January 6, 2015

Girls’ Night In / Healthy Meal: One-Pot Chicken Taco Casserole

Last night, I hosted a bunch of my girlfriends over at my place to watch The Bachelor: Prince Farming. I got really into the Bachelor when I was down in Dallas, in part because I had a fabulous group of girlfriends with whom I watched the show most weeks. Now that I’m in Denver, I decided to try to replicate that here! Hosting a watch party also coincided nicely with one of my new year’s resolutions, which was to host events at my home more frequently. (Again, more to come on my new year’s resolutions later… I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to quantify some of them.)

I decided that since Chris, the Bachelor, was from Iowa, it would be fun to cook something that would be kind of midwestern… but I also wanted it to be healthy. (After all, you really can’t watch the Bachelor without alcohol – so you have to save some calories for that!) I settled on this one-pot taco casserole that was featured on the MyFitnessPal blog a few weeks ago – and over the course of discussion, I learned that several of my girlfriends also used MyFitnessPal to track their food. I’m at almost a full year of logging every day, and I really love it. Combined with the scale, it’s really helpful in identifying trends (in either direction) so that I can better understand what’s going on when I lose or gain weight. While the one-pot taco casserole recipe is already quite healthy, I made a few tweaks to it, so this morning I logged those into MyFitnessPal as a new recipe. Amazingly, my version of the recipe is only 271 calories per serving – and yet is absolutely delicious!

Taco Casserole and Salad
I served it with a really simple salad: romaine lettuce, celery, cucumbers, carrots, and Trader Joe’s low-fat parmesan ranch dressing, which I love!
Taco Casserole and Salad

One-Pot Chicken Taco Casserole

Adapted from MyFitnessPal, this casserole comes together very quickly and is perfect for serving a crowd - without letting on that you're being healthy about it!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 people


  • 1.25 pounds lean ground chicken breast
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 15 ounces corn
  • 15 ounces black beans
  • 15 ounces pinto beans
  • 1 cup grated low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup white cheddar powder (I like this Frontier White Cheddar Cheese Powder)


  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Finely chop the onion, and mix with the chicken breast and taco seasoning.
  • Press the chicken mixture into a 9x12 glass baking dish. No need to spray it with oil! You can also use a smaller dish for a thicker casserole, but I like that using the bigger dish makes it crispy.
  • Layer on the corn, black beans, and pinto beans, spreading them out to cover the whole dish.
  • Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the casserole and top with the grated cheese and then the cheddar powder.
  • Put the casserole back into the oven, but on a lower rack so the cheese doesn't burn. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Serve with Greek yogurt as a topper (healthier than sour cream!) and tortilla chips for a little indulgence 🙂


Nutrition stats:
Taco Seasoning Casserole NutritionGood points: Low in saturated fat, very high in vitamin B6,
Bad points: High in sodium

I had never made a casserole before, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I put it into a 9×12 pan rather than a square pan, which made it a little less dense but also probably crunchier than it would have been if I used a deep dish. (And to be clear, the crunchiness was really delicious! Not what I would have thought a casserole could be, since they frequently have a reputation for being mushy and tasteless.) Although it had to bake for a while, it took me less than ten minutes to assemble. This is a great party recipe! I also realized that it could be easily tweaked for all kinds of flavor profile variations:

  • Italian: Ground chicken mixed with onions and marinara sauce, layered with cannellini beans and topped with mozzarella/parmesan cheese
  • Greek: Ground chicken mixed with onions, spinach, and diced tomatoes, layered with gigante beans and topped with feta cheese
  • Chinese: Ground chicken mixed with green onions and a bit of soy sauce, layered with corn and edamame, and topped with green onions
  • American Thanksgiving-style: Ground turkey mixed with sage and mirepoix, layered with white beans and topped with breadcrumbs

Okay, so I know that casseroles are old hat to many of you, but this was brand new for me – and I’m really excited to have an easy (and still healthy) way to cook for a crowd.

Bachelor Season Premiere: Prince Farming
The only problem with watch parties is that I end up so excited to catch up with everyone and chat that I miss a lot of the show! Might need to watch it again later this week…

Any favorite casserole recipes you want to share with me? I’m hooked!


8 thoughts on “Girls’ Night In / Healthy Meal: One-Pot Chicken Taco Casserole”

  1. Here is my fav casserole recipe:

    2 cans cream of XX, 2 cans vegetables (optional), 1 can dairy, 1 pound meat. Top with something that will be crunchy. Behold! every amazing casserole ever.

  2. Casseroles are totally my favourite because I can cook once and reheat the rest of the week. I’d like to say I’m lazy, but after working and then running/gym I really don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking.
    My gfs and I host a bachelor pool each season and it’s so fun to watch and snark on all the crazy!

  3. We usually try to all watch the first episode together (I booked it for this Sunday, but then realized the Globes are on, so we might watch that instead!) and then go through and select our women (or men, depending on the season). We make it a $10 buy in and whoever picks the next bachelor/ette gets their money back and the winner takes the rest.
    It’s silly, but makes it so fun.
    And now I want to do a virtual one on the blog for the next season – how fun would that be?!

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