Salsa Chicken with corn, beans and rice is a no-fuss, flavor bursting meal-in-one!
This salsa chicken recipe is SO EASY and SO flavorful AKA it’s destined to become a go-to chicken dinner favorite! Best of all, everything bakes in ONE pan which means super easy clean up and no extra sides to prepare! To make salsa chicken, chicken breasts are slathered in spices then laid on a bed of salsa, corn, beans and rice, smothered with more salsa, baked, then finished with ooey gooey melted cheese. The baked salsa chicken emerges dripping with flavor, loaded with texture and incredibly versatile. You can serve the salsa chicken as-is, or chop up the chicken and use it for nachos, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, etc. You can also prep the entire dinner ahead of time then refrigerate and bake when ready for all those busy weeknights. Winner winner, salsa chicken dinner!
We are slightly obsessed with Mexican food at our house and are excited to add this salsa chicken recipe to our growing list of favorites. If you’re looking for more easy Mexican chicken recipes, you’ll love readers favorite Crockpot Mexican Chicken, 10 Minute Mexican Chicken, Crockpot Honey Lime Salsa Verde Chicken and Chili Lime Chicken.
Salsa Chicken RECIPE
I am so excited to introduce you to this baked salsa chicken recipe! This easy, lazy day, one-pot wonder uses pantry friendly ingredients to deliver an explosion of flavors and textures in each and every bite! In additional to salsa, all you need is chicken, corn, beans, and rice – which means you can make this sensational dinner any night of the week. It’s the perfect recipe for when you’re short on time and/or short on ingredients but still want a sensational homemade dinner.
You will also be amazed at just how flavorful this salsa chicken recipe is, thanks to the spice rub that envelops the chicken and the salsa which is a pre-packaged powerhouse of tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapenos and cilantro. This means you get all the flavor with just the twist of a lid! The emerging salsa chicken is aromatic and spicy from the salsa, creamy from the beans, fresh from the corn, as cheesy-as-you-want it and juicy from the succulent chicken.
What I love most about this salsa chicken recipe is it takes less than 10 minutes to prep! You simply dump the ingredients into the baking dish, slather your chicken with spices and bake! How easy is that?! Now, just wait until you taste it…. drool.
Salsa Chicken Recipe Ingredients
This baked salsa chicken recipe uses just a handful of ingredients that you probably already have on hand! You will need:
- Chicken: chicken breasts vary widely in size, so you can use either 2 large chicken breasts sliced in half or 4 small chicken breasts, a total of about 24 oz. Don’t stress too much about the size, just realize that thicker chicken breasts will take longer to cook.
- Salsa: use my amazing Homemade Salsa recipe, your favorite recipe or store bought. If you want more of a kick, use medium salsa. Chunky salsa will give you a great texture, but if your favorite salsa isn’t chunky, then just add a can of fire roasted tomatoes – which is exactly what I do when using my favorite salsa (Mateos) which isn’t chunky.
- Green chiles: you will need one 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles. They are not spicy, just add tangy flavor, just take care you get the MILD vs HOT. I have mistakenly purchased the hot diced green chiles before and they will knock your socks off!
- Corn: one can sweet corn or 2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh corn.
- Black beans: one can black beans rinsed and drained.
- Rice: 2 cups pre-cooked rice. You can use your favorite variety of rice from jasmine, basmati, brown, wild, etc.
- Seasonings: the spice rub for the chicken is made with chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. They combine to create a dynamic, complex, alluring explosion of flavor.
- Cheese: use both sharp cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese for the best flavor and texture. Monterey Jack melts beautifully with a mild buttery flavor and sharp cheddar adds the needed kick of flavor. That being said, if all you have is sharp cheddar, it will still work. Please use freshly grated cheese because pre-shredded packaged cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevent them from melting as well.
This baked salsa chicken is extremely versatile and easy to mix and match ingredients to make it your own.
- Swap salsa: mix up the flavor profile by using salsa verde instead! You can also swap the salsa for enchilada sauce.
- Chicken thighs: you can absolutely use chicken thighs in this recipe if they are more your thing.
- Alternate proteins: you can swap the chicken for salmon fillets and cook for 12-14 minutes, or ground turkey or beef that you cook with the spice rub seasonings and then mix into the corn/beans/rice.
