This easy-to-make chicken fajita casserole combines your favorite aspects of fajitas into a flavor-packed healthy casserole recipe made in one pan. Loaded with seasoned chicken, rice, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and melted cheese, it makes a delicious and hearty complete meal the whole family will love!
Last updated on December 30, 2021. This post was originally posted in September 2019 and sponsored in partnership with Lundberg Farms. All opinions expressed (as always) are my own. I only partner with brands I trust and personally recommend – thank you for your support in helping make Eat the Gains possible!
Can I get a heck yes for casserole season?! To be honest, I had no idea what a casserole was until a few years ago. I grew up in the northeast and it just wasn’t something that my mom made us for dinner.
But now that I know what they are, I absolutely love them. And this healthy chicken fajita casserole is one of my favorites!
I mean what is not to love about all your favorite chicken fajita ingredients baked together into a warm and cozy casserole topped with melted cheese. Michael ate this recipe up so fast when I was testing it, I barely got any.
Why we love this chicken fajita casserole recipe:
- it only requires one pan!
- it’s made from simple ingredients
- makes a well-balanced meal – it is packed with protein and veggies, complex carbs from the rice and veggies, healthy fats from the cheese, and fiber from the rice and veggies. It’s also a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B3 and B6, manganese, vitamin A, selenium, and phosphorus.
- melted cheese (seriously) – the cheese is optional, but it totally makes the dish. The warm pockets of cheese take it to the next level.
- we always have leftovers (it makes a lot!) for easy meals the following days
- super hearty, absolutely delicious, and totally hits the spot when craving something comforting, yet is still healthy
- it is a nice change-up from the typical way we eat fajitas. There is nothing wrong with that way, but this way wraps up all the best parts into one.
Is rice healthy?
Rice can be a healthy addition to most people’s diet. It is high in carbohydrates, which are your body’s preferred source of energy and are important for active people. White rice is more processed than brown, meaning the germ and all of the bran layers (hull, husk, and bran) are removed so that what remains is a simple starch (the endosperm).
Brown rice is not so it is more nutrient-dense – it has fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and B vitamins. White rice can be easier to digest for some. Both are good options, it just depends on which one you prefer more.
We eat rice a few times a week because it’s super affordable, healthy, and an easy carbohydrate for meals. It’s also a great source of post-workout recovery carbohydrates for active individuals to replenish muscle glycogen stores (energy) and help with recovery (carbs and protein are most important post-workout).
Lundberg Farms is my go-to rice. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love their rice cakes. Lundberg is independent (family-owned and operated since 1937!) and produces USA-grown rice that is always farmed with the highest care for the environment (all the rice is is eco-farmed or organic).
Bonus: their products are produced in a facility that is free from all top 8 US and 10 Canadian allergens if that is something of concern to you. I had the chance to meet some of the team in August 2019 and everyone I met was wonderful!
Chicken fajita casserole ingredients
- chicken breast
- bell peppers – I used red, green, and yellow/orange
- Lundberg Farms Organic California Brown Jasmine Rice (can sub another kind if needed)
- canned fire-roasted tomatoes
- canned green chilies
- taco seasoning
- chicken broth
- shredded cheddar cheese
How to make healthy chicken fajita casserole
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large cast-iron skillet (I used 12 inches – it needs to be large) over medium heat, add oil and let it get hot, about 1 minute. Add chicken, 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, and salt and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Then add onions, salt and pepper, and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. If needed, add a splash of broth if you need to deglaze the pan and speed up the cooking process some. Next add peppers and remaining taco seasoning and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add rice and mix well to combine and let toast for 1-2 minutes. Then add in the cooked chicken, fire-roasted tomatoes, green chiles, and mushrooms, and mix well to combine. Finally, add broth and carefully stir to incorporate. You want to make sure you have enough liquid so you can see a little on the top, but not completely covering everything. Not enough liquid and you will be left with uncooked rice and too much and it won’t absorb. See the pictures for reference.
- Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from oven, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake for another 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted.
- Top with toppings of choice and enjoy!
PS – don’t skimp on the toppings, they are some of my favorite parts (besides the melty cheese). I love everything from hot sauce, salsa, avocado, greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, and lime juice and also serving it with some tortilla chips for some crunch. You can even put it in tortillas and treat it like taco filling!
Can you use already cooked rice?
Yes, to save some time, using already cooked rice will work the same, but you will not need the broth. Simply add all the ingredients except the rice and mix well. Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes to help absorb some of the liquid from the canned tomatoes. Add cooked rice, mix well, and bake for another 5-10 more minutes uncovered, or until liquid is absorbed. Then add the cheese and bake until melted.
Can you use cauliflower rice instead of rice to make it low-carb?
