One Pan Mexican Chicken and Rice is easy chicken skillet recipe made with pantry staples. Rice and chicken breasts are simmered in salsa broth, then finished with gooey cheese and served with avocado.

If you are looking for more easy weeknight Mexican recipes, try skillet enchiladas or chicken burrito skillet.

One Pan Mexican Chicken and Rice

Mexican Chicken and Rice

I pulled off this Mexican chicken and rice this week with mostly pantry ingredients. 3 months in into the year and my family declared this Mexican chicken recipe to be one of their favorite healthy dinner ideas of the year! On par with chicken tortilla soup and chicken enchiladas.

It has all the flavors of chicken and rice with spices of Mexican cuisine like salsa and cumin, then topped with melted cheese on top. So-so-so good, I highly recommend not to cut the recipe in half. 🙂

While brown rice takes 40 minutes to cook, I was able to pull off this dinner in one skillet stirring only once. Not exactly a 30 minute dinner but so easy for extra nutrition benefits. However, if you use white rice, this chicken skillet recipe is ready in 30 minutes.

Let’s do it!

Mexican Chicken and Rice on a wooden spoon topped with avocado

Ingredients You Will Need

  • Chicken: Boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs cook equally fast.
  • Rice: Any white or brown rice – long or short grain, basmati or jasmine. Just consistency and nutrition changes. For low carb version, try my Mexican cauliflower rice.
  • Salsa: Mild, medium or hot will affect level of spiciness of the dish. I used medium and kids ate it no problem.
  • Diced tomatoes: Canned and low sodium. Can use tomato sauce as well.
  • Cheese: Shredded Mexican, Tex Mex, cheddar or marble cheese.
  • Onion, garlic, cumin, oil.
one pan mexcian chicken and rice ingredients

How to Make Mexican Chicken and Rice

If you are wondering what skillets I use, I am a huge fan of ceramic non-stick skillets. They do not contain PFOA etc. and are affordable. I use it to make taco skillet and even chicken tacos with all the fixins in one pan.

  • Saute veggies and rice with spices. Onion and garlic go in first, then push them to the side and saute rice on its own – adds flavor and cooks faster.
  • Add chicken, salsa, tomatoes and water and cook for 20 minutes. It is important to bring mixture to a boil and cover with a tight fitting lid so rice can cook. If using white rice, cook for 10 minutes.
  • Stir and cook for another 20 minutes. This step prevents burning and ensures evenly cooked rice. Again skillet has to be covered and white rice takes only extra 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and cover for 3 minutes or until melted.
how to make Mexican Chicken and Rice step by step

Tips for Best Mexican Chicken and Rice

  • Don’t cut the recipe. It might seem like 2 lbs of chicken and 2 cups of rice is a lot but it’s not. This meal was gone between 2 adults and 2 boys in one night. You can always refrigerate and freeze leftovers – see below.
  • Chicken broth or stock is OK instead of water. Just use low sodium from a carton, diluted in water bouillon cube or Instant Pot chicken stock.
  • Lid. Your lid should fit tightly. If it’s not then rice might need longer cook time.
  • Other seasonings: Enchilada sauce would work in place of salsa. Substitute taco seasoning for cumin for extra flavor.
  • I really wanted to add diced green chiles in a can but I know many of you wouldn’t have them on hand. If you do – yes, absolutely!
Mexican Chicken and Rice in a skillet with melted cheese and diced avocado on top

How to Serve, Store and Reheat

To serve Mexican chicken and rice skillet, I just added diced avocado and lots of chopped cilantro (it has blood cleansing properties). This skillet is so flavorful, you don’t need many toppings. You can also dress it up with diced tomato, yogurt or sour cream, lime, green onion or shredded lettuce.

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days in an airtight glass container. Longer than that and I prefer to freeze this casserole because salsa and rice go sour.

Freezing has the same idea – in a tightly sealed container to prevent freezer burn and up to 3 months. Lately I am loving silicone reusable bags. They do not break or take a lot of space like glass, are airtight and eco-friendly.

Enjoy, friends! And come back and tell me if your family went avocados for this dinner!

More Easy Mexican Recipes

Need more chicken inspiration? Browse these healthy chicken recipes and never run out of ideas.

