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.

Other chicken and rice recipes we love is this crockpot chicken and rice and 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 meals 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 28 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 419
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


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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  1. 5 stars
    I totally loved this recipe! It was very tasty, easy and plentiful. I must admit, I don’t enjoy Mexican food without the addition of cilantro, lime and Tajin, so all of these were added. I’ve tried other recipes of yours but this is definitely my favourite. Thanks so much for the time and effort to make these available.

    1. Hi Diana! I have never made this recipe using Old El Paso Cheesy Mexican Rice. I see that this rice package is already seasoned. If you do use it, I would add the spices listed in this recipe cautiously to taste as I don’t know how much is already in the rice.

  2. 5 stars
    I have made a few of your recipes and everyone I’ve tried has been great! This one was especially tasty and a bit for the whole family! So easy to make too! I will be adding this to a regular mealtime idea, thanks for the amazing recipes!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I added 2 jalapenos to the veg sautee and needed an extra cup of broth to get the rice cooked enough…not sure why. I made it in a Dutch Oven rather than a skillet, so maybe that’s it. Added also a can of Hatch chiles and some corn. Garnished with cilantro. It was a hit at my house…it turned out like Mexican risotto. Yum! Thanks for the recipe–also the chicken breast bites came out really tender. My husband doesn’t usually like white meat and he was the biggest fan of this dish!

    1. I agree!!! It IS like Mexican risotto! The texture is definitely like that-and so GOOD! I agree with you regarding the chicken too. Incredibly tender and flavorful!I also used a Dutch oven-I honestly think it needed the room! LOL. I loved the heat of the chilies, and used a medium salsa for additional heat. I served it with some corn tortillas I toasted in the oven, as well as some guacamole and extra salsa on the side.

  4. My wife loved it, although I think she loved not having to cook more. I wasn’t sure whether to cook the chicken before putting it in the pan with the other ingredients, but it all worked out. The rice was a little over done. Would it work to put the rice in the pan uncooked like the chicken?

    1. You add uncooked chicken and rice, as per recipe. Also photos show that and are helpful. In recipes, if anything has to be pre-cooked, it is usually indicated.

      1. My wife loved the idea that I was cooking, too… But for some reason I couldn’t get the brown rice to cook. After a couple of hours I gave up and ordered pizza 🙁

        BUT, I will say this: I pulled the chicken out of the uncooked rice and the flavor was delicious. I wound up using (some of) the chicken in an omelet and it was delicious. I’m going to try again with a different skillet and maybe white rice. Hope springs eternal.

        1. I am sorry to hear that, David! Let’s troubleshoot. Does your lid have a tight seal on a skillet like mine pictured? Did you open it more than once as per recipe during cooking? It is important to follow the recipe with brown rice, it takes a while to cook. If you let out too much steam, it will take forever to cook. ALso could be the rice itself. Hope this helps! Dutch ovens are amazing for cooking brown rice dishes!

        2. Thanks, Olena!

          I was thinking that the lid might not be tight enough. It’s the lid that came with the skillet – I’d say it’s a good fit, but not really “sealed.” I’m going to try a different skillet. I only opened the one time (at 20 minutes), but then – when it wasn’t cooked at the second checkpoint I started checking every 10 minutes or so – that probably didn’t help.

          I’m going to try again soon and will let you know!

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe was amazing and made me feel like I could cook! Super easy, healthy, and filling. I am already thinking about when I can make it again! Thank you for this wonderful creation!

  6. 5 stars
    I had just signed up for some recipes today, when this dish caught my eye so I had to make it & I did ‘ all I can say is Wow!! What a tasty & healthy meal. So full of flavour & it packs a punch. I must admit I left out the cheese as I’m doing food optimising, but I know exactly what it would’ve tasted with the cheese….. Even more yummy.
    Will definitely be making this again & it could even be made in advance for a party. Great!

    1. Any large deep pan or even Dutch oven. Ceramic is just a recommendation when you buy new pan cause no harmful chemicals in non stock coating. Or less of them at least.

    1. None, just like in the photo final dish. If you have some left, let it sit a bit and it will get absorbed or cook extra few minutes.

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