Mexican Chicken Lasagna is as dreamy and delicious as it sounds. This lasagna is made up of layers of oven roasted chicken, sautéed peppers and onions, Monterey jack cheese and oven-ready lasagna noodles all dressed in velvety smooth poblano cream cheese sauce.
The poblanos are charred before being used giving a smoky flavor to the lasagna and then pureed with a cream cheese based white sauce until smooth to make a flavorful concoction you’ll crave again and again. The sauce is really what makes this recipe!
Can we just take a moment to celebrate the glory of cream cheese? It’s so f*cking good no matter what you add it to. I sometimes have to restrict myself from adding it to everything I make. For this recipe though, it was absolutely essential! It brings creaminess and a tang to that party that I adore.
I know you’re going to LOVE Mexican Chicken Lasagna.
What’s in Mexican Chicken Lasagna?
Mexican Chicken Lasagna is a combination of the creamy chicken lasagna we all know and love brightened up with some classic Tex-Mex flavors. After being raised in South Texas, I’m always looking for a chance to use those flavors.
The foundation of the recipe is a rich, creamy green sauce. It ties all the other elements of the recipe together and will have you wanting to pick up your plate to lick it at the end of the meal. That’s no exaggeration.
Mexican Chicken Lasagna is kid-friendly and a crowd pleaser. Basically, I’ve never served it to anyone who didn’t absolutely love it. This recipe is also so simple that you can make tweaks to make it your own.
Do I have to char and peel my poblanos?
If you’ve never spent a little extra time to char your peppers, you seriously don’t know what you’re missing. Without charring the poblanos, they have a flavor more like green bell peppers. After charring the outside skin, the poblanos take on a whole new flavor that is more complex, smoky and earthy.
So, the answer is yes, you really have to char them, but trust me when I tell you it’s easy and totally worth it.
Substituting with white meat chicken
My Mexican Lasagna calls for chicken thighs instead of the more standardly used breasts. I really like dark meat and my husband prefers it, so this is a common switch in my house. However, I know some people are not a fan of dark meat chicken. No problem!
Using boneless skinless chicken breasts in place of thighs in the recipe is totally fine. You can also use rotisserie chicken or frozen cooked chicken for an added shortcut too.
To roast the chicken breasts in the oven, you’ll need to adjust the cook time called for in the recipe. Chicken breasts, depending on their thickness, typically take about 15 minutes to cook through at 375 degrees. I also like to drizzle chicken breasts with a little olive oil before putting them in the oven to help the browning process.
What are oven-ready lasagna noodles? Can I use regular noodles?
If you’ve never heard of them before, oven-ready lasagna noodles are just as they sound. They do not have to be boiled before building the lasagna and baking it. These lasagna noodles can be layered while still dry and crisp.
Like magic, after baking the noodles are soft just as-if they had been boiled.
Oven-ready noodles are not exactly the same taste and texture as regular noodles, so I won’t try to argue that point. For those that have never compared the two, oven-ready tend to be a little thicker and have a slightly doughier texture in my opinion.
Oven ready noodles do, however, save a ton of time in the kitchen! No more boiling noodles and laying them out on greased cookie sheets. All you have to do is cook the sauce, chicken and veggies and you’re ready to assemble.
That being said, if you hate the oven-ready style for whatever reason, you’re more than welcome to use standard lasagna noodles. Just be sure to cook them through before assembling your lasagna.
Is cilantro required in Mexican Chicken Lasagna?
Are you one of those terribly unlucky people who think cilantro tastes like soap? My heart breaks a little for you because I seriously LOVE cilantro. Fortunately, the sauce in this recipe would still be equally flavorful without cilantro because of the charred poblanos that are also pureed into the mix.
You can omit the cilantro from this recipe if you’re not a fan, and it will still be delicious.
What to use if you don’t have a blender
There are several different tools you could use to blend your sauce together, but an electronic gadget is not a total necessity. You can finely mince your poblanos and cilantro by hand and stir them into the cream cheese sauce. It will require a little extra effort and the sauce won’t be as smooth as pictured, but it will taste amazing.
I use an immersion blender at home because I can blend the sauce right in the saucepan. A regular blender would, of course, work too, or a food processor would be another option. If you’re using a blender or food processor though, BE CAREFUL. Hot liquids spraying from a running blender is something out of a horror movie.
If you don’t have a lasagna pan, any bakeware will do
We have a well-stocked kitchen at my house between a food blogger and a professional chef, but I don’t have a dedicated lasagna pan. Yes, there is such a thing. “What is the difference between a lasagna pan and you’re standard 9” x 13” baking pan,” you ask? Basically, it’s bigger and deeper.
I have never made my Mexican Chicken Lasagna in a lasagna pan, but I imagine you would end up with a bigger lasagna with one less layer. The lasagna in the pictures was made in a standard 9” x 13” baking pan hence why there is about an inch gap between the lasagna and the edge of the pan.
No matter what pan you make it in, the recipe will be beautiful and delicious.
Don’t stress too much about the noodles perfectly fitting the dish.
I know you’re going to LOVE this Mexican Chicken Lasagna. I ate this 4 nights in a row with a little side of sliced avocado….yea, I said 4 nights in a ro
Can Mexican Lasagna be made in advance?
