This fabulous Mexican Chicken and Rice comes together in one skillet in way less than an hour. It’s loaded with fresh veggies, lean chicken and lots of south-of-border flavor!
If you enjoy south-of-the-border flavor and meals that come together quickly, but like to steer away from heavy, high-calorie, cheese-laden entrees, this easy, one-pot Mexican Chicken and Rice might just have your name written all over it! It definitely has mine!
The inspiration for this recipe came from the NYT Cooking website. I subscribe to their weekly emails and couldn’t help from clicking on their gorgeous-looking recipe for Skillet Chicken With Black Beans, Rice and Chiles. The reviews were somewhat mixed though, so I decided to go with the basic idea but run with an easier, healthier version with more Mexican-inspired flavor. Thank you NYT Cooking, for the inspiration!
This Mexican Chicken and Rice recipe comes together easily and can be prepped ahead to make things super simple right before dinner. I call it “One-Pot” but it’s actually a one-skillet recipe. You’ll need a 12-inch skillet, unless you decide to halve the recipe, which will work nicely in a 10-inch skillet.
I use my 12-inch Staub Braiser for this, but a 12-inch cast-iron or regular skillet will also work well. The braiser also makes a really nice presentation for serving and would make a wonderful gift for anyone who enjoys cooking and entertaining.
Can I use chicken breasts for this Mexican Chicken and Rice?
Yes and no. Well, maybe it’s better to say no and yes.
- No, you can’t just sub chicken breasts for the thighs in this recipe. First of all, chicken thighs need a longer cooking time and, because they have a higher fat content, it’s actually difficult to overcook them. In this Mexican Chicken and Rice recipe, the thighs are sautéed until they’re deep golden brown and (if you look closely at the pictures) are even charred a bit in places.
- That’s not a good technique to use with chicken breasts as they are leaner and will get dry and tough if cooked too long. All that to say, yes, you could sub chicken breasts for the thighs, but I would recommend using the cooking technique utilized in our Juicy Tender Chicken Breasts (on the stovetop) recipe. The chicken breasts are cooked for a shorter time and covered halfway through.
Makes great leftovers!
This is one of those dishes that reheats beautifully so it makes great leftovers, work lunches and meals on the run. It can be made in advance and simply warmed in the oven before serving. Give it about 20-25 minutes at 300˚F (150˚C).
Change it up!
I love to serve this Mexican Chicken and Rice with sour cream, tortillas chips, avocado and fresh cilantro as serve-yourself garnishes. Another option is to slice up the chicken and serve it in a Homemade Flour Tortilla with a scoop of this Mexican Chopped Salad. Serve the rice on the side for a fabulous meal!
However you decide to serve it, this chicken and rice will be popular with young and old alike. It seems that just about everyone loves Mexican-inspired or TexMex food! Put this delicious recipe on your menu sometime soon!
Cafe Tips for making this Mexican Chicken and Rice
- As mentioned above, this recipe can be prepped ahead to make mealtime super simple.
- Chop the veggies. If you’re using a chopper like the Vidalia Chop Wizard (see below), you can leave the veggies right in the chopper and refrigerate. Chop the jalapeno and refrigerate separately.
- Mix up the spice blend in a small bowl or plastic zip-top bag. (I like to make several extra little bags of the spice blend. Then I’m all set next time I want to make this Mexican Chicken and Rice!)
- Trim the chicken and place it in a zip-top bag. Add the spice blend and massage and shake the bag a bit to coat the chicken. Refrigerate until ready for use.
- Measure out the rice into a storage container.
- Measure the chicken broth and refrigerate.
- The only thing that takes a bit of time in the prep for this recipe is chopping the onion and bell peppers. I do this quickly though with my Vidalia Chop Wizard. I’m not big on lots of kitchen gadgets but I LOVE this one. You can chop up all the veggies for this dish in less than two minutes. It has a built-in measuring cup which is really nice. There are fancier versions of this chopper, but I really like this basic version. It’s a wonderful kitchen workhorse for me.
- You’ll notice smoked paprika in the ingredient list. If you don’t stock smoked paprika, you’re missing out on something wonderful. Smoked paprika comes from Spain. It’s made from mild chiles that are smoked then dried over an oak fire. It’s a red powder with a deliciously rich and smoky flavor. Occasionally smoked paprika will be labeled “hot”. I prefer a mild smoked paprika for this dish.
- This Mexican Chicken and Rice recipe calls for two bell peppers. You can use any color you prefer, OR you can use the mini bell peppers for a variety of colors. I like the presentation that the tiny diced peppers in yellow, red and orange give. Generally, 6 average-sized mini peppers will be equivalent to 1 medium-large bell pepper.
- This recipe can be prepared without chicken for a wonderful side to any Mexican entree.
- You could also grill the chicken using this same rub and then serve the grilled chicken with the rice from this recipe. Brush the chicken with a little olive oil as it grills.
- There’s brown sugar in the rub. The sugar doesn’t make this Mexican Chicken and Rice sweet, but it does bring out and round out all the other flavors.
- This recipe calls for chili powder. Chili powder can vary a lot in intensity. Use whatever kind you really like or the kind you use for chili. I like Mexene Chili Powder. It used to be sold at just about every grocery store but it seems not as many stores carry it these days. It’s inexpensive and easy to find online though.
Thought for the day:
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
What we’re listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 ¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat and cut into servcing size pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion diced small
- 2 medium yellow, orange or red bell peppers diced small (I use red orange and yellow mini peppers, see Café Tips for conversion)
- 4 garlic cloves finely minced
- 1 cup basmati rice (uncooked)
- 1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 15 ounces canned black beans (1 can) rinsed and well drained
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1-2 medium jalapeños halved, seeded and finely chopped
- Serve with lime wedges sliced fresh red chilies, sour cream, avocado slices and/or tortilla chips, for optional garnishes
For the rub:
Combine all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside 1 tablespoons of the mixture.
Place the chicken pieces on a work surface and sprinkle generously on both sides with the spice rub. Use all of the remaining rub.
Place a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and butter and swirl the pan until the butter is melted and bubbly. Add the chicken and cook, uncovered for 5-7 minutes until the underside is deeply brown and slightly charred in places. The pan should be hot enough for the chicken to sizzle a bit as it cooks but not spatter wildly all over the stove top. If it’s spattering too much, reduced the heat a bit.
Flip the chicken to the opposite side and cook for another 5-6 minutes, again until nicely browned. Remove from the pan to a clean plate. Cover lightly with foil and set aside.
Add the onion, peppers and jalapeño to the drippings in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add the rice, garlic and reserved spices to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
Add the chicken broth and black beans and salt to the pan and bring the mixture to a full boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to very low. Cook for 12 minutes.
Remove the cover and add the finely chopped cilantro and jalapeño. Stir and fluff with a fork. Nestle the chicken into the rice and drizzle any juices from the plate over the chicken. Cover tightly and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve with any or all of the garnishes. Enjoy!
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.