Chicken Enchiladas

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Here’s a quick and easy chicken enchiladas recipe that makes enough to feed a hungry family. The secret is the flavorful seasoning blend and preparation of the chicken before rolling them in the tortillas.

Plate of chicken enchiladas topped with sour cream, avocado, and jalapenos.
Table of Contents
  1. Homemade enchilada sauce
  2. Chicken selection
  3. Season the meat
  4. Cook the chicken
  5. Using flour or corn tortillas
  6. How to make chicken enchiladas
  7. Bake the casserole
  8. Serve this with
  9. FAQ
  10. Chicken Enchiladas Recipe

Chicken enchiladas are a great option when deciding on an easy casserole dish to feed a crowd. The best part is you can prep the dish ahead of time for those busy weeknights or holiday celebrations like Cinco de Mayo. Just pop it into the oven and watch the gooey cheese melt. 

The lean white meat is sauteed, shredded, and tossed in bold spices to ensure flavorful bites. Instead of buying bland canned products from the grocery store, I’ll show you how to make the enchilada sauce from scratch. It’s a simple tomato base blended with chipotle peppers, chicken broth, and bold seasonings to coat each wrap.

Two seared chicken breasts cooking on a stove top pan.

Homemade enchilada sauce

We’ve all grabbed a can of the runny, premade enchilada sauce when in a hurry. However, the flavor intensity is unmatched once you try my homemade enchilada sauce. It’s a straightforward combination of crushed tomatoes, chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, minced garlic, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, and smoky chipotle chili powder. 

The sauce simmers to meld the flavors together, then gets pureed in a food processor or blender until smooth. The spice level is on the hotter side, but you can omit or reduce the amounts of dried chili powders to your liking.

Recipe Resources

Chicken selection

I use boneless skinless chicken breast. For even cooking, pound the pieces to about 1/2 inch thickness, or cut them into two cutlets if thicker than 1 inch. If you prefer dark meat, you can use boneless chicken thighs for the recipe. However, I suggest you trim off the excess fat before cooking. 

This recipe also works great for leftover roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

Shredded chicken on a plate with spices and enchilada sauce.

Season the meat

For incredibly flavorful chicken, I use a bold mix of dried spices. Traditional Mexican ingredients like cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper are used to season the meat’s surface. I like to save about a teaspoon of the mixture to then toss with the shredded chicken. 

If you have premade taco seasoning, you can use that for convenience. I usually have a jar on hand in the pantry to quickly grab when making ground beef tacos.

Cook the chicken

The seasoned breasts cook on the stove top. The process takes about 5 to 7 minutes per side. I like to use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness for better control and accuracy. The temperature should register between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) in the thickest part of the meat.

Once cool enough to handle, shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Photo of a person sprinkling cheese over enchiladas.

Using flour or corn tortillas

My top choice for enchiladas is flour tortillas. The gluten-formed wrap gives it a soft, sturdy, and pliable texture. Use tortillas about 6-inch round in size. It can taste a little pasty when eaten directly from the package, so I warm them on the stovetop until the surface is lightly charred.

Corn tortillas are a gluten-free substitute, although I recommend not letting them soak up too much sauce when dipping or skip that step entirely. They tend to break apart, making them difficult to remove from the pan after baking. For a grain-free alternative, try my homemade cassava flour tortillas. They have a nice chew and hold up well in the casserole.

Chicken enchiladas in a casserole dish with un-melted cheese.

How to make chicken enchiladas

Chicken enchiladas are a baked casserole dish with four essential components; chicken, a mild to spicy red sauce, tortillas, and cheese. The heated tortillas get lightly dipped in the enchilada sauce and then filled with chicken. The stuffed tortillas are rolled and placed seam-side down in a greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, so they don’t open up when serving.

A blend of two kinds of cheese, sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack provides a super melty consistency. If you want to make the recipe 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.

