Easy Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

37 reviews / 4.8 average

Hi there Wednesday!

Can I interest you in a mid-week pick me up of Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole involving a pan piled high with blistered peppers, salsa-ified quinoa, black beans, spicy chicken, and Pepperjack cheese? Suhhhweeeeet, that’s what I thought.

Bjork and I have a major interest in this casserole these days because it allows us the freedom to cook once and eat five hundred times. Er, back up for a second – “us” in reference to cooking might be a tiny bit of a stretch, kind of like “us” in reference to mowing the lawn or taking out the recycling. But basically what I’m saying is this Mexican Quinoa Chicken Casserole fills our dinner plates with colorful veggies, lots of protein, and stringy, melty cheese — and then, best of all, it fills our fridge with delicious leftovers that might taste even better the next day.

More importantly, it gives Bjork something really quick, easy, and healthy to grab on his way out the door to the office when he conveniently notices my subtle neon blue note taped just above the door handle, with an ALL CAPS MESSAGE: WAIT! DO YOU HAVE A LUNCH?

You guys, the fact that a person even has to be reminded to think about food is just beyond my realm of understanding.

Like, what is that kind of life even like?

How To Make Our Quinoa Casserole (1 MIN 5 SEC):

Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole in a white baking dish with a wooden spoon.

This recipe was actually going to be something else altogether. It was going to be a throwback to this Southwestern Quinoa Casserole that I made when we lived in the Philippines, which, obviously, is the perfect time to make a Southwestern Quinoa Casserole. Right? SMH.

(PS. Is that the right way to use SMH? I’ll come clean and say that I’ve never actually used it before this moment. Just trying to stay hip on this here bloggg.)

No, but seriously. I’ve had this idea that I’m going to go back through some old posts this summer and re-do the pictures and update the recipes and such, but I always have the same problem with all of the recipes – I start working on it, and I love it so much, and yet I absolutely can’t hold myself back from changing the recipe in some way, shape, or form. Adding this, taking out that, and topping everything with more cheese. I’ve obviously changed for the better over the years.

Take, for example, this Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole. I make it with the intent of re-photographing it for the original Southwestern Quinoa Casserole, but I also added chicken, changed how I prepared the peppers, and baked it all in a different sauce.

AHH! Self! Stop it.

The Curse of The Food Blogger is upon me – I honestly can’t just leave a recipe be, even when it’s my own recipe. It’s a very sad curse to live with.

Except that then I get to eat this for days, which isn’t sad at all.

Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole in a baking dish with a wooden spoon.

I made this a few times, and this picture (scroll down) of me digging my chips into the bowl of casserole was from a previous test run with the casserole that included more liquid for the sauce and more cheese for the sauce. Both of which I find are almost always a good thing, but in the case of this Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole, my rogue recipe tweaks needed some adjusting.

The true, final version as it’s written in the recipe here doesn’t have that much liquid for the sauce OR that much cheese in it. It was just too runny for me.

But I mention this because if you’re look at that picture of what is essentially a cheesy quinoa chicken dip (again, scroll down) which is too runny for a casserole but highly delicious and a great excuse to bring chips into your life, and you simply MUST HAVE IT that way, might I suggest that you just make the recipe as written but add a little extra water or broth to the sauce? Keep an eye on it as it’s baking and add more or adjust as needed.

Confession: I might actually love when casseroles just become full 9×13 pans of cheesy chicken dip to feed my chip obsession.

But I also love when casseroles are just casseroles, sticky and cheesy and packed with lots of YUMMY THINGS, meant to be passed around the table and enjoyed at least 48 more times as leftovers. I especially love when they are loaded with color, flavor, and nutritious ingredients like dis one.

GET IT!

Chicken Quinoa Casserole with chips.
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Easy Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole in a casserole dish.

Easy Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole


  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

Easy Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole! Piled high with blistered peppers, salsa-ified quinoa, black beans, spicy chicken, and Pepperjack cheese.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 14 ounce can cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (plus 1/2 cup more if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 cloves minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, divided
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 1/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (I just use a mix of chili powder, onion powder, cumin, salt)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Mix the quinoa, black beans, salsa, chicken broth, salt, garlic, and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese in a large bowl. Transfer to a well-greased casserole dish (something close to 9×13). Bake for 30 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is baking, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the jalapeño, onion, and peppers. Sauté until golden brown and tender-crisp, like you would for fajitas. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Toss the raw chicken with the taco seasoning. When the quinoa is done with the first 30 minutes of baking, stir it up really well and add the raw chicken. Stir the chicken into the mixture to get the chicken mostly covered by the mixture, and return to the oven for another 30 minutes of baking. If you notice there are a few uncooked quinoa pieces on top, just give it a stir and bake it a little longer (a few readers also commented that it helped them to add a little extra broth at this point). It’s usually fully cooked on the bottom but those top pieces sometimes need a little extra love.
  4. When the quinoa is done, top with the peppers and remaining cheese – bake another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted to your liking.

