Cheesy Chicken Southwest Pasta Casserole

Cheesy Chicken Southwest Pasta Casserole 1 Happy Friday, ya’ll! Yesterday I woke up thinking it was Friday. Realizing it was actually Thursday was a REAL buzz kill. A few choice words may or may not have been said. But, today, I can say with 94% accuracy that it is in fact Friday.

Let the angels sing.

Lately, I’ve been feeling under the weather. My stomach has been hurting and my abs have been aching. I think the 100 degree weather + no a/c is to blame. It feels like I’m being killed very slowly and painfully. Pretty sure this is what hell feels like.

I don’t really feel like eating anything at all either. Well, anything healthy. On Wednesday I made some mini brownie bites and ate approximately 31. Then I made another batch of this and ate it all with a bunch of those soft pocketless pita things. {The person who invented those deserves a medal.} Then I had 7 bowls of cereal and some diet root beer and called it a day. {Not together.} I did manage to eat a handful of grapes and some deli turkey at some point. And drank a few glasses of water. And had this for dinner.

{Remember my post about how I eat? YEAH. I’m such a healthy poster child. —>LIES.}

Why I chose to cook AND turn the oven on to make this in this heat is beyond me. Did I take crazy pills this morning? All signs point to yes.

I was lightheaded and delusional. Clearly.

So, this dinner. It’s amazing. My husband could not rave enough about this. We’re kind of a southwest freaks, so of course we enjoyed every last bite. I packed it full of veggies in an attempt to make myself feel less guilty about eating half the pan. And make up for all the cheese. And chips. Didn’t really work considering my previous consumption of 17,000 calories earlier in the day. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.

Moral of the story: make this.

Also, I like food. But I think you knew that already.

Here’s how to do it:┬áStart by cooking some whole wheat pasta part way. You’re going to be cooking this whole thing in the oven later, so you don’t want your pasta to turn into mush.

southwest pasta 1

In the same pot you cooked the pasta in, saute some veggies in a little butter. I used green peppers, red peppers, jalapenos, onions, garlic and corn. southwest pasta 2

After they’re tender, sprinkle in a little flour and stir. southwest pasta 3

Pour in some chicken stock or milk and cook until the sauce starts to thicken. southwest pasta 4

Once the sauce is a little bit thicker, add in some rotisserie chicken southwest pasta 5

mozzarella cheese, southwest pasta 6

cheddar cheese, southwest pasta 7

chili powder, cumin, s&p, southwest pasta 8

the cooked pasta and a splash of cream {not pictured}. southwest pasta 9

Stir it all up and pour into a casserole dish. Don’t be alarmed if it seems soupy. The pasta will soak some of that up in the oven. southwest pasta 10

Top the whole thing with crushed tortilla chips and bake 20-30 minutes. Cheesy Chicken Southwest Pasta Casserole After you pull it out, your family will sing praises and your tummies will thank you.

I think the chips on top were my favorite part. Love the textural difference. Oh, and the corn. It was super sweet.

We ended up LOVING this {my husband especially} and thoroughly devoured the leftovers yesterday. Here’s the printable:

Have a great weekend!

Cheesy Chicken Southwest Pasta Casserole

Yield: 4 generous portions


1/2 pound whole grain pasta such as rotini
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 ears of corn, kernels removed
1/4-1/3 cup all purpose flour {depending on how much liquid the veggies give off}
2 cups chicken stock or milk
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips


Start by boiling a large pot of water and cooking the pasta for half the time recommended on the box. Drain and set aside. In the same hot pot, melt butter and saute onions, garlic, peppers, jalapenos and corn until tender, 7 minutes or so. Sprinkle in flour and stir. Cook 2 minutes, then pour in chicken stock or milk. Increase heat to thicken sauce, then sprinkle in cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, cheeses, cream, chicken and cooked pasta. Stir to combine and pour into large casserole dish. Top with crushed tortilla chips and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve.

Recipe Notes: I used chicken stock, but feel free to use milk to make a creamier sauce. Also, I ran out of cheddar cheese so I didn't top my casserole with more cheese but would have liked to. If you wanted to be really crazy, top the chips with more cheese and salsa to get some nacho action. Holy guacamole that would be good.

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38 Responses to “Cheesy Chicken Southwest Pasta Casserole”

  1. #
    Sneha — August 17, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I’m definitely going to try this fab recipe… looks n sounds delicious :)


  2. #
    shelly (cookies and cups) — August 17, 2012 at 5:02 am

    Looks good. For real good!


  3. #
    Kelsey — August 17, 2012 at 5:28 am

    Well this is all of my favorite things in one dish. Making soon!


  4. #
    Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel — August 17, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Ack, sorry you don’t feel good Lauren! This looks awesome, and I hope it cures what ails ya.


  5. #
    Amy — August 17, 2012 at 8:36 am

    This looks soooo gooood. I wish I was not at work right now or I think I would be making this


  6. #
    Katie @ Blonde Ambition — August 17, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I feel you on the heat! It’s been getting up to 90 degrees in my apartment and I just feel sick all. the. time.

    Whole wheat pasta and lots of veggies – who are you kidding, this is totally a healthy meal!


  7. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — August 17, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Bookmarked!! :)


  8. #
    Jen @ Savory Simple — August 18, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Sounds wonderful!


  9. #
    Kim B. — August 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

    LOVE this recipe Lauren!! Can’t wait to try it :) Thank you for sharing!


