Mexican Chicken and Rice

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Creamy and cheesy Mexican Chicken and Rice is made in one skillet and packed with delicious flavors. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy this hearty Mexican-inspired meal.

Pair this meal with a light and simple side dish like this corn salad or this fruit salad recipe.

 

Overhead view of Mexican Chicken and Rice, still in the skillet.

Mexican Chicken and Rice

I love a good one-skillet dish and if it’s Mexican-inspired, even better! These one-skillet sweet potato burrito bowls are a family favorite and Mexican Chicken and Rice is inspired by that recipe.

We’re replacing some of the veggies with chicken and adding a whole lot of cheese in the form of cream cheese and sharp Cheddar cheese. This ultra-comforting meal is super cheesy and very creamy!

Process shots for making Mexican Chicken and Rice: toss chicken with taco seasoning blend; sauté in olive oil until cooked through; add cream cheese; stir to melt and then transfer to a plate; toast rice; add broth, taco sauce and salsa; bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until done.

Use the right skillet

To ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, it’s important to use a nonstick skillet. Make sure to use a skillet with a tight-fitting lid, so that the steam will stay in the pan and cook the rice fully.

I use a 10-inch, 3-quart (2.8 liter) nonstick skillet with a fitted lid for this dish. (If you’re curious, here’s the exact pan used in this recipe). Too big or too small of a skillet and you may experience some uneven cooking.

What about the rice?

While most types of rice will work in Mexican Chicken and Rice, I can’t recommend basmati rice enough! It does not get mushy at all and has a great bite and texture to it. It cooks up nice and fluffy in this recipe.

I don’t recommend using brown rice, though; it won’t work out very well in this recipe. If you prefer brown rice or a different grain, I’d recommend cooking it separately and then mixing it in the dish at the end. If you do this, omit the chicken broth, since it is meant to be absorbed as the rice cooks.

What is taco sauce?

Taco sauce is essentially a tomato paste with vinegar, sugar and an array of dried spices. If you’ve ever been to a taco fast food place, you’ve probably used little packets of taco sauce. There are degrees of spiciness, and taco sauce is a common condiment for this type of meal.

While you can always make homemade taco sauce, I use store-bought taco sauce to keep Mexican Chicken and Rice as quick and easy as possible.

Process shots: simmer rice in broth until tender; add black beans and corn; stir to warm through; add cooked chicken back in; add cheese and stir to melt; garnish with your favorite toppings and serve.

Homemade taco seasoning

I’m all for using a taco seasoning packet when time is limited and getting dinner on the table fast is the priority. That said, homemade always tastes best! If you have some extra time, or want to whip up a few homemade taco seasoning packets for your pantry, here’s my go-to recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder (McCormick® makes a very mild chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper

Stir the seasonings together and use in place of the commercial taco seasoning packet when adding to the chicken. Homemade taco seasoning is more intensely flavored than the packet, so start with less and add more if needed.

Mexican Chicken and Rice toppings

Whatever toppings you like on a big chicken taco salad or quick rotisserie chicken tacos will likely go well on this skillet meal. Here are our favorites:

  • lots of fresh lime juice (cuts through the richness of the cream cheese)
  • creamy and ripe avocados or guacamole
  • sour cream (lite, fat-free or regular)
  • jalapeño peppers for some spice (jarred or fresh)
  • diced green chilies (fire-roasted for some smoky flavor)
  • fresh cilantro or thinly sliced green onions

Image of the finished Mexican Chicken and Rice, ready to be served.

Mexican Chicken and Rice tips

  • Soften the cream cheese. Before adding the cream cheese into the chicken, microwave it (outside of the packaging) until soft. This way it will incorporate better with the chicken and end up creamier.
  • Don’t rush the rice. The rice cooks a bit slower in a skillet, as opposed to a pot, but while it’s cooking, you can prep the toppings. If you lift the lid often to check on the rice, this lets out the steam and will cause the rice to cook slower. Once the liquid has absorbed, give the rice a couple minutes to finish steaming, which will keep it from being mushy or sticky.
  • Customize the spiciness. As written, with mild ingredients (mild salsa and mild taco sauce) Mexican Chicken and Rice is quite mild. If you’d like to add in some heat, you can do that by way of toppings (see section above) or using a medium to hot salsa and/or taco sauce.

