Fiesta chicken will make your dinner dreams faster than ever. It makes a huge amount so be ready to freeze the leftovers for faster dinners another night too. Tender chicken, spicy green chiles and rice that’s never sticky make this one dish wonder a winner.Jump to Recipe
One pan dinners are the best, aren’t they? Tack on that this one is a perfect freezer meal (make it and put it away) and that it makes a huge amount and you can cook once and eat it twice on whatever schedule you want.
What is fiesta chicken?
Fiesta chicken, also known as chicken fiesta, is a flavorful one-pan Mexican-style dish with chicken, rice, black beans, and a variety of veggies all seasoned with warm spices and herbs and finished with Mexican cheese.
There are so many ways to go about fiesta chicken. Variations on veggies, sauces, seasonings, and cooking methods (see the section below titled “Ways to cook fiesta chicken”) abound.
Applebee’s, for example, serves a version (they call it fiesta lime chicken) featuring grilled chicken topped with a zesty lime sauce and melted cheese.
Instead of mixing the chicken with rice, beans, and veggies, Applebee’s serves their fiesta lime chicken over seasoned rice and black beans with pico de gallo.
What is fiesta seasoning?
Fiesta seasoning is a pre-made spice blend that is specifically formulated to impart Mexican-inspired flavor to dishes such as fiesta chicken.
It typically contains a combination of spices like paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and sometimes a citrus element from lime or lemon.
You can purchase fiesta seasoning from a variety of brands but I think it’s best to make your own.
For simplicity sake, I just used my homemade taco seasoning but if you are going to buy something, look for Siete brand. It’s cleaner than most brands.
Ways to cook fiesta chicken
Stovetop: This method is the easiest and the fastest.
Slow cooker: I haven’t tested it but you could transfer the cooked chicken and sauteed vegetables to a greased slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low 2 to 3 hours.
Oven: Load it all into a baking dish, cover the pan and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes or until the rice is soft.
Here’s what you’ll need.
Fiesta chicken tips
Want to make the perfect chicken fiesta your first time around? Have a look at these tips and tricks. They’ll help set you up for fiesta-worthy success.
- Use clean ingredients. Using fresh, high-quality ingredients can significantly enhance the overall flavor of this dish. Go for fresh vegetables and air-chilled chicken. Make sure to check the expiration date on your spices, too.
- Select your chicken wisely. Steer clear of chicken that has been packed in a chlorine bath. It often ends up tough due to the chemical treatment. Organic or air chilled chicken will avoid the chlorine and the texture will be better.
- Make your own seasoning. Making your own fiesta seasoning is best. I suggest looking up a recipe online, but it shouldn’t be more complicated than mixing together some paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and a touch of lemon or lime zest.
- Rinse your rice. Unless you want sticky, gluey rice, rinse it in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear before adding it to the dish. Lately I’ve been washing my rice in a big bowl of water and draining it from there.
Why is my chicken tough?
No one wants tough, rubbery chicken. Here come a couple of reasons this happens and ways to troubleshoot them.
- Overcooking. Cooking chicken for too long or at excessively high temperatures can cause the meat to become tough and dry. So keep your temperature under control, set a timer, and monitor your chicken closely.
- Chicken quality. The quality of the chicken you use matters. Choose fresh, high-quality chicken (preferably organic). Avoid chicken that has been injected with water or additives like carageenan which predispose the chicken to becoming tough.
Ways to use fiesta chicken
While chicken fiesta is incredible on its own with a dollop of sour cream or guacamole, you can use it as the backbone of so many other fun dishes. Here are some of my favorites.
- Wrap it up. Stuff warm tortillas with this savory chicken and rice dish, top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, and/or a drizzle of lime crema or salsa. Use small tortillas for tacos or wrap everything up burrito-style in larger tortillas.
- Make it a soup. Leave out the cheese and add some broth to make fiesta chicken soup. Top the soup with avocado, sour cream, and/or shredded cheese.
- Fiesta chicken casserole. Once the rice and chicken are cooked through, whip up a creamy sauce of sour cream, salsa, and fiesta seasoning and mix it into the fiesta chicken. Transfer everything to a casserole dish, sprinkle with cheese, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes (take the foil off for the last 5 minutes).
- Fiesta chicken salad. Toss some fiesta chicken over chopped romaine lettuce and drizzle with cilantro-lime dressing for a bright, flavorful salad.
How to make fiesta chicken step by step
Sear chicken breasts or thighs in hot oil until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
Add the peppers and onions to the same skillet and saute until softened.
Add the taco or fiesta seasoning mix and cook 30 seconds to release the oils and flavors of the spices.
Add the broth and diced tomatoes and stir to combine.
Add the rice and green chiles to the skillet. Stir to combine then cover and simmer until the rice is half cooked; about 15 minutes.
Add the beans, corn and chicken to the skillet and stir well. Cover and cook on low until the rice is softened; about 10 or 12 more minutes.
Once the rice is softened, add the cheese and turn off the heat. Let the cheese melt and you’re ready to serve.
How to store fiesta chicken
- Refrigerator. Allow your leftovers to cool completely before sealing them in an airtight container and storing them in the refrigerator. It will stay good for up to 4 days.
- Freezer. Once the chicken fiesta has cooled completely, seal it in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the dish to thaw in the fridge before reheating.
- To reheat. Reheat over medium heat on the stovetop. Be sure to stir occasionally to ensure even reheating. You can also transfer a portion of fiesta chicken to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it in 30-second intervals (stirring between each) until heated through.
What to serve with chicken fiesta
Enjoy this hearty main with a tasty starter or a side or two. Here are some fun options.
More easy Mexican-inspired recipes
In the fiesta spirit? I say, run with it! Here are a few of my favorite Mexican-inspired dishes I think you’ll love.
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts about 1 ½ pounds
- 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 1 medium bell pepper ¾ cup finely diced
- 1 medium onion ¾ cup finely diced
- 1 14- ounce can diced tomatoes
- ¾ cup corn
- ¾ cup black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 cup basmati rice rinsed
- 1 4 ounce green chiles
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth homemade preferred, see notes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese shredded
- Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat 2 to 3 minutes then add the oil and the chicken. Cook until brown on all sides, turn off the heat and remove the chicken from the pan.
- Return the skillet to medium heat, then add onion and bell pepper and saute 3 minutes.
- Add the taco seasoning and stir to heat the spices and cook 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and broth, and the rinsed rice and green chiles.
- Cover and cook 15 minutes on low.
- Add the chicken back to the pan with the beans and corn. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes more on low until liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes covered
- Top with cheese and cilantro and serve warm.