King Ranch Chicken Casserole

gluten-free, dairy-free king ranch chicken casserole

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

We love King Ranch Chicken Casserole!  

I used to make the Homesick Texan’s recipe all the time before I had to give up gluten and then eventually casein/dairy.  It’s fancy and takes a little more work (because you make the sauce instead of using cream of mushroom soup).

Well actually a lot of work and a lot of dishes are going to get dirty, but it is sooooo totally worth it.

Now that I’ve tried a bunch of casein/dairy-free products and I’m getting a little braver experimenting in the kitchen with them.  We just had to try a gluten-free, dairy/casein-free version of the fancy king ranch chicken casserole.

And it was SO GOOD!  We were in food heaven.  

Leftovers were really amazing, too. I just had to share the recipe with you! Especially for my fellow dairy-free people trying to get through it…

King Ranch Chicken Casserole 2

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Substitutions

This recipe tracks the Homesick Texan’s recipe for the most part with a few changes to make it dairy-free and gluten-free.  

  • We used fresh fire-roasted tomatoes instead of Rotel diced tomatoes.  
  • I think the best part was using the Field Roast Chao Tomato Cayenne Vegan Cheese.  
  • We also use gluten-free and non-GMO corn tortillas, but you can use any type of safe corn tortilla.
  • Another trick I’ve learned is that gluten-free mayo works really well as a sour cream substitute in baking dishes.

The vegan, non-dairy cheese tastes great (no weird aftertaste) and melts well inside the casserole.  But not so much on the top of it.  So it works better to slice the cheese up and cover it with some of the sauce for better melted perfection! 

And it may sound a little weird to use mayo instead of sour cream, but it works.  And it was perfect in this dish.  So instead of half and half and sour cream, we used GF mayo.  

I originally used Vegenaise but then switched to a brand of mayo that didn’t contain xanthan gum.  The first time I used 1/4 cup and the second time I used about 1/2 cup and I liked the sauce a lot better, but it is up to you how much you want to add.  

Okay so here you go! 

King Ranch Chicken Casserole 3

King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free

This is a gluten-free, dairy-free version of the popular Homesick Texan’s fancy recipe for King Ranch Chicken Casserole.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword king ranch chicken casserole
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 6
Author Deana Larkin Evans


  • 2 1/2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into long strips
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus a squeeze more
  • 4 tsp ancho chile powder (or chili powder), divided
  • 1 cup fire-roasted tomatoes (about 6 Roma)
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh chives (or 1-2 tbsp green onions), finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed, and diced (or roasted red pepper, rinsed and chopped)
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded, stemmed, and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp certified gluten free oat flour
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/4-1/2 cup GF mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 1 package Field Roast Tomato Cayenne Chao Vegan Cheese


  1. Mix together the lime juice and 2 teaspoons of the ancho chili powder in a bowl. Add chicken pieces to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  2. Cook the chili lime marinated chicken breast strips in a skillet on the stove top for 15-20 minutes until done. When the chicken is cooked through, let it cool and then shred it and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, turn the oven broiler on to fire-roast the tomatoes. Wash and cut the tomatoes in half and scrape out the seeds.  Place on a glass baking dish (skin side up/flesh side down) and cook under the broiler for 10-15 minutes so that the skins are roasted and turning black. Remove from the oven and let cool. Pull off the skins then chop and set aside.  

  4. Turn the oven to 350 when done broiling the tomatoes.

  5. Also, while roasting the tomatoes and cooking the chicken start making the sauce.  Melt the ghee in a large saucepan or 3.5-quart Dutch oven on medium low, and add the chives (or green onions), red bell pepper and poblano pepper. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, then add the garlic. Stir for about 30 seconds then add in the flour, cumin, cayenne pepper and the other 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder. Cook for about 1 minute more.

  6. Pour in the chicken broth and cook on low until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the fire-roasted tomatoes and cover the pot. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove from heat and add a squeeze of lime juice, mayo and cilantro. Stir until everything is well-combined. Add in salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Heat up the tortillas in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1-2 tortillas cooking about 30 seconds per side or until softened. Store in a tortilla warmer (if you’ve got one) or in a bowl with a cover.
  9. To assemble the casserole, ladle enough sauce (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup) to cover the bottom of a baking dish. I use a deep 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 casserole dish from Crate & Barrel.
  10. Layer half the tortillas (4-5) on top of the sauce. Cut up the tortillas to make sure the entire pan is evenly covered. Add half of the shredded cooked chicken. Then about half of the remaining sauce. Cover with 5-6 slices of the Chao cheese, also cut into pieces to cover the chicken in a nice layer.
  11. Next is another layer of tortillas. Then the remainder of shredded chicken. Cut about 4 slices of the cheese into strips and place them over the chicken (the cheese melts a lot better this way). Take the remaining sauce and pour it evenly over the chicken and cheese strips.
  12. Cook uncovered in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.
  13. Enjoy! The leftovers are delicious, too!

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Deana Larkin Evans

You get one life - do your best to ENJOY IT! So hi, I'm Deana. This food blog is all about cooking wholesome real food and developing gluten-free recipes for some of our favorite comfort foods. I had to start eating gluten-free in 2010, then cut dairy and casein (except for the occasional Parmesan) in 2014. We learned A2 casein (goat, sheep and buffalo milk) is easier to digest than the predominate A1 form in cow milk. So we brought back goat milk dairy into our recipes in 2016. Thank goodness, right! So I'm kind of a science nerd, too. In the '90s, I earned an undergrad degree in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin. Hook 'em! Then followed up with a PhD in biochemistry and a law degree from the University of Houston. I recently earned a certificate in genomics/sequence analysis from Johns Hopkins University, where I also took a very cool food microbiology course. Currently, I'm learning about the microbiome and gut health. And trying to come up with healthy recipes to feed those gut bugs! #feedthegutbugs

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