Recipe: Lightened Up King Ranch Casserole

(Photo: Skinny Mom /

Ready for a recipe that will become an instant hit with your family? This Lightened-Up King Ranch Casserole is cheesy and gooey enough for the kids and nutritious enough to give Mom and Dad some peace of mind. One heaping cup of this delicious recipe yields only 245 calories and packs in 27 grams of protein! Plus, it's a good source of fiber, too.

The origin of the King Ranch Chicken is a bit murky; the name would lead you to believe that the epic south Texas ranch had a hand in its development, but that is not the case. There is no ranch dressing in this recipe, nor is there any beef, for which the Texas ranch and the state are known. Any confusion with the name of the recipe will immediately be forgotten once you take a bite of this masterpiece, however!

Pro tips:

  • For a bit more flavor, poach your chicken in chicken broth rather than water. Otherwise, use water and flavor it with bay leaves! You could also easily add parsley stems or any other fresh herb, and whole pepper kernels as well.
  • Adjust the heat in this casserole by adding more chili powder for a spicier end product.

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Recipe: Lightened Up King Ranch Casserole

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50-55 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Serving size: ⅙th of the casserole (1 heaping cup)


  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat white flour
  • 1 (10-ounce) can Ro*Tel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 4 La Tortilla Factory Low Carb, High Fiber, Whole-Wheat Tortillas, Original Size
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cup reduced-fat Mexican shredded cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spray a 13x9-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Place the chicken in a pot large enough to hold them all, and fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken by about 1-2-inches. Add 2 dried bay leaves to the water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. When the water comes to a boil, cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the chicken for 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reads 165º F.
  4. Using tongs, remove the chicken and reserve on a plate. When it is cool enough to touch, shred it and set aside.
  5. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the diced peppers and onions and cook for 6-8 minutes until the onions begin to get translucent.
  6. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  7. Sprinkle the flour over the cooked vegetables, stir to coat, then whisk in the chicken broth. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the Ro*Tel®, cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper.
  9. Turn the heat off and remove the skillet from the hot burner, then stir in the Greek yogurt and the previously set-aside shredded chicken into the skillet. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime and stir.
  10. Tear up the tortillas by hand in about 32 pieces each, and place half of them on the bottom of the prepared casserole dish.
  11. Pour the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas and spread the remaining half of the tortillas on top of the chicken. Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Nutrition Information
Per Serving: (1 heaping cup)
Calories: 245
Calories from fat: 92
Fat: 11g
Saturated Fat: 5g
Cholesterol: 64mg
Sodium: 770mg
Carbohydrates: 17g
Fiber: 7g
Sugar 4g
Protein: 27g
WWP+: 8
SmartPoints: 7

3.1 The nutrition content of recipes on have been calculated by Registered Dietitian, Jessica Penner, of Smart Nutrition.