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 and healthy Mexican casserole.

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. 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!

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

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

More Healthy Chicken Recipes

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

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. 5 stars
    I just made this for dinner. It was absolutely freaking delicious! I only had red lentils, so I used those and it turned out great! Very flavorful and comforting. Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    Olena, this recipe is incredibly good! I was trying to find lentil recipes and you saved me! Im so in love with your recipe that this is my second time making it in 1 week! Thank you very very much!

  3. Help! Ive made this for the second time and it’s been mush both times(basically a stew consistency).
    You say to keep excess liquid. My lentils are mushy, maybe that’s it?

    1. Hm. This casserole is on a liquidy side. Do you mean mush casserole overall like too liquidy or that you want firmer lentils? If you want firmer lentils do not keep extra liquid and see how that works.

  4. You are wonderful!! Thank you so much for this recipe! I am a huge lentil lover and I am looking to eat them more often and in new ways. I can have them alone and be fine, but my husband is a meat lover, and he always loves my casseroles (that never involve goopy canned coups), so he will love this too. Can’t wait to try it!

  5. 5 stars
    2 thumbs up! I made this for lunch today. We were having our daughter and her boyfriend over for the game and I wanted something healthy. For you lentil haters out there you can hardly even tell they are there!!! There is still half left and 4 adults ate lunch so plenty for lunch this week which is a TOTAL bonus. Does take a bit to prepare, but totally worth it!!! Thank you Olena!!!

    1. You are welcome, Sheila. Glad I could help you impress the most important people – those are hit and miss and nerve wracking to deal with at times lol.

  6. sounds delicious! I have precooked lentils on hand from Trader Joes. Any idea how much liquid I should add to the dish?

  7. trying for dinner tonight! pretty excited, I was curious if you think Id be able to add minute brown rice to it?

    1. I never cooked with it so don’t know if it soaks up a lot of liquid or not. If not then more likely yes but you might need to add extra water in any case.

    1. You can leave the cheese out but the casserole would not stay as well together. Or you can use any cheese alternative but I haven’t tried. I know there are many soy and vegan cheeses.

  8. 5 stars
    This was amazing!!! So flavorful and filling. So far I have made 4 dishes from your website, this one, the cauliflower cheese bread, eggplant fritters, and the grilled Balsamic veggies. Thanks for sharing your awesomeness..LOL. I plan on making the layer greek dip and greek fish kabobs for the 4th. You rock!!!

    1. Awe. Thank you so much for your comment! I wish I had more time to share. I have so many ideas…Anyways, so glad to hear you enjoyed my recipes.:)

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