Delicious savory chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce. The enchiladas are topped with a luscious green chili cream sauce and cotija cheese.
Oh man… I am so excited to share this recipe with you, it’s my new fall favorite and guaranteed to score you some high fives from the fam bam! I’ve added pumpkin purée to as many sweet recipes that you could imagine, but this was my first time with a savory dish.
To my surprise, these chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce are my best dish so far! I seriously couldn’t wait to devour these amazing mini burritos the next day, and I wasn’t in the mood for sharing!
Enchiladas have been one of my go-to meals to make for a crowd while on a budget. This worked especially well during those penny-pinching college days. I used to just grab a whole roasted chicken, canned red enchilada sauce, flour tortillas, and Mexican blend cheese and called it good. I’d call my hungry study buddy’s over for a mini feast, and we were fueled up for the long cram sessions ahead.
Enchiladas are so simple and satisfying, but I wanted to make the sauce from scratch. Instead of the traditional red or green chili sauce, even though it may sound strange, I thought a pumpkin sauce may be a nice way to switch up. Oh yes, it was divine, and I’ll tell you why…
To create a super smooth velvety sauce I used pumpkin puree, just like the kind you would use for pies. To add a little heat I blended fresh jalapeños and whoa this made the sauce have the “oomph” it needed. A little chicken broth, cumin, and garlic gave the characteristic savory and smoky flavor every good enchilada sauce commands.
All of those ingredients combined gave the most incredible silky, creamy and just slightly sweet sauce and you honestly wouldn’t even know it was pumpkin unless I told you! The great thing is that pumpkin is naturally a good source of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, more than you would find in just chili’s. The pumpkin is already creamy on its own, so you don’t have to add heavy cream, making this an even healthier meal!
Each night as Jason and I would finally get a chance to unwind and enjoy dinner (well, more like taking turns wolfing down our food with baby James keeping us busy haha). I usually let Jason know what is on tonight’s menu right before we dig in. He was totally surprised and had no idea it was a pumpkin sauce, and happily kept on chowing down.
I wanted to make the filling just as tasty as the sauce, so I combined shredded poached chicken breasts (grilled would be even better), fire roasted green chiles and fresh white corn. Each little bundle of goodness was wrapped in a corn tortilla that I heated directly on a gas burner for a few seconds to make the tortillas more flavorful from the charring and easier to roll.
I like to make a quick avocado cream sauce also to add on top of the enchiladas, which is simply a ripe avocado blended with some salsa verde and sour cream. Totally optional to make, but it brings some extra flavor for your taste buds. With just a little bit of extra effort, making a homemade enchilada sauce made the hot and bubbly cheesy chicken rolls so much more addictive, I don’t know if I’ll go back to the canned alternatives again!
Well maybe, but this recipe is my sure fire go to recipe for happy bellies. If you are looking for a pumpkin flavored dessert to go with your enchiladas, why not try some pumpkin cream cookie sandwiches!
What is the best way to cook a pumpkin so I can make homemade pumpkin puree?
Sometimes roasting whole pieces of pumpkin can seem a bit overwhelming and a turn-off, probably from the sheer size of the ingredient, the time it takes, plus the convenience and affordability of the canned products. But don’t fret, it’s totally simple and doable! The best pumpkins for making puree are small dark orange-fleshed sugar pumpkins, which are sweeter once cooked; a 4-pound pumpkin yields about 1 1/2 cups of mash. Once you’ve trimmed the stem, cut the pumpkin in half, removed the seeds, then further cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces, seasoned with oil and salt. All you need is some patience. Roast the pumpkins at 400°F for about 40 to 50 minutes (the skin will peel off easily after cooking) and you are set to make any pumpkin recipe your heart desires! Check out this easy tutorial video by Food52 on how to prep a whole pumpkin.
Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce
- 3 cups chicken breasts, boneless, poached, and shredded
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups corn, fresh or canned
- 5 tablespoons green chili’s, canned diced mild, 4 ounces
- 3 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
Green Chili Cream Sauce-
- 1/2 avocado
- 3/4 cup salsa verde, 7 ounces
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree, (1 can)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 jalapeno chili, quartered (remove ribs and seeds)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 8 corn tortillas, or flour tortillas (about 6-inch round)
- 1 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese, grated, 6 ounces
- cotija cheese, as needed for garnish
- cilantro leaves, as needed for garnish
- 1 tablespoon green onions, for garnish
- Place chicken in a pot just large enough to hold chicken breast halves and add enough water to cover by 1-inch.
- Bring just to a simmer over medium-high heat where bubbles start forming around the edge of the pot. Reduce to medium-low to keep the temperature constant, about 170 to 180°F. Cook chicken until the center of the meat reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 18 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let the chicken breasts cool in the refrigerator. Once cool, shred chicken and reserve.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a large sauté pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add corn and sauté until cooked through or warmed for canned corn, stirring frequently. Add the diced chili’s, and stir to combine. Add the shredded cooked chicken and 3 tablespoons sliced green onions, stir to combine. Reserve until ready to fill the enchiladas.
Green Chili Cream Sauce-
- In a blender, puree avocado, salsa verde, and sour cream until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a blender, puree pumpkin, garlic cloves, jalapeno, cumin, black pepper, salt, chicken broth and water until smooth. Pour 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish.
- Lay tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla and dividing evenly, about 1/3 cup of filling. Roll up tortillas; place, seam side down, in baking dish.
- Pour remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. Place dish on a baking sheet; bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Garnish enchiladas with 1 tablespoon green onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese. Serve with green chili cream sauce.