One-Pot Southwest Chicken and Rice

Even though this meal won’t win any awards for gourmet or fancy, it will win the following (guaranteed):

-The award for one-pot and one-pot only (oh, yeah, baby).

-The award for no weird ingredients which translates into family-friendly and tummy pleasing.

-The award for simple, yet hearty and extremely tasty.

A variation on chicken and rice, this meal was a cinch to throw together and I loved the smoky flavors of the chili powder and cumin (not spicy, just flavorful). They paired perfectly with the tender chicken and creamy, cheesy rice.

So what if my kids looked at me a little strangely when I started giving my acceptance speech for Yummy Dinner Award. The fact that they inhaled dinner with nary a complaint is enough reason for me to let my delusions run wild.

P.S. Just a reminder, I’ll be a little slow answering emails and comments since I am traveling cross-country with my little family. Thanks for your patience!

What To ServeMexican Tomato and Corn SaladΒ or steamed vegetable like broccoli or peas
Shrapnel DipΒ with Baked Tortilla Chips
Fresh, seasonal fruit

One Year Ago: Red Berry Risotto Oatmeal
Two Years Ago: Soft Wrap Bread
Three Years Ago: Chicken with Mushrooms and Zucchini

One-Pot Southwest Chicken and Rice

Yield: Serves 4-6

One-Pot Southwest Chicken and Rice


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn
  • 4 ounces cheese (used a combination of Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • Salsa and sour cream for serving


  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. The chicken will cook more in a subsequent step. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  2. To the pot, add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook until the edges are just slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Return the chicken to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter or plate. Stir the black beans and corn into the pot. Add the cheese and cilantro. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the rice with the chicken, adding salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Recipe Source: adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 2007

39 Responses to One-Pot Southwest Chicken and Rice

  1. Nicole says:

    Hi Mel! I love this recipe and making it tonight I realized it was the perfect candidate for an Instant Pot meal. I just did all the browning and the sauteeing in the pot, then cut down the liquid to 2 1/2 cups broth and cooked on high pressure for 6 minutes instead of the 25. It worked great! Thanks for another delicious recipe.

  2. Melanie says:

    I made this tonight. It was really good, and really easy!! I used brown rice, and next time I will definitely use white. I boiled it for almost an hour and it was still slightly crunchy. I’m not sure why? I didn’t mind a little crunch, but my kids freaked out at the texture. They did eventually both finish their plates once they got into it. Yum! Thanks Mel!

    • Mel says:

      It’s probably because of the brown rice – usually recipes need to be adapted to use quite a bit more liquid (and even longer cooking time) for that variety of rice.

  3. Beth W. says:

    This is delicious. Even the picky non-eater ate some with no complaints. And it has beans and food mixed together. That is saying something. Very mild flavor. Loved the chunky salsa served with it too (with tomatoes from my garden…might even be good with just tomatoes mixed in). This was a hit! Highly recommend. 4 1/2 stars. No reason to not give it 5 stars…just don’t want to be overly dramatic about it! OK, 5 stars πŸ˜‰

  4. Beth W. says:

    Hey Mel. Not sure why, but when I try to save this recipe to ZipList it won’t add the ingredients. It just says this:
    List of IngredientsAdd to my list
    One-Pot Southwest Chicken and Rice
    33 Comments August 3, 2011

  5. Jocelyn says:

    This is very yummy! The rice reminds me of risotto. Thanks, Mel!

  6. Bethany says:

    It has often been the case when I have no dinner planned on a particular day, that I scroll through the blogs I subscribe to, and this little blog of yours has either a new recipe or a link to an old one that I happen to have (at least most of) the ingredients for… and problem solved! I made this tonight with a couple variations, because I didn’t quite have everything (no cilantro, which was sad, no corn, and basmati rice, haha) but it was still really great. I actually just used it as a sort of burrito filling. Thanks again, Mel. You continue to save dinner.

