This Chicken Poblano Casserole brings together a creamy, roasted poblano sauce, juicy chicken, gooey cheeses and layers of tortillas that deliver an enchilada-inspired dinner creation you’re going to love. This cheesy casserole effortlessly transitions from a comforting weeknight dinner to a show-stopping, flavor-packed dish for festive celebrations.
Cheesy Chicken Poblano Casserole Recipe
If you love casseroles made from fresh ingredients (no canned soups), this poblano casserole recipe is for you. The trade off, when using fresh ingredients, does mean it’s a little more time consuming, but after the first bite, you’re going feel it was worth your efforts.
The flavors in this casserole subtly remind me of a favorite Mexican dish. Whenever I come across chile rellenos on a menu, there’s no doubt—I’m ordering it. It’s the tender poblano pepper generously filled with gooey cheese, enveloped in a crisp fried egg batter that absorbs the sauce beneath, that is irresistible to me.
Related: Green Chile Casserole with Chicken
Every bite of this casserole has something in it, from the crunch of corn to the sweetness of red bell pepper and the heartiness of chicken—the variety is endless.. And he smoky notes, courtesy of the poblano pepper sauce, elevate every bite to perfection.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The combination of roasted poblanos, bell peppers, and a creamy sauce creates a flavor explosion you’re going to love.
- Layers of tortillas, gooey cheese, and tender chicken are the perfect balance of textures—creamy, chewy, and succulent in every bite.
- This recipe is highly customizable. Adjust the heat, cheese varieties, or add extra veggies to suit your palate.
- Perfect for busy days or entertaining, you can assemble the casserole ahead of time and bake it when you’re ready. It’s definitely a time-saving hero!
- It makes the best leftovers.
Related: Mexican Pasta Bake
What Do Poblano Peppers Taste Like?
Poblano peppers have a mild, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness. They are less spicy compared to some other chili varieties, making them approachable in taste. When roasted (in this recipe), poblanos develop a smoky taste that adds depth to the final dish. In my opinion, poblanos have a pleasant, slightly tangy quality about them, which makes it a really versatile ingredient.
How to Roast a Poblano Pepper
- Preheat the broiler.
- Rinse poblano peppers and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Broil on the highest oven rack, rotating with tongs until all sides are charred.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a sealed plastic bag or covered bowl for steaming.
- Steam for about 10 minutes to loosen the skin.
- Peel off the charred skin using fingers or a knife.
- Poblano Peppers: Infuses a smoky, mild heat into the dish, contributing a distinctive flavor that comes roasting.
- Red Bell Pepper: Adds sweetness that complements the poblano chiles.
- Fresh Corn: Adds sweetness and crunch, enhancing the texture and freshness of the casserole.
- All-Purpose Flour: Acts as a thickening agent for the creamy sauce.
- Salt and Pepper: Flavor booster.
- Whole Milk: Creates the rich and creamy base for the sauce.
- Mexican Cheese Blend: Melts into gooey perfection, delivering a blend of savory notes and enhancing the cheesiness of the dish.
- Red Onion: Introduces a mild, sweet onion flavor that adds complexity.
- Cilantro: Passes on a bright and citrusy freshness, that cuts through the richness.
- Eggs: Binds the casserole together, contributing to its structure and providing a smooth, cohesive texture.
- Ricotta Cheese: Adds a creamy and slightly tangy element, that enriches the layers.
- White Corn Tortillas: Serves as the hearty foundation, absorbing flavors while maintaining chewiness.
- Chicken Breast: The protein-packed component, providing the main substance and heartiness to the casserole.
- Green Onions: Garnish with a pop of color and mild onion flavor, adding a fresh, crisp contrast to the finished dish.
Substitutions, Variations and Healthier Ingredient Swaps
Fresh Corn: If fresh corn is not available, you can use frozen corn as a substitute. See recipe card for how to use it.
Mexican Cheese Blend: Substitute with a blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses or any cheese blend of your choice.
