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5 from 6 votes

Steven’s Special Recipe (Chicken, Rice, & Queso)

This easy recipe is my take on the famous Steven's Special, a dish that is made up of a bed of rice loaded with chicken and white queso. My version is extra cheesy (I’m talking 12 ounces) and only requires one pot. It could not be any simpler or more indulgent. All you need is tortillas/chips and a margarita!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 625kcal
Author: Brianna May


Spice Blend

  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs*
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced*
  • 1 jalapeño seeds & membranes removed, diced*
  • 1 can (4 ounces) mild green chiles*
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup white rice*
  • 2 cups chicken broth*

Queso Blanco

  • 1 cup of half and half*
  • 8 ounces deli sliced white american cheese*
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces (1 ½ cups) colby jack cheese divided*

Optional Garnish

  • cilantro jalapeño, or red onion


  • Review all recipe notes and instructions before beginning.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • On a small plate or in a bowl, mix together the cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • In a large (3.6 quart) oven safe skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high. As the oil heats, cut chicken thighs into large chunks. Add the chicken and half of the spice blend to the skillet. Brown chicken for 2-3 minutes or until brown bits form on the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the onion, jalapeño, green chiles, tomato paste, rice, and the remainder of the seasoning blend. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth, scraping any brown bits off the bottom.
  • Bring the mixture to boil. Cover and turn the heat to low. Cook covered for 15 minutes.
  • While the rice cooks, bring the half and half to a light boil in a small saucepan. Add the american cheese and 2 ounces (heaping ½ cup) of the colby jack. Stir continuously until melted and smooth. Continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and set aside until the rice is done.
  • Pour the queso on top of the rice and chicken. Top with the reaiming colby jack cheese.
  • Bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


Chicken Thighs: Swap for chicken breasts. However, chicken breasts dry out easier.
Yellow Onion: Swap for white or red onion.
Green Chiles: Use hot green chiles for extra spice. White Rice: Do not substitute for brown rice. It requires more liquid and cooking time. Chicken Broth: Swap for vegetable broth.
Half and half: Do not substitute for milk. It will be too thin and watery. 
White American Cheese: This processed cheese from the deli makes the smoothest cheese sauce. I do not recommend substituting it for any other cheese.
Colby Jack Cheese: Swap for cheddar, monterey jack, or pepper jack cheese. But be sure to buy a block and grate it yourself for the best taste and melting. 2 ounces (½ cup) is used for the queso and the rest goes on top.
Brown the chicken. Use high heat so the chicken develops some color and brown bits form in the bottom of the skillet. These add so much flavor and depth to the dish. 
Do not uncover the skillet. If you open the lid, all of the steam will be released and the rice will not cook properly. Set your timer and leave the skillet alone. 
The queso blanco is thin. As the queso is simmering, you will notice it does not thicken up too much. This is okay. It will ensure the dish is moist.  
Always shred your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking agents which make it harder to melt. I also think it has less flavor. 
American cheese is key. Processed deli style american cheese is the best base for a queso or cheese sauce. It melts so well and makes the sauce extra smooth. 
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. The skillet will be extremely hot when it comes out of the oven. As it cools, it will set and firm up slightly.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 625kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 187mg | Sodium: 2340mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g