Monterey Chicken is a cheesy Bacon BBQ Chicken recipe the whole family will want for dinner again! Smothered BBQ chicken breasts topped with bacon and Monterey Jack cheese are so easy to make! Garnish this baked BBQ chicken dish with fresh tomatoes and green onions for a tasty chicken casserole!
Need some BBQ Chicken Recipe ideas? Make bbq chicken pizza or homemade Hawaiian Pizza with chopped bbq chicken thighs! Our Honey BBQ Chicken Wings is an oven-baked, kid-friendly dinner so, be sure to have napkins on hand to wipe your fingers from this delicious sweet and sticky bbq sauce!
You know Bacon chicken is going to be good, not alone bbq chicken! Bacon and chicken, just go together, Whether it’s bacon-wrapped chicken, a chicken bacon ranch casserole, or tossed into pasta–it’s going to be delicious! Well, this chicken bacon dish is bbq smothered chicken, topped with bacon slices, some shredded cheese, then oven-baked to make a cheesy bacon bbq chicken bake. It’s no wonder this dish made its way to the Chilis menu because Monterey chicken was just that!
This Monterey Chicken Recipe was inspired by a Pinterest find. I was appealed by this chicken Monterey dish served in a skillet, oozing out with barbeque sauce and smothered in melted cheese and freshly diced tomatoes! Well, although a Monterey chicken skillet dinner sounds like a one-dish delight, I recreated this cheesy bbq chicken dinner that best suits our family needs.
Easy Baked BBQ Chicken Breast Recipe:
This is one of the best bbq chicken recipes that I rotate for dinners! It’s so simple, flavorful, and can be done all in a casserole for a make-ahead meal! I also, like to sear the chicken breasts to create a grilled chicken crust but that can be omitted if you season and rub the chicken before it goes off to bake in the oven! The smokey and sweet bbq sauce makes it a kid-friendly meal bursting with flavor!
This chicken breast recipe is so EASY! Not only is a baked chicken dinner among easy weeknight dinners, but making a bbq chicken casserole gives me the flexibility to prepare my main dish in advance and allows me to hold as many chicken breasts as I need because a skillet can only hold so much.
So, to stretch out the chicken servings I cut my chicken breast meat frugally, and load it up with all the favorite toppings you’d see in a bacon chicken recipe with bbq sauce. This is a great way to feed a crowd or plan a few make-ahead dinners throughout the busy weeknight, and leftovers can quickly be transformed into a Monterey chicken sandwich or topped over homemade pizza crust!
Ingredients for Cheesy BBQ Chicken:
Monterey Jack Chicken is another name for Cheesy BBQ chicken hence the Monterey Chicken title. Either way, this chicken is typically made with bbq sauce, cooked bacon, and Monterey jack cheese. You can garnish the baked bbq chicken with freshly diced tomatoes and scallions after the oven so the tomatoes don’t wilt.
- Chicken Breasts- you can use 4 pounds of chicken breast meat or substitute skinless and boneless chicken thighs.
- Chicken Rub- the seasoning for this chicken is plain and very simple! I rub each chicken breast with ground paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Creamy BBQ Sauce- I used a homemade Kansas-style bbq sauce but any creamy bbq sauce from the store will do!
- Cooked Bacon- I usually have a stash of my freezer bacon in the freezer, however, I ended up baking an extra batch of bacon in the morning, knowing I was going to serve this for lunch.
- Monterey Jack Cheese- I like to use a block of Monterey Jack Colby cheese that I shred or thinly slice for dinner casseroles like these. Homemade shredded doesn’t have that anti-caking ingredient that tends to dry out cheese for chicken recipes like these.
- Tomatoes- use 1 cup of freshly diced tomatoes from Roma tomatoes or a large beefsteak tomato.
- Green onions- scallions, or chives, would work as a chicken garnish for this baked bbq chicken breast recipe.
Note: If this bbq chicken breast recipe makes too much you can assemble half into a disposable 13×9 foil pan and freeze it for a weeknight dinner.
What Is Monterey Chicken?
Cheesy Monterey chicken is a Chilis Restaurant BBQ chicken dish with bacon, BBQ sauce, mixed cheese, and diced tomatoes. Served with mashed potatoes, black pepper gravy, and seasonal veggies. This cheesy bacon bbq chicken dish from Chilis can be recreated at home with grilled chicken breast or pan-fried chicken.
There are also different ways to cook and assemble this dish depending on the calories you want to intake. For instance, you can make air-fryer Monterey chicken and not use as much oil or bake this chicken casserole un-fried instead.
What Goes With Cheesy BBQ Chicken?
The best way to serve cheesy bbq chicken is with favorite sides. Here is a list of tasty sides the next time you make this Monterey chicken recipe:
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes or red-skinned garlic mashed potatoes
- Outback Broccoli and Cheese or seasonal vegetables.
