Broth Is The Special Ingredient For The Best Spicy Chicken Casserole

When you're making a chicken casserole there are a number of ingredients you might expect to use. There's chicken, of course, since without it you'd have a different type of casserole altogether. There's also typically some type of starch — in the case of this spicy chicken casserole recipe, developer Kristen Carli is going with rice, which is a pretty typical choice, although other casserole recipes may call for noodles or potatoes. You're also going to have some sort of seasoning and maybe a layer of cheese to finish things off, and Carli's spicy chicken casserole checks all of these boxes. As she describes it, it's "a one-pan meal that is nutritionally balanced [with] carb[s], protein, [and] fat."

One ingredient you may not always see in casseroles is broth. This is probably because broth is liquid, and you're making a casserole, not a soup. If you want to intensify your casserole's chickeny flavor, though, there is a way to incorporate the broth without making a mushy mess, and that entails using it as a cooking liquid for the rice or any other ingredient that may require rehydrating. This is a go-to trick for Carli, who tells us, "I love adding chicken broth to my rice to flavor it." While she is using the kind of broth that comes in a carton, you could also swap it out for homemade or go in the other direction with a chicken bouillon cube dissolved in a cup of hot water.

Change up the broth (and other ingredients) for an even spicier chicken casserole

If you came here looking for a truly incendiary, set-fire-to-your-socks kind of chicken dish, you may be disappointed to note that this casserole will only be mildly spicy unless you choose an extra hot salsa. You might want to look for one made with ghost peppers, Carolina reapers, or something else higher up in the Scoville scale than the jalapeños used to flavor the Great Value Thick and Chunky salsa Carli uses in her casserole, but you could also spice up this casserole by changing other ingredients, starting with the broth. Instead of the chicken-flavored kind, you could always use a chipotle soup base (there's a store-bought form of the stuff) or stir some chipotle powder or cayenne into the liquid. You could also use either of these seasonings to replace the paprika Carli's recipe calls for since both are much hotter than that mild spice.

If you only want a little extra heat but would like a flavor boost, a can of chopped green chiles stirred into the beans would make a tasty addition to the casserole. If you can get roasted Hatch chiles, however, these are even tastier. As a finishing touch, you could also opt to top the casserole nacho-style with a layer of sliced pickled jalapeños scattered over the shredded cheese.