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Southwestern Chicken and Rice

Southwestern Chicken and Rice takes your favorite classic chicken and rice dish and spices it up with Southwestern flavors. Brown rice, diced chicken, sautéed onion is mixed with salsa and cheese to create a comforting weeknight meal. 

Southwestern Chicken and Rice - so good

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Southwestern Chicken and Rice

One of my most popular recipes on my site is my Mom’s Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole. I actually make that dish a lot in the winter for my family. There is something very hearty and comforting about chicken and rice. As the name says my Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole uses warm curry and turmeric to give it a nice flavor.

Today’s Southwestern Chicken and Rice takes classic chicken and rice and adds Southwestern flavors to spice it up. This recipe uses sautéed onions, brown or white rice and diced chicken mixed together with your favorite salsa and warm, gooey cheese.

During the week I am always looking for easy weeknight meals to make for my family and this Southwestern Chicken and Rice falls into that category.  You can make this meal in under 30 minutes and the leftovers taste just as good as the first day you eat it.

Southwestern Chicken and Rice - dinner

When making this dish I used brown rice but you can use your favorite rice in place of brown if you don’t have it. The recipe starts with sautéing onion and garlic and then cooking diced boneless, skinless chicken breasts with cumin and chili powder.  Once the chicken is cooked you add in the corn, cherry tomatoes, cooked rice, a jar of your favorite salsa and then mix in the cheese. It is that easy! I like to top mine with fresh cilantro and green onions but feel free to do other yummy garnishes like avocado, red onions and extra cheese. This recipe is also customizable to your liking..try adding black beans in or diced bell pepper!

One note for this recipe: I used Della Rice which cooks in 20 minutes {all varieties of their rice}.  If you are using a different rice the cook times may vary, especially if you are using brown rice. Brown rice can take up to 40 minutes to cook.

Southwestern Chicken and Rice - easy dinner

I had a few kitchen helpers in today’s recipe that I am really excited to tell you guys about. It all starts with this OXO Rice and Grains Washer Colander. The colander has holes designed to allow water to drain slowly to wash impurities and starch from rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley and moor.

Their Colander has holes designed to allow water to drain slowly to wash impurities and starch from rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley and more. The water pools before draining to show when water is clear and grains are clean. The small, square holes help prevent tiny grains from falling through, and the extra drain holes in the pour spout remove excess water and keep grains contained. I love this because we use a lot of grains in our cooking and this is the perfect way to rinse it without loosing it through the holes of a regular colander.

Southwestern Chicken and Rice - rice

Next is this fun Grape and Tomato Cutter. I use this a lot for my cherry tomatoes when I want them quartered and also to cut grapes for salads or for my toddlers to snack on. The Grape & Tomato Cutter keeps fingers out of the way while the sharp, serrated stainless steel blades quickly and easily slice grapes, pitted olives and grape tomatoes. I love this one so much!

Southwestern Chicken and Rice - tomatoes

Lastly, I used this Large Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer. I actually had wanted one of these for Christmas and didn’t get it so when I got the opportunity to try Oxo’s out I was excited. I used this for the thinly sliced onions but there are so many uses for a mandolin from zucchini, to tomatoes, to sweet potatoes and more. The Large Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer features 7 thickness options, food holder and stainless steel blade for perfect, even slices. The clear surface shows slices accumulating below and the wide ramp accommodates a variety of vegetables. Non-slip notches allow for slicing directly over bowls. This one is so easy to use and you don’t have to worry about your fingers getting near the sharp blade!

Southwestern Chicken and Rice - onions


Southwestern Chicken and Rice - so good

Southwestern Chicken and Rice

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Southwestern Chicken and Rice takes your favorite classic chicken and rice dish and spices it up with Southwestern flavors. Brown rice, diced chicken, sautéed onion is mixed with salsa and cheese to create a comforting weeknight meal.


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup brown rice {or rice of your choice}
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 16 oz. salsa of your choice
  • 1 - 15 oz. can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese {or cheese of your choice}
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Garnishes:

  • Freshly chopped cilantro
  • Chopped diced green onion


  1. Cook the rice according to the package and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet heat the 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. Add the minced garlic and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the diced chicken and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the cumin and chili powder and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 more minutes.
  3. Add the salsa, corn and cherry tomatoes, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 2 more minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes are soft. Add the rice and stir everything until combined.
  4. Remove from the heat and add in the 1 cup of cheese, stirring everything together and letting sit until the cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with cilantro and green onions.


The cook time for this recipe is 20 minutes because Della Brown Rice {or any of their rices} cook in 20 minutes. If you use a different brand of rice it will take longer {usually 40 minutes} to cook the rice.
You can modify this dish to your tastes. It tastes good without the corn and cherry tomatoes if you want to make it very simple.
For extra protein try adding a can of black beans that have been drained and rinsed.
When choosing your salsa you can pick this according to your tastes-if you like spicy food then try using a spicy salsa. I have also tried a black bean and corn salsa before which is a nice addition.
I used sharp cheddar cheese but try monterrey jack or a mild cheddar.

Southwestern Chicken and Rice - nutritional information

Today’s post is sponsored by OXO. I received the products to use in this post and as always all opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make A Cedar Spoon possible.

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Friday 28th of April 2023

[…] My family loves a classic chicken noodle soup but also really enjoys changing it up and adding rice instead of noodles. If you like chicken and rice you should also try my One Pot Mediterranean Chicken and Rice, Curry Chicken Rice Casserole or my Southwest Chicken Rice Casserole.  […]

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Tuesday 5th of October 2021

[…] You might remember a couple that I have shared over the years like this Curried Chicken and Rice Casserole or this Southwestern Chicken and Rice Casserole. […]

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Saturday 24th of July 2021

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Judi Boebel

Sunday 5th of March 2017

Julia I made this recipe for dinner tonight it was an easy and tasty recipe. I added black beans to the recipe.


Monday 6th of March 2017

Great idea! Glad you liked it.

Laurie A. Smith

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

Raw brown rice takes at least 40 minutes to cook on top of the stove, so this is going to take closer to an hour unless you use a pressure cooker. However, that colander is wonderful, just what I need!


Tuesday 12th of April 2016

Yes you are right. The rice I used in this recipe cooks in 20 minutes {Della Rice} but most other brown rices take 40 minutes. I will mention that in the recipe.

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