Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice

Mexican Chicken and Rice is wonderfully, creamy cheesy, quick and easy – all in one pot in 30 minutes! 

 This Chicken and Rice Skillet is the ultimate hearty Mexican comfort food that your family will BEG you to make again and again!  Quick, easy and exploding with Southwest flavors and textures with only one pan to wash!  Also AH-mazing as burrito or taco filling or a base for taco salad! 

 Mexican Chicken and Rice in a black skillet.

Mexican Chicken and Rice Recipe

My passion for Mexican flavors and One Pot Meals unite to create this obsessive worthy One Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice! I could seriously eat this every single day, it’s just that good and hits all the check marks in my Mexican comfortlicious book from ooegy gooey cheese, to hearty rice (I’m obsessed with my Cilantro Lime Rice and  Restaurant Style Mexican Rice ) to a rainbow of spices, to crisp lettuce, zesty Homemade Salsa, or Salsa Verde, refreshing sour cream or Jalapeno Ranch all dug into by salty tortilla chips. A symphony of flavors and textures in every addicting bite.  So addicting. 

So addicting in fact, Patrick (not a leftover fan), wanted to go out to a local Mexican restaurant but I still had leftovers of this Mexican Chicken and Rice, so I told him this skillet was SO much better than anything at that restaurant so I was going got eat this chicken and rice skillet instead but I would still go with him after. And I did. And my mouth was happy. And my belly. And my soul.

So aside from being better-than-restaurant-delish, this chicken and rice skillet is super simple to make – a no fuss, no stress, no think dinner if ever there was one.  And with only ONE pot to wash, its definitely a weekday meal life saver if ever there was one.  And definitely a new entire family favorite if ever there was one.

Mexican Chicken and Rice Ingredients

The ingredients list for this Mexican chicken, rice, and beans recipe is simple:

  • Olive oil: Use quality extra virgin olive oil for best results.
  • Onion: Any kind of onion works for this recipe.
  • Chicken breasts: Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces so it cooks quickly and is easy to eat.
  • Garlic: I loaded up this one pan chicken and rice with four cloves of garlic.
  • Water: You need a little water to help the rice cook through.
  • Enchilada sauce: Buy your favorite store-bought variety or make it yourself.
  • Long grain rice: I used a long grain white rice, which cooks much faster than brown rice.
  • Canned sweet corn: Rinse and drain the corn before adding it to the skillet.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes: Drain the tomatoes before using.
  • Mild green chiles: Make sure you purchase mild green chiles – I have accidentally used the hot chilies before and they are HOT! Mild green chiles, however are more tangy than hot.
  • Herbs and spices: Cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika adds tons of flavor to this dish.
  • Refried beans: Adds extra protein and makes this dish super creamy.
  • Cheddar cheese: I like to use cheddar cheese because the sharp flavor doesn’t get lost.
mexican chicken and rice with toppings in skillet

How to Make Mexican Chicken and Rice

To make this easy Mexican Chicken and Rice:

  1. First, saute your onions for a few minutes then add your chicken and cook a few minutes to seal in the juices.
  2. Next its as easy as adding all your remaining skillet ingredients including enchilada sauce, rice, sweet corn, fire roasted tomatoes, green chilies and a rainbow of Mexican spices including cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder and smoked paprika.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low until your rice is tender, allowing the chicken and rice to drink in all the fiestalicious flavors.
  4. Then the magic that pushes this skillet from really good to can’t stop-eating-great – refried beans.  That’s right – you stir them into the skillet until nice and smooth, infusing the One Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice with creaminess and then you stir in cheddar cheese until smooth, infusing the Mexican Chicken and Rice Skillet with cheesiness.  Yes, I did say addicting.
  5. Top your Mexican Chicken and Rice with more cheese, cover, and let melt.
  6. Serve with your favorite toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, guacamole and either sour cream or my Easy Jalapeno Ranch.  I actually whipped up the ranch for another recipe I’m sharing this week and then I decided to drizzle it all over my Mexican Chicken and Rice.  And strongly suggest you do the same.
  7. Finally, dig in with lots and lots of chips.   You can crush and pile them on top or I just like to eat mine right out of the pan like Taco Salad Dip because – more salty, crunch chips in every bite.  Happy crunching.
mexican chicken and rice in skillet with wood spoon

