Inspired by white chili, this easy vegan Tex-Mex casserole is full of flavor thanks to three types of peppers, spices, and plenty of salsa verde. You'll love the combination of melted vegan cheese, pinto beans, and rice that is cooked right in the pan to soak up all of those flavors!
Easily adjust the level of heat by including or removing the jalapeno seeds. Serve with your favorite toppings like avocado, cilantro, green onion, and fresh lime. This recipe is gluten-free and can be made without oil.
Everyone loves a flavorful, one-pot dinner loaded with all of the BEST Mexican flavors. And when it's ready in under an hour, even better!
This skillet casserole reheats beautifully, so even if you're only cooking for one or two people, don't worry about having too much leftover.
We love that this recipe is easy enough for weeknights but also fun and special enough for weekends or parties.
I don't remember how or where, but I came across Half Baked Harvest's White Chicken Chili Skillet Bake recipe. The photo was so gorgeous I just knew I HAD to make a vegan version.
Melted cheese, rice, beans, salsa verde, poblano, and jalapeno? Yes, please!
I knew it would be really easy to make Tieghan's recipe fully plant-based by swapping out the chicken and cheese. Don't you just love that about Tex-Mex and Mexican-inspired dishes? They're so plant-forward.
We really enjoyed this Tuscan White Bean Skillet Bake I shared last month, and I'm excited to share another easy skillet meal with you. I hope you love it as much as we do.
- poblano and jalapeno - both of these peppers add great flavor without adding TOO much spicy heat. If you prefer a spicier dish include some (or most - totally up to you) of the jalapeno seeds.
- rice - I used white basmati. I don't recommend brown rice because the longer cook time doesn't work well with this particular recipe. Quinoa has a similar cook time to white rice and would be a better substitute.
- beans - I used pinto beans but white beans are also perfect in this white chili-inspired dish.
- vegan "chicken" - I used 3 ounces of soy curls rehydrated in water I seasoned with my homemade vegan "chicken" broth mix. You could also use Better Than Bouillon's no-chicken base to add flavor.
Alternatively, use store-bought vegan chicken strips.
- salsa verde - I usually buy Trader Joe's salsa verde; it's bright, salty and flavorful. You'll need a full 2 cups (16 fl oz) to make the casserole moist and flavorful enough. Depending on the brand you purchase you may need two jars.
- vegan cheese - Daiya recently sent me some of their Mexican 4 Cheeze Style Blend shreds to try, so that's what I used. We were really impressed with the way it melted AND the richness and flavor. Feel free to use any mild vegan shredded cheese you enjoy.
See the recipe card below for quantities and full recipe.
- If using soy curls as your "chicken," rehydrate them in salty broth or seasoned water for about 15 minutes. Then drain, and squeeze out most of the moisture.
- In a large 12-inch cast iron skillet saute the onion and peppers for about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Now add the rehydrated soy curls to the pan. Cook until lightly browned.
- Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic, and a generous pinch of both salt and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the rice to the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes so that it's lightly toasted. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 12 to 14 minutes or until the rice is soft.
- Add the salsa verde, beans, ½ cup shredded cheese, and ½ cup chopped cilantro to the skillet. Stir very well. Top with 1 cup shredded cheese, then cover the skillet with foil. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Hint: Covering the skillet is key! This traps the moisture which causes the vegan cheese to melt perfectly.
Finish the skillet casserole with your favorite toppings like avocado, cilantro, green onion, and lime wedges.
Oil-free - I haven't had a chance yet to test an oil-free version of this dish yet but I feel certain it will be a success!
Simply omit the oil for the saute, and choose from the wide variety of homemade cheeze recipes available. Our favorite oil-free queso is perfect for this dish.
Leftovers reheat well throughout the week. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
This Tex-Mex casserole is also freezer-friendly.
Absolutely. If you don't own a large, oven-safe skillet, use a saute pan for the stovetop cooking. Then spoon the mixture into a baking dish, top with shredded cheese, and cover with foil.
Yes, just make sure to choose a gluten-free vegan chicken option (soy curls are GF), and that your cheese and salsa verde are also GF (most are).
I haven't tested it yet, but I feel certain an oil-free version will turn out great. Simply omit the oil used to saute the ingredients, and select a homemade vegan oil-free cheese such as mozzarella or cashew queso.
If you try this Vegan White Chicken Chili Bake please share your feedback with us! Comment below and rate the recipe to let others know how it turned out.
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One Skillet Vegan White Chili Casserole
- cast iron skillet - with a lid
- aluminum foil
- 3 ounces dry Butler soy curls OR 3 servings store-bought vegan chicken strips (thawed)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil - see FAQs above if you avoid oil.
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped - or keep some of the seeds for a spicier dish.
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups salsa verde
- 1 (15 oz) can pinto or white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups shredded vegan cheese, divided - I used Daiya Mexican style shreds.
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
- avocado, cilantro, and lime for serving
- Skip this step if using store-bought chick-un strips. To rehydrate and season the soy curls, place in a large bowl. Cover with 2 cups of salty broth OR water seasoned with any vegan chicken-flavor seasoning you like. *I used water and 2 tablespoons of my DIY "chicken" broth mix. Let the soy curls soak for 15 minutes, then drain, and squeeze the soy curls to remove excess water. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and preheat a large, 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat (see Notes).
- Add the oil, onion, poblano, and jalapenos to the pan. Stirring occasionally, cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the rehydrated soy curls (or vegan chicken) to the pan, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and a generous pinch of both salt and pepper. Stir frequently, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in the rice and cook 1 to 2 minutes, just until lightly toasted. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover the skillet, reduce heat to the lowest setting, and cook 12 to 14 minutes or until the rice is soft. Add the salsa verde, beans, ½ cup shredded cheese, and ½ cup chopped cilantro to the skillet. Stir well. Remove from heat, and top with the remaining 1 cup shredded cheese.
- Cover the skillet with foil (or use an oven-safe lid). Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Tip: using a lid or foil traps moisture inside and is the key to perfectly melted vegan cheese!
- Serve with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.
Made this last night and it was scrumptious. Have only a 10”skillet so I cooked the rice separately and added the baked casserole over the top for each serving. I love all of you recipes that I have tried so far. Thank you!
So delicious! And I screwed up the recipe as I was distracted…I put the beans and salsa verde in when cooking the rice rather than adding it before going into the oven. It came out incredible! I’m a baby and was afraid of the peppers the recipe called for but trusted the process and was careful to take out all the seeds. I’m so glad I did, I learned about cooking with things I was scared of and saw the awesome flavors they impart. Thank you for the yumminess and the cooking lesson!!
This was so good! Perfect seasoning. I didn't use the vegan cheese, just drizzled a cashew cream sauce over and baked it. I will make it again and again.
We eat only brown rice so for this recipe, if I cook it the 40 minutes required, will that be too long for the other ingredients? Or if I used precooked rice, do I just leave out the 2cups of water? Any suggestions you might have would be appreciated. This sounds like our kind of dish.
You could approach it different ways, partially cooking the rice first and letting it finish in the skillet or just use fully cooked brown rice. The latter would probably be easiest. To help with moisture I would still add about 1/2 cup water when you add the cooked rice. Hope you enjoy it. Let us know how it turns out!
This is really tasty! The heat is perfect for me, a little spicy but not overbearing. I omitted the chili powder because I don't use it and I think it's delicious without it. I will definitely make this again!