- Rice and beans
- Quesadillas or Naan Bread
- Mac and Cheese
- French Bread
- Creamy Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
- Oven-Baked Potato Wedges
- Summer Slaw Recipe
- Fresh Corn or baked beans
- French Fries or Potato Salad
How To Use Leftovers?
If you made cheesy bacon bbq chicken and don’t know what to do with the leftover chicken bake, then here’s how to reuse leftovers!
- Chicken BBQ Melts
- Use leftovers for homemade BBQ pizza. Spread the pizza crust with bbq sauce then top with Mexican cheese, chopped leftover bbq chicken, (or cheddar cheese), sliced purple onions, and a drizzle of additional bbq sauce.
- Make a Cheesy bacon BBQ Chicken Sandwich by adding some green leafy lettuce and tomato slices into Homemade Hamburger buns. Dip into ranch dressing for extra flavor.
- Loaded BBQ Chicken Fries: Top French fries with melted cheddar cheese sauce, chopped bbq chicken, and crumbled bacon bits.
- Baked BBQ Chicken Potato Casserole: place leftover cubed and baked potatoes (skins removed) into a baking casserole layer with a little water, shredded bbq chicken, bbq sauce, and top it with cheese.
How Long To Cook Chicken?
Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Depending on how thick your chicken breast fillet is, it can take anywhere from 3-6 minutes per side. My chicken breast was sliced in half crosswise and took about 2-3 minutes per side. Since this bbq chicken breast is made in the oven, it can be seared and finished later.
BBQ Chicken Variations:
There are so many different add-ins you can add when making cheesy bbq chicken! For instance, you can change up the cheese to swiss cheese or use bacon bits as a garnish rather than baking in the oven with the chicken. Here are some ideas to change up this bbq chicken in the oven or crockpot!
- Crockpot BBQ Chicken- make this easy cheesy bbq chicken in a slow cooker by placing skinless chicken breasts in a crockpot, then topping with bbq sauce, sliced bacon, and swiss cheese! You will need to half this recipe in order for it to fit into a 5-quart slow cooker.
- Pineapple Bacon BBQ Chicken- add one 20 oz can of pineapples that have been drained and save the pineapple juice for a fruit pizza.
- Spicy Bacon BBQ Chicken- top the chicken with sliced purple onions and pickled jalapenos for a kick of heat.
- Loaded Potato BBQ Chicken- have leftover baked potatoes? Cut the cooked potatoes into cubes and layer the chicken on top, per instructions. Bake until the potatoes are heated thoroughly.
- Skinny BBQ Chicken: make an un-fried chicken skinny dish by layering uncooked chicken breasts over a bed of raw onions. This softens the onions during the baking time as the chicken juices are released during cooking.
- Instant Pot BBQ Chicken- don’t want to splatter oil on your clean stove? Use the instant pot to fry the chicken breast in batches! Simply use the saute button and cook outdoors by plugging the unit somewhere outside. This can be done indoors as well and is deep enough to keep the oil from splattering like it would in a shallow pan.
- BBQ Chicken Grilled- use leftover grilled chicken just for this dish!
How To Make Monterey BBQ Chicken?
Cheesy BBQ chicken is an easy chicken dinner that you can even make as a freezer meal! If you have the time, marinade this bbq chicken in a baking soda solution first, for juicy and tender chicken! Simply follow these easy steps in how to make bbq chicken with cheese and bacon!
I also cut each chicken breast in half then pound it with a meat mallet and finally slice each piece in half again. Not only does this make a nice hefty batch but if you eat this cheesy bbq chicken, you’ll know why making enough is actually required (it will disappear REAL quickly!)
- First, preheat a 12-inch skillet over high heat.
- Rub the bbq chicken with paprika, salt, and pepper on each side.
- Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of sunflower or avocado oil into the hot pre-heated skillet.
- Pan sear and cook both sides of the seasoned chicken (about 2 minutes per side it’s ok if it’s slightly undercooked it will finish cooking in the oven with the cheese.)
- Remove the chicken breasts from the pan using kitchen tongs and transfer the chicken to a large casserole or sheet pan.
- Finish frying the chicken in batches, (I usually fry 4 chicken breasts at a time.)
- Spread creamy bbq sauce over each chicken breast and top with a slice of bacon and cheese.
- Bake in a preheated 300°F oven for 20 minutes. This finishes cooking the chicken and melts the cheese.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with freshly diced tomatoes and sliced scallions.
Note: to marinade bbq chicken first cut the chicken breasts into cutlets and soak in 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 Tbsp of vinegar, and 2 cups of water. This makes a quick meat tenderizer for juicy chicken (and is a restaurant trick!) Marinade for at least 20 minutes then, proceed with the recipe instructions below.
What Kind Of BBQ Sauce is Best for This Recipe?
I used a homemade Kansas-style BBQ sauce for this chicken recipe. However, sweet and tangy bbq sauce is ideal like Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce. You want a creamy and spreadable barbecue sauce that has a ton of flavor.
