I don't know about you, but enchiladas I think are my favorite Mexican dish. They're the best of everything wrapped up in a hot, cheesy tortilla package for your devouring. They can be filled with anything and you can have so many different flavor profiles depending on your mood. I have had so many enchiladas in my life and I don't know if I truly have a favorite (although Momocho in Cleveland and Flo in Chicago are definitely at the top of the list).
These enchiladas are a creation I made all on my own that evolved from several different recipes I would make separately over the years. At one point I stopped using the recipes and added the flavors and textures from each one that I loved and made the ultimate homemade enchiladas. I won't try to claim they are authentic, but they sure are delicious.
I use canned enchilada sauce, but if you have a recipe for homemade that you love, by all means, go for it. I also cook my own chicken breasts for this that are lightly dusted in a homemade Mexican spice blend (recipe also below), but you can definitely use pre-cooked chicken that you shred yourself.
Lastly, I will mention these aren't one of my quickest recipes, but nothing about it is particularly hard. They are great to make on a Sunday and they are ready to go for a quick meal during the week - just pop them in the oven. They also make a lot and freeze really well so whenever I make them, I look at it like I'm saving myself the prep time for a dinner down the road. Or a quick, homemade but from the freezer meal after a crazy day. You can even double the recipe to make sure you have lots to freeze if you have a bunch of mouths to feed.
I love these so much and so does anyone I have cooked them for. And I'm willing to bet the mouths you feed will love them too.
Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas
(Makes ~ 12-14 enchiladas)
Prep time: 40 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes (+ 20 minutes for cooking chicken)
Click below to download and print the recipe
1.25 - 1.5lbs. chicken breast
1 C. diced onion
1 tsp. minced garlic (~ 2 cloves)
1 4oz. can diced green chiles
1 14oz. can petite diced tomatoes
4 tsp. chipotle sauce (such as Frontera chipotle adobo seasoning or the adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers)
1 TB corn starch or flour
3/4 C. black beans (drained and rinsed)
12-14 corn tortillas* or fajita size flour tortillas
2.5-3 C. shredded cheddar cheese
15 oz. can of enchilada sauce (green, red, or Christmas. It's your choice!)
Mexican Spice Blend:
2 TB chili powder
1.5 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper or cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 TB cumin
To cook the chicken, preheat oven to 425° then brush both sides of the chicken breasts with oil and sprinkle on Mexican spice seasoning (use your own or make the one above). Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Set on a plate or cutting board to cool, at least 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, shred or dice the chicken.
In a large, higher-sided pan, heat 1 TB of oil over medium heat then add the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat the onion in the oil and allow to cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant.
To the pan, add the shredded chicken, green chiles, tomatoes, chipotle sauce, 4 oz. of water, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine everything.
Simmer over medium-low to low heat for 10-15 minutes until the liquid is reduced, being sure to stir occasionally to avoid scorching. Turn down heat if it is getting too hot of bubbling too aggressively.
Add the black beans and the corn starch to the pan, stir to combine and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes until the liquid is absorbed into the corn starch and you have a thicker filling. Turn off heat and allow the filling to cool a bit before rolling the enchiladas.
Turn oven to 350°.
In a baking dish (8x8, 9x9, 9x11 all work), spoon some of the enchilada sauce onto the bottom of the dish (see above photo).
Set up an assembly line with the tortillas, the filling and a tablespoon, and a bowl with your cheese all near your baking dish.
Fill a tortilla with about 3 tablespoons of filling and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Do not overfill or they won't stay together once rolled. Gently roll the tortilla to close it then place it seem-side down in the dish with the enchilada sauce.
Continue until all of the filling is used, making sure to tuck the enchiladas close (touching) to each other. Depending on the size dish you use, you may end up needing more than one. (If you plan on freezing some, I recommend using a disposable aluminum dish.)
Spoon the remaining enchiladas sauce over top of the rolled enchiladas. If you're using both green and red sauce ("Christmas"), I like to do half and half so each enchilada gets both sauces (see photos above).
Top with the remaining (or desired amount of) cheese.
Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown on the edges.
Serve up with your favorite accouterments like sour cream, guacamole, and a sprinkling of cilantro and maybe a side of Mexican rice or cilantro-lime rice.
*Recipe notes + Variations*
*Enchiladas are traditionally made with corn tortillas which makes them a great gluten free meal option. My husband isn't a fan of corn tortillas though so I will make these with fajita-sized flour tortillas instead or a mix of the two. If you're using corn tortillas, dip the tortilla in enchilada sauce so one side of it is coated before filling it. Fill the undipped side, then roll as instructed. This will help significantly to prevent the tortilla from cracking. It's mess this way though, so if you're ok with less than perfect looking enchiladas, skip it. They all taste the same in the end.
FYI it takes about 20 minutes to steps 8-13. Once you do one or two, you get the hang of it and it moves pretty quickly. It helps a lot to set up the assembly line like I mentioned in the recipe steps.
To speed up the time a bit, I recommend starting on the sauce while your chicken cooks in the oven. Feel free to use pre-cooked chicken. Just toss it with a little bit of the Mexican spice blend when you put the chicken into the sauce.
These freeze really well. Follow all of the steps above, including topping with the cheese then simply cover the dish tightly (with the lid to the dish or Press-n-Seal) and freeze it. Reheating from frozen takes 1 to 1.25 hours from frozen or 30-45 minutes if partially/mostly thawed. Cover with foil if they are browning too quickly but not yet heated through. I recommend using a disposable aluminum dish if freezing.