This Salsa Fresca Chicken Bake makes an unbelievably delicious meal full of fresh flavors. The tender chicken is seasoned with spices, then smothered in freshly made salsa and baked with rich cheese over top, for dinner that is equally wholesome and tasty.
Since it only has a few simple ingredients and is all baked in one dish, you can have Salsa Fresca Chicken prepped and to the oven in as little as 15 minutes! This recipe is delicious, healthy and a crowd pleaser, so it is perfect for both an everyday family dinner or for entertaining.
Growing up in Texas I have that deep rooted love of Tex-mex cuisine pretty much running through my blood. I have shared many of my Tex-Mex favorites like my Chicken Fajitas and Beef Enchiladas. This Salsa Fresca Chicken isn’t a traditional dish, but it takes some of my favorite Tex-Mex flavors and puts them together in the EASIEST weeknight dinner.
The ingredients are so simple, but in the end you come out with such a bang with this dish. The chicken is seasoned with the familiar spices from Tex-Mex cuisine and then smothered in fresh pico de gallo and topped with Monterey Jack cheese to finish of the Salsa Fresca Chicken. The result is all the flavor of delicious Mexican food in a light and healthy dinner.
Make sure and hop over to my Baked Chicken Fajitas too for another easy and healthy Tex-Mex dinner idea!
How to Make Salsa Fresca Chicken
This recipe is simple to make and packed with fresh delicious ingredients. I am going to walk you through some of the highlights of the recipe and offer my tips and preferences on how to make it.
Hopefully this will answer any questions you may have on how to prepare the Salsa Fresca Chicken. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments section down below. Also, if you just want the quick version of the recipe feel free to jump down to the bottom of the post for the printable recipe card.
- Chicken breast- If your chicken breasts are thick I recommend cutting them in half so they are more thin. This will help the chicken to cook more quickly and evenly.
- Seasonings- I use a quick and simple combo of cumin, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. If you are short on time you could also just throw on a little taco seasoning or fajita seasoning with good results.
- Fresh pico de gallo- I use this recipe for homemade pico de gallo here. I think it is best because the flavors are so much fresh when it is newly made and it is super easy (and fool proof!) to make! If you are short on time, you can usually find fresh pico de gallo either in the refrigerated produce section at the grocery store, or you can often but it at Mexican restaurants by the pint, so feel free to do that in a pinch!
- Monterey jack cheese, shredded- I think Monterey Jack is one of the tastiest cheese out there. It can be a little more challenging to find pre-shredded sometimes but almost all stores have it at least in block form. I was able to find the Cabot brand in pre-shredded when I made this recipe. If you want a substitute, you can use Mexican blend, cheddar, or colby jack.
- Fresh cilantro, chopped– This is really optional but it gives the dish a finished and beautiful look and also a little dash of freshness so I love to include it.
Recipe Step by Step
- Season chicken breast and lay them flat in a baking dish. Use a dish large enough so that they aren’t crowded.
- Top the chicken with pico de gallo mixture. Spread it evenly over the top of the chicken.
- Finish with cheese. Add as much or little as you prefer. The chicken bake shouldn’t need to be covered, however, if you like your cheese more gooey, you may want to hold off and just add it 5-10 minutes before it is done.
- Bake the chicken. Try to cook it just until it reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F internal temp so that it is the most tender and juicy. The longer you cook over that peak temperature the more tough, or dry it will start to get.
- You can pre cut the meat into 4 oz servings before cooking if preferred, or use chicken tenderloins instead. If you use smaller cuts of meat the cooking time will be reduced. Some people like to do this so it is easier to serve at the correct portion size.
- Once you have the dish ready to go into the oven I recommend baking it on the middle rack uncovered. Every oven and climate differs, but I have found that I am almost always able to cook my chicken dishes uncovered for the entirety of the cooking time. This helps the dish to cook off additional moisture that is released while cooking and avoid being too watery in the end.
