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This easy Santa Fe chicken recipe is loaded with black beans, corn, Ro-tel tomatoes, southwest spices, and melty cheese. It’s ready in just 30 minutes!

You may also enjoy this flavorful Creamy Southwest Chicken or Skillet Salsa Chicken next.

a skillet with santa fe chicken

Why you’ll love it

I’m a big fan of bold southwest flavors, and it’s what makes this chicken skillet recipe next-level tasty! This quick dish comes together quickly on a busy weeknight, and the beans, corn, and melty cheese make it extra hearty and filling.

I wanted this easy Santa Fe chicken recipe to be fuss-free and use everyday ingredients. Using canned corn and beans makes it even easier. It’s bright and cheesy and has the best seasoning. It’s a simple chicken dinner with great flavor, and picky eaters will enjoy it too.

What you’ll need

  • Chicken – we’re using two chicken breasts sliced into four thinner cutlets for faster and more even cooking
  • Garlic powder and chili powder – along with salt and pepper, it infuses flavor directly on the chicken. Most varieties of chili powder are fairly mild.
  • Olive oil – for pan frying
  • Onion – I like sweet (Vidalia) onions
  • Tomatoes – the original variety of Rot-el has tomatoes and green chilies with a kick
  • Black beans and corn – standards in Tex-Mex dishes
  • Smoked paprika – one of my favorite ways to add a hint of smoky flavor
  • Cheese – we’re using Mexican blend for all that cheesy, golden goodness
ingredients in prep bowls for santa fe chicken

Tools for this recipe

Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!

  • I love oven-proof skillets because they’re so versatile, and I use them in many of my recipes. This is the skillet I used for this recipe. Any fairly deep oven-proof skillet will work just fine.
  • If you’re ever unsure if chicken is cooked, you can get an inexpensive instant read digital meat thermometer. They’re super easy to use, and you won’t have to worry about over or undercooked chicken again.

How to make Santa Fe chicken

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

pan frying chicken and onions in a cast iron skillet

Preheat the oven. Slice the chicken into four cutlets, and season with salt & pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder. Pan fry until golden, and transfer to a plate. Sauté the onion, and then add in the Rotel, beans, corn, and smoked paprika.

making rotel, corn, and bean sauce for santa fe chicken and adding cheese to skillet

Let it heat through, and scrape up the browned bits. Return the chicken, and spoon some of the tomato mixture over top. Sprinkle the layer of cheese. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese has melted. Top with fresh cilantro if using.

Pro tip

  • If the chicken is sticking during the pan-frying step, let it cook a little longer so it naturally releases. This can happen sometimes, especially if you use a stainless steel pan and don’t get it hot enough.

Substitutions and variations

  • Original Rotel is fairly spicy, so use the mild version if that’s an issue for you.
  • If you don’t have Rotel diced tomatoes, you can use regular ones, but I suggest adding a can of green chilies as well. The 4 ounce size would work great. You can get mild or hot ones.
  • If you can’t access those, try adding a chopped jalapeno pepper if you want some heat or a poblano pepper or two for milder spice.

What to serve with Santa Fe chicken

Leftovers and storage

  • Store any leftover chicken for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • For best results, reheat in a saucepan over a low heat until warmed through.
  • I don’t recommend freezing leftovers.
a plate with santa fe chicken and white rice

I hope you will like this Santa Fe chicken! Please leave a star rating and review below. Questions? Let me know in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram.

a skillet with santa fe chicken
4.91 from 62 votes

Santa Fe Chicken Skillet

This easy Santa Fe chicken recipe is loaded with black beans, corn, Ro-tel tomatoes, southwest spices, and melty cheese. It's ready in just 30 minutes!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) can Ro-tel diced tomatoes & green chilies drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can black beans drained & rinsed
  • 1 (12 ounce) can corn drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese blend
  • Fresh cilantro chopped (optional, to taste)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400F and move the rack to the middle position.
  • Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so you have 4 thinner cutlets. Season both sides with the garlic powder, chili powder, and salt & pepper.
  • Add the oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Once it's hot, add the chicken and cook for about 3-4 minutes/side until lightly golden. Take the chicken out of the pan.
  • Add the onion to the skillet and sauté for 5 minutes or until it's softened and lightly browned.
  • Stir in the Rotel tomatoes, beans, corn, and smoked paprika. Let it heat through for a couple of minutes, and be sure to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the chicken back in and spoon some of the tomatoes/beans/corn onto the chicken. Sprinkle the cheese over top of everything (I concentrate it on the chicken).
  • Place the skillet in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (165F) and the cheese is nice and melty. You can broil the cheese for a few minutes at the end if you want it to be browned (watch it doesn't burn!).
  • Top with fresh chopped cilantro if using, and serve immediately.

