Healthy, Easy, and Cheesy Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole

This easy chicken enchilada casserole is very flexible and will happily accept whatever ingredients you have on-hand. Don't have refried beans? Use black beans instead. Trying to cut down on your grocery bill? Chicken thighs will work instead of breasts. This protein and fiber-packed dish will cure what ails you. It's comfort food that loves you back. I've recently posted two different recipes for enchilada sauce: one super easy sauce, and one somewhat traditional sauce. Use whichever of these you like best, or feel free to use a non-processed canned sauce with no preservatives. As long as you enjoy yourself, I'm happy! And did I mention that it's totally, completely, and naturally gluten-free?
Course Entree
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 1184kcal
Author Stephanie Stiavetti


  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (about 1 1/4 cup uncooked )
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 cups enchilada sauce (links above)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 can re-fried beans warmed on the stove
  • 3 cups shredded cheese


  • Fill a large pot with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and add lemon juice, salt, and cayenne. Stir well, then add chicken. Allow to poach for 12 minutes.
  • Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water and drain the chicken. Shred the chicken with two forks. Pour cooking water into the chicken, stir well, and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Heat pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, watching carefully so they don't burn. Agitate the pumpkin seeds every 30 seconds as they cook, and remove them from the heat when they start to turn brown and smell fragrant. Allow to cool. Pulse to a coarse texture in a food processor.
  • Add brown rice, sea salt, pepper, and pumpkin seeds to the pot with the chicken and stir well.
  • Place 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking dish. Place four tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping to make sure the bottom of the dish is covered.
  • Add a layer of half the refried beans, then a layer of half the chicken, then a layer of 3/4 cup of cheese. Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce over the layer and then cover with another 4 tortilla. Create another layer with the remaining beans, chicken, another 3/4 cup of cheese, and 1 cup enchilada sauce. Cover the top with one more layer of 4 tortillas, then cover with remaining sauce and cheese.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is well browned. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes to solidify.


Nutritional analysis is based on using chicken breasts and cheddar cheese.


Calories: 1184kcal | Carbohydrates: 98g | Protein: 66g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 33g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 229mg | Sodium: 2242mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 15g | Vitamin A: 6400IU | Vitamin C: 151mg | Calcium: 690mg | Iron: 6.5mg