  10. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — August 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    This dish looks amazing! Perfectly filling :) Oh, and I can’t believe you don’t have AC. I would melt.


  11. #
    marla — August 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

    LOVE this pasta casserole. Total comfort food :)


  12. #
    Jenny @ BAKE — August 22, 2012 at 11:35 am

    this looks amazing! I’m glad I’m not the only one who has bad food weeks, though I’m sure this dish would be a high point in my house any week!


  13. #
    Jolene ( — August 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    What a great looking pasta!!!


  14. #
    Non Invasive Surgery — August 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Our air went out too… we stayed with my sister because I couldn’t bare the heat!


  15. #
    Jenifer — August 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    This looks SO good! Quick question though. Do the chips on the top get soggy while baking?



    • Lauren — August 30th, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

      Mine did a little bit, but nothing I couldn’t handle. :)


  16. #
    RoselyC — August 31, 2012 at 11:25 am

    From the moment I saw this I knew I had to try it and I did! It was delicious, thank you for sharing your amazing recipes!!! Yes you deserve the triple exclamation points and a smiley face :)


  17. #
    Debra — September 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm



  18. #
    Jeremy — October 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Wow! I found this recipe in google today and wanted to cook something special for the family tonight. That was awesome, even my kids who are usually picky eaters when it comes to peppers, onions, etc. were begging for more. Great recipe, you made one families night!



  19. #
    Erin — January 10, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I found your recipe while browsing Pinterest for something to make for dinner that included the left over rotisserie chicken from Costco we had for dinner a few nights ago. . I must say it was amazing! The hunny even said that this was definitely one of his top ten favorite dinners, score!! :) :) :)

    I do have to admit that I did make some changes per our tastes, and what I had on hand..

    First off, I used 1 can of corn, 1 can of green chilies, 1 can of tomatoes with green chilies, 1 can of olives, as well as the onion and garlic.

    Also I didn’t have any heavy cream on hand, and lets face it after the holidays, who needs all the extra calories :). So instead I substituted 1 can of fat free cream of chicken soup. Then at the very end i realized that I didn’t have any corn chips on hand. But I did find some long forgotten flour tortillas. Soo I cut them up intro strips and covered the top with them and then covered the whole mess with more cheddar cheese! The addition of flour tortillas was, I think, the best part! They got nice and golden brown and crispy

    . YUM!! Im still sooo full from my two big helpings at dinner. But now after typing this my mouth is watering for more! Thank you for the delicious recipe. It is most definitely a new favorite in our house hold


  20. #
    Cassy — February 15, 2013 at 9:17 am

    This is WITHOUT A DOUBT my family’s favorite recipe!! I have cooked it so many times now that I don’t even have to look at the recipe! I was never a big fan of bell peppers but I cook them down enough and it taste AMAZING!! You, my dear, are a genius!!!


  21. #
    Erin — February 28, 2013 at 5:48 am

    I made this last night and it was terrific. I used greek yogurt to creamitize the sauce and it worked great! I added a little more sharp cheddar cheese and used mini macaronis instead and called it Mexican Mac’n’Cheese so my boys would eat it. Thanks for sharing. :)


  22. #
    Peachhina — April 18, 2013 at 9:11 am

    This looks sooooo yummy!!! I’m definitely trying this out for dinner tomorrow!


  23. #
    Andrea — May 31, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I made this tonight for dinner. I used milk with a bit of chicken bouillon granules mixed in. I also used prepared spicy pico de gallo in place of the veggies and added half a can of drained corn to make things even more simple. It turned out delicious! Thanks for the recipe Lauren. :)


  24. #
    Elizabeth — August 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I tried this recipe (with a few tweaks) and it turned out AMAZING. I was out of tortilla chips and heavy cream, so I used Panko bread crumbs and half and half instead. I also opted to used canned mixed veggies (I know, the shame!) instead of bell peppers and that would be my only regret. They mushed together a tad and I’m sure fresh peppers would have been much better. Anyway, thanks for the awesome idea!


  25. #
    Margaret — October 2, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Do you think it would be okay to use cornflour instead of flour? And vegetable stock instead of chicken stock? And how much milk/cream is really needed? Wondering if I need to buy a container or I can just steal a splash from a friend, haha. Thanks!


    • Lauren — October 2nd, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

      I’ve never used corn flour before, so I’m not sure about that one, BUT the vegetable stock is ok and you probably only need a splash or two of cream!!


      • Margaret — October 3rd, 2013 @ 6:04 am

        Great! Thanks – I’ll definitely be giving this a try soon! : ) Though I’ll be using a British microwave/convection oven for the first time, so fingers crossed.

  26. #
    Alicia — October 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Found your recipe on Pinterest and knew it was destiny that I make this recipe. I do not regret my decision — so, so, so good! I didn’t have any fresh corn so I used a bag of frozen that I’d defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. I’d also chopped the peppers about a week before and had them frozen, defrosted them, ended up using the entire 1/3 c. flour because of all of the water the peppers gave off. It turned out perfect. Even my boy who is sensitive to stuff that is ‘spicy’ asked for a second helping.
    It is definitely going in to the rotation!


  27. #
    Karen — November 25, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Have made this recipe over and over it is one of my favs! Is a little time consuming but worth it!


  28. #
    JE — September 21, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Hey Lauren,

    I first made this recipe 2 years ago, followed by many other times. (bookmarked it), now I made it again tonight. Still one of my favorites. So delicious, and the wife and kids love it and beg me to make it! Thanks!!!!



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