Recipe Review

I Tried Selena Gomez’s Favorite Chicken Dinner from Her Nana, and I’ll Definitely Be Making It Again

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Cheesy chicken tortilla chip casserole.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

Everyone has that one dish that is a comfort food staple. For me, it’s my grandma’s Italian meatballs. For Selena Gomez, it’s her Nana’s tortilla chip chicken casserole. Made with very simple ingredients, this casserole is a cheesy comforting dinner that is one of Gomez’s favorite childhood dishes. On her HBO Max show Selena + Chef back in 2020, she brings Nana herself on the show as the two of them demonstrate how to make her favorite meal. Watching her crinkle the tortilla chips and layer the casserole with thick slices of Velveeta cheese had my stomach growling, so of course, I had to give it a try myself.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

How to Make Selena Gomez’s Chicken Tortilla Chip Casserole

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In an oven-safe casserole dish, cover the bottom with a layer of finely crushed tortilla chips. (Selena and her Nana seem to be using Doritos!)

Add another layer of strips of cooked chicken. A rotisserie chicken works well here!

Next, add a layer of chopped yellow onion and jalapeño. Then finish off this layer with slices of Velveeta cheese.

Repeat the same process for a second layer; crushed tortilla chips, strips of chicken, onion and jalapeños. The jalapeños are technically optional for this second layer, so if you’re not big on spicy, feel free to skip it the second time.

Pour 2 cups of chicken broth over the casserole dish. You may not need as much; you’ll know if it’s the right amount if your ingredients are soaked but not completely submerged.

Finish it off with slices of Velveeta cheese. For the authentic “Selena-style” you can add more crushed tortilla chips, and of course, feel free to add more onions and jalapeños if you like.

Bake the casserole for 20 minutes, then serve warm.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review

This is the kind of comfort meal that reminds me of cold nights with my in-laws in the Midwest: comforting, tasty, cozy, and incredibly easy to make. It uses ingredients that you already have, and it doesn’t take long to throw together. The simplicity of this recipe alone has earned major brownie points in my eyes.

Now typically with simple recipes like this, I tend to be skeptical. Can a comforting casserole really be good if the main source of carbohydrate is a bag of tortilla chips? Surprisingly enough, this recipe works. The chicken broth soaks the crushed tortilla chips enough that it creates a filling base that isn’t soggy or bland. The combination with the melted Velveeta cheese and the chicken and the potent jalapeños mixes well, and I may just find myself adding this to my weekly meal rotation. Especially knowing how easy it is to throw together!

Also, for not having any seasonings (even salt and pepper!) this casserole still had a lot of flavor. I think the saltiness from the chips and the spice from the vegetables gives it enough where you don’t have to worry about adding in a ton of seasoning, which I was pleased with after being skeptical with the ingredient list.

However, I will be making one edit the next time I make it. I don’t think adding raw vegetables to this casserole works — I still felt like I was chewing on raw onions and jalapeños even after this casserole was cooked in the oven. Instead, I think I might sauté the vegetables before adding it in. Sure, it adds another step, but I think it will elevate the taste and texture of this dish.

3 Tips for Making Selena Gomez’s Chicken Tortilla Chip Casserole

  1. Sauté your vegetables: Gomez and her Nana add onion and jalapeños, and as mentioned, I do think they need to be cooked a bit more. Try sautéing them in a pan with a splash of cooking oil to cook them up a bit before tossing into your casserole. You could even add bell pepper slices to your vegetable medley for an even heartier casserole.
  2. Top with guacamole or salsa: This casserole is certainly tasty enough, but for an extra zing of flavor, you could add dollops of guacamole or salsa on top to serve. Even adding slices of avocado could be good here!
  3. Swap out the chicken with black beans: Looking for a vegetarian option to make this dish? Skip the rotisserie chicken and drain two cans of black beans instead. Layer as usual, and you have an easy vegetarian take on Gomez’s favorite meal!