Body glitter.  Year-round Christmas lights. Fake fingernails with palm trees painted on them. Some things are meant to be trashy. Same goes for King Ranch Chicken. I’ve made it with 50-cent canned soups and I’ve made it with a homemade mixture of cream, broth, fresh veggies and spices, and THE TRASHY VERSION WINS. Hands down. That’s why it’s been a potluck staple since the dawn of man. It’s quick, easy and I-ate-a-plateful-and-now-I’m-picking-at-what’s-left-in-the-pan good.

If you’ve never tried King Ranch Chicken, it’s like a Mexican lasagna. Layers of corn tortillas (or chips), shredded cheddar cheese and a creamy, spicy chicken filling. A filling that really and truly NEEDS a can of cream of chicken and a can of cream of mushroom.

That’s how the church ladies make it.

That’s how the Joonyah Leagues make it.

That’s how Mom makes it.

Because all of those additives and preservatives give it that certain Campbell’s je ne sais quoi that cannot be replicated with all-natural substitutions. I’m sure they’re good for the immune system.

FYI: The Anna Nicole Ultra-Trashy Nuclear Option is to replace the tortillas with Doritos. I don’t recommend it, since The Lord created Doritos to be savored one by one, but it would be irresponsible not to tell you that option’s out there.

King Ranch Chicken

Rebecca Crump (

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (10 oz.) Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 12 corn tortillas (6-inch), torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add onion and pepper, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add soups, R0-Tel tomatoes and chicken, stirring until well blended.
  3. Alternately layer tortillas, soup mixture and cheese, repeating for three layers. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes.