Looking for a hearty and flavorful dinner option? Try this delicious chicken enchilada casserole! Packed with juicy shredded chicken, red enchilada sauce, and layers of melty cheese. It’s an easy and comforting dinner that the whole family will love!
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Learn how to make chicken enchilada casserole that bakes in the oven for 30 minutes. To switch up taco night, my family always enjoys a tray of chicken enchiladas. If you prefer green sauce, check out this green chili enchilada version. To make prep even faster, layer them instead of rolling up the tortillas individually with the filling.
This is one of my favorite meals to use leftover meat, which I quickly shred into smaller pieces. Combined with colorful vegetables, that makes for a tasty filling. The casserole is layered with tortillas, chicken filling, red chili sauce, and two types of melty cheese. Pop it in the oven to bake, and you’ll have a feast ready quickly!
- Shredded Chicken: This is a great way to use leftover rotisserie chicken. Use my shredded chicken recipe if making from scratch. You’ll need 2 pounds of chicken breasts or thighs to yield four cups of meat.
- Enchilada Sauce: Use my homemade enchilada sauce, doubling the recipe. My version is on the spicier side. For convenience, use a store-bought canned sauce, mild or spicy.
- Vegetables: A mix of canned black beans and whole corn kernels adds extra protein, fiber, and flavor. Pinto beans and frozen corn are good swaps.
- Chilies: Add canned diced fire-roasted green chilies for extra heat and charred flavor. Fresh jalapenos or serranos can also be used.
- Cheese: Use shredded cheeses that melt well, like Monterey Jack cheese and mild or sharp cheddar cheese.
- Tortillas: White or yellow corn tortillas about 5 to 6 inches in size. Flour tortillas can be used for a chewier texture.
Make the filling
To make a flavorful chicken enchilada filling, I combine the ingredients before layering the casserole. Mix the shredded meat, corn, black beans, green chilies, and enchilada sauce to coat. This can be made a few days ahead of time for meal prep.
Prepare the tortillas
To make the tortillas fit more snuggly in the rectangular pan cut them in half. The semi-circles make it easier to line and cover the straight edges. I used 5-inch white corn tortillas for this recipe. That requires eleven halves, or 17 tortillas total, to make three layers covering a 13 by 9-inch casserole dish. Larger 6-inch tortillas may need less.
If desired, you can warm the tortillas on the stovetop, lightly charring them for extra flavor. I do this for my classic chicken enchiladas to make them pliable and tasty.
Assemble the casserole
To prevent the tortillas from sticking, lightly grease a large rectangular baking dish with cooking spray or oil. Add sauce to the bottom of the dish to flavor the tortillas. Add just enough tortillas, slightly overlapping, to cover the pan. Add half of the chicken mixture, followed by Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese.
Repeat the layering process once more, topping the tortillas with sauce. The final layers are tortillas, the remaining sauce, and cheese. From here, you can bake immediately, refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to a month.
Bake the enchilada casserole
Cover the casserole with foil. This will trap in the heat, steaming the ingredients to warm them through. Bake the dish in a preheated oven set to 400ºF (204ºC) for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is hot and slightly bubbling, about 10 minutes. I like to wait a few minutes before slicing to let the layers infuse together, making it easier to slice and serve.
This chicken enchilada casserole recipe is easy to customize. Feel free to omit any vegetables and chilies or swap them out for other tasty ingredients. Try some of these delicious suggestions below.
- Add sauteed onions, garlic, and red and green bell peppers to the filling.
- For a creamy filling, stir in sour cream or cream cheese.
- Switch the cheeses with queso asadero, mozzarella, colby, or pepper jack. Sprinkle cotija or queso fresco on top of each slice.
- Toss the chicken with taco seasoning to enhance the flavor.
- Add in other meats like shredded turkey, ground turkey, chicken, or beef.
- Use homemade flour tortillas, corn tortillas, or cassava tortillas.
- Mexican rice
- Black beans and rice
- Refried beans
- Toppings: Pico de Gallo, salsa, sour cream, avocado, guacamole, cilantro, pickled red onions.
Frequently asked questions
The tortillas can be fried first in a thin layer of oil, about 10 to 15 seconds per side. The fat coats the starch, creating a lipid layer that prevents the tortillas from soaking up too much sauce and getting soggy.
For enchilada casseroles, corn tortillas work best. They add a nice earthy flavor and create layers that infuse together to make the base for slices. They also soak up some of the flavorful red or green sauce. Flour tortillas are studier and more pliable but chewier and thicker in texture.
Both types of chili sauces are delicious! Red sauce is made with various red chilies and tends to be hotter. The green sauce is made with different green chilies and tomatillos, giving a slightly more tangy taste. You can add both if you’d like to different areas of the casserole.
What cheese is best for enchiladas?
Any type of cheese that shreds and melts well. The moisture and fat in cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack, queso asadero, and Colby create the stretchy cheese pull. Only use dry-aged parmesan or crumbly cotija for garnishing. Avoid bags of pre-shredded cheese containing ingredients like cornstarch or potato starch to prevent clumping. This reduces the melt, as the starches absorb some of the oils in the cheese, reducing spread.
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Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 cup canned corn
- 1 cup canned black beans
- ¼ cup canned diced fire roasted green chilies, optional
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups enchilada sauce, divided
- 17 corn tortillas, 5 to 6" size, halved
- 1 ½ cups grated Monterey jack cheese
- 1 ½ cups grated mild cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon sliced green onions
- Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the center position. Heat to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Make the Filling – In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, black beans, corn, green chilies, black pepper, and 1 ¼ cup of enchilada sauce.
- Assemble the Casserole – Lightly coat a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray or oil. Evenly spread ½ cup of the enchilada sauce. Layer 11 of the tortilla halves on top, or enough to overlap and cover the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the chicken mixture on top, followed by ½ cup Monterey Jack and ½ cup cheddar.Add another layer of tortillas, ½ cup of enchilada sauce, the remaining chicken mixture, and ½ cup of each cheese. Add 11 tortilla halves on top. Evenly coat with ¾ cup of enchilada sauce, followed by ½ cup of each cheese.
- Bake – Cover the baking dish with foil, ensuring it does not touch the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
- To Serve – Cool the casserole for 10 minutes before serving to set the layers. Top with green onions and serve while still hot.
- Short Video: Watch the recipe come together.
- Making Shredded Chicken: Cook 2 pounds of chicken on the stovetop, then shred it into smaller pieces.
- Topping Suggestions: Add more enchilada sauce, sour cream, pico de Gallo, avocado, cilantro, red onions, or pickled onions.
- Make-Ahead: Assemble the casserole, cover it, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw before using.
- Storing: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheat: Cover with foil and warm in a 325ºF (163ºC) oven until hot. Alternatively, microwave portions on high setting in 15 to 30-second increments until hot.
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