Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole recipe with corn, green lentils, chicken, cayenne, cilantro and cheese baked into healthy kid-approved bake.

If you love lentils, you might also like this green lentil curry and lentil mushroom casserole.

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

My rule of thumb for a healthy casserole is complex carbs in moderation, more lean protein and veggies, and keep cheese to reasonable amounts.

The list of ingredients might seem long but really they are mostly spices that repeat themselves. I just broke down the chicken and lentil casserole recipe nicely for you.

Some chicken, of course green lentils, veggies, cheese, spices and cilantro. And of course cheese on top. That’s it.

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole in casserole dish

How to Make Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

cooking chicken on skillet; lentils in pot

First cook your lentils. I added extra liquid for a reason, do not drain it. Make some flavourful golden brown chicken pieces.

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole ingredients in skillet and adding cheese

Then saute onion, garlic and bell peppers until golden brown. Mix everything together with cheese and spices. Do not thaw the corn. Extra liquid is perfect for keeping the casserole moist during baking.

Then bake uncovered for 50 minutes. The casserole will be bubbly, moist and cheesy. Take it out of the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 30 minutes. Make easy creamy cucumber tomato salad while you wait for a simple side!

Really you could eat it right away but it’s not ideal. You want your casserole to sit, the ingredients to marry each other and soak up the juices. Then it’s the best!

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

More Lentil Recipes to Try

Santa fe lentil chicken casserole on a spatula lifted out of red baking dish.

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole Recipe with green lentils, chicken, corn, cumin, cilantro and cheese baked into a healthy kid approved casserole.
4.74 from 15 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 443
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes



  • 1 1/2 cup green lentils rinsed & drained
  • 3 cups chicken broth low sodium
  • 1/8 tsp salt



  • 1 large onion diced
  • 5 large garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 large bell peppers diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Cooking spray I use Misto

Mix Ins:

  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups corn frozen & unthawed
  • 2 cups Tex Mex or Colby Jacks cheese 6.5 oz, shredded & divided
  • 2 tbsp jalapeño peppers seeded & minced (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup cilantro chopped & divided


  • In a medium pot, combine lentils, chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil on high, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Do not drain excess liquid. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, preheat large skillet on high and spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and draining any liquid if necessary. Add cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Return skillet to medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, bell peppers, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper and cook for 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer to the bowl with chicken along with cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, corn, 1 cup cheese, jalapeño peppers, garlic powder, cumin and 1/2 cup cilantro. Mix gently with spatula enough to combine. You may want to taste and adjust the spiciness/salt of the dish with extra cayenne/jalapeño peppers/salt.
  • Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 oven proof baking dish and level/press gently with spatula. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 50 mins. Remove casserole from the oven, cover with foil and let stand for half an hour before serving. Garnish with remaining cilantro, cut into 8 slices and serve hot.


  • Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: In an airtight container up to 3 months.
  • Meal prep: Assemble, tightly wrap with plastic and then foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as per instructions + 15 minutes.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 506mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 6g
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American Ukrainian
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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  1. 2 stars
    Tastes delicious, but for me the 35 minute cooking time for lentils turned them to mush. Not sure what happened there. Otherwise, great tasting recipe!
    Thank you

  2. I haven’t tried it yet but was wondering what you do with the excess liquid we are instructed not to set aside in Step 1. Looks good though. I will try it tonight.

    1. You leave it in the pot with lentils and then use in cooking the casserole, add with lentils. It’s more of a caution not to drain excess liquid as we need it.

  3. 4 stars
    This was quite good! Certainly a more healthy alternative to other Mexican style casseroles as well. I only made one substitution: I didn’t have diced tomatoes or jalapeños so I added a jar of salsa-would use it again! Was 9 Weight Watchers points for me which was great!

  4. You’ve got to start using New Mexico chile! It’s in stores just about everywhere now in many forms (frozen peeled and whole, Frozen sauce, salsas, canned sauces or pieces, dried pods, powder, etc. Red or green). At least that will allow you to name an altered recipe after Santa Fe. No hard feelings. Just suggestion.

    1. Thank you for your suggestion, Donna. I will check out our Canadian stores, might be different supply. Nope, no hard feelings. I also think I can name my creations whatever I wish. It is quite hard to name recipes to consider Google requirements, social media marketing, traditional cuisines etc. This is in no way traditional, so I can name it whatever it matches closest to. I can call it Donald Trump if I want to lol.

  5. 5 stars
    Okay so I made this recipe exactly how it is written except that I used taco seasoning instead of just cumin. SO fantastic!! I had no idea how much of it there was, I made it for one.. still ended up freezing some but eating it all within two weeks! I love it. Great recipe 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    My husband never need know this is a pretty healthy recipe. He loved it! I made the beans in my Instant Pot. They turned out perfectly and I had the liquid needed for the casserole. As always, I upped the spices a bit, and added Chipotle peppers. I’ll definitely be making this again!

  7. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this recipe!!! It is hearty, healthy, and not too difficult! I bought the veggies at the farmers market this morning so it was extra fresh.

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