To make this lower in carbs, you can swap out the rice for cauliflower rice. To use cauliflower rice, simply add all the ingredients except the rice and mix well. Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes to help absorb some of the liquid from the canned tomatoes. Add cooked rice, mix well, and bake for another 5-10 more minutes uncovered, or until liquid is absorbed. Then add the cheese and bake until melted.
What if I don’t have a cast-iron or large enough skillet?
If you don’t have a large cast-iron skillet, no worries at all. Simply make the chicken and veggies mixture and then add it to the large casserole dish. Add the remaining ingredients, mix it up, and bake. It works the same, you just have to dirty another dish.
Is fajita seasoning the same as taco seasoning?
Fajita seasoning and taco seasoning are similar, but fajita seasoning is usually a little less spicy than taco seasoning. They can be used pretty interchangeably though.
If you have time, making the homemade taco seasoning takes this casserole to the next level. It’s much better than store-bought and super easy to whip up – you only need a handful of spices you probably already have in your pantry.
Meal prep chicken fajita casserole
This chicken fajita bake is a great dish to prep ahead of time or meal prep for the week! There are a couple of ways you can meal prep it:
- Partial prep – make the chicken and veggie mixture(stop at where you would add the rice) ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you are ready to eat, simply put everything into your cast iron or a large casserole dish and bake it in the oven. It might take a little longer since everything will be cold, but will work just the same.
- Full prep – make it according to the instructions and bake all the way through. Let cool and either store in the baking dish or divide it up and put in meal prep containers. Reheat it in the oven or microwave depending on your setting.
If you have leftovers, just store them in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed glass container. You can also wrap your cast iron/casserole dish with saran wrap depending on how much room you have in your fridge. It saves well and should be good for up to a week.
Can you freeze chicken fajita casserole?
If you want to freeze fajita chicken casserole, make it according to the directions and let cool completely. You can either freeze the whole dish as-is or cut it into individual pieces and freeze it separately. When ready to eat, let defrost in the fridge or on the counter. Either bake it to warm through (if whole) or if you have an individual piece, bake it or microwave it.
It should last in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- chicken breast – you can use boneless chicken thighs (with the skin on), skinless chicken thighs, or boneless and skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts. This will add a little more fat to the recipe.
- veggies – we are using classic fajita veggies, but you can leave out the mushroom if you don’t like them.
- brown rice – white rice will work instead, but you may need to use a little less liquid and less cooking time.
- canned fire-roasted tomatoes – if you don’t have canned fire-roasted tomatoes, you can use regular canned diced tomatoes.
- canned green chilies – you can leave these off if needed, but I find they add a nice spice to the recipe.
- taco seasoning – fajita seasoning will work the same as taco seasoning.
- broth – veggie or beef broth will work the same.
- cheese – Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese would work instead of cheddar. You can also use dairy-free cheese or you can leave it off to make it dairy-free.
- oil – any kind of oil will work.
More healthy casserole recipes
- Beef Taco Casserole (Paleo and Whole30)
- Buffalo Chicken Casserole
- Turkey Kale Ranch Casserole (Paleo and Whole30)
- Chili Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole
Chicken Fajita Casserole
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast sliced into thin strips
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (divided)
- 3 cups onion, julienned (305 grams/1 medium)
- 5 heaping cups julienned bell peppers (625 grams/3 medium)
- 1 1/2 cups Lundberg Farms Organic California Brown Jasmine Rice
- 1 heaping cup mushrooms, sliced (100 grams/8 medium)
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 can (4 ounces) diced hatch green chiles
- 1 3/4 cups broth
- 1 heaping cup shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)*
- salt and pepper, to taste
- optional toppings: avocado, cilantro, lime juice, greek yogurt/sour cream, hot sauce…
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large cast-iron skillet (I used 12 inches – it needs to be large) over medium heat, add oil and let it get hot, about 1 minute. Add chicken, 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, and salt and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes until browned (chicken does not have to be cooked all the way through). Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add onions, a little salt and pepper, and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. If needed, add a splash of broth (you can use some from the amount you measured out) if you need to deglaze the pan and speed up the cooking process some. Add peppers and remaining taco seasoning and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add rice and mix well to combine and let toast for 1-2 minutes. Add in the cooked chicken, fire-roasted tomatoes, green chiles, and mushrooms, and mix well to combine. Add broth and carefully stir to make sure it is well incorporated. You want to make sure you have enough liquid so you can see a little on the top, but not completely covering everything. Not enough liquid and you will be left with uncooked rice. Too much and it will be too soggy and won't absorb. See the pictures for reference.
- Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. The rice should be cooked through and fluffy. Remove from oven, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake for another 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted.
- Top with optional toppings or topping of choice and enjoy!
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