Chicken Enchilada Recipe: A Flavorful Mexican Classic

Chicken enchiladas are a beloved dish in Mexican cuisine, known for their rich flavors, tender chicken, and vibrant sauces. This dish, which involves rolling tortillas around a filling and baking them with a savory sauce, is both comforting and versatile. Whether you’re looking to create a hearty family dinner or a dish to impress guests, chicken enchiladas are a fantastic choice. This article will guide you through the history, ingredients, and preparation of chicken enchiladas, along with variations, serving suggestions, frequently asked questions, and a conclusion highlighting why this dish is a staple in many kitchens.

The History of Enchiladas

The origins of enchiladas can be traced back to ancient Mexico, where tortillas were used to wrap various fillings. The word “enchilada” comes from the Spanish word “enchilar,” which means to season with chili. Enchiladas have evolved over time, with various regions in Mexico developing their own unique versions. Today, enchiladas can be made with a variety of fillings, sauces, and toppings, showcasing the rich diversity of Mexican cuisine.

Nutritional Benefits of Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken enchiladas offer a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Chicken is a lean source of protein, essential for muscle growth and repair. The tortillas provide carbohydrates, which are the body’s primary source of energy. Depending on the ingredients used, enchiladas can also include vegetables, adding fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the dish. While cheese and sour cream add richness, they also contribute calcium and other essential nutrients.


To make a classic chicken enchilada, 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 broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of tomato sauce

For the Chicken Filling:

  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken works well)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (4-ounce) can of diced green chiles
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Enchiladas:

  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (for topping)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, sliced avocado, and lime wedges 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 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 Chicken Filling:
  • In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, 1 cup of shredded cheese, chopped onion, diced green chiles, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.
  1. Assemble the Enchiladas:
  • 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.
  • Spread a thin layer of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Place a tortilla on a flat surface and spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken filling onto the center. Roll the tortilla tightly and place it seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.
  • Pour the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the top of the rolled enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  1. Bake the Enchiladas:
  • 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, sliced avocado, and lime wedges if desired. Serve hot.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken Enchilada Recipe: A Flavorful Mexican Classic

Chicken enchiladas can be served 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 chicken 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.
  • Cheese Enchiladas: Skip the chicken and fill the tortillas with a mix of cheeses for a vegetarian option.
  • Beef Enchiladas: Substitute the shredded chicken with ground beef or shredded beef.
  • Spicy Enchiladas: Add jalapeños or use a spicier chili powder in the sauce to increase the heat.
  • Vegetable Enchiladas: Fill the tortillas with sautéed vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms for a meatless version.
  • Creamy Enchiladas: Mix some sour cream or cream cheese into the chicken filling for a richer texture.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I make chicken 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 chicken 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, make sure to 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 by including a pinch of cayenne pepper or chopped jalapeños.
  1. What type of cheese is best for enchiladas?
  • A blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese works well for enchiladas. You can also use queso fresco, queso blanco, or any other melting cheese you prefer.
  1. Can I use rotisserie chicken for the filling?
  • Yes, rotisserie chicken is a convenient option for the filling. Simply shred the cooked chicken and mix it with the other filling ingredients.
  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.


Chicken enchiladas are a versatile and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 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, chicken enchiladas are sure to impress and satisfy.

The combination of tender chicken, melty cheese, and a savory sauce wrapped in 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 chicken 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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