- If you find that your chicken is getting more browned than you prefer, you can at that point in the cooking process loosely cover it with foil so that steam can still escape but it is shielded from the direct heat to protect it from browning more.
How to Serve Salsa Fresca Chicken
True to the roots of it’s name, Salsa Fresca Chicken is perfect with fresh and flavorful sides. There are plenty of options that allow you to find something that everyone in the family can be happy with. Serve it with one, or pick 2-3 to make a complete well rounded meal.
I will share some of my favorites below, and if you have any other favorites, please let me know in the comments so I can try them out!
Traditional Serving Ideas:
- Mexican or spanish rice- I like this Spanish Rice Recipe or cilantro lime rice (as pictured)
- Beans- black beans or refried are our favorites. My kiddos really love their refried beans like this!
- Sliced up inside tortillas
- With a side of mexican corn casserole
- Buttermilk Cornbread
Low Carb Serving Options:
- Cauliflower Mexican Rice– We love this recipe. I also mix it half and half with regular rice for the kids and they don’t ever know they are eating tons of veggies!
- Side salad- Try it with a creamy cilantro ranch dressing! Yum!
- With a side of grilled peppers and onions
- On a bed of sautéed spinach or other greens
What to do with Salsa Fresca Leftovers
Now you very well might not have any leftovers because it is so good the family may lick their plates and go back for more. However if you do find yourself with extra Salsa Fresca Chicken at the end of the meal, you are in luck because there are lots of yummy things you can do with it.
You can store the leftovers of the chicken in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer. I like to keep the Salsa Fresca Chicken leftovers in the fridge if I don’t have much, but if there is quite a bit leftover, I prefer to break it up into meal sized portions and freeze individually so I can use it for new meals throughout the month.
Here are some ideas on what to make with the leftovers:
- Salsa Fresca Chicken Salad– add chopped chicken with black beans, corn, avocado, corn chips and your favorite dressing
- Quesadillas– I love chopping up the leftover chicken and stuffing it into a tortilla with some chopped peppers and extra cheese and grilling it on both sides for an easy meal for the kids. Everyone cleans their plate on quesadilla night! You can top them with sour cream, guacamole and additional pico de gallo.
- Burrito bowls– Make up a big pot of cilantro lime rice and grill up some peppers and onions and have a build your own burrito bowl with the leftover chicken.
- Tacos– If it is Tuesday or any day shred up the leftovers and use it as the meat filling for taco night. You can also use it as the base for these Baked Chicken Tacos (my kids love these SO MUCH!)
With all of these options you might just find yourself doubling the recipe to make sure that you have leftovers! I sincerely hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! If you get a chance to make it, I would love to hear about it in the comments below! It absolutely makes my day to hear that others are making and enjoying the recipes I share here on my little blog. Or if you post a picture on Instagram, make sure to tag me @easyfamilyrecipes so that I can see what you are cooking up!
More EASY Chicken Bake Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I hope you will take a minute to bookmark a few more to try for easy meals throughout the week. You can find all of my Easy Chicken Dinners here, or a few of my favorite chicken bakes below:
- Zucchini Chicken Casserole
- Million Dollar Chicken Bake
- Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake
- Baked Chicken Fajitas
Oh and before you go, if you are like me and need a regular rotation of dinner inspiration, make sure to join me in my Hungry e-mail club where I send out what I am cooking and some of the must make recipes on my list so your dinner menu never gets old! You can join (for free!) by clicking here or on the button below. Happy Eating!
- 2 lbs chicken breast, boneless skinless
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 cups fresh pico de gallo
- 1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- Lay the chicken flat in a large baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the cumin, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Cover chicken with the pico then top with cheese.
- Bake on middle rack for 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 165˚F.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve hot with your favorite side dish.
- You can cut the chicken in half, chunks, or use chicken tenderloins in lieu of full chicken breasts to make serving easier. Cooking time may be reduced.
- Leftovers can be placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month.