  7. Katie R says:

    I went to your website- of course!- to find a recipe for tonight’s dinner. I knew I wanted something chicken, something easy with little clean up, & something that my son w/ allergies (dairy, egg, soy & apple) could have. This fits that list! Before adding the cheese I’ll set some aside for him and his diary free ‘cheese’. Thanks for the idea! Whenever I need a recipe for ANYthing I go to your website!

  8. Sonya says:

    This looks really good! I made their original version (I have the same cookbook) today, and thought it was a little boring. Not that I wouldn’t recommend it, because everyone has different likes and tastes, but I wouldn’t make it again. However, I am definitely looking forward to trying this Southwest variation. Your photo looks yummy! And corn and beans do make many dishes taste better πŸ™‚

  9. Brianne says:

    According to my husband, this meal was delicious. Unfortunately, I have a bad cold and can’t taste much at the moment. I used brown rice and it did take much longer than expected (total cook time 45 minutes). I added an extra 1/2 cup of broth, but it was a tad too runny. My hubby has requested it be a repeat meal though! Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Amanda says:

    This is SO delicious! My husband is picky with mexican type dishes, but he loved it!
    I l0ve your website so much! It has helped me grow so much with my cooking.

  11. Kate says:

    This was good! I cut up the chicken into chunks so that we could eat it in a bowl. I also tossed in a can of green chiles and left out the cilantro. Next time, I’ll use pepper jack cheese to add a little more kick. Thanks for the great recipe!

  12. Samantha says:

    I am not a rice and beans kind of person, but this dish was delicious! My husband ate a whole bowl and went back for more asking when we could have it again. I shared it on my own blog. Thanks!

  13. MaryAnn Bench says:

    Some changes I made: I cut up and seasoned the chicken and cooked in the oil as suggested. I added chili powder while the chicken was cooking for extra flavor. Set aside chicken till the end since it was all done (kept it nice and moist). I also used Quinoa instead of rice, I had to use less broth but I just watched it and it was fine. I didn’t have fresh cilantro so I added the dry cilantro when I added the quinoa so it could simmer with the rest of the spices. This was SO yummy! I will definitely make this again πŸ™‚

  14. Rachel F says:

    Just a FYI, I added this recipe to and calculated the calories- if you serve 4 people there are 562 calories and 15 grams of fat in each portion. If you calculate this recipe for 6 portions, you get 375 calories and 10 grams of fat. A fairly healthy meal!

  15. Kensi says:

    we love this dish! it’s a new staple in our home along with your creamy white chili.. yum!

  16. Jessica says:

    The chicken turned out a little dry for me, not sure why…but overall I really liked this, as usual for your recipes! The leftovers are great for burritos too.

  17. Brianna says:

    So, I didn’t even notice this the first time I saw it, but just now, as I was writing down the recipe I noticed that the title right before the recipe says Soutwest…without the h. Also, it says yello instead of yellow onion. Don’t mind me…I have issues and I just happen to notice weird typos sometimes. Thanks!

  18. Stevie says:

    I Shredded the cooked chicken and added it to the pot at the end. I also used one of those uncle ben’s microwavable rice instead. You don’t need to even microwave it, just stir it in. Not having to cook the rice made this meal super quick.

  19. Vanessa says:

    I made this the other day. The rice was soooo delish but the chicken was really dry. I think cooking it with the rice made the rice drink up all the moisture from the chicken. Next time I’d cut up the chicken first and add it in with the rice for the last 10 minutes to try to keep it more moist.

  20. Kathy H says:

    I’ve been following your site for a while now, guess you’d call me a lurker πŸ™‚ Had to comment on this dish tho. I have to agree I won’t win a beauty contest but it sure is yummy! I had a long grain brown rice blend that took almost an hour to cook so held the chicken back until the last 15 min. Used up some corn on the cob that need to be used, this was so good! Makes a bunch tho, will be eating it for lunch for a couple days. That is ok tho, thanks for a great recipe!

  21. Lisa says:

    Loved it! Actually used chopped up chicken breasts that I had already cooked and frozen. I defrosted and gently reheated chicken and then added to the rice mixture about 5 min. before rice was fully cooked. Folded in the beans, one bag of corn and one bag of peas at the very end with the cheese. Awesome and very pretty!