Bake the casserole

The enchiladas bake at 400-degrees for 20 minutes to quickly warm up the wraps and melt the cheese. I find that covering the casserole with aluminum foil keeps the cheese hot and melted. Cooking uncovered for an extended period dries out the chicken and edges of the tortilla and makes the cheese harder as it cools.

Casserole dish with chicken enchiladas straight out of the oven.

Serve this with

FAQ

How do you keep chicken enchiladas from getting soggy?

Heat the tortillas on the stove top before wrapping. The surface hardens slightly, creating a better barrier between the sauce. You can even fry it in oil for a lipid coating. Do not drench the tortillas in the sauce before wrapping—just a light dip to add flavor. Corn tortillas break down quicker if they get too wet.

Can I use uncooked tortillas for enchiladas?

No! Cook raw, fresh tortillas before wrapping. Otherwise, they will become soggy and never become thoroughly cooked.

How do you roll enchiladas without breaking them?

Packaged corn or flour tortillas should be lightly heated before wrapping. The heat helps them become more pliable, making them easier to fold. Lightly dipping them in enchilada sauce adds enough moisture to soften it, making it easier to roll without breaking. Just do not soak the corn, or it will break apart after baking.

Two chicken enchiladas served on a plate.

Choosing the right cheese

For casseroles, it’s best to use higher moisture, firm, shreddable cheese, like cheddar and Monterey Jack. The increased amount of fat and water gives just the right melt consistency. Aged sharp cheddar adds a more intense flavor, while Monterey Jack is milder and slightly sweet.

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Chicken Enchiladas

This easy chicken enchiladas recipe is an authentic Mexican food staple. Tender pieces of spiced shredded chicken are rolled in flour tortillas, topped with a homemade enchilada sauce and cheese.
Pin Print Review
4.37 from 154 votes
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings 10 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Mexican

Ingredients

Enchilada Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup chipotle chilis canned in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder, optional

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 ½ pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 flour tortillas, 6-inch size
  • 4 ounces grated monterey jack cheese
  • 4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons sliced green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Instructions 

Enchilada Sauce

  • Saute the Garlic – In a medium saucepan, add olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Saute the Chilis – Add the chipotle chilis, then stir and break them into smaller pieces. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the Seasonings – Stir in the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, salt, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, and chipotle chili powder (if using).
  • Simmer the Sauce – Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Puree – Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds—season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust with chicken broth if needed to thin the consistency.

Chicken Enchiladas

  • Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the center position—Preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
  • Prepare the Chicken – Place the chicken between two plastic sheets or in a large plastic bag. Flatten to an even thickness, about ½-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
    Alternatively, cut in half horizontally for pieces 1-inch thick or larger to make cutlets.
  • Season the Meat – In a small bowl, combine salt, 1 teaspoon of cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper. Reserve 1 teaspoon of the mixture. Evenly season each side of chicken with the mixture.
  • Cook the Chicken – Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Once hot and shimmering, add the chicken. Cook until lightly golden brown, about for 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and cook until no longer pink and the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  • Shred into Pieces – Use your fingers or two forks to shred the chicken into smaller pieces. Alternatively, chop them with a knife. Add the reserved seasoning mix and combine until evenly coated.
  • Warm the Tortillas – Place the tortillas in a pan over medium-high heat to lightly toast and make them pliable. Alternatively, warm them directly over a gas flame for 10 to 15 seconds on each side.
  • Assemble the Enchiladas – 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. Pour ½ cup of enchilada sauce into a shallow bowl large enough to fit the tortillas. Lightly dip each side of the tortilla in the sauce.
    Transfer to a plate and fill the center with about ⅓ cup of chicken. Roll into a cylinder and transfer to the baking dish. Repeat the process until 10 enchiladas are rolled and lined up. Evenly spread the remaining sauce over the top then sprinkle with Monterey jack cheese and cheddar.
  • Bake the Casserole – Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • To Serve – Garnish with green onions and cilantro. Serve while still hot.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Topping Suggestions: Diced avocado, diced tomatoes, sour cream, or jalapenos. Sprinkle on soft cheese like cotija or harder cheese like Parmesan just before serving.
  • Using Pre-Cooked Chicken: 4 cups of shredded roasted or boiled chicken can be used instead of the sauteed chicken.
  • Using Canned Sauce: Use 2 cups of canned enchilada sauce.
  • Make it Less Spicy: Reduce or omit dried chili pepper or chipotle pepper. Reduce canned chipotle chilis.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use corn tortillas or cassava tortillas instead of flour tortillas.
  • Make-Ahead: Assemble the enchiladas, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw before using.
  • Storing: Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat: Cover and warm in a 325ºF (163ºC) oven until hot. Or cover and individually microwave portions in 15-second intervals on high.