Ricotta Cheese: Cottage cheese or cream cheese can be used as a replacement for ricotta, though they will impart a different texture and flavor.
White Corn Tortillas: Yellow corn tortillas or flour tortillas can be used as an alternative.
Chicken Breast: You can substitute with shredded rotisserie chicken or cooked and shredded turkey.
Green Onions: Regular onions or chives can be used as a replacement for green onions.
- Skip the chicken and add black beans or pinto beans for a protein boost.
- Add diced jalapeños or a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra kick.
- Mix in some chipotle powder for even more smoky flavor.
- Serve with a dollop of avocado cream made by blending avocados, sour cream, lime juice, and salt.
- Experiment with different cheese combinations such as pepper jack, queso fresco, or cotija for unique flavors.
- Enhance the sauce with ground cumin and smoked paprika for a more complex taste.
Casserole Healthier Ingredient Swaps
Whole Wheat Flour: Substitute all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour for added fiber.
Low-Fat Milk or Unsweetened Almond Milk: Choose a lower-fat milk alternative to reduce overall fat content.
Reduced-Fat Mexican Cheese Blend: Opt for a reduced-fat version to cut down on calories.
Whole Wheat Tortillas or Corn Tortillas: Choose whole grain for a healthier base.
Ricotta Cheese: Use part-skim ricotta cheese.
How to Make Chicken Poblano Casserole
Step One: Preheat the broiler. Cut and roast poblanos, bell pepper, and corn until slightly charred.
Step Two: Peel and chop poblanos and bell pepper. Remove corn kernels.
Step Three: In a large saucepan, mix flour, salt, pepper, and milk. Cook until slightly thickened.
Step Four: Blend 1 cup milk mixture with poblanos, then mix it back into the saucepan.
Step Five: Preheat oven.
Step Six: Combine bell pepper, corn, salt, Mexican cheese, red onion, cilantro, eggs, and ricotta.
Step Seven: Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Layer tortillas, ricotta mixture, chicken, green onions, Mexican cheese, and sauce.
Step Eight: Repeat the layers.
Step Nine: Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover, add cheese and green onions, and bake for 15-20 more minutes.
Step Ten: Let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Check the recipe card at the end of the post for full instructions that can be printed.
Reheating Leftovers, Storage and Freezing
Reheating Casserole Leftovers
Microwave: For a quick individual serving, microwave a portion of the casserole on a microwave-safe plate for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through.
Oven: For a larger portion or to maintain the crispness of the top layer, reheat in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes or until warmed.
Stovetop: Reheat in a covered pan on the stovetop over low to medium heat.
Refrigeration: Store leftover casserole in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
How to Freeze and Thaw
- Wrap Well: To prevent freezer burn, wrap the casserole tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in a freezer-safe container.
- Remove Air: If using a plastic container, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the casserole before sealing the container to minimize exposure to air.
- Overnight in the Fridge: For a gradual thawing process, place the frozen casserole in the refrigerator overnight.
- Microwave: Use the defrost function on your microwave for quicker thawing.
- Directly in the Oven: If you’re in a hurry, you can reheat the frozen casserole directly in the oven. Cover it with foil and bake at a lower temperature (around 325°F) for a longer time to ensure even heating.
- When broiling the poblano peppers, aim for a well-balanced char on all sides. This ensures a smoky flavor without overcooking the peppers.
- Use tongs to rotate the peppers during broiling. This helps achieve an even char and ensures all sides of the peppers are properly roasted.
- Allow the peppers to steam for the full 10 minutes. This makes peeling off the skin easier and ensures the peppers are perfectly tender.
- You can save some time preparing by roasting the peppers and shucking and broiling the corn in advance.
- It’s okay to use pre-shredded cheese in this recipe.
- Using lower-fat cheese and low-fat milk is an easy way to reduce the overall calories.
- Serve with a side of salsa verde and sour cream.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I make this casserole ahead of time? Absolutely! You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it before baking. This is a great time-saving strategy, especially for entertaining.
