The One-Ingredient Secret to Better Chicken Casseroles

Inspired by our top recipe on Allrecipes last week, this shortcut makes casseroles irresistible—and it isn't from a can!

Last week, our top recipe was a breakout hit of a creamy chicken casserole called Oh So Good Chicken. That part is not surprising—we love weeknight casseroles here at Allrecipes. But what makes this chicken casserole, "Oh So Good?"

Realistically, it's a combination of ingredients and factors, especially the fact that it has just seven ingredients and comes together in under an hour. But we have a hunch that this super simple casserole owes a lot of its deliciousness to one smart shortcut: a jar of salsa.


Here's why salsa is such a brilliant addition to casseroles. First of all, it adds a lot of flavor bang for not a lot of buck; with just one ingredient you've added tomatoes, peppers, and spices. If you're using spicy salsa, it even adds a little bit of heat to keep you coming back for bite after bite. Secondly, salsa adds a lot of moisture without having to use canned soups or broth, which keeps the casserole from drying out while it bakes.

Finally, it adds acidity. The acidity works in two ways—first to tenderize the chicken or protein in the dish. Then, crucially, it provides a zesty balance to all the creamy, cheesy elements in your typical casserole. Plus, by adding a whole jar, you have no pesky leftovers hanging around in your fridge.

After doing some digging, I discovered that some of our top-rated casseroles on Allrecipes have salsa. From a Fajita Pasta Bake to Hot Tamale Pie and Chicken Enchilada Casserole, recipe after top-rated recipe all call for a jar of salsa. The aforementioned Oh So Good Chicken Casserole itself has over 400 5-star reviews. One in particular reads, "It is oh so good. The salsa gives it the right kick."

So next time you break out the 9x13-inch dish, consider grabbing a jar of salsa from your pantry, too. You just might be surprised by how delicious it can make a dish.