Equipment

  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: mexican casserole, chicken casserole, chicken and quinoa, easy casserole

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Recipe rating

206 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Erica B

    We are living the same life… we have that same post-it on the door… and the quote “the fact that a person even has to be reminded to think about food is just beyond my realm of understanding.”… YES HELLO HOW???

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      CathN

      Most nights, after I cook, I’m parceling out the leftovers and daydreaming about the next day’s lunch. And I married someone who goes home for lunch and will default to Cheerios when there’s 3 different leftovers to choose from.

      Opposites attract, I guess?

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Just gotta say, this Mexican chicken quinoa casserole looks like dinner and then lunch the next day. And if there’s not enough, I could see it causing a marital issue as we will be fighting over who gets the leftovers. And it’s pretty healthy! Because it must be a sign from God that all the pop ups on your site directed at me are either for 1.) Spanx or 2.) The guide for finding the perfect swim suit. A sign. I tell you.

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Megan

    Ohh! I want this in mah belly tonight!

    Am I reading correctly that the chicken goes into the quinoa raw?

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I thought my husband was the only person who just FORGETS to bring a lunch. I plan what I am going to eat all day, and when, so I have something to look forward to. SO WEIRD that people forget food!
    This casserole is DEFINITELY something I won’t forget. And easy meals that I can eat 500 times? YES. Pinned!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    My husband is the same way about food. I’m like HOW ARE YOU NOT THINKING ABOUT IT AT EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY? Good thing I am there to pack all our travel snacks and make sure he has food like a baby. This looks great btw, thanks for sharing!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    YES. I constantly harass my husband on his way out the door to make sure he’s got his lunch with him. And snacks. And second breakfast. Because who doesn’t prepare that way???

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      YUP. Also had to Google SMH. I probably would have just skimmed over it if not for the P.S. 🙂

      Also, the cheesy chicken taco dip with chips looks really really fantastic.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Gwen

        I had to google too, so for the next person who looks down here for a translation: SMH = shaking my head 🙂

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Ahahaha – this is so funny – I would have had to google it if this would have been written on someone else’s blog a week ago. See, I’m LEARNING, you guys!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    UGH – it’s just torture to look at this as I forgot my lunch today!
    I am all for dishes that allow us to “cook once and eat five hundred times” – though, this looks soo good, I’d be surprised if I made this and it lasted for 5 meals! Chips in this is just YUM!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I love casseroles! This looks amazing and easy to make. What is it about men…? I have to pack and remind my boyfriend to eat his lunch… There’s no way I forget to eat my meals, I always make time for food 🙂

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jim

    May I ask what plugin you are using that allows us to print out the recipe so nicely?

    I just did it, and it works so nicely

    Thanks

    ==>Jim Van Wyck






  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kath Ogle

    Laughed at the comments, also had to look up SMH, and you’ve used it appropriately in that case. Love this recipe Lindsay. I’m cooking for a very busy girlfriend so this is perfect for her…an ongoing tasty meal for the week…well..maybe not that long.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’m definitely going to try this – nothing makes my heart sing quite like a casserole that doesn’t involve using 10 pots and pans to separately cook everything before combining it all into yet another pan. ;o)
    Also: if you guys have kids, it will be interesting to see which genes they get – the always-thinking-about-food or the have-to-be-reminded ones. If my girls are an indication, always-thinking is the dominant trait! ;o)

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Okay!! I am totally unhip!! or is unhep?? See, I don’t follow acronyms and I wish someone would have put what it means in here because being the nosy *ahem* curious person that I am I’m now going to have to Google what it means 🙁 And I see a trend with Pinch of Yum, lots of Oriental and Mexican dishes– not that I’m complaining because I LOVE both. And I don’t even want to go into extra spicy and cheesey dishes. Great recipes!! Thank you and excuuuuuuuse me — I have to search for what the heck SMH stands for.

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Ok….I have a confession….I had to google what SMH stood for LOL (that’s laugh out loud..right?) – oh and the casserole….looks amazing! Gotta love a great casserole and leftovers the next day, well that’s even better. YUM!