This gluten free chicken enchilada casserole recipe is another slam dunk in the healthy casserole list. Gluten free, dairy free, Whole30, and tasty to boot! Perfect for a busy weeknight and feeds an entire family in one dish.
I love Mexican food. But I do not love the way it makes me feel after I eat it. All the gluten, cheese and dairy do not sit well with me in large quantities - and if you're reading this, I'm guessing it's the same for you.
(Or, you're on a Whole30 and missing actual flavors, trying to find some way to get some delicious food. Never fear - I can help!)
This casserole is packed with veggies and protein. Bell pepper, onion, cauliflower rice, a can of green chiles, and shredded chicken. Then we mix it up with a little enchilada sauce and mayo for a 1-2 punch of flavor.
The Standard American Diet (abbreviated SAD - ironic, isn't it?) includes lots of things that you might find in a more traditional chicken enchilada casserole: sour cream, black beans, refried beans, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, tortillas...the list goes on.
Dairy, gluten, and beans - not my friends.
First, prep your ingredients. If you know me you know I am ultimately Lazy with a capital L when it comes to food prep, so I'm all about those shortcuts.
For the cauliflower rice, I used the family size bag of Birds Eye microwavable, steam in the bag kind. The first thing I did was pop that in the microwave according to the package directions.
Next, I worked on my chicken. In this particular instance, I had time and chicken breasts on hand, so I put those in the Instant Pot with some chicken broth and got them cooking in there while I worked with my veggies.
If you don't have the time or the means, just grab a rotisserie chicken that's already cooked from the grocery store, and shred the breasts with a knife or by hand.
While you can technically buy pre-chopped peppers and onions at the grocery store, this is one spot where I draw my line. If that's your thing, that's ok - I get it. But I personally feel ok taking the time to chop my veggies.
I also find the chopping motions kind of like therapy, so I rather enjoy the onion and pepper chopping. Veggie therapy.
Anyway, dice those up into somewhat evenly sized pieces. You will want to get them a bit tender in a pan before putting them in the casserole. They're nice with a little crunch when it's done, but if you don't cook them at least a bit they will be fairly crunchy and throw off the overall texture, in my opinion.
I just heated a pan on the stove with a touch of avocado oil, then sauteéd them over medium heat until the onions got a bit translucent and the peppers were a bit tender, then removed them.
Olive oil will work too, just don't get the pan too hot or it will smoke. I like avocado oil because it has a much higher smoking point.
Add everything to your baking dish, like so:
Now, we need to make our sauce. If you're feeling fancy you are certainly welcome to make a homemade enchilada sauce - there's a great paleo and Whole30 friendly recipe for one here. If not, never fear.
Siete is one of my favorite brands - I love everything they make. They know their product and their audience. They stay in their lane and they do it well.
I mixed their red enchilada sauce with some homemade mayo (if you don't feel like making this you can use Primal Kitchen or Chosen Foods brands for Whole30 compliant) and then added in a can of mild green chiles. (Although the science of homemade mayo is pretty dang interesting!)
Once all of that was stirred together, I dumped it over the ingredients in the casserole dish and tossed it until everything was coated in the sauce.
The 1:1 enchilada sauce to mayo ratio is more on the mild/kid-friendly side. If you prefer a spicier taste, you can lessen the mayo to bring out more of the enchilada sauce.
Or, you can make it as written and serve it with hot sauce to allow people to increase their spice level as they go.
How to Serve
Heat and eat! The best kind. Just warm the casserole, then serve with fresh slices of lime, some chopped fresh cilantro, and a bit of avocado or paleo guacamole. You'll never miss the tortillas, I promise.
Want to mix it up? Swap the chicken out for ground beef next time.
Cook the ground beef over medium-high heat with some taco seasoning, or even just sprinkle it with some chili powder, garlic powder and oregano while it's cooking, then stir in a bit of tomato paste.
Since it's going in the casserole with the sauce, it doesn't need super bold flavors, just a bit of seasoning.
(And if you get as confused as I do about all the different kinds of ground beef, check out this post to learn what kind to use when.)
- 1.5 pounds cooked chicken breast
- 2 cups diced bell pepper
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 pound cauliflower rice
- 1 can diced green chiles
- 1.5 cups enchilada sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Put your cauliflower rice in the microwave and set it to cook.
- If cooking chicken, cook the chicken breasts to your liking. I used my Instant Pot, or you can bake them, or sauté them, or however you usually cook your chicken breasts. Or, just get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and pull the meat off if you're lazy like me!
- While rice and/or chicken is cooking, chop your peppers and onions.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once it's hot, add a bit of cooking oil. Once the oil is hot, add the diced peppers and onions to soften them. Cook 5-7 minutes, just until onions are translucent and peppers are slightly tender. Remove from heat and add to casserole dish.
- Go back to the microwave, get out your bag of rice, cut it open, and add it to the casserole dish.
- Pull out your chicken and shred or chop it (or if this is already done because you used a cooked chicken) , then add it to the casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, whisk together your mayo, enchilada sauce, salt, and nutritional yeast if using.
- Pour over everything in the casserole dish and toss to coat.
- Place casserole dish in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.
- Serve with lime slices, chopped fresh cilantro, avocado, and extra enchilada sauce on the side!
I like to use the Bird's Eye steams in the bag Family Size cauliflower rice. You can pop it in the microwave while you're prepping the other ingredients, then add it to the casserole. So easy.
If you don't have the time or the patience to cook chicken, use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store that's already cooked! Just pull the meat off and add it.
You can play with your enchilada sauce to mayo ratio depending on the spice level you want. A 1:1 will be very mild, add more enchilada sauce and less mayo to your liking. Just try to keep the total volume to around 2.5 cups.
I like to add a bit of nutritional yeast to the sauce mix. It adds a bit of a cheesy flavor without the dreaded dairy fallout. This is not necessary and completely optional - if you don't have any, skip it!
If you have leftover enchilada sauce, you can serve it on the side for those who might like a bit of a spicer dish. Or, serve it with traditional hot sauce.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 516Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 960mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 40g
Love casseroles like I do? Check out these 3 Easy Casserole Recipes that are simple and kid-friendly!
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