Tips for Making Mexican Chicken and Rice

  • Don’t overcook chicken. For the juiciest chicken, don’t overcook!  Brown it in the skillet but let it finish cooking with the rice.
  • How cheesy?  Feel free to use more or less cheese – it is entirely up to you how cheesy you make your Mexican chicken with rice!
  • Use freshly grated cheese.  Only use freshly grated cheese in your because packaged cheeses contain chemicals which keep them from easily melting.

Recipe Variations to Try

  • Drizzle with ranch. I’ve included my recipe for jalapeño ranch in the recipe card below. It’s totally optional, but highly recommended.
  • Use ground turkey or beef.  Swap the chicken for lean ground turkey or lean ground beef and brown with seasonings.
  • Spice it up.  Add jalapeños, minced chipotle chili peppers, cayenne pepper or hot sauce.
Top view of Mexican Chicken and Rice with tomatoes and sour cream.

Can I Prep Mexican Chicken and Rice in Advance?

Absolutely! Because the Mexican chicken and rice is enveloped in creamy refried beans and enchilada sauce, leftovers never really dry out. As such, you can assemble and make this recipe, and then reheat the leftovers for lunches or dinners throughout the week.

How to Store Mexican Chicken and Rice

This one-pan chicken, rice, and beans should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When stored properly, it is good for up to five days.

How to Reheat Mexican Chicken and Rice

  • Microwave: transfer a portion to a microwave-safe dish, heat for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals. 
  • Stove:  for larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often. You may need to add additional water to thin.

Can I Freeze Mexican Chicken and Rice?

Yes! To freeze:

  • Let the chicken and rice skillet cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer it to an airtight container.
  • Label and freeze for 2 to 3 months. 
  • Defrost in the refrigerator before using.

What to Serve with Mexican Chicken and Rice

This easy chicken and rice recipe is pretty much a meal in and of itself. But if you want to add some sides to bulk up the meal, go for it!

Close up of Mexican Chicken and Rice.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Creamy, Cheesy One Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice on your table in 30 minutes! My family BEGS me to make this constantly and I LOVE it too! Quick, easy and packed with flavor and texture! We also love it as the base for taco salad. You definitely have to try this one!

One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice

Creamy, Cheesy One Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice on your table in 30 minutes!  This is the ultimate hearty Mexican comfort food that your family will BEG you to make again and again!  Quick, easy and exploding with Southwest flavors and textures with only one pan to wash!  Also AH-mazing as burrito or taco filling or a base for taco salad! 
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound uncooked chicken breasts, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, mined
  • 1/2 cups water
  • 1 10 oz. can mild enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup long grain rice UNCOOKED
  • 1 15 oz. can sweet corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 oz. can can fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies
  • 1 tsp EACH salt, cumin, ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH chili powder, smoked paprika
  • Add later:
  • 1 16 oz. can refried beans
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Toppings

  • LOTS of tortilla chips
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • chopped avocados
  • chopped lettuce
  • cilantro
  • sour cream
  • Guacamole

Easy Jalapeno Ranch (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (1 oz. package)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • (optional) Add all of the Jalapeno Ranch ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Add additional milk if needed to reach desired consistency. Refrigerate. (Best chilled. Can be made 24 hours+ ahead of time). Dressing will thicken as it chills so you will probably need to stir in additional milk when ready to serve.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Saute onions for 4 minutes. Add chicken and continue to cook until no longer pink on the outside (it will cook fully with the rice). Add garlic and saute 30 seconds.
  • Turn heat to low and add water, enchilada sauce, rice, corn, fire roasted tomatoes, green chilies and all seasonings/spices. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring at 10 and 15 minutes.
  • Once rice is done, stir in refried beans until smooth followed by ¾ cup cheese until smooth. Top with remaining cheese, cover and cook on low until cheese is melted. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, avocados etc. and either sour cream or the Jalapeno Ranch. Serve with plenty of chips!

