Skillet Chicken with Mexican Green Rice

Since I just recently posted a skillet chicken and rice meal, I don’t need to go into the specifics of why and what and how much I love these type of meals. Suffice it to say, I love skillet meals and am thrilled to have another to add to my quick-cooking repertoire.

Because the rice simmers in a flavorful mixture of peppers, garlic, onions and spicy sauce, it is packed with layers of scrumptious flavor. I’ll be honest on one count, though. I accidentally picked up hot enchilada sauce at the grocery store and my kids could barely tackle this meal – a bit too spicy for them. I happened to love it, though, and was able to hoard all the leftovers to myself, but if you are wanting less spice, simply be smart (like I should have been) and pick up mild enchilada sauce instead.

Skillet Chicken with Mexican Green Rice

What To ServeSimple and no-fuss, this meal is perfect for a busy weeknight! I served this with a simple green salad and slices of buttered whole wheat bread.

One Year Ago: Southwest Rice and Bean Salad
Two Years Ago: Chicken Tikka Masala

Skillet Chicken with Mexican Green Rice

Yield: Serves 4-6

Skillet Chicken with Mexican Green Rice

Note: if you’ve never bought poblano peppers, don’t be worried! They are found right alongside the jalapeno peppers, usually, and are known to be milder than the jalapeno, especially if they are cored and seeded. They are as easy to work with as your regular ol’ green or red pepper!


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 (10 oz.) cans green enchilada sauce (I recommend mild for those who don’t want much heat)
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves


  1. Gently pat the chicken dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it is rippling and hot. Brown the chicken on each side for 1-2 minutes until it is golden but not cooked all the way through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  2. In the hot skillet, add the onion and poblano peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Add the enchilada sauce, rice and water, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and set the chicken breasts in the simmering rice mixture, nestling them in a bit. Cover the skillet, set the heat to low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through, stirring every five minutes or so to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom.
  3. Stir in the cilantro and spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Recipe Source: adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers

58 Responses to Skillet Chicken with Mexican Green Rice

  1. kt says:

    Does jasmine or basmati rice work for this?

  2. Michele555 says:

    I was desperately looking for a rice side dish that would go with the seafood enchiladas I was making tonight, and fate led me to this recipe. Someone had mentioned making this without the chicken–just the rice. I decided to do this as I already had the enchiladas as the main dish. I had to alter it a bit–I only had 1 can of enchilada sauce so I increased the water and added a tsp. of chicken bullion. It still worked and was just what I was looking for–(kind of didn’t want to serve a red tomato based rice with a seafood entree). I sill look forward to making this meal as a main dish with the chicken as it was intended, but the slightly modified version served us very well tonight. Thanks!!

  3. Kristi says:

    Oh Mel, I just love you. This was the perfect quick meal last night. I used half a jalepeno, my favorite thing about it was how much my one year old loved it! The other kids thought it was a little too spicy, but not the baby, ha ha!

  4. Erin says:

    I am eating this now. DELISH! I tried cutting the tip of my thumb off while chopping the poblanos which made me not want to cut/tear anything else so I omitted the spinach. It is very good and will for SURE be part of my rotation. Thank you!

  5. Wajan says:

    Hi I am in Australia and we dont have Green Enchillada Sauce. What can i use instead. Thanks

    • Mel says:

      Wajan – You will have to google a substitution to see if Australia has something similar. I’m not familiar with the food products in Australia so I really don’t know any good options to tell you. Sorry I am not more help.

  6. LeeAnne says:

    I’ve made this for my family several times now, and I just want to say THANK YOU!! This is one of those rare dishes that everyone absolutely loves and gets excited about- kids, husband, and me included! We especially like it served with black beans. There have been a couple of times that I accidentally bought red enchilada sauce, and it was still great!

  7. Sharon R says:

    I made this with Brown Rice tonight. I poured boiling water over the Brown rice and covered the pot while I prepped the rest of dinner. When I got the the addition of the rice I added another 1/2 cup water and cooked another 15 minutes. This was super tasty. I noticed our enchilada sauce had msg in it. Next time I’ll have to make it from scratch and jar a few up for this recipe. I used medium sauce, next time I’ll use mild as suggested so our infant will eat (and love it too) Thank you so much for such an easy nap dinner.

  8. Camy says:

    Mel, this was delicious. Even after a few hiccups like using red enchilada sauce instead of green and accidentally putting parsley instead of cilantro at the end, this will be a staple I use. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Dolores says:

    Hi, Mel. I discovered your web page last week and am having the adventure of a lifetime! Went to the grocery to pick up ingredients for the first few recipes I wanted to try. Even 4he woman behind me noticed the unique variety and commented ” looks like you are making something really amazing!” Little did she (or I, for that matter) realize how truly prophetic that statement was! The coconut lime shrimp is to die for. Tonight was the skillet chicken with Mexican green rice. Yum! I can’t wait to try the fie roasted tomato mac& cheese. Unfortunately, my husband and I need to eat primarily protein and minimize the carbs and fat. (Post gastric by-pass) Any great ideas? Keep great recipes coming.