Mexican Chicken and Rice recipe
closeup of Mexican Chicken and Rice
mexican chicken and rice

One Pan Mexican Chicken and Rice

One Pan Mexican Chicken and Rice is easy chicken skillet recipe made with pantry staples. Rice and chicken breasts are simmered in salsa broth, then finished with gooey cheese and served with avocado.
4.93 from 27 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 419
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 cups brown or white rice rinsed & drained
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes low sodium
  • 1 cup salsa I used medium
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Tex Mex cheese cheddar or marble cheese, shredded
  • Cilantro green onion, avocado, tomato, yogurt for toppings

Instructions 

  • Preheat large ceramic non-stick skillet on medium heat and swirl 1 tbsp oil to coat.
  • Add onion and garlic; saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Push veggies to the side, swirl remaining 2 tbsp oil and add rice, cumin, salt, pepper and saute for 3 minutes, stirring often (rice part only).
  • Add chicken, diced tomatoes, salsa, water and stir.
  • Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook with brown rice for 20 minutes and with white rice for 10 minutes.
  • Stir, cover and cook for another 20 minutes – brown rice and 5 minutes – white rice.
  • Turn off heat, add cheese and cover until melted.
  • Serve hot with desired toppings like cilantro, green onion, avocado, tomato, yogurt etc.

Notes

  • Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: For up to 3 months.
  • Don’t cut the recipe. It might seem like 2 lbs of chicken and 2 cups of rice is a lot but it’s not. This meal was gone between 2 adults and 2 boys in one night. You can always refrigerate and freeze leftovers.
  • Brown rice: I used basmati brown rice as it stays more separated than long-grain one.
  • Low sodium: If using not low sodium canned tomatoes, add less salt to taste at the end.
  • Tomato sauce is OK in place of diced tomatoes. Enchilada sauce would work in place of salsa.
  • More flavorful: Low sodium chicken broth or stock is OK instead of water. Add diced green chiles in a can for even more Tex Mex taste.
  • Lid. Your lid should fit tightly. If it’s not then rice might need longer cook time.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 419kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 516mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
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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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a tasty chicken dinner, will be making it again, since I am diabetic I didn’t use rice instead I used riced cauliflower and broccoli lower carbs. Still delicious!!

  2. 5 stars
    Love it thank you! And God Bless Ukrainia during this horrible time! Prayers, love and hope being sent ❤❤

  3. If you reduce heat to low, it takes at least 45 min for the white rice to cook. I eventually raised the hear to medium to get it to actually cook.

    1. You should bring it to a boil first. It shouldn’t take that long. Might have been that type of rice or its age or your lid isn’t tight on a skillet. I well test my recipes and in 45 minutes even brown rice is cooked for me.

  4. 4 stars
    VERY tasty dish! As a rule, I love these flavors. I added the recommended green chilies, as well as a can of black beans. I used low sodium broth in place of water. Brown rice versus white. I also used some low sodium taco seasoning, and added a little extra hot sauce. SO GOOD!
    The one issue I did have is the cooking time for the rice. There is NO way the rice is done in 40 minutes. The next time I make this, I am going to cook it for the full 40 minutes BEFORE opening the lid, as I do when cooking brown rice. I honestly think that disturbing it, letting out all of the steam caused an issue. I found that I needed to cook this for 50 minutes to achieve cooked rice when using brown rice.
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. Great meal prep idea, weeknight meal. I love that it comes together in one pot and is SO flavorful.

  5. 5 stars
    Whodda thunk that I would find a spot-on recipe for New Mexican chicken rice on a website created by a Ukrainian-Canadian living on Vancouver Island, but I did! Wow! I halved the recipe, used rotisserie chicken, hot salsa, Rotel for tomatoes and a can of green chiles as suggested. I also added 1/2 tsp. chili powder and it was scrumptious! And PERFECT!

  6. I’ve tried many recipes from this site and they have all been a success! Turkey meatball soup is one of our favorites. Can’t wait to try this one!

  7. 5 stars
    I added Rotel + can of black beans and 1/2 cup frozen corn… 2 cups cooked rice.. cut down on cooking time..1/2 cup sour cream… mixed all together in a bowel with 1:2 cup shredded cheddar… put in casserole and topped with more cheddar… Addictive!! Put on oven on 350 for 25 min…

  8. 4 stars
    Super easy weeknight meal! I wish I had seen the additional tip of green chilies prior to making. I had them and they would make a great addition. I sautéed green pepper with the onion/garlic because I had one I needed to use and I think it added color and depth to the recipe. Will use hot salsa next time because we like a little heat and with medium salsa and the tomatoes and water the spice gets watered down. But I also think a little bit of cayenne could have taken care of it…maybe 1/8 tsp.

    Topped with the cheese and sprinkled with green onion (aka scallions) and sliced fresh jalapeños.

    Only downside was that my skillet just wasn’t big enough so I had to switch to a large nonstick pot when I started adding the wet ingredients.

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