Main Dishes

August 8, 2020

Healthy Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole

Your favorite appetizer just became a delicious dinner the whole family will love! This Healthy Jalapeño Popper Chicken Casserole is made with chicken, cream cheese, bacon, cauliflower rice, and packs 30g of protein per serving.

Being a food blogger is an interesting profession. I spend all day, every day either making, eating, photographing, or talking about food.

Sounds pretty great, right?

Well, it is, until you’re dreaming about food when you’re trying to sleep. I never get a break haha.

But! Sometimes good things come from always thinking about food, like this creamy, cheesy, and spicy Jalapeño Popper Chicken Casserole!

I just imagined all the flavors of a jalapeno popper and wondered if I could make them a main dish rather than an appetizer you only get once a year at a Super Bowl party.

Guess what - you can!

And, if I'm being honest, it's way better than the appetizer version!

In fact, this recipe for Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole is so good it converted my husband to turkey bacon and cauliflower rice! I know you'll love it too.

A tray of jalapeno popper chicken casserole with a spoon in it

Ingredients you'll need

My husband and I fell in love with this recipe because it is incredibly flavorful and tastes like your favorite party appetizer but way better.

On top of that, it’s also healthier and heartier, which means you can eat it for dinner!

Here’s what you’ll need to make this casserole:

  • Shredded chicken: believe it or not, I've tried it with shredded chicken and diced chicken and shredded chicken is just way better. Don't worry, making the shredded chicken is a part of the instructions!
  • Jalapeños: instead of stuffing them, they are going to be part of the casserole and the garnish on top! Click here to watch a 15 second tutorial for de-seeding jalapenos!
  • Yellow onion: to boost the flavors of the other ingredients. Click here to watch a 30 second tutorial on how to dice an onion without crying!
  • Green onions: folded into the cheesy casserole for a subtle pungent flavor
  • Seasonings: we’re keeping it simple with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper

A tray of jalapeno popper chicken casserole with a spoon in it

  • Cream cheese: the base of the casserole. It needs to be softened to room temperature before mixing. I use fat-free cream cheese but reduced fat will work just as well.
  • Almond milk: helps increase the volume of the casserole with a creamier texture and less calories than traditional milk. However, any milk you have on hand will work.
  • Shredded Mexican cheese: I love this blend of cheeses because it adds so much more flavor than just one cheese! I also prefer reduced fat shredded cheese.
  • Turkey bacon: this brand is my absolute favorite! Using turkey bacon is a much healthier alternative to regular bacon.
  • Cauliflower rice: I just grab a 12-oz bag of frozen cauliflower florets from Walmart, cook according to directions, then pulse in my food processor until the florets resemble rice. Super simple and much much healthier than traditional white rice.

A tray of jalapeno popper chicken casserole with a spoon in it

How to make jalapeño popper chicken casserole

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons I LOVE this recipe is for how simple it is to throw together.

Just make sure you prep all the ingredients properly and you’ll be good to go!

  1. For the chicken: boil on the stove for 15-20 minutes, then shred with two forks or a hand mixer. Toss with the paprika and garlic powder. Done!
  2. For the casserole: in a large mixing bowl, combine the diced yellow and green onions, cream cheese, and almond milk. Fold in the chicken until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. For the cauliflower rice: pulse in a food processor until the florets resemble rice. If you don’t have a food processor, a blender might work, but mincing would yield better results. If your cauliflower is frozen, steam until cooked, then continue with ricing. You can also just buy pre-made cauliflower rice!
  4. To assemble and cook: place the cauliflower rice on the bottom of a 9x13 pan in an even layer. Add the casserole filling by the spoonful over the rice and spread in an even layer, then sprinkle the shredded cheese over the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes in the oven at 375°F. Remove the foil, add the diced bacon and jalapeno coins, and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.
  5. To finish: broil for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the bacon and the cheese! Try not to eat the whole pan of Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole in one sitting, I dare you!

A plate of jalapeno popper chicken casserole

Substitutions and variations

This casserole is already delicious as prepared (and gluten free!), but here are some ideas to make it your own:

  • For dairy free: use your favorite dairy free cream cheese and shredded cheese products
  • Spice it up by mixing extra diced jalapeños into the casserole filling or adding more paprika to the chicken!
  • Add a layer of breadcrumbs (gluten free if desired) before you broil for an added crunch
  • Don’t like chicken? Try swapping in 16 ounces of ground turkey or crispy tofu if you’re vegetarian!

More one-dish recipes to try

Lightened-Up Cheesy "Funeral" Potatoes

Chicken Caprese "Pasta" Bake

Healthy Shepherd's Pie Skillet

Easy Skillet Mac and Cheese

30-Minute Philly Cheesesteak Skillet

Balsamic Steak and Veggie Skillet

Irresistible Egg Roll in a Bowl

A tray of jalapeno popper chicken casserole with a spoon in it

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Snap a picture and tag me on Instagram (@kapaicooking) or leave a comment and rating below! Your comments help improve the content here at Ka Pai Cooking. I'll do my best to respond to each one!

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Healthy Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole

Your favorite appetizer just became a delicious dinner the whole family will love! This Healthy Jalapeño Popper Chicken Casserole is made with chicken, cream cheese, bacon, cauliflower rice, and packs 30g of protein per serving.

Author:

Brooke Harmer

Prep:

15

min

cook:

60

min

total:

75

min

servings:

4

Ingredients

  • 1½ lbs. chicken breasts
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 12 oz frozen cauliflower rice
  • 3 jalapeños (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (sliced, for topping)
  • ½ onion (diced)
  • ⅓ C green onions (diced)
  • 6 oz fat-free cream cheese (room temperature)
  • ¼ C almond milk
  • ⅔ C reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese
  • 3 slices turkey bacon (diced)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot, boil chicken breasts until cooked completely, about 15-20 minutes. Remove and shred with two forks (or a hand mixer). Add the garlic powder and paprika, mixing thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare your cauliflower. Steam in microwave according to directions on the bag. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the diced jalapeños, yellow onion, green onions, cream cheese, and milk until smooth. Fold in the shredded chicken.
  5. To assemble, spread the cauliflower rice in an even layer. Next, add the casserole filling by the spoonful and smooth into an even layer. Finally, sprinkle the shredded cheese over the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and top with sliced jalapeños and bacon pieces. Bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.
  7. Optional: Broil until bacon is crispy and cheese has browned.

Notes

Nutrition facts are a calculated estimate of 1/4 of the pan of Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole.

Nutrition