  10. Amy says:

    Just made this tonight and it was fantastic! The hubby gobbled up 2 huge bowls. I also used brown rice so, for those wondering, here’s what I did:

    1.5 cups brown rice
    16 oz liquid (in addition to enchilada sauce) – I used a 14.5 oz can of low sodium chicken broth I had on hand and added approx. 1/4 cup water
    I can’t tell you for certain how long it took to cook but it was a decent amount of time- probably between 45 mins to an hour. It was worth the wait though!

  11. Sheriece says:

    Ok, update, in case anyone else is interested in making the substitution. I made this for dinner tonight with brown rice. I’ve never made it with white rice, so I can’t compare, but it was phenomenal!

    Here’s how I did it. I browned the chicken in the skillet, took it out and put it in a baking dish. Continued as directed with the veggies, garlic, cumin, then took away 1/2 c of water (so I used 1 cup water), and kept the rice quantity the same but switched it for brown rice. Once it all came to a bubble, I put it in the baking dish with the chicken. I used my tongs to kind of put the chicken on top and then covered tightly with heavy duty foil and transferred to a 375 degree oven.

    The cooking time was a crap shoot. Usually baked brown rice takes about an hour, but this took more like an hour and 20 minutes. The fam was a bit irritated as it made dinner a bit later than normal and the smell was making them starving (smelled SO GOOD!). When the rice was done, I took it out, stirred in the cilantro and spinach, and all was right in the world. Really, really yummy! I liked it with a dab of sour cream stirred in. I’ll definitely make it again! All in all, it does take quite a bit longer, but it’s all hands off time, and I love dishes that bake so that I can clean up the kitchen before dinner.

    Thanks, Mel!

  12. Sheriece says:

    Has anyone ever subbed brown rice? I know that I would need to cook it slightly longer, and would also need to adjust the water… just wondering if someone has already done the math for me… 🙂

  13. Skillet Chicken with Mexican Green Rice | The Busy Foodie says:

    […] exception: Mel’s Skillet Chicken with Mexican Green Rice, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, 2007.  This one gets its flavor from fresh onion and […]

  14. Holly says:

    I just made this today…SO GOOD!!!

  15. Sara says:

    I’ll be trying this really soon

  16. Sara says:

    If You can find the green sauce try use mild green salsa the only one I use is HERDEZ

  17. Rachael says:

    Thanks for responding! Yes, I am experimenting with adding extra chicken stock and keeping the heat higher. I may try another brand of rice, maybe what I have is harder? Is that a thing? Thanks for the answer. I am enjoying a big portion for lunch today (it’s what made me think to ask you). This is a really tasty recipe—the rice was undercooked the first time I made it and we still had NO leftovers!!! That says something.

  18. Mel says:

    Hi Rachael – no, I don’t use quick cooking rice here, just normal long grain rice. I don’t know why it would take so long for your rice to cook – do you think you may need to add a bit more liquid so it cooks more quickly?

  19. Rachael says:

    We’ve made this MANY, MANY times since I came across it on your website. Amazing flavor and I love that you can infuse it with spinach. So cravable!!!!

    My only problem is getting the rice to cook. It takes me 3-4 times as long to get it done. I make the chicken separately now so it doesn’t overcook. Just thought I would check in about the liquid amounts in case there is an error? or are you using quick-cooking rice?

    I’m a huge fan of your food and your blog is one of my go-tos for great new recipes!!

  20. Erin says:

    Made this tonight. It was delicious, and very easy! 🙂 This is fast becoming one of my favorite food blogs!

  21. Tannis says:

    This was awesome!! I did leave out the poblano peppers though.

  22. Joey says:

    I made this for tonight’s dinner. My 5 year old has been my “taster” and cannot wait for daddy to get home so we can have supper. I generally cook the rice on it’s own in these types of meals but decided to go with the recipe as written. It’s awesome! The only change I made was to cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Thanks for this keeper! Will make yummy burrito filling as well for portable lunches! 🙂

  23. Amy Yaeger says:

    Finally had a chance to make this recipe. Two thumbs up from whole family!! Wish I had had some black beans in the pantry as a side dish.

  24. Happy mommy says:

    Hey so I made this tonight, absolutely amazing, my husband who is from Guadalajara, MX said it was so delicious! Though he said that you shouldn’t stir it because it breaks the rice, which if you care about appearance (like they do in MX) then broken rice means that you don’t know what you’re doing. Haha I just laughed, so maybe stir only once or twice?