- Leftover proteins: you can also use leftover proteins such as beef barbacoa, Mexican chicken, crockpot Mexican chicken, chipotle chicken, chicken tinga, chipotle sweet pull pork, carnitas, etc. When using leftover, seasoned meat, skip the spice rub seasonings and mix the leftovers directly into the corn/rice/beans. then top with cheese.
- Mix up the seasonings: you can swap the spice rub for any of your favorite spice rubs such as chili lime or chipotle. Just make sure you increase the recipe ingredients for about 1 ½ pounds chicken if needed.
- Spice it up: increase the heat by using medium salsa or by adding cayenne pepper or chipotle chile pepper to the spice rub or pickled jalapenos to the corn/black beans/rice.
- Swap beans: swap the black beans for your favorite beans such as pinto beans or kidney beans. You can even omit the black beans and spread a layer of refried beans on the bottom of the greased casserole dish for a creamy layer.
- Swap the cheese: spice up the salsa chicken by swapping the Monterrey Jack cheese for pepper Jack cheese.
- Add veggies: in addition to the corn, you can add any veggies your heart desires such as bell peppers, zucchini, chayote, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, spinach, olives etc.
- Add tomatoes: if you use a smooth salsa, I recommend adding fire roasted diced tomatoes. Fire roasted tomatoes have been roasted which gives them a complex smokiness which I prefer to just diced tomatoes, but diced tomatoes will work if that’s all you have on hand.
- Rice substitutes: you can swap the rice for quinoa or low carb alternatives such has cauliflower rice. You can also omit the rice completely and decrease the amount of salsa added to the corn and black beans.
HOW SPICY IS Baked SALSA CHICKEN?
The spice level of your salsa chicken recipe will depend on your brand of salsa. If you use mild salsa then your dish should be mild because we aren’t adding any spicy seasonings such as cayenne pepper or chipotle chile pepper. Medium salsa will definitely have a kick and I would considerate it medium to spicy because there is a generous amount of salsa in every bite. If you like heat, but don’t want to make it too spicy, then you may want to use mild salsa and spice up your individual servings with hot sauce or jalapenos.
How to make Salsa Chicken
Are you ready to see just how easy this baked salsa chicken recipe is to make – in one pan??? (See recipe card at the bottom of the post for full measurements.)
- Season chicken. Pat the chicken dry then drizzle the top of the chicken with olive oil or butter. Either one will work, but the flavor of melted butter just takes the chicken up a notch. Sprinkle half of the seasonings over the chicken and rub in, flip and repeat.
- Add the sides. Add beans, corn, rice, green chilies, 1 cup salsa, salt and pepper to your 9×13 baking dish. Stir to combine then spread into an even layer.
- Add chicken. Layer the chicken on top of the mixture followed by ½ cup salsa. Keep the salsa over the chicken to keep it moist and because the corn/rice/beans already has salsa in it.
- Bake. Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through
- Add cheese. Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle with the cheeses. Bake an additional 4-5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Toppings. The best part! I love my salsa chicken with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro but feel free to get as fun and flirty as you wish.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN CUTLETS
If your chicken breasts are medium to large, you will want to slice them in half to create chicken cutlets. Thinner pieces of chicken cook more quickly which means they stay juicier. They also have a better ratio of seasoned outside to juicy inside. Here’s how to make cutlets:
- Lay the chicken flat on a cutting board and hold it in place with the palm of your hand.
- Get out your sharpest knife or sharpen your knife. A sharp knife helps cleanly cut the chicken instead of tearing/shredding the chicken. Carefully slice through the center horizontally (parallel to the cutting board) to create two cutlets. Repeat with the other chicken breasts.
- Now it’s time to flatten our chicken – see section below.
How to tenderize chicken breasts
Whether you create chicken cutlets or use small chicken breasts, you’ll want to pound the chicken. Pounding the chicken not only creates uniform thickness so the chicken cooks evenly, but it tenderizes the chicken. So, even if your cutlets are uninform, still give them a little pounding – it works wonders!
- Place the chicken next to each other on a cutting board and top with plastic wrap or place the chicken in a large freezer bag to seal in all the mess/germs.
