This easy chicken enchiladas recipe is an authentic Mexican food staple. Tender pieces of shredded chicken are rolled in flour tortillas and topped with a homemade enchilada sauce. The casserole is baked until the cheese is hot and melted.
Chicken enchiladas is an easy casserole dish made to feed a crowd. Lean white meat is sauteed, shredded and tossed in bold spices for maximum flavor inside warmed flour tortillas. An authentic enchilada sauce is made with a tomato based sauce, chipotle peppers, chicken broth, and seasonings to coat each serving.
A blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses are sprinkled on top, and the dish is baked until the cheese is hot and bubbly. It’s a satisfying meal that can be prepped ahead of time for busy weeknights or made for special celebrations like Cinco De Mayo.
How to make chicken enchiladas
Chicken enchiladas are a baked casserole dish made with four essential components.
- Shredded Chicken: Sauteed chicken breasts are seasoned before and after cooking with a blend of cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, powder, and chili pepper.
- Tortillas: 6-inch round flour tortillas are lightly charred in a pan or over the direct heat of a gas burner for just a few seconds to make them more pliable and add a smoky flavor. Corn tortillas can be used as a gluten-free substitute.
- Enchilada Sauce: It’s simple to make homemade enchilada sauce. Crushed tomatoes, chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, chicken broth, cumin, chipotle chili powder for a smoky and slightly spicy flavor.
- Cheese: A blend of two kinds of cheese, sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack give the right melted consistency.
The heated tortillas get lightly dipped in the enchilada sauce and then filled with chicken. Other ingredients like diced green chilis or cooked corn can also be added for more flavor. The stuffed tortillas are rolled and placed seam side down in a baking dish, so they do not open up when serving.
Just before baking, two cups of cheese are layered on top of the enchiladas. If you want to make this dish ahead of time or make a freezer meal, this is the perfect place to stop. The pan can be covered and refrigerated or frozen until ready to bake and serve.
I’ve found that covering the casserole with foil and baking for about 20 minutes keeps the cheese hot and melted. Cooking without being covered for an extended period dries out the chicken and makes the cheese harder in texture.
These shredded chicken enchiladas are a family-friendly dish that everyone will devour! Serve some toppings on the side like sour cream, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, diced avocado or sliced jalapenos for extra heat. Whenever I have leftover roasted chicken, I use it in this dish for an even quicker meal.
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Choosing the right cheese
It’s important to select the right type of cheese for casserole type dishes. A higher in moisture firm cheese, like cheddar and Monterey Jack, gives just the right melt consistency. Sharp cheddar has been aged longer and adds more flavor, while Monterey Jack is milder and slightly sweet. The combination works nicely together for the enchiladas. Sprinkle on soft cheese like cotija or harder cheese like Parmesan just before serving.
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- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 2 teaspoons cumin, divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, flatten chicken to even thickness
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ¼ cup chipotle chilis, canned in adobo sauce
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 10 tortillas, flour or corn, 6-inch size
- 4 ounces monterey jack cheese, grated
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 teaspoons sliced green onions
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- In a small bowl combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
- Season each side of the chicken breasts with ½ teaspoon of the spice mixture. Save the additional seasoning mix.
- Heat a medium-sized saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, once hot and shimmering and the chicken to the pan.
- Cook chicken for 7 minutes, then flip over and cook until no longer pink and internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.
- Use fingers or two forks to shred the chicken into smaller pieces. Add 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mix and combine until evenly coated.
- In a medium saucepan add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat over medium heat, once hot add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the chipotle chilis and use a spoon to stir and break up into smaller pieces, cook 1 minute.
- Add the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, chili powder, and chipotle chili powder, stir to combine.
- Bring sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer enchilada sauce to a blender or food processor and process on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. More chicken broth can be added to thin the consistency if desired.
- Heat tortillas in a pan over medium-high heat or directly over a gas flame for 10 to 15 seconds on each side, to lightly toast and make more pliable.
- Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 400ºF.
- Lightly coat a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray or oil.
- Evenly spread ½ cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
- Pour ½ cup of enchilda sauce in a shallow bowl large enough to fit the tortillas.
- Lightly dip each side of the tortilla in the sauce.
- Transfer tortilla to a plate and fill the center with about ⅓ cup of chicken. Roll into a cylinder and transfer to the pan.
- Repeat process until 10 enchiladas are rolled and lined up in the pan.
- Evenly spread the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.
- Sprinkle the monetery jack cheese and cheddar cheese on top of the enchiladas.
- Cover with foil and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Garnish with green onions and chopped cilantro.
- Topping Suggestions: Diced avocado, diced tomatoes, sour cream, or jalapenos.
- 4 cups of shredded roasted or boiled chicken can be used instead of the sauteed chicken.
- MAKE-IT GLUTEN FREE: Use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas.
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