  22. Rachel Moody says:

    When my kids saw the beans they had a collective sigh and their first question was “do I have to eat the beans?!?” I told them they had to eat at least as many as they are old. But, guess what? Once they got eating the dinner plates were CLEANED with no complaints about any amount of beans that they ate! Also had a neighbor over and I think he ate about 2 cups himself and the whole time “mmm” “yummy”! Long story longer…VERY successful dinner. Only hurdle now is seeing if it passes hubby test (not that I have any hesitation!), he was just working late last night.

  23. Amber says:

    Alright…I tried the brown rice. I added an extra 1 cup of broth and I think it was too much. Next time I will try only 1/2 cup. And I cooked it almost double the time. Turned out delicious…just plan for the extra time. I left my meat in the entire time, so it was very tender, but maybe a tad dry. So I think I’ll try putting it in for the last 15 min or so next time. Thanks again! Let us know if anyone else tries brown rice!

  24. Rachel Moody says:

    Did I ever tell you that you are my bestest friend EVER?!? I was going to do cruddy hot dogs or something of the like for dinner tonight because I don’t want to go to the store. Then I go to your blog and VOILA! A meal that is easy to prepare with staples I have in my pantry and that my kids will DEVOUR! Well, maybe not the beans, they can be fickle with them, but still – eat it or don’t, but if you don’t I don’t want to hear you ask for dessert! THANKS a ton to my favoritest friend ever, you really are the best!

  25. Sarah says:

    Made this last night for dinner. It is so easy and everyone loved it. Thanks!

  26. Faith says:

    I agree, this sounds awesome! I am wondering the same thing as Amber, what would you do if you use brown rice? Cook longer, and not add the chicken until 10-15 minutes after the rice? Looking forward to hearing your ideas!! Thanks for all your yumminess!

    • Mel says:

      Faith and Amber – you’ll have to experiment with the brown rice because I haven’t personally tried it but I would probably start by increasing the liquid by another 1/2 to 3/4 cup and then adding another 20 minutes on to the cooking time for the rice since brown rice takes longer to cook. Faith, your idea of adding the chicken after the brown rice has cooked for 10-15 minutes is probably a good one. Let me know if anyone tries it!

  27. Amber says:

    This sounds Wonderful! It’s now on the menu! What if I use brown rice? What alterations do you think will need to be made?

  28. Krystin Carter says:

    I am currently making this for dinner. It smells wonderful! I chopped up the chicken instead of leaving them whole. We’ll see how it goes!

  29. Natalie says:

    This looks great, and very similar to your black bean and corn quinoa that I made last night!

  30. Kathleen says:

    This looks like my ideal dinner! Love all the flavors and ingredients and love even more its all done in one pot! Happy and safe travels πŸ™‚

  31. Stacie says:

    Holy deliciousness!!! This is going straight to the top of my menu for next week! My husband and I love you Mel, you make our mealtimes complete πŸ™‚

  32. cindy says:

    I bet this would be yummy with just picked corn. I always have a few extra cobs so I cut the corn off, put it in a freezer bag and use it in dishes like this. Have a great vacation!

  33. Kira says:

    Perfect. Simple. Delicious.

  34. I think you are my food blogging idol Mel i really do! You have such a wonderful range of recipes and yours is the site that I first turn to if I fancy something in particular but dont know where to start for a good basic recipe. This dish looks perfect for a mid-weeker and im sure would go down a storm here πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing it!

  35. Kim in MD says:

    YEAH for one pot/skillet meals! I was thinking about you as I made a one skillet pasta meal last night. I have said it before (and I will say it again)- your skillet sausage pasta recipe changed my life! I am constantly thinking “how can I make this recipe a one skillet meal”? You know me and my love for entertaining and great food, but I hate tons of dirty dishes. I also find that the flavors in the dish really permeate the pasta or rice, which results in incredible flavor. One pot/skillet meals are amazing!

    This looks so delicious! I am going to make this for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks, Melanie! I hope you are having a great time on vacation!

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