Recipe Makeover: Mexican Casserole

Yup, the cheesy, gooey goodness in an American comfort favorite—without the heft.

Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe
Photo: Photo: Randy Mayor

View Recipe: Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa

The classic one-dish combination of ground beef, refried beans, fried tortillas, and lots of melty cheese is a crowd-pleaser, no question. But a single serving of most versions of Mexican Casserole can add up to nearly an entire day's worth of both saturated fat and sodium.

The best way to lighten this monster was to create a base of familiar flavors, starting with a homemade salsa and traditional corn tortillas. We then swapped in lean chicken breast and nutrient-rich veggies for the ground beef and frijoles. The finishing touch is an unconventional but interesting blend of creamy Monterey Jack and sharp feta cheese; the latter adds a welcome tang. This casserole has less than one-third of the original's calories, saturated fat, and sodium. And you'll be able to get off the couch afterward unassisted.

1,084 calories per serving
28 grams saturated fat
2,075 milligrams sodium
Greasy, processed ground beef
Beans: Fried and fried again
A pound of cheese

331 calories per serving
6.1 grams saturated fat
535 milligrams sodium
Skinless, boneless chicken breast
Veggies: lightly seasoned and sautéed
A hearty sprinkle of Jack cheese and feta

View Recipe: Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa

See More: Low-Calorie Recipes


  • Charred Tomato Salsa

    Broiling allows smoky flavors to build and natural sugars to caramelize, leaving vegetables crispy and brown on the outside.

  • Jalapeno Seeding Process

    The heat of the jalpeño is concentrated in the seeds and veins. For maximum heat, skip the seeding process.

  • Broil Vegetables for Charred Tomato Salsa

    Broiling condenses flavor by evaporating the juices slowly. Stir the vegetables once for an even char.

  • Allow Charred Tomato Salsa to Sit

    The longer the salsa is allowed to sit, the more the flavors will meld. Make extra and use to enhance other dishes.

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