King Ranch Casserole

posted in: Main Dishes, Recipes, TexMex | 13
Mention comfort food to a Texan, and they’ll probably think of King Ranch Chicken. An uber-creamy deconstructed enchilada casserole, it’s the kind of dish your mom or grandmother might put together for family on Christmas Eve. It’s perfect for a pot luck or other large gathering because you can spoon out as much or as little as you like and it keeps well warmed in the oven for stragglers.

I’ve been wanting to make a vegan version of this for years. However, classic King Ranch Chicken is made with two kinds of canned “cream of” soup, sour cream and cheese, and I was a bit overwhelmed by the idea of veganizing all those dairy ingredients and still ending up with something tasty and healthy. Then I came across The Homesick Texan’s Slightly Fancy-Pants King Ranch Chicken Casserole that she made without canned soup. She got me half way there and the rest is vegan comfort food history.

There’s so much going on in this that I imagine you could make all kinds of substitutions: red onion for the white, more fresh peppers for the jarred or vice versa, white sauce for the sour cream (use an extra tablespoon each of flour and olive oil and add a half-cup of non-dairy milk with the broth). You could skip the veggie chicken or seitan and add more beans, even. Next time I make this I’m going to try it without the lime juice as I’m not sure it’s necessary.

UPDATE: These days I do leave the lime juice out – I think the dish is actually better without it.

Vegan King Ranch Casserole

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced fine, about 1 cup
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced fine
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup Toffuti Better Than Sour Cream
  • 1 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes with chilies, undrained (see note)
  • 1 cup grated vegan cheese, such as Daiya or Follow Your Heart
  • juice from 1 lime, about 1-1/2 tablespoons (optional)
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 cup roasted piquino peppers or red bell peppers from a jar, finely diced
  • 8 ounces veggie chicken or seitan, sliced and then shredded with your fingers
  • 3/4 cup small white beans, cooked and drained
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 10-12 corn tortillas


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion, poblano pepper and mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute. Transfer to a bowl.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pot, then stir in flour and vegetable broth. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens. Add sour cream, tomatoes, and cheese. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheese melts. Add lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

Add reserved mushroom mixture. Add remaining ingredients except tortillas.

Heat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9 x 13-inch pan or 2 8 x 8-inch ones. Layer a third of the sauce in pan(s) (about 2 cups), top with half the tortillas, then another third of the sauce, the remaining tortillas and the remaining sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes or until hot in the center and bubbly at the edges.


Note: If Rotel tomatoes aren't readily available, stir together a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes with a 4 ounce can of mild green chilies. Use half of the mixture for this casserole and freeze the rest to use in another batch of this casserole or chili or soup.



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13 Responses

  1. I have never had this before an that needs remedied, this would great for leftovers too.

  2. I like that you have tried a vegan version, so a very good one for all of us vegetarians, thanks :)

  3. YUUUUUUM girl! I could totally just dig into this dish!!!

  4. I am not vegan but I know comfort food when I see it! king ranch casserole is one of my favorite pot luck dishes! Thanks for sharing this with us at the hearth and soul hop!

  5. This sounds delicious and really easy! I think I may try a vegetarian version!

    Frugally Green Mom

  6. I love King Ranch Casserole and figured that I’d never get to eat it again since going vegan. THANK YOU for this recipe. It will be made this weekend!

  7. Made the casserole, it was so delicious. I’m posting it to my blog (not the recipe just that you rock) and a link back to you. Thanks for a delicious dish!

  8. Claire,
    It was a feast, that’s how I like to cook usually lots of food and you just get as much of each thing that you want. Then I have awesome leftovers for the week or the freezer.

  9. I’m pretty sure I haven’t told you this, but I make this all the time and it’s always awesome. I’m making it for dinner again tonight using homemade corn tortillas! Have you made your own corn tortillas? I will be surprised if you haven’t – so if you haven’t, you really should!!

    • I have never made my own tortillas – you’re putting me to shame. I guess it’s because my family aren’t that crazy about the corn ones that it’s never occurred to me. I’ll have to try them someday. I’m glad you like the casserole!

    • Fresh, homemade corn tortillas just seem to taste different. They are just so fast, easy (and ridiculously cheap) to make. Your family might change their mind!

  10. Edward John

    This is the second time that I have made this recipe. I used “Beyond Meat” for the chicken seitan. I shredded it. And I used “Teese” for the Daiya. It was AWESOME. Thanks for posting this recipe.

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