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Cheesy Chicken Rotel

Cheesy Chicken Rotel makes me wanna hop in the pan and wrap myself in cheese and spaghetti. Yep, this comfort food classic is that good. If you’ve ever had this throwback recipe, then you know what I’m talking about. New to this recipe? Well, let me tell you how to create a ooey-gooey pasta casserole packed with tender chicken, spicy tomatoes, and more.

a baking pan of chicken spaghetti casserole

Cheesy Chicken Rotel – Put on Your Fat Pants, People.

I almost didn’t put this recipe for on the blog. Why? Because everyone probably has their own version.

But that’s ok. Before this life is over, I plan on trying them all. So keep them coming. Cheesy Chicken Rotel is THAT good. Seriously…this pasta recipe is perfect for weeknight dinner, parties and potlucks. You name it, this tried and true recipe is ALWAYS a hit.

Made with convenient pantry ingredients and wholesome chicken–and my trust sidekicks Velveeta and Rotel–you can count on this recipe when you need a comforting, filling meal with little fuss.

And yes, my food blogger status is likely to be revoked once word gets out I am using Velveeta. 🙂

shredded chicken, cubed velveeta cheese, and rotel tomatoes

Ingredients Needed to Make:

  • Chicken – I used 2 pounds of chicken breasts. You can use whatever you like, see more ideas below.
  • Salt + pepper – Just a pinch.
  • Spaghetti
  • Rotel canned tomatoes – For this recipe we used the Mild version. You do you.
  • Cream of chicken soup and / or cream of mushroom soup – 2 cans.
  • Velveeta cheese
  • Milk
  • Cheddar cheese – Because.
  • Hot sauce – Totally optional, but it gives this dish just a little kick.
  • Onion powder + chili powder.

A word about the bird: Use whatever chicken you’d like. I started with 2 pounds of chicken breasts. I gently poached them in seasoned water, cooled, and shredded them. You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken, or even premium canned chicken in a pinch.

You won’t need much salt and pepper in this recipe because most of the ingredients already contain salt. The tomatoes, soups, cheeses…all have their own flavor.

TIP: Cook the spaghetti in the same cooking water you prepared the chicken in. The pasta soaks up all that flavor and makes your dish taste even better.

spaghetti in a pot of water

You can make this casserole with whatever type of pasta you have on hand. Using spaghetti is the classic way that I’ve always had it.

Not a fan of “cream of” soups. You can make homemade if you’d like. Me? I figured since I’ve already committed to using Velveeta, a little cream soup works for me.

#velveetaforlife (NO, this is NOT a sponsored post. Although Velveeta is welcome to back the truck up to my kitchen door. I’ll be waiting.)

overhead picture of a pot with velveeta cheese sauce

How to Make Chicken Rotel:

  1. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.
  2. Next, in a large pot, add 3 quarts of water. Stir in a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts and bring the pot to a VERY low boil on medium-high heat.
  3. Cook the chicken gently until it is no longer pink in the center. Remove from the water and let cool. Using two forks, shred the chicken. Set aside.
  4. Bring the cooking water to a boil. Add the dry pasta and cook to package directions for al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain, reserving about 2 cups of the pasta water.
  5. Reduce the stove top to low. In the same pot (now drained and empty), combine the undrained tomatoes, soups, cubed Velveeta, hot sauce, onion powder + chili powder.
  6. Cook and stir until the cheese mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and fold in the prepared chicken and spaghetti. Add the milk and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved pasta water (more as needed).
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top.
  8. Next, bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

I’m getting hungry again just thinking about this yummy recipe. It is definitely one of my favorites.

TIP: The addition of milk and pasta water helps make the sauce creamy. The pasta will absorb the sauce while baking, and this step keeps it from becoming too dry.

rich and creamy pasta with chicken

This recipe makes a lot! This was enough for my family for 2 nights. You could even make up a batch on Sunday evening and have plenty of lunches for the week.

You can also prepare this in two smaller baking dishes. One for now, one for the freezer. Before baking the frozen one, let it thaw in the refrigerator for several hours, then pop in the oven until heated through.

overhead picture of a cheeesy pasta recipe

More Recipes You Might Like:

Honey Sriracha Chicken

All American Goulash

Mushroom + Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Alfredo

Pepperoni Pasta Bake

a white bowl with chicken and cheesy pasta

Tips + Ideas for Best Results:

  • Cut the chicken breasts into smaller cutlets or strips before adding to the water to reduce the cooking time.
  • Cook the pasta in the chicken cooking water for extra flavor.
  • Don’t be tempted to add extra salt. The ingredients in this recipe already contain a lot of flavor. If you want more salt, add it to your portion before eating. 🙂
  • Want it spicier? Use the Hot Rotel tomaotes and add additional hot sauce.
  • Cube the Velveeta cheese to make melting easier.
  • Try this recipe with ground beef instead of chicken for a fun twist.
  • Chicken Rotel is also great with other types of pasta. Think penne, rotini, and more.
  • Serve with buttery garlic bread and a green salad for a complete meal your family and friends will rave about.
a bowl of comforting chicken spaghetti

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a bowl of comforting chicken spaghetti
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5 from 1 vote

Cheesy Chicken Rotel

A classic comfort food featuring tender chicken, spicy tomatoes, creamy cheese sauce, and spaghetti.
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken rotel
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 413kcal
Author Buy This Cook That

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken breast boneless, skinless, cut into strips for cooking
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 16 ounces spaghetti dry, uncooked
  • 10 ounces Rotel tomatoes undrained
  • 10.5 ounces cream of chicken soup
  • 10.5 ounces cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 pound Velveeta cheese cubed
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup milk more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta cooking water
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese shredded

Instructions

  • First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.
  • Next, in a large pot, add 3 quarts of water. Stir in a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts and bring the pot to a VERY low boil on medium-high heat.
  • Cook the chicken gently until it is no longer pink in the center. Remove from the water and let cool. Using two forks, shred the chicken. Set aside.
  • Bring the cooking water to a boil. Add the dry pasta and cook to package directions for al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain, reserving about 2 cups of the pasta water.
  • Reduce the stove top to low. In the same pot (now drained and empty), combine the Rotel, soups, cubed Velveeta, hot sauce, onion powder + chili powder.
  • Cook and stir until the cheese mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and fold in the prepared chicken and spaghetti. Add the milk and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved pasta water (more as needed).
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top.
  • Next, bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 413kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 1195mg | Potassium: 606mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 641IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 349mg | Iron: 2mg

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