Southwest Chicken Skillet

$6.76 recipe / $1.69 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.82 from 175 votes
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So, you remember how much you love those Taco Chicken Bowls? And how they’re so easy because you just pour everything into the slow cooker and press go? Well guess what… You can do it in a skillet, too! Except this Southwest Chicken Skillet only takes about 30 minutes! #nolies

top view of southwest chicken skillet with wooden spoon

As long as you have some precooked chicken, whether from a store bought rotisserie or some shredded chicken that you made yourself, those yummy taco chicken bowls are about a half hour away from being in your belly. This Southwest Chicken Skillet version may even be a bit easier because there’s no need to cook the rice separately—it cooks right along with the beans, salsa, and other goods in the skillet. It’s ridiculously simple and it’s so tasty that today after I ate some for lunch I said, “I wish I had ten more bowls of that.” 

Other Topping Ideas

I don’t know why beans, rice, and salsa are so good together, but I hope I never stop discovering new ways to eat them together. This is my favorite way so far. If you want to make it even more fancy, you can experiment with more toppings, like sour cream, diced avocado, or cilantro. Maybe even some crispy tortilla strips for crunch? Yum!!

Close up of southwest chicken skillet with wooden spoon
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Southwest Chicken Skillet

4.82 from 175 votes
If you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner, this Southwest Chicken Skillet is it! Precooked chicken makes this dinner possible in about 30 minutes.
If you're looking for a quick and easy dinner, this Southwest Chicken Skillet is it! Precooked chicken makes this dinner possible in about 30 minutes.
Servings 4 to 6
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 25 minutes


  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice* ($0.33)
  • 1 cup salsa ($0.65)
  • 1.5-2 cups precooked shredded chicken** ($3.50)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans ($0.49)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder*** ($0.30)
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth**** ($0.23)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese ($1.00)
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced ($0.26)
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  • In a large skillet, combine the rice, salsa, chicken, black beans (drained), chili powder, and chicken broth. Stir until everything is evenly combined.
  • Place a tight fitting lid on the skillet, turn the heat on to high, and let the skillet come to a full boil. As soon as the skillet comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Make sure it is simmering the entire time, turning the heat up slightly if needed (you should be able to hear it simmer quietly).
  • After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it rest with the lid in place for 5 more minutes. Finally, remove the lid, and fluff the mixture with a fork. All of the liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be tender. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese over top, replace the lid, and let it sit for a few minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Meanwhile, slice the green onions. Sprinkle the green onions over the melted cheese and serve hot.

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*Brown rice can not be directly substituted for white rice in this recipe. Brown rice requires more liquid and a longer cooking time than white rice.
**I used 1/2 of a store bought rotisserie chicken.
***Chili powder is not red chile powder. Chili powder is a mild blend of spices used to season chili. While some brands are a tad spicy, I use McCormick, which is mild.
****I used Better Than Bouillon Brand soup base to make my broth


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 546.45kcalCarbohydrates: 70.58gProtein: 40.9gFat: 10.98gSodium: 1529.23mgFiber: 13.6g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Top view of a bowl of southwest chicken skillet with a fork on the side

How to Make Southwest Chicken Skillet – Step by Step Photos

Southwest Chicken Skillet Ingredients in skillet

First step – so easy. In a large skillet combine 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice, 1 cup salsa, 1.5-2 cups of shredded chicken, 15oz. can black beans (drained), and 1 Tbsp chili powder. Try to use a heavy skillet with a thick bottom because that will help the rice cook evenly and help prevent it from scorching on the bottom.

Chicken broth being poured into skillet with other ingredients

Add 1.75 cups of chicken broth.

Top view of southwest chicken skillet cooked

Stir everything together well. You really want to make sure the rice is evenly distributed throughout the skillet. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to high, and let it come to a full boil. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer undisturbed for 15 minutes. Make sure it’s simmering the whole time. Turn the heat up just slightly if it stops simmering, but keep it as low as possible to prevent the rice from scorching or sticking to the bottom.

Top view of southwest chicken skillet cooked

After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it sit for 5 minutes without removing the lid. Finally remove the lid and it should look like this – all of the liquid is absorbed and if you dig down with a fork to where the rice is, it should be tender. Most of the meat and beans will be on top and the rice will be underneath.

Shredded cheese sprinkled on top of skillet and melted

Fluff it up with a fork to mix everything back together. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over top, then place the lid back on top and allow the steam to melt the cheese. Once melted, sprinkle the green onions over top.

Close up of southwest chicken salad with wooden spoon scooping some out

And that’s it! you’re ready to dig in.

Bowl of southwest chicken skillet with fork in it

Now that I have some pre-cooked shredded chicken in my freezer, I can have this Southwest Chicken Skillet ANYTIME I WANT! Woot!

