June 18, 2024

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Fiesta Chicken {Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice} – WellPlated.com

Fiesta Chicken {Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice} – WellPlated.com

This Fiesta Chicken recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes, provides nutrition from every food group, AND cooks entirely in one skillet (including the rice). Huzzah!

one pan healthy fiesta chicken and rice topped with cheese, avocado, and cilantro

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This fiesta chicken recipe is an oldie but a goodie from my recipe archives.

It’s one of the first dishes I ever learned to cook (along with these Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas), so I can attest that even if you are just starting out in the kitchen, you can make it with confidence and success.

Despite its simplicity, fiesta chicken casserole is still a recipe I regularly make because it meets core dinner requirements:

  • Easy. Can you chop and stir? You can make fiesta chicken and rice! (And you can also handle this tasty Chicken Enchilada Skillet.)
  • Healthy. Veggies, lean protein, whole grains…the gang is all here.
  • Tex-Mex Inspired. a.k.a. can serve as a vehicle for avocado. Like Cowboy Chicken, this house approves.
  • Even Better Leftover. This creamy fiesta chicken is a win for meal prep. Cook once and eat yummy leftovers all week! 

Basically, if you want a simple, healthy, delicious meal that’s ready ASAP, fiesta chicken is the one for you! (This King Ranch Chicken would also fit the bill.)

Creamy fiesta chicken with black beans topped with cheese and avocado

How to Make Fiesta Chicken

Combining fresh ingredients and everyday pantry staples, like black beans and fire-roasted tomatoes, this is truly the BEST fiesta chicken recipe that cooks entirely in one pan (like in this Taco Skillet).

The Ingredients

  • Chicken. I always keep a few chicken breasts in my fridge and/or freezer for quick one-pan recipes like this easy fiesta chicken (and this Chicken Tortilla Soup).

Substitution Tip

Dark and light meat both work there. Another great option is this Mexican Chicken and Rice dish with chicken thighs (or breasts as you prefer).

  • Bell Peppers. Feel free to use one or more of your favorite colors. Just like in Beef Fajitas, I like to use a combination of red bell peppers and green.
  • Onion. The aromatic foundation.
  • Instant Brown Rice. My secret to getting this one-pan wonder on the table in under 30 minutes.

Ingredient Note

Do not use white minute rice or regular rice as these will cook differently (see the FAQ section below and note in the recipe card).

  • Black Beans. These MVPs of Tex-Mex cuisine pack extra fiber and plant-based protein into every bite. (For more black bean goodness, try my Black Bean Corn Salad.)
  • Fire-Roasted Tomatoes. Provide moisture and smoky roasted tomato flavor.
  • Chicken Stock. Our main cooking liquid that flavors and steams the rice right in the pan with the other fiesta chicken ingredients.
  • Spices. What makes this fiesta chicken and rice especially memorable is its combination of spices. Along with the usual Tex-Mex suspects such as cumin and cayenne, I add traditional ranch spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, and dill.
  • Cheddar Cheese. Just enough to make things melty, gooey, and creamy without being overly heavy.

Substitution Tip

If you don’t have cheddar handy, Monterey jack, pepper jack, or your favorite shredded blend of Mexican cheeses make great swaps.

The best fiesta chicken recipe made with brown rice and chicken breast

The Directions

  1. Sauté the chicken, onion, herbs, and spices in a skillet until they start to brown.
  2. Add the peppers, black beans, tomatoes, rice, and chicken stock.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low heat until cooked through. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Top with cheese and additional toppings of your choice. ENJOY!

Dietary Note

As it is written, this fiesta chicken recipe is gluten free.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm gently in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of chicken stock or water to keep it from drying out.
  • To Freeze. Place leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Meal Prep Tip

Fiesta chicken is a fantastic make-ahead dinner. Prepare as directed and then portion into individual storage containers you can take with you to the office and quickly heat up for lunch throughout the week.

Leftover Ideas

Wrap leftover fiesta chicken in whole wheat tortillas for a hearty, healthy, and filling burrito.

mexican chicken with rice casserole in a skillet

The Best Fiesta Chicken Sides

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Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Cast Iron Skillet

Seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil for a naturally nonstick finish that improves with use, it’s a perfect tool to sear, sauté, bake, broil, braise, or grill.

One Pan Cheesy Fiesta Chicken and Rice. Easy, healthy recipe that is PACKED with southwest ranch flavor! Juicy chicken, fresh veggies, and tender brown rice, cooked with a delicious blend of spices. If you like Mexican food, you will LOVE this recipe! #casserole #healthy #easy #fiestachicken

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Fiesta chicken: a recipe that will never go out of style.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Fiesta Chicken in a Crock Pot?

I have not tried making this exact recipe in a slow cooker before, so it would be an experiment. However, this Crockpot Mexican Casserole is similar if you’d like a slow cooker Mexican dish.

Can I Make Instant Pot Fiesta Chicken?

I have only made and tested this recipe as written, so preparing fiesta chicken in an instant pot would be an experiment and require substantial changes to the recipe. Alternatively, I recommend this Instant Pot Mexican Casserole which has a similar flavor profile and ingredients.

Can I Make Fiesta Chicken Without Instant Rice?

This specific recipe was tested and developed with instant rice in mind. Other grains and rice will not cook properly in the time specified in the recipe. If you’re looking for a recipe with a similar flavor profile that uses long-grain rice, try this Mexican Shrimp. Alternatively, read the ingredient note in the recipe card below for my suggested method for using regular rice if you’re up for some experimentation.

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion or red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dillweed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper use 1/4 teaspoon or less if sensitive to spice
  • 1 medium red bell pepper cored and chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper cored and chopped
  • 1 can reduced-sodium black beans (15 ounces) rinsed and drained
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes in their juices (15 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups instant brown rice* do not use white minute rice or regular rice as these will cook differently (see note)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • Optional for serving: chopped fresh cilantro, diced avocado, plain nonfat Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

  • Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, onion, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dill, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Sauté, stirring often, for 3 minutes, until the chicken begins to brown on the outside.

  • Stir in the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, black beans, tomatoes, rice, and chicken stock.

  • Bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is done and the rice is nearly tender. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

  • Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Sprinkle with cheese and any additional desired toppings. Serve warm.

  • *INGREDIENT NOTE: I have not tried this recipe with regular (not instant) rice or white rice instead of brown rice. If you want to experiment and use regular rice instead, I suggest sautéing the meat and vegetables in one skillet (you can drain the tomatoes first and then add them to the chicken and peppers at the end, heating until most of their liquid evaporates). Then, prepare the rice in its own pot according to the package directions (due to the longer cook time). Combine the two at the end with a bit of extra chicken stock if the mixture is too dry. Again, I haven’t tried the recipe this way, but that is my best suggestion.
  • TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm leftover first chicken gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, with a splash of chicken stock or water to keep it from drying out.
  • TO FREEZE: You can freeze fiesta chicken for up to 2 months in an airtight container. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before warming.

Serving: 1(of 6); without toppingsCalories: 347kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 28gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 63mgPotassium: 687mgFiber: 7gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1468IUVitamin C: 47mgCalcium: 172mgIron: 4mg

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