Notes

*This recipe does not have kidney beans despite the photographs. I improved the recipe after I shot these photos and it SO much better with refried beans 🙂

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40 Comments

  1. Amy | The Cook Report says

    Oh man, this looks like exactly what I need right now.
    I’m sitting in work fantasising about making this for dinner! Brilliant recipe 🙂

    • Jen says

      You are too nice Amy, thank you! I hope fantasizing about this recipe helps your work day speed by instead of drudge on 🙂 Hope you can try and love it soon!

  2. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! Like you, I love rice dishes! And I love beans! Give me some beans and tortillas and I’m happy! When I was young and poor I ate Spanish rice a lot and I still love rice! Which is funny because at that same time in my life I also ate a lot of tuna noodle casserole and I can’t even stand the smell of that stuff now! This is a big bowl of comfort food in my book!

    • Jen says

      yes, yes! Rice and beans are two of the best food groups ever – put them together and I can’t stop eating either 🙂 I’m not going to lie, I still enjoy a big bowl of tuna casserole- actually brought some to where I worked years ago, heated it in the microwave and it stunk up the whole office from one end to the other – haha. Anyway, hope you can make this soon – it is SO comforting!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Anna! I am constantly making rice and chicken too – so nice to cook them together! Hope this becomes a new family favorite!!

  3. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says

    We are huge fans of Mexican cooking too. We even make our own Chipotles in Adobo Sauce. We had quite a few jalapeños, so we made some. We’ve been making it for quite a few years because years ago it was hard to find. Your recipe sounds so good I can’t believe it started as leftovers:-(. I don’t think I’d be able to stop eating it. I can guarantee that this recipe wouldn’t have anything left over. Thank you for sharing!! Have a great week.

    • Jen says

      I bet your own Chipotle in Adobo Sauce is amazing and makes everything better – yum! I’m sure your chiptotles would taste great in this skillet or in the dressing as well! I hope you have a great week Marisa!

  4. Jodi says

    Oh this looks amazing. I wish I could reach through my computer screen and grab it. Your photos are stunning (as always)! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks Jen!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Jodi, thank YOU for your kind comment! I wish I could pass this through the screen to you but hopefully you can make it soon!

  5. Linda says

    Hi Jen – thank you for all of your tasty recipes and culinary inspiration. I am going to make the Mexican Chicken and Rice dish this weekend and made the Jalapeno ranch dressing yesterday in advance. Is 1 cup of milk right? Mine came out very watery. Next time I will cut it back a lot, adding it to the blender until it reaches a good pourable consistency. Just checking to see if it was maybe a typo.

    • Jen says

      oh my goodness, I am so sorry, that is definitely a typo and thank you so much for catching that! It should be 1/2 cup! sorry!

  6. Layne says

    comfort food, fill your belly, easy, stuff in my cuboards and really, really, yummy. Thanks for another winner!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Layne! I am thrilled this was another winner and you found it easy and delicious!

  7. Janet says

    I’m excited to make this – looks delicious! Just wanted to check – is 1/2 cup of water the right amount (right after the 4 garlic cloves in the ingredient list? Just wondered because usually it is double the amount of water for the 1 cup of rice – it says 1/2 cups water. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Janet! Yes 1/2 cup of water is correct because the enchilada sauce is also a liquid. Hope this helps, enjoy!

  8. Lizzie says

    Hi! I may be the only person on the planet who doesn’t like refried beans — but I HATE refried beans!!! Pretty much all beans, in fact. BUT, this recipe looks absolutely wonderful – can you suggest any alternatives to the beans?