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  1. Love this! But made I’ve made some tweaks over the numerous times I’ve made it:

    I pan fry then shred 1 lbs chicken breast
    In the same skillet I sautee some minced garlic quick then add the rice, beans, stock, shredded chicken PLUS taco seasoning, cumin, paprika, tumeric, onion powder, coriander, salt + pepper, and chili powder, stir then cook and add more stock if needed.
    I add freshly chopped cilantro, purple onions, diced tomatoes and scallions then added shredded white cheddar on top and broil on high for 5ish minutes until crispy!

    This way just packs some more punch and is a little fresher, plus I absolutely hate canned salsa with a burning passion. Sometimes if I’m feeling extra fancy I’ll stir it all together, let it cool, then wrap it all up in eggroll wrappers and fry. Yum!

  2. I really want to make this, but the sodium content is SO high, and I absolutely dislike jarred salsa. Would it work to use unsalted chicken broth and a cup of diced tomatoes with extra chili powder? I would probably add some hot sauce to kick it up. What do you think? Thanks!

    1. Yikes. Thanks for pointing out the sodium content. //// I never eat rotisserie chicken — a lot of sodium. //// I make this with wild rice blend (and sometimes long-grain white — after all, it IS better tasting with white). I often use fresh tomatoes — either chopped or blended in the blender. SO MUCH better with fresh tomatoes — but more expensive also. I use different hot sauces. Sometimes jalapeno peppers. Red, black or pinto beans — sometimes all three — usually dried beans that I have soaked over night — SO MUCH better and no sodium (canned has sodium). Much less cheese — less sodium. Sometimes no cheese. //// The way I cook it IS more expensive and DOES TAKE more time. But — I’m retired. I have time.

  3. Yum! I changed it a bit, for anyone that’s interested:

    Made it larger by using the whole rotisserie chicken, did 1.5x rice and chicken stock, 1 can black beans 1 can pinto beans, 1 red pepper, and used cilantro instead of green onion at the end. I used medium pace salsa, I think it may have been too bland for me with mild. I use better than bouillon which is pretty salty, so I used less than recommended for the 2.6 c of broth. Turned out delicious and just barely fit in my pan (same style as pics in the recipe) so I wouldn’t recommend increasing it any more!

  4. Soooo easy and fast. This is great for low energy nights, and I usually have most of the stuff on hand for it!

  5. This dish is simple quick and easy! All around good meal. I adjusted some of the ingredients to make it a more heart healthy (personal lifestyle). I used unsalted chicken brother, a no-salt seasoning on the chicken and no-salt added black beans. Great recipe, will use again.

  6. Looks so delicious! Definitely trying this.
    What is 1 serving measured at? 1 or 2 cups?

    1. I don’t have an exact volume for this one, but depending on your appetite it could make between four to six servings.

  7. Would happily pay $50 for a version of this with brown rice! I make this recipe every week and love it, but would like to make it a bit healthier by subbing a healthier grain!

    1. If it has a lid, then yes. You need a lid in order to cook the rice properly. :) And make sure the skillet is well seasoned, since there is a fair amount of acid in the salsa.

  8. We absolutely love this recipe. We make it about once every other week. We add in some frozen sweet corn as well. Everyone we show this recipe to loves it and is in their regular rotation too.

    1. As long as it’s pretty wide. In a narrower pot the contents might be too deep causing it to cook differently.

  9. This was a hit with my clan. My family are mostly picky eaters. It will be put on a bi weekly rotation:)

    1. You’d also need to cut the amount of broth in half because the rice absorbs the liquid. It might still might end up a little bit more saucy and soggy if the amount of salsa isn’t reduced.

  10. I buy a Costco chicken and cut it up the night before. A delicious dinner is ready in no time the next day. Thanks!

  11. Hi! Absolutely love this recipe and make it often. You write that one cannot substitute brown rice while following the same recipe. If you’d be willing to share any instructions for how one COULD sub brown rice, I’d be very grateful!

    1. The issue is that brown rice requires more liquid and a much longer cooking time than white rice, so you’d need to adjust the quantities of ingredients and the cook time to compensate. Because brown rice can take close to 45 minutes to cook, you’d then be overcooking the chicken. There may be ways around this but it would require us to redevelop and retest the recipe before offering concrete advice. :)

    2. Hi Cody – As someone who often subs brown rice in these recipes, parboiled brown rice works great. You can either do this yourself by cooking the brown rice until about 15-20 minutes remain, draining, and then adding to other ingredients. Or you can buy instant brown rice, which has a cook time about the same as white rice. Just keep an eye on the liquid, since whole grains tend to suck up a lot more moisture.

  12. So easy and tasty! I should have tasted it earlier in the cooking though. It was a bit mild, and I would have added more chili powder.