to completely cover the bottom of the dish.


Then add 1/2 of the turkey (or chicken)…


…and 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat the layers, reserving 1/3 of the cheese for later.


Pour the sauce over the layers.


At this point, you may have noticed that the sauteed onions and peppers were missing from the layers.  Yeah, me too.  Except I didn’t actually notice it until I put the casserole in the oven and saw the saute pan sitting on the stove.  Oops.  In my typical cooking-on-my-own-holy-crap-what-now reaction, I panicked.  The onions and red bell pepper add such great flavor — it won’t be the same without them!


So I did the only thing I could think of — I took the dish out of the oven, carefully dumped it into a bigger baking dish, and attempted to re-create the layers.  Yup, I really did.  It actually turned out better than I expected, although the layers were much less defined than if I’d done it right the first time.  Lesson learned — assemble ALL your ingredients in the same prep area when cooking a layered dish.


Place the casserole in the oven preheated to 350 degrees and cook for 30-45 minutes until everything is cooked through and the top is bubbly.


About 10 minutes before the dish is done, add the remaining grated cheese to the top.  Although this King Ranch didn’t have the pretty layered look as most do (hence no photo of the finished product on the plate), you really can’t go wrong with this combination of flavors, resulting in creamy delicious comfort food.

Speaking of comfort food (and a really bad segue), today is Mother’s Day and we want to give a special shout-out to our Moms — we love you both very much!  And Happy Mother’s Day to everyone else out there — moms, moms-to-be, moms of fur babies, and anyone who unconditionally loves and cares for someone else — the very definition of “mother” in our opinion.  You are appreciated on this day and every day.

King Ranch Casserole


  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (10 ounce) can Rotel
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles
  • 1 (12 ounce) package corn tortillas
  • 3 cups cooked, diced chicken breast meat (can also use turkey)
  • 2 teaspoons Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour the chicken broth in a bowl large enough to hold the tortillas, then soak the tortillas in the bowl as you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  3. Grate the cheese and toss it with the chili powder.
  4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion and bell pepper until soft — about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant — about 30 seconds.  Set the onion mixture aside off the heat.
  5. Take the tortillas out of the broth and cut them into strips, then set them aside.  Combine 2 cups of the broth with the chicken soup, mushroom soup, Rotel, chiles and jalapeno.
  6. In a shallow baking dish coated with a nonstick spray, layer the ingredients as follows:  tortilla strips, chicken, onion and bell pepper, then cheese.  Repeat these layers.  Pour the soup mixture over the top of the casserole.  Place the dish in the oven and cook for 30-45 minutes.  About 10 minutes before the casserole is done, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

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2 thoughts on “King Ranch Casserole (with leftover turkey)

  1. I haven’t had this in years. And I, oddly, have been thinking about it lately. Now comes this post. It’s time to make good on all my King Ranch daydreams. Thanks for the nice post.

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