Yes, you can just make the components or the entire recipe in advance. One option is to cook the chicken, peppers and onions, store them in the fridge for up to 3 days, and then assemble the lasagna when you’re ready to bake it. Another option is to put the whole thing together, cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to cook, or up to 3 days before baking.
If the lasagna has totally chilled before you’re cooking it, be sure to let it sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes prior to baking or you can add another 15-20 minutes to the bake time.
How could I make this recipe vegetarian?
You can completely omit meat from the recipe. Vegetable broth would be an easy substitute for chicken broth. I would also recommend replacing the chicken with mushrooms. Portabella mushrooms seasoned just as the chicken is seasoned in this recipe would be awesome in Mexican Chicken Lasagna.
Be sure to drizzle your mushrooms with a little olive oil before putting them in the oven so they brown nicely. Mushrooms won’t take as long to cook as chicken thighs, but it will depend on the size. Start with about 15 minutes and cook until you get the desired texture.
Want to make your Mexican Chicken Lasagna spicy?
If you like your food spicy, I like you. I try not to put too much heat into my recipes because I find most people are sensitive to spice here in the states. The poblanos in this recipe offer a little bit of kick, but if you really like it hot, add some jalapenos or serrano peppers to your lasagna.
Sautee some hot peppers along with the bell peppers, and you’ll have Spicy Mexican Chicken Lasagna!
What to serve with Mexican Lasagna
Most of the time, I serve my Mexican Chicken Lasagna with sliced avocado or tortilla chips with guacamole. Another option would be Refried Beans, and I have an awesome recipe!
Spanish rice would also be a solid pairing. Check out my Perfect Basmati Rice for a foolproof recipe.
Mexican Chicken Lasagna is easily one of my favorite recipes that I’ve ever created for Cooking and Cussing. It’s unique and fun while being comforting and familiar. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
An immersion blender makes blending or pureeing any type of hot item so easy and, frankly, safer than transferring from the pan to a blender.
I often talk about how much I use my food processor and grating large quantities of cheese from the block is one of the many ways (and one of my favorites) I use mine.
Mexican Chicken Lasagna
- 2 poblano peppers
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs*
- 1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
- olive oil
- 2 Tb butter
- 2 Tb all purpose flour
- 2 C heavy cream
- 1 C chicken stock
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- ½ bunch of cilantro
- ½ lb Monterey jack cheese block
Chicken Seasoning Mix
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
To prepare poblanos
- Preheat broiler to high. Place two poblanos on a baking sheet and rub the outside of the peppers with olive oil. Place peppers in the broiler and cook for 15 minutes or until the skin is charred. Turn the pepper over halfway through cooking time.
- Once charred, place peppers inside a paper or plastic storage bag. Seal the bag to let the peppers steam for 5-10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag and peel off the skin.
- Cut the top and seeds from the poblano and discard. Chop the pepper into large chunks
To prepare chicken
- Turn the broiler off and preheat oven to 375°. Place the chicken on a baking sheet. Make the Chicken Seasoning by mixing together all the ingredients. Season the chicken with the all seasoning mix.
- Once the oven is preheated, put the chicken in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Once the chicken is cooled, chop into small bite size pieces.
To prepare peppers and onions
- While the chicken is cooking, heat a nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil in to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Slice the peppers into quarter-inch strips and thinly slice the onion. Once the pan is heated, add the peppers and onions. Season with a little salt and pepper and saute the bell peppers and onions for about 10 minutes or until they start to soften. Turn off the heat and set aside.
To prepare Poblano Cream Sauce
- Melt 2 Tb of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously for 2 minutes or until the flour is slightly browned. Slowly add the chicken stock and whisk until there are no lumps in the sauce.
- Add the heavy cream. Bring the sauce to a low boil and cook for 5 minutes.
- Cut the cream cheese into roughtly one-inch chunks. Add the cream cheese to the sauce and continue to cook until the cream cheese is totally melted.
- Using a blender, food processor or immersion blender, puree the poblanos, white sauce, and cilantro together until smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare the lasagna
- Using a food processor or box grater, grate the cheese.*
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ or lasagna pan if you have one, with baking spray.,
- To assemble the lasagna, spread a thin layer of the poblano sauce on the bottom of the pan. Next, put a single layer of oven-ready lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. You can break noodles into smaller pieces to cover the whole pan.
- Next, spread half of the diced chicken and half of the peppers and onions evenly across the noodles. Top evenly with a third of the grated cheese. Last, spoon an even layer of sauce over the cheese, using about a third of the sauce.
- Place another layer of noodles, then the remaining chicken and veggies, and another third of the grated cheese and sauce.
- Top with one last layer of noodles and cover with the remaining sauce and grated cheese so the last of the cheese is at the very top.
- Cover the pan loosely with foil and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 45 minutes covered and then remove the foil and finish for 15 minutes uncovered or until cheese starts to turn golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to set for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but reduce the oven cook time to 15-20 minutes.
Yes, but you’ll need to boil the noodles before assembling the lasagna.
Sure. The poblanos will give the sauce plenty of flavor.
Absolutely! You can finely mince your poblanos and cilantro by hand and stir them into the cream cheese sauce.
Yes. You can assemble the lasagna and store it for up to 3 days covered in the fridge before baking.