    • Jen says

      haha! I would have said black beans but if you hate ALL beans, then I would just leave them out and it will still be delicious!

  9. Kiwi says

    Are your fire roasted tomatoes whole when you add them to the pot? Or rough-chopped? Diced?

    Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Kiwi, the fire roasted tomatoes usually come chopped in the can already – if not, then chopped is perfect 🙂

  10. Ria says

    Hello, what brand of enchilada sauce do you recommend?

    • Jen says

      Hi Ria, I like Old El Paso but I am sure any of them would be fine 🙂

  11. Tris says

    Have you ever done is easy in a crock pot?

    • Jen says

      Hi Tris, I haven’t made it in the crockpot and would take some experimenting to get it right. Sorry!

  12. Sara says

    Oh my goodness, this was amazing! Love that it was not only super easy, but also delicious! I made it with refried black beans and they added the perfect creaminess. Thanks for another go-to recipe!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am so glad this skillet was such another winner and refried black beans sound delicious! Thank you Sara!

  13. Alison says

    Hi, if I were to make this with long grain brown rice would the proportions and cooking times be the same?

    • Jen says

      Hi Alison, long grain rice takes much much longer to cook so no it would not be the same. If you want to use brown rice, then I suggest using cooked brown rice, eliminating the water and just adding enchilada sauce until it reaches your desired consistency. Enjoy!

  14. Karen says

    Hi Jen,
    My husband and I follow your blog and have tried many of your recipes. We tried this one tonight and truly enjoyed it! The jalapeño ranch sauce is superb!

    • Jen says

      I am honored both you and your husband follow my blog – what a fun thing to do together! I’m so happy you loved this recipe and made the Jalapeno Ranch – it truly takes it over the top! Thank you for following along and trying my recipes!

  15. Teresa says

    This is a very tasty recipe but my rice does not cook in 10-15 minutes. I’m on my second time making this recipe and each time it takes the rice at least 20 minutes to cook. I keep thinking I can get this dish on the table in 30 minutes, but it does not seem realistically possible.

    • Jen says

      Sorry Teresa, there are several variables such as type of pan, size of pan, actual temperature etc. I guess yours will be on the table in 35 minutes 🙂

  16. Jill Curry says

    Hi… this is one of those “modifying the recipe” questions…I am wondering if I use rice I precooked, and shredded chicken pre-cooked in the crockpot, do I still need to add the water in this recipe? I am wondering if I could just put this all in the skillet and cook till heated through? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Sorry for the delay Jill as I’ve been in Italy for weeks and playing catch up. You can definitely use pre cooked rice and chicken in the skillet and just cook until warmed through. If you would like it thinner once warmed, then add a little water at a time but I don’t think it will need it. Enjoy!

  17. Jesseca says

    I couldn’t figure out how to rate the recipe. We’d give it five stars. It took a little longer than 30 minutes to make, but that won’t stop us from making it again! The only thing I did was substitute black beans for refried. I’m sure it tastes great with what’s called for (I’m a fan) but I’ve got a family full of picky eaters. Added the black beans with the corn and canned tomatoes. Thanks for a yummy recipe!

    • Jen says

      YAY! You’re so welcome Jesseca, I’m so happy to hear this Mexican Chicken with Rice is a 5-star repeat!

  18. Bon says

    Agree with the comment above, mine took 30 minute to cook the rice through. Guess it depends on the skillet? Tastes delicious. Thank you, Jen!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for letting me know Bon! Rice is tricky because there are so many factors!

  19. Nancy says

    I loved your one pot chicken and rice. It’s really a very versatile recipe. We had in a tortilla with tomato and lettuce inside along with the jalapeno ranch sauce. I did add some lime juice to the jalapeno ranch sauce and it was good that way….Thank you…love your recipes

    • Jen says

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on this oldie but goodie Nancy! I love the idea of serving it as a filling -yum! Thank you for making my recipes!

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