This Easy Baked Salsa Chicken is the perfect weeknight dinner. It’s ready in just 30 minutes, uses just one skillet, and minimal ingredients.
How to make easy baked salsa chicken
This weeknight recipe is great for multiple reasons. The primary one being if you have unexpected guests, this recipe easily doubles or triples. To get started you’ll need:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 pound will feed 3-4 people)
- Taco seasoning – we keep a mix in the pantry but you can make your own.
- Jarred salsa – choose your favorite!
- Shredded Mexican cheese
- Juice of a lime
The secret to perfectly seasoned chicken breast. Hint: it’s in the bag!
While marinating chicken breasts for a few hours or overnight is always a good idea, it doesn’t always make for a quick dinner. However, a spice rub without having to actually rub a raw chicken breast is a time saver. To do this simply mix your spices in a bowl. Then add your raw chicken breasts to a ziploc bag. Be sure to pat them dry first with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture from them. Then pour in your spice mixture, zip the bag close and shake or rub. Your rub will get evenly distributed on the chicken breast and any excess will remain in the bag. Then simply remove your chicken from the bag and cook as described, throwing away the ziploc bag that contains the mess. Easy!
Tips for making Salsa Chicken
While this recipe is super simple as it is, here are a few tips to help you with this recipe and your other Mexican chicken dishes.
Batch what you can: make homemade or buy pre-made taco seasoning, keep jars of salsa on hand, and make large batches of this dish (minus the cheese) at once to keep for the month.
How to make ahead salsa chicken: You can cook this in larger batches (or smaller batches continuously) and omit the cheese until just before being ready to serve. So if you like to meal prep on Sundays, you can cook this dish until the cheese is added. Store it appropriately and then the night you want to have it, add it to a skillet directly in the oven at 350F for 10-15 minutes until heated through. Then top with cheese and finish the recipe. You could also microwave it in a similar fashion.
How to store or freeze salsa chicken: for best results I suggest shredding your chicken once baked with the salsa. Store it in an airtight container and follow the rest of the recipe on the night you serve. If you’re looking to freeze this recipe, either freeze the breasts whole or shred them. Shredding the chicken and freezing in a ziploc bag with salsa will save space in your freezer. You can also freeze the chicken and salsa in a casserole dish topped with pre-melted cheese and covered in tinfoil. When you go to reheat the chicken, pop it in the oven thawed or from frozen and leave the tinfoil covering on. Note that if you’re reheating from frozen it will certainly take more than 30 minutes. Just keep checking the internal temperature.
Tips for making salsa chicken ahead: Keep the cheese, lime juice, and cilantro fresh. One of the biggest complaints about make ahead meals is that a recipe tastes bland. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want to do every step ahead of time. Reheated cheese is never the same and fresh components of lime juice and cilantro lose their vibrant appeal. This dish is so simple you shouldn’t need to make it ahead of time. However, if you’re making it for a friend or family as a freezer meal you can cook this in a large batch casserole dish and provide them with a ziploc of cheese and cilantro on the side to be frozen as well. The lime juice should still be added the night of consumption.
What to serve with salsa chicken
It doesn’t have to be Cinco de Mayo for Salsa Chicken to be on the menu but these side dishes sure will help you feel like it is!
- Charro Beans from House of Nash
- Mexican Sweet Corn Cakes from Unsophisticook
- Mexican Yellow Rice from Erica’s Recipes
Easy Baked Salsa Chicken
- Ziploc bags – gallon sized
- Cutting board
- chef's knife
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast approximately 2
- 2-3 Tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat
- 8 ounces salsa
- 1/2 cup shredded mexican cheese
- lime juice
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F.
- Pat dry your thawed chicken breasts with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Using your tongs, add the chicken breasts to a ziploc bag with taco seasoning and shake vigorously.
- Pre-heat your skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil or bacon fat. When the oil starts to shimmer (or skillet reaches a temperature of x with an instantread thermometer), add your chicken breast. Cook only 2 minutes on each side.
- Pour salsa evenly over chicken breasts while still in the skillet. Place the skillet into the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes on a center rack. Your cook time will depend on how thick your chicken breasts are. Please use a thermometer to check the internal temperature.
- Once the chicken breasts have reached 160F internal temperature, add your shredded cheese to the top of the breasts and melt.
- Remove from oven and drizzle fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. Serve hot with your favorite Mexican side dishes or shred to be used in tacos, burritos, etc.