30 Minutes or Less Dinner Make Ahead - Heat & Serve Recipes

Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole

An overhead view of a tray of Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole ready to served and topped with a sour cream drizzle and chives.

Fajitas are a popular Tex-Mex dish that typically consists of grilled meat (usually beef, chicken, or shrimp), peppers, onions, and various toppings, all wrapped in a warm tortilla. On weeknights, all those toppings and dishes can be time consuming to prepare, serve and clean though. That’s when the idea for Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole came to mind.

This Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole recipe has all of the same great flavors and ingredients as the real deal. The recipe uses a homemade blend of seasonings so you can control the heat, making this dish kid-friendly too. The remaining ingredients are lean chicken breast, veggies and brown rice making this a great healthy chicken fajita casserole.

One of the best things about this casserole is that it doesn’t need to bake in the oven. That means the time it takes to prepare this dish is way less than a typical casserole – just 30 minutes from start to finish!

About the Ingredients

Fajita seasonings – I like to mix my own seasonings because sometimes fajita seasoning can be spicy and I prefer to omit that for the kids. This spice blend doesn’t have any heat but you could kick it up with a little cayenne pepper if you like that sort of thing (like me!) For this spice blend you’ll need: chili powder, cumin, paprika, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano.

Chicken breast – I use 3 large, thin sliced chicken breasts that I dice into bite sized pieces. You could also by 2 thick cut breast and cut them up.

Bell peppers – the colors you choose are just personal preference. Green would be really pretty in this dish, they’re just a little less sweet. When you cut the peppers you can leave them a little on the bigger side (about 1 1/2 inches long) just not so big that they need to be cut when eating. Casseroles are meant to be a fork friendly food without all the cutting.

Onion – a sweet onion diced

Brown rice – or whatever kind of rice your family prefers.

Chicken bouillon – to season the rice as it cooks. Alternatively you could cook the rice in chicken broth instead of water too. If you’re not familiar with chicken bouillon, it is prepackaged compressed cubes of chicken broth seasoning. You can buy a container of bouillon cubes for just over $2 and it will make 25 cups of broth. Drop 1 cube of bouillon in one cup of hot water and stir it until it dissolves.

A close up of Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole showing the seasoned chicken and peppers.

How to Make Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole

Begin by cooking the rice according to the package directions. Add a cube of bouillon to the boiling water for a little extra flavor.

Season the chicken by placing bite size chicken breast pieces in a ziploc bag with the fajita seasonings listed in the recipe. Give the bag a good shake to coat all of the pieces evenly.

Cook the chicken in a non-stick skillet with a little olive oil. Once the chicken is cooked remove it to a plate and cook the peppers and onion until soft, then add the chicken back to the pan and take the pan off the heat.

Prepare the casserole dish with a little cooking spray. Spread the cooked rice across the bottom of the dish and then top it off the with the chicken and peppers. If you want to be fancy, you can garnish your casserole with a sour cream drizzle and chopped scallions.

Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole in a glass baking dish drizzled with sour cream.

Recipe Substitutions & Variations

Fajitas are not specific to chicken. Lots of restaurants serve them with your choice of chicken, steak or shrimp. To make a beef fajita rice casserole I would use a skirt steak cut into small strips. For both the steak or shrimp, season it the same way you would the chicken and proceed with the recipe as written. Pay close attention to cooking time because those will vary depending on the type and size of protein you use.

Another variation you could try is chicken fajita potato casserole. Rather than brown rice, quarter some baby gold potatoes, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes at 400°F. Then follow the rest of the recipe as the potatoes cook. When the potatoes are done cooking transfer them to the bottom of a baking dish and top them off with chicken and veggies. Now you’ve got yourself a chicken fajita potato casserole.

A close up of Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole with sour cream drizzle and chopped chives.

Make Ahead Instructions

This fajita casserole recipe can be prepped ahead of time so that your time in the kitchen during the week is cut down significantly. Reheated rice get a little dry and stale so I prefer to make that part fresh when I’m ready to serve the casserole. Cooking rice is also totally inactive so you can do that part while you set the table and get ready to eat.