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Nutrition Facts
Chicken Enchiladas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 253 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 66mg22%
Sodium 558mg23%
Potassium 143mg4%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 0.4g0%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 600IU12%
Vitamin C 5.8mg7%
Calcium 200mg20%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

53 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    This sounds so yummy. I was trying to think of what to make for Cinco de Mayo. Thank you Jessica.

        • Kena says

          That’s what I did. I shredded my chicken and sprinkled the dices and tossed. I then sprinkled 1/4 cup of chicken broth to keep the chicken moist. Worked out beautifully. Best I’ve ever made…not dry and perfect spices.

  2. Arnal says

    This was maybe the best enchilada I’ve ever had. The sauce was so good! And, it was quite easy to make from scratch; much better than the canned versions. Absolutely loved it.

  3. Chris Wells says

    I just discovered this via stonegableblog.com. We are having it tonight! It is ready to pop in the oven. I already know it will be good, because of the enchilada sauce. I doubled the batch so I could freeze some for another time! It is so good! I keep eating it with a spoon!
    Thanks for a great meal!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks Alexis! The flour tortillas are easier to dip and roll, however, I think if you lightly heat corn tortillas they would work well too.

      • Kena says

        The corn work beautifully and are simple to use. I put sauce on the bottom of my pan. Cook the corn tortillas lightly, dip and completely cover the tortilla. Then place it in the pan, fill with chicken and cheese and simply flap over one side and roll over. Easy peasy and makes the best enchiladas.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Mary- I would make it up to the point just before baking. You could bake then freeze smaller portions and reheat in the microwave.

  4. Mark says

    This recipe was fun to make and was good, but really salty, and I like salty. I’m going to try it with half the salt next time.

      • Mark says

        I think the seasoning on the chicken was fine, I tasted some of the chicken after cooking it while preparing the sauce :). I think between the tsp of salt in the sauce and putting the additional tsp of seasoning onto the shredded chicken the salt got overwhelming.
        I’m going to tackle the leftovers with some rice and black beans to help spread out the salt 🙂

          • David says

            Making tonight. For me, because everything outside of the tortilla is so “zingy, tasty, and or spicy” I tend to leave the filling less so, for contrast.

  5. Linda says

    Hi Jessica,
    This looks good, but I’m a bigger fan of ground beef enchiladas. Would these seasonings be okay to use with ground beef instead of chicken? Or would you suggest a different seasoning mix for beef?

    Thank you,
    Linda

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Linda- I think the seasonings would be great with ground beef too! Just adjust the amount you add to taste.

  6. James Hart says

    Wow! I made this recipe for some friends and they LOVED it!

    One question though: I’m pretty tame when it comes to spicy food and this was really spicy for my (though my friends thought it was perfect). Is it supposed to be spicy or did I maybe use the wrong chiles?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi James- You can remove the chipotle chili powder and chili powder if you’d like to reduce the spiciness. The chipotle is hotter than the chili powder blend.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You could brine or marinate it first for more flavor and juiciness. Or you can add some broth, salt, herbs, onions, bay leaf, or other flavoring ingredients in the boiling liquid.

    • Kena says

      I booked it, shredded and then sprinkled the spices and tossed. I added 1/4 of the broth to the shredded chicken to keep it moist. Delicious! I make as many as will fit in the pan. Add some cheese in with the chicken too and less on the top.

