King Ranch Casserole

Lori & Paul, Burp!

King Ranch Casserole, a creamy and delicious take on enchilada casserole, is a throw-back from post-World War II cooking. We decided to create a variation on the traditional king ranch casserole that uses delicious ingredients like butter, sour cream, Monterey Jack cheese and homemade tomatillo sauce. Put it together the night before, and dinner will be ready in a breeze.

King Ranch Casserole
By Lori & Paul
Serves: 6-8


2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
½ cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
3 cups tomatillo sauce (recipe below) or purchased tomatillo salsa
12 corn tortillas
8 ounces sour cream
1 pound Monterey jack cheese, grated


Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion and garlic and sauté until onion is tender. Mix in the cumin, paprika, cilantro, salt, pepper and chicken. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spread about ½ cup of the tomatillo sauce into the bottom of an 8 ½ x 11 casserole dish. Place 4 corn tortillas on top of the sauce. Spread about 1/3 of the sour cream on top of the tortillas. Top with 1 1/2 cups of chicken and then 1 cup of the tomatillo sauce and ¾ cup shredded cheese. Top with four more tortillas and repeat the process. For the final layer, lay down 4 tortillas, spread with sour cream, top with remaining tomatillo sauce and cheese.

Cover the casserole and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

When it’s time to bake the casserole, put the dish into a cold oven. Set the oven to 375ºF and allow the casserole to bake for 50-60 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Allow the casserole to set up for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Quick roasted Tomatillo Sauce
Makes 3-4 cups sauce, depending on the size of your tomatillos


20 tomatillos
2-3 jalapeno peppers (depending on the heat level desired)
cilantro and salt, to taste


Preheat your broiler.

Peel away the papery covering on the tomatillos. Rinse and dry. Wash the jalapenos and snap the stems off of them.

Place the tomatillos and jalapenos on a large baking sheet. Broil until the tops of the tomatillos begin to brown/blacken. Flip over and brown the other side.

Place the tomatillos and jalapenos in the blender, in batches, and puree until smooth. Add salt and cilantro to taste.
Use immediately or freeze for later.

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6 thoughts on “King Ranch Casserole

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  1. shannon king said:

    My family owns a Ranch in Yakima, Washington it is Called The King Ranch, Script S Ranch is the Brand. I just thought it was kinda neat that I had found this recipe… Thanks for sharing…

    Shannon King.

  2. Shannon –
    Thanks for reading and commenting! The name of this Tex-Mex casserole actually comes from King Ranch, one of the largest ranches in the world, though it’s unclear if the dish itself actually originated from the ranch. The original used canned cream of mushroom soup, but we updated it with the tomatillos and sour cream! ~Lori

  3. Richard said:

    There are numerous recipes that begin with The King Ranch. THE King Ranch in Texas dates back to the mid 19th century. Many a good trail cook worked for The King Ranch over those many years and many of their recipes are still out there for us. The Ranch was started by Captain King who was a river boat captain on the Rio Grande River. He began to acquire land and eventually owned the largest ranch in the world. The Ranch headquarters are in Kingsville, Kleberg County Texas. The king family was replaced as operators of the ranch by the Kleberg family. They were replaced not so long ago by corporate managers. Just thought you might want to know.

  4. Jullie Y said:

    I often wondered where this King Ranch was located. My mother-in-law gave me a cookbook with a lot of recipes from Oklahoma and there were 4 or 5 King Ranch recipes. Thanks for the origins on that.

  5. Patty Daniels said:

    Is there another type of “sauce” than you can use on this for the top? We don’t really do jalapenos. Thank you, Patty

    • Linda said:

      I have made this several times for my 90 yr old patient and I just use the green salsa(Salsa Verde) it’s not hot just a lil bite but you dont notice it in The casserole..I use 2 large jars of the Green’s a very good casserole!!!!