- Gently pound the chicken to an even thickens using the smooth side of a mallet, rolling pin, or side of a can. Take care not to over-pound, we are pounding to make the chicken tender and even, not thin like in Chicken Parm. You don’t need to be too aggressive.
WHAT TEMPERATURE DO YOU BAKE CHICKEN breasts?
Chicken breasts should be cooked to 165 degrees F. The only way to accurately check for doneness without cutting into the chicken and losing valuable juices is to use a meat thermometer.
How long does it take to bake a chicken breast in the oven?
The baking time of chicken in the oven all depends on the size of the chicken breasts. Small chicken breasts will take around 30 minutes and thicker chicken breasts can take 45-60 minutes. I recommend checking your chicken at 30 minutes then continue to bake if needed.
Salsa Chicken with Chicken Thighs
You can use either bone-in, or boneless chicken thighs for this salsa chicken recipe, but be sure to remove the skin otherwise the casserole will be swimming in grease. I also recommend searing the chicken thighs before baking to render some of the fat (again, so your casserole isn’t overly greasy) and to give the chicken even more flavor.
Salsa Chicken with Boneless Chicken Thighs
- Rub chicken with spices according to directions.
- Sear chicken for 3-5 minutes per side until golden.
- Place chicken thighs over the rice/beans/corn.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes then check for doneness. Continue to bake an additional 5-10 minutes if needed OR until cooked through.
Salsa Chicken with Bone-In Chicken Thighs
- Remove skin from chicken thighs.
- Rub chicken with spices according to directions.
- Sear for 3-5 minutes per side until golden.
- Place chicken thighs over the rice/beans/corn.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes, check for doneness then continue to bake an additional 10-15 minutes if needed or until chicken is cooked through and registers 175 degrees F.
SALSA CHICKEN TOPPING IDEAS
Toppings elevate any Mexican dish to a new level! It really makes them come alive with the explosion of tangy, creamy, crunchy all together. Toppings are also a fun way to let everyone customize their own salsa chicken. Here are some topping ideas to choose from:
- Sour Cream: is a must for me! It’s refreshing, bright, silky creaminess contrasts and cuts through the robust flavors. You may also substitute with Greek yogurt but it’s amped up on the tangy scale.
- Avocados: chopped avocados are the easiest avocado option and add a wonderful creaminess.
- Avocado Crema: is a marriage of avocados, sour cream and lime juice, is wonderfully silky, tangy and just takes minutes in your blender – SO good!
- Guacamole: use my homemade guacamole recipe (amazing!), your favorite recipe or even use store bought.
- Cilantro: adds a fresh, zesty flair.
- Pickle red onions: are bright, tangy, punchy fantastic.
- Jalapenos: amp up the heat with fresh jalapenos or I love pickled jalapenos. They are especially great if you’re making a toppings bar so individuals can customize their spice level.
- Hot Sauce: pass around the hot sauce for an easy, delicious way to customize heat.
TIPS FOR SALSA CHICKEN recipe
- Try and select chicken breasts that are about the same size and thickness so they cook evenly.
- Use a meat thermometer so your chicken isn’t undercooked OR overcooked!
- Be ready to adjust the cooking time because all chicken breasts are different.
- You can half this recipe by halving all of the ingredients and baking in an 8-inch square baking dish. The cooking time will remain the same.
- Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. The resting time allows for the reabsorption of the juices that have pushed to the outside of the meat when cooked. If you cut into the chicken right away, you will lose the amazing juices which means you lose some of the juiciness and tenderness.
CAN YOU MAKE SALSA CHICKEN IN THE CROCK POT?
Yes! Although the baked salsa chicken just takes 30 minutes in the oven, it’s also delicious in the crockpot.
- Lightly grease your slow cooker.
- Add ¼ cup water and ½ cup salsa to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Prepare the chicken per recipe instructions by rubbing with the spice mix. Line chicken top of the salsa.
- Top the chicken with remaining ingredients EXCEPT the rice (it can become mushy)
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- Remove the chicken and stir the rice into the beans/corn.
- Place the chicken back on top of the beans/corn nice and top with cheese. Cover and cook on low until melted.
- Alternatively, you can shred the chicken and stir into the beans/corn/rice before topping with cheese.