Notes

  • This is the Le Creuset skillet pictured. If your skillet isn’t oven-proof, for step 6 you can either transfer the skillet contents to a baking dish or simply keep cooking the chicken in the skillet (cover it with a lid so the cheese melts).

Nutrition

Calories: 448kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 39g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 839mg, Potassium: 997mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 503IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 207mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

Leave a star rating and comment below!

This recipe was originally published on July 2, 2020. It’s been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!


Hi! I’m Natasha.

Salt & Lavender is a recipe blog with a focus on delicious comfort food using everyday ingredients. Beat the weekday grind with hundreds of easy-to-follow and hassle-free recipes!

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4.91 from 62 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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141 Comments

  1. Angie says:

    Delicious I out extra green peppers in it I also put it over rice so good and Mexican corn bread . My hubby loved it

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m thrilled it was a hit, Angie!! Thank you!

  2. Judith M Steve says:

    When do you use the smoked paprika? It’s in the list of ingredients but not instruction?

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi! It’s in step 5.

  3. Barb says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious, quick and easy! Definitely will make again!

    1. Natasha says:

      So glad to hear it, Barb! 😀

  4. Monica says:

    5 stars
    Always a favorite in my house! I sometimes use chicken tenderloins instead of dealing with breasts (roughly the same amount in weight) and adjust cooking time accordingly. I almost always have the pantry items on hand for this recipe. Love that it’s easy enough to memorize and pairs well with rice or even mashed potatoes, but is also great on its own 🙂
    P.S. The new look of the website is great!

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m thrilled you love this recipe as well as the new site, Monica!! 😀 Thanks for letting me know.

  5. Gina Price says:

    I love this dish! Of course you can spice it up as strong as you like. My family is crazy over chicken and cheese anything. This is very satisfying and filling. A family favorite.

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m thrilled to hear that, Gina!!

  6. Heidi Giese says:

    5 stars
    This turned out really yummy! Will make again. I did add lime juice as well after and served over white rice.

    1. Natasha says:

      Excellent!! So glad you liked it, Heidi!

  7. Sunshine says:

    5 stars
    Looks easy and delicious! Can this be made with chicken thighs?

    1. Natasha says:

      Sure! I’d probably cook them for a bit longer so they’re tender, though. I find chicken thighs start to get tender when they’re 170F+ in the middle vs. chicken breasts that dry out when they’re over 165F.

  8. Gabby says:

    5 stars
    This was SO delicious, I wouldn’t change a single thing. My entire family couldn’t get enough- even my super picky teen. I threw together a quick Spanish rice to go along with it and it was perfect! Thank you for a new family staple!

    1. Natasha says:

      That makes me so happy!! 😀

  9. Jon Sias says:

    In the latest photos it looks like you slipped in some white rice, nice touch.

    1. Natasha says:

      In the plated photo you bet! 😀

  10. Tracy says:

    5 stars
    I used leftover roasted chicken that I chopped up, added some bell pepper I had hanging out in the fridge, a pouch of brown rice and spooned it into a flour tortilla. This was EXCELLENT.

    1. Natasha says:

      That’s great, Tracy! 😀

    2. Jon Sias says:

      Tracy, flour tortillas have replaced bread for sandwiches. You can turn any sandwich into a little burrito with a lot less carbs.

    3. Beachbumbetty says:

      5 stars
      Awesome recipe I had to triple it for company but I made some Mexican rice and baked it a few minutes then added the cheese and served it on top of the rice! Everyone loved it! Easy peasy and super yummy!

      1. Natasha says:

        That’s fabulous! 😀