QUICK TIP

Why rinse the black beans? The liquid in canned beans may change the texture or taste of a dish. Draining and rinsing helps remove the excess salt and starch and improve flavor.

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Mexican Chicken and Rice

5 from 3 votes
Creamy and cheesy Mexican Chicken and Rice is made in one skillet and packed with delicious flavors. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy this hearty Mexican-inspired meal.
Print Recipe

Mexican Chicken and Rice

5 from 3 votes
Creamy and cheesy Mexican Chicken and Rice is made in one skillet and packed with delicious flavors. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy this hearty Mexican-inspired meal.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Mexican Chicken and Rice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 543kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $7.43

Equipment

  • 3-quart (10-inch) nonstick skillet with lid

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons taco seasoning blend
  • 3/4 pound (314g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (177g) uncooked white rice (I recommend Basmati)
  • 1/2 cup (114g) mild salsa
  • 1/2 cup (113g) mild taco sauce (See Note 1)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (420g) chicken broth
  • 1 can (15.25oz, 432g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (124g) frozen corn
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese, optional
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • Other optional additions: green onions or cilantro, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped sweet peppers, jalapeños, chopped green chilies, fresh lime juice

Instructions

  • CHICKEN: Pat chicken breast dry with paper towels and cut off any fat. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons prepared taco seasoning (add to personal preference - I like about 2 and 1/2 tablespoons). Toss gently to coat all the chicken in the seasoning.
  • COOK CHICKEN: In a large NONSTICK skillet, add the 2 tablespoons oil (the skillet must be nonstick for the rice to cook without sticking). Add the seasoned chicken and cook over medium heat until mostly cooked, about 5-7 minutes.
  • CREAM CHEESE: Meanwhile, cube the cream cheese and soften in the microwave. Add to the chicken. Stir around (it may look greasy and weird at first, but keep stirring until the cream cheese is smooth). Once the chicken is fully cooked and the cream cheese is melted, transfer everything in the skillet to a plate or bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • RICE: Add the rice to the empty skillet and toast for about 1 minute over medium heat with no liquid. Then add in the salsa, taco sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low or medium-low, and cover with the lid. Simmer over low/medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (like every 7-8 minutes) until the rice is tender, about 15-20 minutes total. Remove from heat, keep the lid on, and let steam for 3-4 minutes.
  • RICE NOTE: If the dish is absorbing liquid faster than the rice is cooking, add a bit more chicken broth. And, if the liquid doesn't seem to be absorbing or the rice cooking, you will likely need to increase the temperature of your burner slightly. It should take about 15-20 minutes to be cooked. Taste rice and add salt/pepper if needed.
  • BLACK BEANS AND CORN: Once the rice is tender, return skillet to low heat. Add in the rinsed and drained beans and frozen corn. Stir to warm through. Add in the cream cheese- chicken mixture and gently stir. Remove from heat and stir in the freshly grated Cheddar cheese until melted.
  • TOPPINGS: Add desired toppings. We like a diced avocado, lots of fresh lime juice, cilantro, and diced cherry tomatoes. Taste and season with any additional salt and pepper as needed. Enjoy hot!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: The heat or spiciness of this dish is largely determined by the salsa and taco sauce you use. Use mild varieties of both if sensitive to heat. If you love heat/spice, use medium or hot salsa and/or taco sauce and even add in some fire-roasted canned green chilies or chopped jalapeños. Taco sauce can be found near salsa in the grocery store.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 1377mg | Potassium: 1111mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 798IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 343mg | Iron: 2mg

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Super simple ONE SKILLET Mexican Cream Cheese Chicken & Rice
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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was absolutely fabulous!!! Had all the ingredients except taco sauce in my house, so I substituted enchilada sauce, and whipped it together quickly. The cream cheese made everything else melt in your mouth. Leftovers were even better!! Thank you for giving me another idea for my dinner repertoire. Super Yummy!!

    1. Yay!! So thrilled to hear you enjoyed this so much Mary! 🙂 And I’m glad the leftovers were great as well. Thanks again for the comment and review 🙂

  2. Thanks for the great recipe! I didn’t have chicken, but I added fire-roasted tomatoes and corn, and it was so delish–spicy and creamy and satisfying. My hubs and kiddos just scarfed it down. Thanks!!

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