Chicken taco bake…I heart family recipes – especially ones I grew up on – so today I’m sharing another favorite.
Chicken taco bake – with three variations!
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When we (my two brothers and I) were little, this was one of our favorites and though I wasn’t aware of it at the time, it’s an *easy* recipe that I know made my Mom’s life a little less stressful.
Easy recipes are amazing that way.
It can be made at the last minute (when you haven’t got a lot of time), or it can be made a few hours in advance OR if you really want convenience, the sauce ingredients can be thrown into a small crock pot like this one here and simmer away all day. Then when everyone walks in the door at the end of a long day, hungry and looking for food NOW, you are greeted with yummy smells and a meal, hot and ready for you. All you have to do is put out the plates/bowls and toppings and you’re good to go. Score.
First, I’ll give you the basic recipe as originally given to me then I’ll share my tweeks on it to make it even more convenient.
Please note: this is *not* a purist recipe. There are a few things in here that purists would not dream of having in their homes. I get it. I’ve been there. I really have. I’m just not there anymore. There are ways to make from-scratch versions of the “cream of -” soups, so feel free to customize as you see fit. Please no hate mail because of the convenience foods. If you’re a purist, go ahead and skip this post altogether. I promise my feelings won’t be hurt. 🙂
Are you still here? Ok here’s the recipe:
Chicken Taco Bake Ingredients
(Serves 8-12 people)
- 3 chicken breasts *cooked and shredded*
- 1 Tbs dried minced onion (or you can diced up a fresh onion)
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can cream of chicken soup (or another can of cr. of mush. soup if you prefer)
- 1 sm can tomato sauce
- 1 c. salsa (heat based on the spice tolerance of your own family)
- 1 pkg. taco seasoning
Mix all the above ingredients together thoroughly and set aside.
Take a bag of Frito-style corn chips or nacho flavored corn chips and crush the chips using either your hands, or a rolling pin. *please note- if you choose to use the rolling pin method, vent your bag by opening it before smashing.* This will prevent a chip bag explosion. You’re welcome. 🙂
Now, you don’t want them crushed to smithereens, you just want them broken down into bite sized pieces. If you have eager toddlers hanging around like I do, you can always let them help you with this part. Something about smashing things and toddlers – it gives them such joy and it’s hilarious to watch. Until chip particles go flying everywhere, that is. But I digress….
Once you’ve got a lovely bag of broken chips, pour half the chips into the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish. Pour the chicken mixture over the bottom layer of chips and top with remaining chips. See? Easy!
Bake at 350* for 40-45 minutes.
Take a few minutes to slice up your favorite toppings,
shred some cheddar cheese
(or if you have pre-shredded on hand, that’s great too) – however much you deem appropriate. I grew up in Wisconsin, so…..yes, my family uses a lot of cheese.
After the casserole bakes for 40-45 minutes, pull it out of the oven and top with the above mentioned cheese.
Place back in the oven and bake another 5 minutes, or until cheese is all melty and gooey.
Dinner is Served!
Serve with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, sliced olives, salsa and sour cream or whatever toppings are your family’s favorites. Guacamole, anyone?
Ok, now for my tweeks on this recipe.
*These methods are my kids’ favorite ways to eat this – because the chips stay crunchier using either of the following methods*
Crock Pot Option
If you know you’re going to have a crazy day ahead, place all the sauce ingredients into a small crock pot like this one (please use chicken that you’ve pre-cooked, canned chicken *I’ve never used canned, but I think you could* OR if you dice raw chicken breasts into small chunks, you’ll be ok to put them in with the other ingredients), set on low for all day or on high for 3-4 hours and voila! When you walk in the door and are bombarded with famished family members, all you’ll have to do is set out bowls and toppings and you’re good to go.
My kids love to layer crushed chips in the bottom of their bowls and ladle the sauce on top with the rest of their chosen toppings. Happy tummies all around.
Mix up all your sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan – use fully cooked chicken if you’re in a huge hurry -or take a few extra minutes and cook *diced chicken* right in the same pan before adding the remaining ingredients) and 1 tsp. onion powder instead of dried minced onion for this option, please-otherwise your onion flakes won’t have time to soften completely) until heated through then proceed as above, layering chips and sauce into bowls and then topping with favorite ingredients. This option should take 20 minutes, tops. How’s that for fast and easy?
Let me know if you try this recipe for your next mexican night (you do have a regular mexican food night, right?) My hubby *must* have mexican food on the menu regularly. “Happy husband, happy life”! Wait…or is it “happy wife, happy life”? I think it’s the latter…. 😉 Regardless….enjoy!