Can I make it spicier? Yes, you can increase the spiciness by adding diced jalapeños to the filling or incorporating a spicier cheese blend. Adjust the heat to your preference.
Can I make it vegetarian? Yes, you can make a vegetarian version by omitting the chicken or replacing it with beans. If you decide to add any extra veggies, you’ll want to make sure they are prior so they do not add water content to the final recipe.
What can I serve with this casserole? It pairs well with a simple side salad, fresh salsa, or a light avocado salad. For a heartier meal, consider serving it with rice or quinoa.
Easily Add Another Layer of Flavor and Texture
Fresh Avocado Slices: Creamy avocado slices add a cool and buttery element.
Salsa Verde: A spoonful of tangy and slightly spicy salsa verde complements the richness of the casserole.
Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream: Add a dollop of Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream for a light and tangy touch.
Diced Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes add juiciness and a burst of color.
Lime Wedges: Serve with lime wedges for a zesty kick that complements.
Pickled Jalapeño Slices: For those who love flavor, thinly sliced jalapeños can be the perfect spicy addition.
Guacamole: Elevate the dish with a scoop of homemade or store-bought guacamole.
Radish Slices: Crisp radish slices add refreshing crunch.
Pico de Gallo: A mix of diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice offers a fresh and vibrant topping.
More Recipes Like This
- Tamale Pie
- Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
- Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole
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Chicken Poblano Casserole
- food processor or blender
Chicken Poblano Casserole Ingredients:
- 3 (12 oz.) poblano or pasilla peppers*
- 1 large (8 oz.) red bell pepper
- 3 ears corn**
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. table salt divided
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 3-1/2 cups whole milk
- 3 cups (12 oz.) Mexican cheese blend, divided
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tub (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
- cooking spray
- 18 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
- 3-3/4 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast (you will need approx. 1-1/2 pounds of chicken breast to get this amount)
- 1 cup thinly sliced green onion, divided
How to Make Chicken Poblano Casserole:
- Start by preheating the broiler. Halve the poblanos and bell pepper lengthwise, removing seeds and membranes. Arrange them skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet, flattening with your hand. Add the corn to the sheet and broil for 10 minutes until the poblanos and bell peppers are blackened and blistered, and the corn is lightly browned. Alternatively, you can roast them individually over a gas stove flame using tongs. Place the roasted poblanos and bell pepper in a sealed plastic bag for 10 minutes, then peel and chop them coarsely, keeping poblanos and bell pepper separate. Remove the corn kernels from the cobs and take this opportunity to cut up the chicken breast.3 (12 oz.) poblano or pasilla peppers*, 1 large (8 oz.) red bell pepper, 3 ears corn**
- In a large saucepan, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Gradually add milk before applying heat, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat until slightly thick (about 12 minutes), ensuring it coats the back of a spoon. In a food processor or blender, combine 1 cup of the milk mixture with the poblanos, processing until smooth. Stir this pureed poblano mixture into the remaining milk mixture.1/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. table salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, 3-1/2 cups whole milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine bell pepper, corn, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup Mexican cheese, red onion, cilantro, eggs, and ricotta.3 cups (12 oz.) Mexican cheese blend, divided, 1/3 cup chopped red onion, 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, 1 tub (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
- Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the dish. Arrange 6 tortillas over the sauce, slightly overlapping. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the tortillas, top with half of the chicken, and sprinkle with 1/3 cup green onions and 2/3 cup Mexican cheese. Pour about 1 cup of sauce over the cheese. Repeat the layers with 6 tortillas, the remaining ricotta mixture, the remaining chicken, 1/3 cup green onions, 2/3 cup Mexican cheese, 1 cup sauce, and 6 tortillas. Pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas. Coat one side of foil with cooking spray, place it coated side down over the casserole, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining 2/3 cup Mexican cheese and 1/3 cup green onions, and bake, uncovered, for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the cheese melts and is slightly golden brown.cooking spray, 18 (6-inch) white corn tortillas, 3-3/4 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast, 1 cup thinly sliced green onion, divided
- Let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.
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