Southwest Chicken Skillet Recipe – A Flavorful one-pan Meal

Craving a hearty, flavorful dinner but don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen? Look no further than this easy Southwest Chicken Skillet Recipe, ready in 30 minutes!

Southwest Chicken Skillet Recipe

This skillet dish brings together tender ground chicken, fluffy Rice, sautéed peppers and onions, melty cheese, fresh tomatoes and cilantro, and a tangy lime sour cream sauce for a meal packed with Tex-Mex flavors.

Keep reading for the full step-by-step recipe, pro tips for customizing it to your tastes, suggested side dishes, and ideas for turning leftovers into quick lunches and breakfasts the next day.

A new Weekday Dinner Staple

My wife Rameeza and I have been making variations of this Southwest Chicken Skillet recipe for months. It satisfies our cravings for Mexican cuisine with way less effort than ordering takeout.

The method couldn’t be easier – brown the ground chicken and veggies, stir in rice and taco seasoning, top with cheese, tomatoes, cilantro, and sour cream, then stick it under the broiler to melt everything together.

Dinner is ready in about 30 minutes, with just one skillet to wash afterward. Now that’s my easy weeknight meal!

We like serving the skillet with crunchy tortilla chips, lime wedges, sliced avocado, and hot sauce on the side to customize each person’s spice preferences.

It also keeps stored in the fridge for a few days, so I often whip up a double batch on Sundays to have easy leftovers for lunches and dinners later in the week when I don’t feel like cooking.

Key Ingredients

Here’s a closer look at some of the key ingredients that make this such a flavorful and satisfying one-skillet dinner:

Ground Chicken

I typically use ground chicken for its mild flavor and meaty texture that pairs perfectly with the Mexican spices. It requires no prep other than browning it right in the skillet.

Ground turkey, beef, lamb, or pork would all work well, too, if you prefer a different flavor profile.


White or brown Rice adds heartiness and soaks up all the delicious flavors. I like using quick-cooking varieties like jasmine or basmati to reduce cooking time.

You could also swap in quinoa or cauliflower Rice for a gluten-free option.

Taco Seasoning

While I’ve made this with cumin, chili powder, and other basic spices, nothing beats the convenience of pre-made taco seasoning packets. They take the guesswork out of getting the flavor just right.

Look for varieties without excessive sodium or MSG. I like adding the seasoning to a bit of water first to make a paste that distributes evenly.

Peppers & Onions

Sautéing sweet peppers and onions adds fresh flavor and texture contrast. Cubanelle or poblano peppers are my top pick, but bell peppers or onions would be tasty, too.

Cheese & Toppings

A Mexican blend of cheeses creates that essential ooey-gooey topping, while fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and tangy lime sour cream finish it. Feel free to play around with your favorite melty cheeses and taco toppings.

Easy step-by-step recipe

Southwest Chicken Skillet Recipe

Follow these simple steps to make this flavorful Southwest Chicken Skillet recipe at home.

Prep the Ingredients (5 minutes)

Pull out a large cast iron or oven-safe skillet along with the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
    1 cup dry rice (jasmine, basmati, brown or white)
  • 1-2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
    1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lime
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 2-3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt & black pepper
  • 2 cubanelle or poblano peppers, chopped
  • Small bunch of fresh cilantro

Cook the Rice (15 minutes)

Prepare the Rice according to package directions while cooking the rest of the dish. For 1 cup jasmine rice, combine with 2 cups water or chicken broth, bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes until tender.

Make the Toppings (5 minutes)

  • In a small bowl, stir the diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, juice from 1/2 lime, and salt & pepper to taste.
  • Whisk the sour cream with juice from the other 1/2 lime and just enough water to thin it out to a drizzling consistency in another small bowl.
  • Set both bowls aside.

Cook the Chicken & Veggies (10 minutes)

  • Heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high. Add the chopped onion and peppers and sauté for 5 minutes until beginning to soften.
  • Season the ground chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned through.
  • Add the cooked Rice, taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup water and stir thoroughly to incorporate. Continue cooking for 1-2 more minutes to heat through.

Finish & Serve (5 minutes)

  • Turn the broiler to high. Top chicken and rice mixture evenly with the shredded Mexican cheese blend.
  • Pop under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.
  • Remove skillet from oven and top with prepared tomato-cilantro mixture and drizzle with lime sour cream sauce.
  • Serve chicken skillet immediately while hot, adding any desired accompaniments like tortilla chips, avocado slices, or hot sauce. Enjoy!

Tips For Customizing

Follow the base recipe, then customize it to your tastes with these easy additions:

  • Stir 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained, into rice mixture
  • Top with sliced jalapeños or avocado
  • Swap 2 teaspoons chili powder + 1 teaspoon each cumin & oregano for taco seasoning
  • Use Monterey jack, pepper jack, cheddar or Oaxaca cheese
  • Add hot sauce or salsa to spice it up
  • Serve with crispy tortilla strips, cilantro-lime Rice, or cauli-rice on the side
  • Bake a batch of cornbread and serve squares alongside

Meal Prep & Storage

  • Refrigerate leftover skillet for up to 4 days
  • Reheat individual portions in the microwave or oven
  • Freeze cooked skillet for longer-term storage up to 3 months
  • Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating

Turn Leftovers into more Meals

Put those leftovers to good use! Here are my favorite ways to transform them into quick meals:

  • Breakfast Burrito – Wrap chicken mixture, cheese, and optional scrambled egg in a tortilla
  • Southwest Salad – Pile chicken, Rice & veggies over greens and top with corn, avocado and crispy tortilla strips
  • Nachos – Load tortilla chips with chicken mixture, beans, salsa, cheese, lettuce, tomato and jalapeño
  • Stuffed Pepper – Mix chicken filling with extra Rice and pile into halved roasted bell peppers
  • Quesadilla – Stuff chicken mixture, black beans, and cheese inside a toasted tortilla

I hope you enjoy this easy Southwest Chicken Skillet as much as I do! Let me know if you have any other favorite add-ins or customizations.

Nutrition Information for this Recipe

Here is the nutrition information per 1/4 of the recipe:

  • Calories: 561
  • Sugar: 4.1g
  • Sodium: 543mg
  • Fat: 28g
  • Saturated Fat: 13.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 46.2g
  • Fiber: 1.7g
  • Protein: 32.9g
  • Cholesterol: 146mg

This satisfying one-skillet dinner packs a punch of protein, fiber, and flavor for relatively low calories, fat, and carbs. Using lean ground chicken and fiber-rich Rice and veggies helps make it a balanced meal.

Of course, exact amounts will vary if you swap in different ingredients or add high-calorie sides like chips, cheese, or sour cream.

I hope you find this recipe as delicious and versatile as I do. It’s become a regular rotation dinner, lunch, and even breakfast option in our home.

Let me know if you have any other favorite southwest flavor combinations or easy weeknight dinner recipes your family loves!

If you love these Southwest flavors, try my simple Baked Chicken Chimichangas recipe next – it’s an easy Tex-Mex comfort food made with chicken, beans, cheese and spices wrapped up in tortillas then baked until crispy and melty.

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