One Skillet Cheesy Cuban Chicken Rice Bake
This simple One Skillet Cheesy Cuban Chicken Rice Bake is the perfect pantry staple recipe. Cuban(ish) seasoned chicken, rice, peppers, black beans, and tomatoes all cooked together in one skillet, then topped with plenty of cheese, avocado, and fresh cilantro too. Simply toss the skillet in the oven to create the perfect cheesy, one skillet, Cuban inspired chicken and rice dinner. There’s nothing not to love. This dish is easy, takes under an hour to make, is cheesy, and all-around delicious!
And just like that, I’m back with another one skillet pantry staple dinner. Sure hoping you guys aren’t sick of these yet because I’ve been loving using my skillet these days. One, I have a new style Staub skillet I’ve been using and I’m really loving it. And two, skillet dinners are easy, no fuss, and pretty much always turn out so darn delicious.
Plus, I’ve found that while living life under quarantine, every pantry staple ingredient is made better in the skillet. I don’t know why, but it’s true. Which brings me to this simple, one skillet Cuban inspired dinner. It packs in all the flavors we love in Cuban cooking, plenty of onion, lots of oregano, black beans, and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice…all in one skillet. It’s not full-on traditional Cuban cuisine, it’s just a fun take that’s so delicious.
One of the questions I get asked all the time is where I find my inspiration. The answer is simple, I find inspiration everywhere and anywhere. For today’s recipe, I remembered back to a Cuban dish I created a few years ago and wondered if there was a way to turn that recipe into an even simpler skillet dinner.
Not going to lie, some of the recipes I created way back in the day were long and a little overly completed. The truth? They simply didn’t need to be that way, but I just didn’t know any better at the time. You learn and get better as you grow, right?
Thankfully, I’m always learning, and even better? I’ve honed my skills with my skillet in ways that usually turn out a delicious recipe.
Case in point, this skillet dinner. It has all the flavors of that original bowl recipe, but minus all the work and time. It’s light, bright, and fresh, but still has an element of cozy (I mean come on…cheesy baked rice). This dish is perfect for not only these weird times we’re living in now but also these early days of spring. When some days it’s nice, and other days it’s cold and rainy (or snowy), and you just need comfort food.
here are all the details
As always, step one is finding yourself a great skillet. This is the exact matte black one I am using. But I also want to note that it comes in this pretty blue color too. I love the slightly larger and deeper eleven-inch skillet, but any oven-safe skillet, or even dutch oven, will work great for this recipe. Use what you got and make it work!
Next, cook up the onion. Then add the chicken, bell pepper, garlic, and spices. Allow the chicken to brown, then toss in a handful of broken spaghetti.
Yes, spaghetti, or angel hair, which is actually what I use. Hey, I never said this was traditional Cuban, just Cuban inspired. Using a combination of broken pasta and rice makes this almost more like a Rice-A-Roni or rice pilaf bake, it’s such a nice addition. And perfect if you have an almost empty box of pasta just sitting in the pantry waiting to be used.
Allow the pasta and rice to get a little toasted, then add water. Bring this mix to a boil, cover and let the rice steam for a bit. This only takes ten or so minutes. You do not need to cook the rice completely, as it will finish cooking in the oven.
Now, once the rice is “al dente”, the rest is pretty simple and comes together quickly. Stir in the black beans, plenty of cilantro, fresh lime zest, and a good amount of lime juice too. Top the skillet full of chicken, rice, and cheese, preferably Swiss, which makes this similar in flavor to the classic Cubano sandwich. Transfer the skillet to the oven, bake until the cheese is melty and the sauce is bubbly.
And that’s it. Simple right? This dish smells incredible as it bakes away in the oven, but trust me, it tastes even better.
This brings me right to the toppings, which I actually kept kind of simple. But sometimes simple is really all you need.
I topped this cheesy bake with wedges of avocado, plenty of fresh lime juice, and cilantro too. If you can get your hands on it, baby watercress would also be a great (and very Cuban) ingredient, to add.
If you wanted to take the toppings a step further, I would recommend a pineapple salsa or mango salsa. Either would be delicious and would add a nice pop of vibrant color too!
What’s great about this one-skillet cheesy Cuban chicken rice bake is that it incorporates a variety of flavors and textures. Yet it’s all made simply in ONE skillet, using all pantry staple ingredients.
Well, almost all pantry staples. If you don’t have a fresh bell pepper on hand, try using jarred peppers, or swap the pepper for a vegetable you do have. Cauliflower and zucchini would both be great options.
This is already in my rotation of “back pocket” recipes. I’ve made it three times since photographing the dish. It’s just so good, and it’s different…which is really nice! I’ve found a lot of “pantry style” recipes to be among the same flavor profiles. I love that this really switches things up!
Lastly, if you make this one skillet cheesy Cuban chicken rice bake, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
one skillet cheesy Cuban chicken rice bake
The perfect pantry staple recipe: easy, cheesy, takes under an hour to make, and all-around delicious!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper using more or less to taste
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry broken spaghetti or angel hair pasta
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chopped pepperoncini or dill pickles (optional)
- 1 (14 ounce) can black beans drained
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
- zest and juice of 1 lime, plus more for serving
- 1-2 cups shredded swiss or mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a large oven-safe skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, and season with salt and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes until the chicken is browned. Push the chicken and vegetables to one side of the skillet, add the pasta and rice, cook 1-2 minutes, until lightly toasted and golden. Stir in the tomato paste and cook another minute. Add 2 cups of water and the pepperoncini, if using. Bring to a boil. Place the lid on the skillet and turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible. Allow the rice to cook 15 minutes until most of the liquid has cooked into the rice, but not all of it.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the beans, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice. Sprinkle the cheese over the chicken/rice. Transfer to the oven and bake 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
4. Serve topped as desired with avocado, cilantro, and additional lime. Enjoy!
By Tieghan Gerard
Bio: I’m Tieghan, the recipes you’ll find here are inspired by the people and places I love most. I try to live simply, eat seasonally, and cook with whole foods. My hope is to inspire a love for amazing food, as well as the courage to try something new!