To make this Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole ahead of time prepare the chicken and vegetables according to the recipe in advance and then store them in the refrigerator. When you’re ready, reheat the chicken and peppers on the stove over low heat while you cook the rice fresh. Once the rice is cooked, plate the casserole and serve.

FAQ’s and Recipe Tips

What to do with leftover fajita meat?

Store leftover fajita meat in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Use it on a bed of lettuce for a great salad or put it over a bowl of freshly cooked rice for a fajita bowl. You could also top a piece of naan bread with the left over meat, then sprinkle with cheese and toast it in the oven until hot and melty for a fajita flatbread.

What can I put in fajitas instead of chicken?

Use sliced skirt or sirloin steak, or shrimp instead of chicken in fajitas.

Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole on a wood plate showing brown rice, peppers and seasoned chicken.

The Recipe for Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole

The recipe is attached below for easy downloading and printing.  If you test it out be sure to leave a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you thought and if you stuck with chicken or mixed it up. Enjoy!

An overhead view of a tray of Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole ready to served and topped with a sour cream drizzle and chives.

Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole

This Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole recipe has all of the same great flavors and ingredients as the traditional dish. The recipe uses a homemade blend of seasonings so you can control the heat, making this dish kid-friendly too. One of the best things about this casserole is that it doesn't need to bake in the oven. That means the time it takes to prepare this dish is way less than a typical casserole – just 30 minutes from start to finish! 
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

For the fajita seasoning:

  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp oregano

For the casserole:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced into 1½ inch long strips
  • 1 orange bell pepper sliced into 1½ inch long strips
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • cups brown rice
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube

Optional garnish:

  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 scallions chopped

Instructions
 

  • Begin by cooking the rice according to the package directions and adding a chicken bouillon cube to the boiling water.
    1½ cups brown rice, 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • While the rice cooks, cube the raw chicken breast into bite sized pieces.
    3 chicken breasts
  • Place the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl with the fajita seasonings and toss to coat the chicken.
    2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp sugar, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp oregano
  • Then heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil and when it’s hot, add the chicken. Cook the chicken, stirring often, until all of the pieces are browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  • Without wiping out the pan, add one more tablespoon of olive oil and add the onions and peppers. Continue to cook them until they are soft, about 7 minutes.
    1 red bell pepper, 1 orange bell pepper, 1 sweet onion
  • Add the chicken back in and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray. When the rice is done, cooking, pour the rice into your prepared dish. Top with the chicken and veggies and serve hot.

Notes

Serving suggestions: top the casserole with a drizzle of warm sour cream and chopped scallions. Serve with classic fajita toppings such as avocado, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and diced tomatoes. 
Make ahead: Prepare the chicken and veggies as written in the recipe. Let cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready, reheat on the stove over low heat until warmed through. While that heats, boil your rice. When the rice is cooked, plate casserole as directed in the recipe. 
Keyword casserole, chicken breast, make ahead, under 30 minutes

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16 Comments

  1. Debbie says:

    This Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole looks delicious. I’m looking forward to making it! Thank you for the easy to follow recipe instructions!

    1. Yes! You’re going to love it

  2. This looks and sounds so delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe ?

    Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)
    Letstakeamoment.com

    1. Thank you

  3. Katie says:

    I do oven chicken fajitas all the time. Never thought about turning them into a casserole. Saving for later.

    1. I love finding a new twist on a favorite. Mixes things up a little

  4. Maci says:

    Looks so yummy! I’m excited to try it, thanks for sharing!

    1. Yay! Let me know how it goes

  5. This casserole is delicious and easy to follow. My kids love eating with chips

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy it!

  6. Leslie says:

    This looks great. I’m going to add it to our menu this week. It’s a perfect option for my GF kid too!

    1. Yay!! You’re all going to love it

  7. Kirsten says:

    Looks delicious!

    1. Thank you

  8. Good recipes

    1. Thank you!

Leave a Comment | Did you make this recipe? Comments encourage other readers to try the recipe too. Thank you so much for your support!

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