  7. Pattie says

    I made this for supper tonight and let me tell you wow wow wow it was awesome. Thank you dear for sharing this with me. Blessing dear

  8. Justine says

    Delicious recipe! The sauce was easy and wonderfully flavored. The chicken was perfectly seasoned. A huge hit! Would definitely make again!

  9. Nancy C says

    If you freeze them do you thaw before baking or can you bake from frozen & adjust the baking time?

  10. Christina says

    Wow. This was SO spicy. I made a second batch leaving out the chili powder and the chipotle powder as recommended in a comment and still neither my kids or I could eat it. Even my husband needed some milk and could barely tolerate the less spicy one. The chicken seasoning is good. Chicken burritos it is!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Cristina- Sorry to hear that the sauce was too spicy for your family. You could also reduce the chipotle chilis if needed. Glad the chicken found a home in some burritos!

  11. Heather says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I really enjoy making and eating homemade chicken enchiladas. I only made them “homemade” twice before, both with different recipes. The first time turned out better and was made with two different types of dried red chili’s. I like this recipe for the simplicity. I usually use corn tortillas, but for this recipe I’all use a tortilla with a 50/50 blend of corn and flower I’ve seen. This beats making them with canned sauce, however good Las Palmas might be lol. I will definitely make this soon for my family and possibly keep you posted.

  12. Renie says

    I’m so glad I read the comments before cooking my meal. The Chipotle peppers are extremely spicy. I had to triplicate the recipe n used only 3 little peppers and extra broth for the sauce, it still was a bit spicy but delicious! Everyone loved it! Thank you very much for the delicious recipe.

  13. Holly says

    I’ve made this several times. Me and my husband love it, def a keeper! I bake the chicken and then shred it. There is always enough sauce left over for a second time as well. I don’t have Instagram so I can’t show a pic, but it looks delish!!

  14. Donnatw says

    Wowzers. Made this tonight for dinner and it was so good. I added black beans and corn to the chicken filling. I was concerned about it being too spicy but the sweetness of the corn made it just right. Will definitely be making this again.

  15. Ivan says

    Terrific! We always cut salt in half and glad we did – will probably go 1/4 next time. Added corn, chopped green chiles and some black beans – not much so it was still mostly chicken. One question – why all the little boxes by each ingredient and step-by-step? I’m not going to pick up a pen and check each one off. It just clutters the page when you print it. Really liked these enchiladas!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Ivan, glad to hear you liked the recipe! As for the boxes, when viewing online, you can actually click the checkbox and it will automatically strikethrough the entire step, marking it as completed. It’s something I’m testing out to see if people like it.

  16. Stephanie Bonilla says

    This is my go to recipe! I make it about three times per week it is a family favorite! I typically add an entire 7oz can of adobo jalapenos to the enchilada sauce only because i’m lazy and don’t want to go hunting for tiny tupperware in the depths of my pantry. But the heat isn’t overwhelming my picky 6 year old still devours dinner. Excellent recipe Jessica! Thanks for making my family think I’m a culinary master!

  17. Mark M says

    Thank you for the recipe, these were absolutely delicious. The entire family loved them. Couple days after I made the chicken I made the same thing only I used pulled pork that I had made on my smoker, they were also delicious. I appreciate all the recipes you share, thank you.

  18. Sara says

    I’ve made these twice and they were delicious both times. Can they be pre-made and frozen? If so, do you recommend fully defrosting before baking or baking frozen (and what temp if frozen).

  19. Kellie says

    These Chicken enchiladas are by far the best I have ever had from any Mexican restaurant!! Hands down!! My whole family agree. We will definitely be adding this to our receipes! Thank you Jessica for your amazing easy receipes! Haven’t had one let me down yet. I have tried a ton already!!

  20. Judy says

    Yowee!! I can’t wait to make these. They look beautiful and I always enjoy all the details and photos you include. You make cooking fun for us.

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