This is a long awaited post for me since I grew up loving the original king ranch chicken casserole but never wanted to go to the trouble or put anyone else through the trouble of making tortillas for the dish since low-carb tortillas can change texture easily in casseroles. After discovering that frozen cauliflower would perfectly replace the tortillas in this dish it didn’t take long for this low carb King Ranch Cauliflower Chicken to take shape and it is so very good!
Full Disclosure: This recipe was created many years ago and possibly at a place in West Texas called the King Ranch. There are lots of ranch seasoning chicken recipes around and I love them all, but this is not one of those. It is converted from the original King Ranch chicken recipe that has been a potluck winner for decades. Besides being a delicious flavor combination it can be made ahead and reheated to taste as good or better than it was fresh from the oven, which is a very valuable quality in a casserole. It is a very kid friendly dish because the only spicy seasoning in this large dish is a can of Rotel tomatoes that really lends flavor and not heat but can easily be replaced by mild Rotel if needed.
I’m finding these delicious, easy to fix dishes like King Ranch Cauliflower Chicken make quick work of supper, but are also large and satisfying enough to feed a family or even an empty nest with plenty of leftovers. If you love cauliflower be sure and try the Buffalo Chicken No-Tato Casserole as well as the Bacon Wrapped Buffalo Cauliflower Bites.
If you find that you’d rather use the oven than the microwave for the cauliflower you can just place the frozen cauli in a single layer in the 13×9 casserole dish and bake it at 350 for 40 minutes and achieve the same effect as the microwaved version.
This casserole can be made as easily or as carefully as you’d prefer. I used a rotisserie chicken and microwaved frozen cauliflower for this dish but if you have the time and the inclination boneless skinless grilled chicken could be chopped up for this dish and fresh cauliflower could be used. I will update this recipe if I ever get to test it using those items.
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King Ranch Cauliflower Chicken
- 20 oz frozen cauliflower florets (2 10 oz packages or approx. 4 cups)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 -10 oz can Rotel tomatoes
- 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (I used a rotisserie chicken for this test)
- 1/2 tsp mineral salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 8 oz shredded mild cheddar cheese
- Optional ingredients; bacon pieces or Oven roasted bacon and jalapenos, chopped
- Sour cream or greek yogurt and chives for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees:
- Place frozen cauliflower in a large microwave safe dish and pour the chicken broth over the top and stir. Cook for 12 minutes or until fork tender . Add the cream cheese to the cauliflower and cook for another minute then remove and gently stir in the melted cream cheese.
- Next add the cauli/cream cheese mixture to the Rotel, chopped chicken, salt, garlic powder, and pepper stir in the shredded cheddar cheese.
- Transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish.
- Bake UNCOVERED in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the casserole is a creamy, golden brown and all liquid is absorbed.
*The only trick to this recipe is getting the cauli fork tender in the microwave or oven precooking. It will continue to soften a little in the oven so don't overdo it but it won't cook thoroughly without the pre-cooking.
*If you'd rather use a conventional oven to pre-cook the cauli just spread the frozen veggies out on the 13x9 inch pan and bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until fork tender. Continue with the rest of the recipe as specified.
*Turn up the flavor and the heat in this dish by using the oven roasted pepper in King Ranch Cauliflower Chicken and lots of other great recipes; I sure do!
*If you don't care to oven roast your bacon and peppers just try this quicker method:
- Rinse and dry a few serrano or jalapeno peppers and DON'T cut them open, the seeds cause problems when cooking unless they are encased in the pepper. Slip them into the frying pan with the bacon and just push them to the outer edges to sear and soften and generally get even better than they were before.
- When they're done, which is normally about the same time as the bacon for me, just drain them and store in a jar or plastic bag in the fridge until you need to turn up the flavor in your favorite spicy style dish.(S)