  25. Analese says:

    This was amazing and the leftovers were even better!! My husband requested that I make the rice by itself this week so he can use it as a chip dip! Thanks for the great recipes!

  26. Jamie says:

    SO SO SO good! I made this tonight, and absolutely loved it. I cut it in half and it still worked perfectly. Oh and I had to use a serrano pepper because we couldn’t mind poblano at our small smith’s here and it still tasted great. Thanks for your amazing recipes!

  27. Megan H. says:

    This looks so so sooo yummy! I want to make it tonight but I have never bought poblano peppers, so i dont have them on hand. Is there a substitute? or are they super necessary?

  28. Cammee says:

    This rice is 1000x tastier than Cafe Rio’s! I’m always a sucker for any mexican rice and this did not disappoint. My family disappointed me though…how do I get them over their aversion to cilantro? It’s really starting to chap my hide!

  29. I just found your blog! This looks awesome! 🙂

  30. Anissa says:

    This was super flavorful and easy to make. A winner winner chicken dinner! 🙂

  31. Micki says:

    This looks so good and I’m definitely trying this one soon! Thank you so much for the new label too – I need to update my quick meals list now 🙂

  32. Rebecca B says:

    Just finished this for dinner and YUMMMMM!! My market didn’t have poblanos so I used two jalapenos and with the mild sauce, there was still a kick. I’m going to share this link with my friends. I LOVE one pot meals!

  33. TaLaisa says:

    Sounds yummy to me. I’ve been at Cafe Rio at pre dinner prep time and have seen them add green enchilada sauce to their rice and it’s one of my favorites. This sounds like it could end up being very similar, is it?

    • Mel says:

      TaLaisa – it has been so long since I’ve eaten at Cafe Rio that I don’t really remember their rice but my taste bud memories say it could be very close, yes.

  34. I made this last night and it was awesome! I followed the recipe exactly, except I left out the spinach because we didn’t have any. Thanks for another great, quick 1-pot meal, Mel!

    You should write a cookbook! Everything I’ve tried from your site has been AMAZING! (and easy to boot!)

  35. Liz @ Blog is the New Black says:

    Looks tasty!

  36. Cathy Heckman says:

    Absolutely amazing! Just got done cleaning up the pot from this dinner, no leftovers at this house! I used one can of mild and one can of medium and it gave it just enough kick that even my 9 year old daughter would eat it. I also used Boneless thighs as my family prefers that to white meat and it was very, very, very good!!!! Thanks again, so far I have made 4 recipes from your site and they have all been amazing!!!!

  37. Emily M says:

    I’m with Jenn. I’ve got a huge bag of brown rice, so I would want to make this with that instead of having to go and buy white rice. Suggestions?

    • Mel says:

      Jenn and Emily M – I’m sure brown rice would work fine but you will most likely need to adjust cooking time since brown rice takes longer to cook. Also, I think to be on the safe side I would either add an extra 1/4 cup liquid or keep a close eye on it as it simmers.

  38. Oh yummy, I love any type of green mexincan food. Bonus as a easy skillet meal. I will be trying this one soon.

  39. Perfect for tonight! I have chicken breasts thawing but did not know what to make. Can’t go wrong with a 1-pot dinner! Thanks Mel! 🙂

  40. ingrid says:

    Looks good and the kids and I don’t mind a bit of spicy. Hmm, maybe one can spicy, one can mild? Yeah, I think so! Thanks for sharing!

  41. StephenC says:

    I’m inclined to make the rice by itself as a side dish to a meal. It sounds great. I’ve used prepared enchilada sauce many times and consider it an excellent product. Spicy or mild for me? Maybe one can of each!

  42. Jenn says:

    Do you know how it would be with brown rice?

  43. I just made this recently too, but I used a different rice then what it called for and it didn’t look near as pretty as yours…the pictures turned out really bad, so I was going to hold off on posting it! The flavors were still good though!

  44. nikki says:

    I made your Baked brown rice last night,sooo good. And two nights ago I made your oatmeal pancake mix,thank you so much for that my husband loves them. The pancakes turned out to be so surprisingly light and airy,this one is definitely a keeper. Thanks again.

  45. This looks amazing and easy too. I’m adding it to my list of things to try as I’m always looking for easy skillet meals!

  46. Kim in MD says:

    Ooooh…I have been waiting for you to test and post more skillet meals! My family requests your recipe with the penne pasta and turkey sausage weekly (no kidding), and I want to break out of the rut! This looks absolutely delicious…I am making this tonight! Thanks, Melanie! 🙂

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