Can I Make Ahead?
To make ahead, this bbq chicken bake, layer cooled ingredients into a baking dish. You can either, grill chicken or cook it in a skillet first for the chicken rub to adhere better, otherwise, your chicken breasts will look poached, but you can leave the chicken uncooked if you wish to shorten the prep time. Then assemble the layers in the order given, cover, and keep refrigerated until needed.
This Monterey chicken bake can be reheated straight from the cold fridge into the hot oven! Simply bake it at 350°F covered for 30-45 minutes, or until cheeses melt and the bbq glaze is hot!
Storing Cheesy BBQ Chicken?
If you have any leftovers they reheat great! Keep in mind that excessive reheating in a toaster oven can eventually dry out the cheese, so do try to cover the dish with either plastic wrap (if microwaving chicken) or aluminum foil if using a toaster oven. The chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days before reheating.
To reheat chicken: microwave in 30-second intervals until hot. You could also place leftovers into a casserole pan with a splash of water and reheat it covered at 350°F until hot.
This chicken recipe is freezer friendly and perfect for meal prep! You can freeze Cheesy BBQ Chicken breasts with barbecue sauce and cheese if it is unbaked. Furthermore, use a disposable 13×9 pan and layer the casserole in the order given. Be sure to layer the casserole with cooled ingredients so the cheese doesn’t melt then cover with foil and freeze for up to 3 months.
Shortcut Tips For Making Cheesy BBQ Chicken:
- Make ahead bacon and freeze for easy meals like this. You can also cook bacon on the skillet or griddle days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator until needed.
- Got leftover grilled chicken? Turn them into this cheesy bbq chicken dish by assembling it into a casserole dish and then bake!
- Cook the chicken first for the chicken rub to adhere, otherwise, it will look poached.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half for the chicken to cook faster and not dry out. This also stretches out the servings and makes more!
- Does this casserole make too much? Place half of it into a disposable baking pan and freeze it for another weeknight dinner meal.
- If making ahead cool all the ingredients first so the cheese doesn’t melt.
- Marinate the chicken with a quick meat tenderizer for juicy and moist chicken in half the time! Add 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 Tbsp of white distilled vinegar, and 1-2 cups of cold water to the chicken breasts. Allow this to sit for at least 20 minutes! I use this in almost all my chicken recipes!
What You Need To Make Cheesy Chicken:
- 12-inch skillet- to sear all the chicken breasts.
- Kitchen Tongs- to easily remove chicken from skillet.
- Baking Dish- you can use two 13×9 baking dishes or one 18×13 sheet pan for this Monterey chicken recipe.
More Easy Chicken Recipes To Make:
- Alice Springs Chicken (Outback Copycat)
- Creamy Garlic Tuscan Chicken
- Sizzling Chicken and Cheese (TGI Friday’s Copycat)
- White Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
How To Make Cheesy Bacon BBQ Chicken:
Cheesy Bacon BBQ Chicken (Monterey Chicken)
- 1 18x13" sheet pan
- 1 12-inch skillet
- 1 pair of kitchen tongs
- 4 lbs chicken breasts (sliced in half, crosswise)
- 1 1/4 cup bbq sauce
- 10 oz Monterey Jack cheese grated
- 1 lb bacon (cooked)
- 1 cup tomatoes (freshly diced)
- 3 tbsp sliced green onions (optional)
- 1 Tbsp salt, pepper, and paprika
- 3 Tbsp sunflower oil (for every 4 chicken breasts, fried)
- Generously season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and paprika on both sides. Set aside.
- Heat a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Drizzle with 3 Tbsp of oil and sear each side of the chicken for 2-3 min on each side.
- Transfer the chicken onto a large baking sheet and continue to fry the remaining chicken in batches.
- Spoon 1 heading Tbsp of BBQ sauce over each chicken breast.
- Top each chicken with 1 slice of bacon (I break mine in half), and sprinkle chicken with shredded cheese.
- Bake at 300°F for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese melts and chicken is done.
- Garnish with diced tomatoes and scallions, if desired.
- How to cut BBQ chicken: Cut the chicken breasts in half crosswise and then in half again to stretch out the chicken servings. For adult servings, you do not need to cut the chicken in half after you sliced it in half crosswise.
- Make-Ahead: You can also, reserve half for another weeknight dinner by assembling half of this portion into a 13x9 disposable pan. Be sure to cool all ingredients before assembling and freeze covered with foil for up to 3 months.
- To cook, bacon follow my Oven-Baked Bacon Instructions.
- Quick Meat Tenderizer: add 2 tsp of baking soda, 2 Tbsp of white distilled vinegar, and 2 cups of water to the sliced chicken breasts for a tender chicken marinade. Simply drain before proceeding with the recipe.
Nutrition per serving
This post has been updated in March 2022. The photo below is from May 2019.