Cheese enchiladas are a quintessential Mexican dish that embodies the rich flavors and traditions of Mexican cuisine. These delicious enchiladas feature corn tortillas filled with melted cheese and smothered in a savory, often spicy sauce. Whether served as a main course or a side dish, cheese enchiladas are beloved for their simplicity, versatility, and comforting taste. In this article, we’ll explore the history of enchiladas, the ingredients and preparation of cheese enchiladas, variations, serving suggestions, frequently asked questions, and conclude with why this dish is a must-try for any food enthusiast.

The History of Enchiladas

Cheese Enchiladas: A Flavorful Journey Through Mexican Cuisine

Enchiladas have a long and storied history dating back to ancient Mesoamerica, where the indigenous people would wrap corn tortillas around various fillings. The word “enchilada” comes from the Spanish verb “enchilar,” which means to season with chili. This dish evolved over the centuries, incorporating Spanish influences and regional variations. Today, enchiladas are enjoyed worldwide, with cheese enchiladas being one of the most popular versions.

Nutritional Benefits of Cheese Enchiladas

Cheese enchiladas provide a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Cheese is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and essential vitamins such as B12. Corn tortillas add fiber and essential nutrients like iron and magnesium. While cheese enchiladas can be indulgent, they can also be made healthier by using low-fat cheese, adding vegetables, or serving with a side salad.


To make classic cheese enchiladas, you’ll need the following ingredients:

For the Enchilada Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of tomato sauce

For the Enchiladas:

  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (a blend of cheddar, Monterey Jack, or queso blanco)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped black olives (optional)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, and sliced avocado for garnish (optional)


  1. Make the Enchilada Sauce:
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 1 minute to create a roux.
  • Add the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and salt. Continue to whisk for another 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Slowly pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and tomato sauce, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  1. Prepare the Tortillas:
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a large baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Warm the corn tortillas in a microwave or on a griddle to make them pliable.
  1. Assemble the Enchiladas:
  • Spread a thin layer of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Place a tortilla on a flat surface and add about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese down the center. If desired, add a sprinkle of chopped onions and olives.
  • Roll the tortilla tightly and place it seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.
  1. Cover with Sauce and Cheese:
  • Pour the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the top of the rolled enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.
  1. Bake:
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  1. Serve:
  • Garnish the enchiladas with chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, and sliced avocado if desired. Serve hot.

Serving Suggestions

Cheese Enchiladas: A Flavorful Journey Through Mexican Cuisine

Cheese enchiladas can be enjoyed with a variety of side dishes to create a complete meal:

  • Mexican Rice: A flavorful rice dish cooked with tomatoes, onions, and spices.
  • Refried Beans: Creamy beans cooked with lard or oil and spices, often served as a side.
  • Guacamole: A fresh dip made from mashed avocados, lime juice, and seasonings.
  • Pico de Gallo: A fresh salsa made from diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice.
  • Salad: A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette to balance the richness of the enchiladas.


While the classic cheese enchilada recipe is delicious, there are many ways to customize and enhance it:

  • Green Enchiladas: Use a green enchilada sauce made from tomatillos and green chiles instead of the red sauce.
  • Vegetable Enchiladas: Add sautéed vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and spinach to the filling for a nutritious twist.
  • Beef or Chicken Enchiladas: Add cooked, shredded beef or chicken to the filling for a heartier meal.
  • Spicy Enchiladas: Add jalapeños or use a spicier chili powder in the sauce to increase the heat.
  • Creamy Enchiladas: Mix some sour cream or cream cheese into the cheese filling for a richer texture.
  • Vegan Enchiladas: Use vegan cheese and a vegetable broth-based sauce to make the dish suitable for vegans.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I make cheese enchiladas ahead of time?
  • Yes, you can assemble the enchiladas ahead of time and refrigerate them until ready to bake. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and follow the baking instructions.
  1. Can I freeze cheese enchiladas?
  • Absolutely. Assemble the enchiladas in a freezer-safe baking dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake from frozen, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C), cover the dish with foil, and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
  1. What can I use instead of corn tortillas?
  • If you prefer, you can use flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas. Keep in mind that flour tortillas may become a bit softer and less sturdy when baked.
  1. How do I prevent my enchiladas from becoming soggy?
  • To prevent soggy enchiladas, lightly fry the corn tortillas in a bit of oil before filling and rolling them. This creates a barrier that helps keep the tortillas from absorbing too much sauce.
  1. Can I make the enchilada sauce spicier?
  • Yes, you can make the enchilada sauce spicier by adding more chili powder or including a pinch of cayenne pepper or chopped jalapeños.
  1. What type of cheese is best for enchiladas?
  • A blend of cheddar, Monterey Jack, and queso blanco works well for enchiladas. You can also use other melting cheeses like mozzarella or a Mexican cheese blend.
  1. Can I use pre-shredded cheese?
  • Yes, pre-shredded cheese can be used, but keep in mind that it often contains anti-caking agents that may affect the texture. For the best results, shred cheese from a block.
  1. How do I reheat leftover enchiladas?
  • To reheat leftover enchiladas, cover them with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave.
  1. Can I add other fillings to the cheese enchiladas?
  • Yes, you can add other fillings such as beans, sautéed vegetables, or cooked meats to the cheese enchiladas to create your desired flavor and texture.


Cheese enchiladas are a versatile and flavorful dish that captures the essence of Mexican cuisine. With their rich history, delicious taste, and endless customization options, enchiladas have become a staple in many households. Whether you’re making them for a family dinner, a gathering with friends, or a special occasion, cheese enchiladas are sure to impress and satisfy.

The combination of melty cheese, savory sauce, and soft tortillas creates a comforting and hearty meal. The ability to prepare the dish ahead of time, freeze it for later, and easily reheat leftovers adds to its convenience and appeal. With the various serving suggestions and variations, you can tailor the recipe to suit your tastes and dietary preferences.

So, the next time you’re in the mood for a flavorful and comforting meal, give cheese enchiladas a try. Enjoy the process of making them, experiment with different flavors and ingredients, and most importantly, savor every bite of this delicious Mexican classic.

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