HOW TO SERVE SALSA CHICKEN:
You can serve this salsa chicken as is, or chop up the chicken and turn it into so many of your Mexican favorites such as tacos, quesadillas, burritos, etc. Here are some ideas:
- Salsa chicken nachos/dip: my favorite way to devour leftovers! Chop of up the chicken and reheat the chicken corn/beans/rice together. Top with sour cream and other desired toppings such as jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole, etc. You can also pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with cheese and the chicken/beans/corn rice and bake. Top with your favorite toppings.
- Salsa chicken tacos: chop the chicken then layer the chicken/beans/corn rice mixture in warm tortillas and top with desired toppings such as lettuce, cilantro, homemade guacamole, cotija cheese, and sour cream.
- Baked salsa chicken tacos: line a 9×13 baking dish with hard taco shells and fill each shell with chopped chicken, bean/corn/rice mixture then top with shredded cheese (like this recipe). Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Top chicken tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.
- Salsa chicken taco salad: chop up chicken and pile leftovers over a bed of chopped Romaine lettuce. Add bell peppers, cucumbers, pepitas, olives, etc. and top with crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips. Serve with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
- Salsa chicken burrito bowls: pile the con/beans rice in a bowl, top with cheese, chopped salsa chicken, chopped lettuce, and your favorite toppings including crushed tortilla chips and either sour cream/Greek yogurt, avocado crema or guacamole.
- Salsa chicken burritos: layer a burrito size tortilla with beans/corn/rice, chopped salsa chicken, cheese, guacamole, sour cream and lettuce. Serve with additional sour cream and guac.
- Smothered salsa chicken burritos: preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and add a baking rack on top. Prepare burritos by adding a heaping 1/2 cup chopped chicken/bean/corn/rice beans mixture to each burrito size tortilla, top with desired amount of cheese and roll up burrito style. Place burritos on the baking rack and brush both sides lightly with olive oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Broil to desired crispiness, flip over and broil the other side until golden. Remove baking rack and top burritos with my wildly popular Cheesy Green Chili Sour Cream Sauce like in my Crockpot Smothered Burritos, enchilada sauce, salsa verde or salsa.
- Salsa chicken quesadillas: layer a burrito size tortilla with chopped chicken and bean/corn/rice mixture, shredded cheese and grill until golden, cheesy perfection. Serve with your favs of sour cream, salsa, chopped lettuce, guacamole, etc.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SALSA CHICKEN
This salsa chicken is almost a complete meal-in-one with protein, grains, veggies and carbs, so you can serve as is or add a simple salad and fruit. Here are a few side serving ideas:
- Salad: you can go as simple as a green salad and toss in some crushed tortilla chips along with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing or go big with southwest salad or Mexican Salad.
- Fruit: keep it simple and serve salsa chicken with your favorite fruit such as pineapple, cantaloupe, or grapes or amp it up with pina colada fruit salad, fruit salad with honey lime vinaigrette, grape salad, winter fruit salad, or caramelized grilled pineapple.
- Bread: crusty bread or sweet cornbread is always a favorite.
how to make SALSA CHICKEN recipe AHEAD
This salsa chicken makes a great make ahead meal! To make ahead:
- Completely assemble according to recipe directions but don’t add the cheese.
- Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate.
- When ready to bake, let the dish sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Bake according to recipe directions, adding an additional 10 minutes to the cooking time.
- Storage: If you should be so lucky to have leftovers, store salsa chicken in airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating leftovers: I recommend chopping or thinly slicing the chicken when reheating so it warms evenly and at the same time as the corn/rice/beans. You can reheat in the microwave for 90 seconds then for 20 second intervals or in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through.
How to freeze Salsa chicken
This salsa chicken recipe makes a great freezer meal:
- Assemble salsa chicken according to recipe directions but don’t add the cheese.
- Double wrap in plastic wrap then double wrap in foil.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to bake, defrost in the refrigerator overnight then let sit on the counter for 20 minutes before baking.
- Bake according to recipe directions, adding an additional 10 minutes to the cooking time.
Want to try this salsa chicken RECIPE?
Pin it to your Dinner or Chicken Board to SAVE for later!
Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes! I am always pinning :)!
©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
Carlsbad Cravings© Original