Your entire family will love Jake Smollett’s chicken taco lasagna: “It goes a long way”

“Chicken taco lasagna falls somewhere between a juicy burrito and an enchilada, but it's layered lasagna-style”

Published September 22, 2019 6:00PM (EDT)

Jake Smollett (Photo courtesy of publicist)
Jake Smollett (Photo courtesy of publicist)

“Living by Design” host Jake Smollett is currently working on his second cookbook. And it covers one food, which fans of his time on the “Rachel Ray Show” are sure to enjoy.

Like ​“The Family Table: Recipes and Moments from a Nomadic Life,” Smollett’s new work will feature family-style recipes — this time 100 pasta dishes.

”It's very different kinds of pastas,” Smollett reveals to Salon. “Like southern pastas — fried stuff on it — and it's going to be a good time.”

Smollett prepared a few different pasta dishes during his time on Ray’s show, including his family recipe for manicotti.

“I love Rachel,” he says, “and she makes a killer pasta.”

“Getting the seal of approval from her on different pastas was really awesome, and I've studied with chefs in Italy and had a lot of fun making pasta,” he continues. “So it's kind of become love and passion.”

Both of Smollett’s cookbooks are accessible to home chefs. In fact, Smollett grew up learning how to cook in his family kitchen. A native of New Orleans, his mom marked every celebration with food.

”There's nothing more loving to me than giving someone a plate, and to me, a home chef is like that. It represents moms, it represents families, it represents people that just want to have dinner parties” Smollett says. “And there's nothing you get from cooking for someone other than nourishing them and making them happy, so it's like a complete way of giving to people — just cooking for them.”

Below, Smollett shares his recipe for chicken taco lasagna from “The Family Table.”


“Chicken taco lasagna falls somewhere between a juicy burrito and an enchilada, but it's layered lasagna-style. Mexican food was big in our household when we lives in Southern California, because it was easy to find really great spices and fresh ingredients at the awesome Mexican grocery stores near our neighborhood. This is a dish that the entire family will love, and it goes a long way.”


Recipe: Chicken Taco Lasagna

Makes 6-8 servings


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded an finely diced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 handfuls of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • One 15-ounce can lo-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • two 14.5-ounce cans no-salt added diced tomatoes, 1 can drained of juice
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack (about 12 ounces)
  • 3 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded pepper Jack (about 4 ounces)
  • Three 12-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican hot sauce (I like Valentina)
  • 1 vine-ripened tomato, thinly-sliced
  • 1 Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

PREHEAT the oven to 375-degrees F.

HEAT the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the onion and jalapeño, and sauté until soft, 2 minutes. Add the chicken and season it with the chili powder, cumin, salt, and half the cilantro. Cook the chicken until it's browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Add the beans and diced tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, and add half the green onions (you want them to keep a nice crunch).

MIX together the cheeses in a large bowl and set aside.

PLACE the tortillas on a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 5 minutes to get them a little crunch. Remove from the over and build the lasagna. Layer one tortilla at the bottom of a cast-iron pan then top with one third of the chicken mixture, then one third of the cheese blend, and top with a tortilla. Add half the remaining chicken mixture, then half the remaining cheese, and top with the remaining tortilla. Spread the remaining chicken mixture and cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Set aside to cool slightly before serving.

WISK together the sour cream and hot sauce in a small bowl. Top the lasagna with tomato and avocado slices, the remaining green onions and cilantro, and the spicy sour cream.

Like this recipe as much as we do? Click here to purchase a copy of “The Family Table: Recipes and Moments from a Nomadic Life.”

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Executive Editor of Salon. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

MORE FROM Joseph Neese

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

All Salon Chicken Chicken Taco Lasagna Food Jake’s Smollett Lasagna Recipes