This cheesy chicken enchilada rice is a fresh and delicious take on Mexican food. Using many of the same ingredients you’d use for enchiladas or burritos, it comes out tasting like a blend of the two: cheesy, zesty, flavorful, and saucy! The secret to making this dish an instant favorite is the seasoning and method used for cooking the chicken breasts. Instead of chopping up the chicken then cooking it together with all the vegetables, cook them whole, set aside to rest, then dice and add back in for maximum tenderness and juiciness. Seasoning the chicken breasts with fresh lime zest, cumin, and garlic powder brings some serious flavor and spice to this cheesy chicken enchilada rice. The seasoning will absolutely make the difference between a bland casserole and a gourmet tasting dish. You can customize how spicy you want it to turn out by choosing either mild, medium, or hot enchilada sauce. (If you’re really into spicy, season your chicken with cayenne pepper and add in some canned chillies or jalapeños at the end.) I hope your tastebuds are ready for a party! But if you’re not totally sold on this dish yet, let me mention two more amazing things: it’s totally gluten free AND perfect as a freezer meal because it re-heats so beautifully. See? Now you have to try it out! Serve it with a side of fresh cucumber avocado salsa and chips for a complete meal.
Ingredients For Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Rice
4 cups of cooked rice (about 1 1/3 cups dry for white rice or 2 cups dry for brown rice)
2-3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 15oz can of corn, drained
1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15oz can of “Mexican Recipe” diced tomatoes (I only had the whole/halved ones on hand so I used them, but diced would work much better!)
1 19oz can of green enchilada sauce
2 cups of shredded Mexican blend cheese
zest from 1 lime
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional: cilantro for garnish (and eating!!), cayenne for seasoning, and canned chillies or jalapeños.
Directions For Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Rice
Cook rice in a rice cooker or on the stove with a 1:2 ratio of rice to salted water, then set aside. You can use either white rice or brown rice, just keep in mind that white rice usually triples in volume when cooked and brown rice doubles, so measure accordingly!
Pat dry the chicken breasts and use a sharp knife to trim any extra fat. (One thing that I wish I would have done before cooking the chicken is use a meat tenderizer to pound and flatten out the really thick end. This would have sped up the cooking time and helped it cook more evenly.)
Season the chicken with zest from one lime, one teaspoon of cumin, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. The chicken is where most of your flavor will be coming from, so make sure it’s seasoned boldly!
Heat a pan over medium-high heat with some oil.
Cook chicken breasts on each side until they are cooked through with the thickest part being at 165 ° F. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to rest for about ten minutes before dicing. This will help all the juices be evenly re-distributed throughout the meat and result in really tender chicken!
In the same pan, sauté the diced onion until it is cooked through and starting to caramelize.
Once onions are cooked, reduce heat to medium add in the diced chicken.
Add corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, and one can of green enchilada sauce to the pan.
Add 4 cups of rice and stir until all liquids are incorporated.
Mix in 2 cups of shredded cheese and continue to cook until all ingredients are hot and cheese is melted.
Garnish your cheesy chicken enchilada rice with cilantro and lime to serve (with plenty of chopped cilantro on the side to mix in for those that love it).
This is a great dish to try out if you love Mexican food and it’s a great place to start if you’ve never really had Mexican food before. Make this cheesy chicken enchilada rice tonight for dinner (or freeze it for another night’s dinner), for a potluck, or as a meal to bring to someone.
To Freeze: place in an oven save dish and cover tightly with plastic. When ready to defrost, remove plastic wrap and heat in 350° oven stirring occasionally until all ingredients are hot and cheese is melted.