by Olena

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
4.9 from 14 votes

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.

Santa Fe chicken and lentil casserole recipe with corn, green lentils, chicken, cayenne, cilantro and cheese baked into healthy kid-approved bake. It will win the hearts of all lentil haters.

If you love lentils, though, you might also like this Instant Pot dal, green lentil curry, lentil mushroom casserole, or spinach and lentil soup!

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

My rule of thumb for a healthy casserole: 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 recipe nicely for you. Some chicken, of course green lentils, veggies, cheese, spices and cilantro. And of course cheese on top. That’s it.

I follow the same with lots of my favorite casseroles; chicken zucchini casserole, cabbage roll casserole, healthy Mexican casserole, etc.

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. You could use chicken thighs too or even leftover air fryer chicken tenders!

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. 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!

Looking for more ideas with lentils? Why not try a lentil soup like this red lentil veg soup, Instant Pot lentil soup, or slow cooker veggie lentil soup or chicken lentil soup!

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

More Healthy Chicken Casseroles and One-Pot Dishes

You can also browse through my entire collection of one-pot meals!

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

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.
4.93 from 14 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American Ukrainian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 443kcal
Author: Olena Osipov





  • 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 or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

    Freeze: 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

      Recipes and images are a copyright of It is against the law to republish recipes without permission. Nutritional info is approximate.

      Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

      54 comments on “Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

      Our “happiness" software automatically deletes any rude or inappropriate comments, so we can keep on happily cooking delicious recipes for you.

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published.

      Recipe Rating

      This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

      1. 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.

      2. 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!

      3. 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.

      4. 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 🙂

      5. 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!

      6. 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.

      The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. You assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.

      This page may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy. is a participant of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep iFOODreal recipes free. Thanks for your support!