Delicious green chili chicken enchiladas the whole family will enjoy. It’s an easy casserole recipe topped with a tangy sauce and cheese, then baked until hot and bubbly.
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Grab your casserole dish if you’re looking for an easy chicken dinner with plenty of servings. When I’m not serving my classic chicken enchilada recipe with a spicy red sauce, I switch things up by using green chiles. This meal has tender pieces of shredded chicken mixed with savory spices, sour cream, and fire-roasted chiles.
Wrap the chicken mixture in warm tortillas, pour the green chile enchilada sauce on top, and lots of cheese! Baking melds all of the delicious flavors together. The benefit of this recipe is that it just takes 30 minutes to prepare, so you can pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat! Serve with a savory side dish like Mexican rice and pinto beans for a complete meal.
I use boneless skinless chicken breasts for a quick-cooking, lean protein option. Chicken thighs also work great if you prefer dark meat. To ensure juicy, evenly cooked pieces, cut the breast in half crosswise to make two cutlets. Flatten with a meat mallet to achieve a 1/2-inch thickness. You do not need to do this step with thighs.
Cook the chicken
The flattened chicken is simply seasoned with salt and pepper on the surface to enhance the savory notes. Pan-sear over medium heat for about 4 to 6 minutes per side. The golden brown crust adds a ton of flavor. The chicken is ready when it reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). For dark meat, target around 170ºF (77ºC). Make sure to let it rest for 10 minutes before shredding to allow the juices to redistribute and stay in the meat.
I like to use two forks or my hands, if cool enough, to break down the meat into bite-sized pieces. If you haven’t tried my alternative shredded chicken method, it’s super juicy, and no extra cutting or flattening is required. Just season, sear, pour in some stock, cover, and steam. If you have more time, try my slow cooker chicken breasts.
Make the filling
Once the shredded chicken is ready, it’s time to boost the flavor! Simple seasonings like salt, pepper, ground cumin, and garlic powder make the meat tastier. If you want it spicier, add chipotle chili powder or cayenne. If smokiness is something you enjoy, sprinkle in smoked paprika. Sliced green onion adds a delicate allium taste.
Sour cream adds creaminess, but plain Greek yogurt or cream cheese are tasty substitutes. I use canned and diced fire-roasted chiles to give bursts of chili flavor. You can purchase mild or hot, depending on your spice tolerance. If you prefer freshly diced peppers or roasting your own, go for it! A sprinkle of Pepper Jack and cheddar cheese binds everything together.
Chef’s choice! For these green chile chicken enchiladas, I use white corn tortillas. Yellow corn gives a more robust grain flavor. Corn tortillas are delicate, so be careful heating and handling the wraps. Flour tortillas are the way to go if you prefer a studier and chewier texture. Choose tortillas 6-inch wide to make the individual enchiladas.
I warm them over medium heat to add toasted flavor to the surface. Ten to fifteen seconds on each side is all you need. Cover them with a towel between batches to keep them warm and pliable. Otherwise, they will harden. If you’re adventurous, you can make homemade flour or corn tortillas. For a grain-free option, try my cassava tortillas.
Green chili sauce
For convenience, you can use canned green chile enchilada sauce. The store-bought options are typically mild, but the heat can be adjusted to your taste. The mixture is typically a combination of cooked green chile peppers and jalapenos blended with water or stock. Seasonings like salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and vinegar are added to balance the heat and enhance the flavor.
Cornstarch or other thickening agents may be added so that the sauce clings to the tortillas when poured on top. If you have more time, homemade sauce is always better to make using your favorite peppers, or swap in salsa verde if you enjoy tomatillos.
How to make green chili chicken enchiladas
This recipe comprises the shredded chicken mixture, a mild green chile sauce, tortillas, and cheese. Add ⅓ cup of the chicken mixture to each warmed tortilla, then wrap it up into a cigar shape. Place each stuffed tortilla seam-side down in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. You can fit five tightly packed rolls in a row.
I always add chile sauce to the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking, and it flavors the underside of the enchiladas. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top, then generously add the cheese. I use Pepper Jack and mild cheddar as they contain a lot of moisture for beautiful melt. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Bake the casserole
Cover and bake the enchiladas in a preheated oven at 400ºF (204ºC). This will quickly warm up the wraps and melt the topping into a gooey layer of cheese. I find that baking uncovered can create dry, crispy edges of the tortillas. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes then dinner is ready.
Serve this with
Green enchilada sauce is made of cooked green chile peppers and jalapenos, blended with a liquid like water or stock, vinegar, savory seasonings, and a thickening agent like cornstarch. Salsa verde is made from raw tomatillo and green chili peppers, blended with fresh onions, cilantro, and lime juice. The chilies can be roasted or broiled for a smoky taste. It can be used as an enchilada sauce or chips dip.
Typically, red sauces are hotter, especially if they contain chipotle chilies. However, there are very spicy green peppers. It’s dependent on what pepper variety the cook or manufacturer adds to the recipe.
Both corn and flour tortillas can be used to make enchiladas. Corn is sturdy but delicate with no gluten. Care must be taken when filling and rolling not to break them. Flour tortillas are thicker and more robust. They are easier to use but chewier. I like to dip them in sauce to soak up the flavor and soften them for an easier bite.
Avoid pre-shredded cheese
Unless you’re super short on time, skip the pre-shredded cheese. They contain anti-caking agents to prevent the pieces from clumping together in the package. They may be cellulose, a fiber, making it harder for the shreds to melt as cohesively together. Potato starch or cornstarch might also be used. It’s better to freshly grate the cheese to ensure you don’t get hard, gritty bites.
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Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas
- 1 ½ pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more for seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup canned diced fire roasted green chilies
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 10 flour tortillas, or corn tortillas, 6-inch size
- 2 cups green chile enchilada sauce
- 5 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
- 5 ounces grated mild cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the center position—Preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Flatten the Chicken – Thoroughly dry the chicken breasts with a paper towel. Cut each piece horizontally lengthwise to make two thinner cutlets. Place one of the pieces in a large plastic bag and flatten to an even ½-inch thickness. Repeat with remaining pieces. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
- 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 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook until no longer pink and the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to rest for 10 minutes.
- Shred into Pieces – Use your fingers or two forks to shred the chicken into smaller pieces. Alternatively, chop them with a knife.
- Mix the Filling – In a large bowl, mix the shredded chicken, sour cream, fire-roasted chilies, ¼ cup Pepper Jack cheese, ¼ cup cheddar cheese, green onions, salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- 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. Transfer to a plate and cover with a kitchen towel to keep them warm and pliable.
- 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.On a plate, fill the center of a tortilla with about ⅓ cup of filling mixture. Roll into a cylinder and transfer to the baking dish. Repeat the process until ten enchiladas are rolled and lined up. Cover with the remaining sauce, and add Pepper Jack and cheddar cheese on top.
- 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 cilantro. Serve while still hot.
- Topping Suggestions: Diced avocado, tomatoes, red onion, sour cream, or jalapenos. Sprinkle on a soft cheese like cotija or a harder cheese like Parmesan before serving.
- Using Pre-Cooked Chicken: 3 cups of shredded chicken can be used instead of the pan-seared chicken.
- Make it Spicier: Add chipotle powder, chili powder, fresh diced chiles, or spicy fire-roasted chiles to the chicken filling.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Use corn or cassava tortillas instead of flour tortillas.
- Make-Ahead: Assemble the enchiladas, cover them, 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. Alternatively, cover and individually microwave portions in 15-second intervals on high until hot.
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