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Cheesy Mexican Rice & Chicken Skillet

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and protein-packed dinner that’s full of flavor, look no further than this Cheesy Mexican Rice & Chicken Skillet.

This dish has everything you could want in a satisfying meal: tender chicken, fluffy rice, and a creamy cheese sauce that ties it all together.

Bowl of creamy chicken and rice

By using pre-cooked or leftover chicken, you can have this delicious skillet on the table in about 30 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights when you don’t have a lot of time to spare.

But don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you – it’s packed with bold Mexican-inspired flavors like cumin, cayenne, and enchilada sauce that transform this simple recipe into a complex blend of flavors.

And with a whopping 33 grams of protein per serving, this cheesy Mexican cheesy chicken and rice recipe will surely keep you full.

If you’re ready to add a new go-to comfort dish to your dinner rotation, grab your favorite skillet and let’s get into it. I promise, once you taste this cheesy, protein-packed skillet, you’ll be hooked.

Cheese pull in chicken and rice dish


Ingredients You’ll Need

Let’s start by gathering all the ingredients we’ll need to make this cheesy Mexican rice & chicken skillet. We’re using some shortcuts here to keep this meal quick and easy.

Ingredients for chicken and rice skillet

First up, we have our protein sources: pre-cooked chicken is the main protein in this one, and you can use any pre-cooked chicken you’d like. Whether that means store-bought or homemade leftovers, anything will work here.

I love using Trader Joe’s sous vide skinless chicken thighs because they are incredibly flavorful and tender, but if you want to save some calories & fat, lean chicken breast will also work great.

Trader Joe's sous vide chicken thighs

In addition to chicken, we’re also using fat-free cottage cheese in this recipe.

I know, I know – cottage cheese might sound like an odd addition to a Mexican-inspired dish, but trust me on this one. It adds a creamy texture and an extra boost of protein without overwhelming the other flavors. I don’t like the taste of cottage cheese on its own, but it works really well in the sauce.

If you can’t use cottage cheese for any reason, you can swap it right the same amount of queso cheese. Queso won’t provide the same protein as cottage cheese, but it will still be delicious!

Next, we’ll grab a can of red enchilada sauce to build a base for our sauce, along with shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese for maximum cheesiness. If you don’t have enchilada sauce, you can use tomato sauce or tomato paste in its place, but you’ll need to add extra spice in that case- taco seasoning would be a great choice if you go that route.

The enchilada sauce already has great flavor, but we’ll also be adding some ground cumin and cayenne pepper to elevate the flavors. These spices are key to giving our cheesy Mexican rice & chicken more of an authentic flavor.

Of course, we can’t forget the rice, our other star of the dish. I like to use a box of Goya Mexican Rice for convenience and added flavor, but feel free to use your favorite brand or make your own. If you want to go with plain white rice or brown rice, you certainly can.

Goya mexican rice

I prefer to use a box of Mexican rice because it contains some veggies in the rice mixture already, namely diced tomato and bell pepper, which means less prep for us!


How to Make Cheesy Mexican Rice & Chicken

Now that we have all our ingredients together, it’s time to start cooking.

First, we’ll prepare our Mexican rice according to the package instructions, but we’ll remove it from the heat a few minutes before it’s fully cooked. This will allow the rice to finish cooking in the cheesy sauce later on, ensuring that it absorbs all those delicious flavors.

While the rice is cooking, we’ll mix up our cheesy sauce by combining the cottage cheese (I like to blend mine first for added smoothness, but this is optional), enchilada sauce, shredded cheese, cumin, and cayenne in a bowl. Once it’s all mixed together, set it aside.

Cheesy enchilada sauce

Next, we’ll dice up our pre-cooked chicken and onion, and mince the garlic.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic together for a few minutes before adding in the diced chicken. Let this all cook together for a 3-5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the meat to sear.

Chicken rice skillet before mixing

Now, it’s time to bring everything together! Add the rice and cheesy sauce to the skillet with the chicken and onion, stirring well to combine. Allow this to cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking and the cheese is nice and melty.

Creamy rice and chicken in skillet

Remove the skillet from the heat and top your cheesy Mexican rice & chicken with a sprinkle of extra shredded cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. For added flavor, you can plate your main dish with some diced jalapeno, green onion, or cilantro.

And that’s all there is to it! This recipe makes 4 servings, and as someone with a rather large appetite, one serving is surprisingly filling.

If you find yourself with leftovers, don’t worry – this cheesy Mexican rice & chicken reheats beautifully and the sauce will thicken up even more in the fridge, making it perfect for meal prep.

Eating bowl of mexican chicken and rice


More Cheesy Recipes to Explore

If the cheesy goodness of this dish is not enough for you, check out some of my other favorites:


Cheesy mexican chicken and rice

Cheesy Mexican Rice & Chicken Skillet

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

If you're short on time and want a cheesy, delicious, protein-packed dinner, this cheesy Mexican chicken & rice is perfect for you. Using leftover or precooked chicken, this dinner comes together in no time at all.


  • 7oz (1 Box) Mexican Rice
  • 16oz (1lb) Cooked Chicken Thighs or Chicken Breast
  • 10z (1 Can) Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 113g (1/2 Cup) Fat Free Cottage Cheese
  • 56g (1/2 Cup) Shredded Mexican or Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Medium Sweet Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves (Minced)
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne
  • 1 tsp Lime Juice (for topping)


  1. Prep the Mexican rice based on the package instructions. Remove from heat while the rice is slightly undercooked (if the box calls for 25 minutes, cook for 20).
  2. While the rice cooks, make the cheesy sauce mixture. I prefer to blend my cottage cheese first to make it smooth, but since it will cook down in the pan, this is optional. In a bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, enchilada sauce, shredded cheddar, cayenne, and cumin. Set aside.
  3. Dice up your leftover or pre-cooked chicken along with your onion.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook them down for a few minutes before adding the diced chicken and cooking everything together for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Once the rice is ready, add the cooked rice to the pan along with your cheesy sauce. Mix everything together and cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cooks, so longer cook time will lead to a slightly thicker sauce.
  6. Remove from heat, top with additional shredded cheese and lime juice, then dig in!


  • Don't worry if you don't like cottage cheese- neither do I. It adds great creaminess and extra protein to this recipe and a very subtle flavor.
  • You can bump up the amount of shredded cheese if you want this dish to be extra cheesy.
  • Leftovers hold up great and the sauce thickens even more once this is stored in the fridge. Reheating as part of meal prep works great!
  • I used pre-cooked chicken thighs from Trader Joe's in this recipe, but truly any chicken will work. To save calories & fat, opt for lean chicken breast.
Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of Recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 415Total Fat 11gCarbohydrates 46gProtein 33g

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About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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