My favorite chicken enchilada recipe is easy to make, customizable with your favorite fillings, and made with my favorite homemade enchilada sauce. It’s always a crowd fave, and perfect for meal prep and freezing too!
Say hello to my all-time favorite chicken enchiladas. ♡
This chicken enchilada recipe was actually one of the first-ever posts that I shared here on Gimme Some Oven back in 2009. And now, more than a decade later, it still continues to be one of the recipes I make most often for dinner here in our house — and one of the recipes that our readers make most often too! I’m so happy you all continue to enjoy it!
For those of you who are new to this recipe, these Tex-Mex style chicken enchiladas are easy to make with a basic filling of sautéed chicken, green chiles, onions, beans and shredded cheese. Then they are rolled up in your choice of either flour or corn tortillas, baked until hot and melty, and sprinkled with lots of fresh toppings. But I have to say that the real magic of this recipe lies in the homemade red enchilada sauce that brings it all together. This red enchilada sauce only requires a few extra minutes of prep time, but the flavor that it adds to these enchiladas is major. Sooo much better than the canned stuff!
I’m also a big fan of these homemade chicken enchiladas because they are easy to make ahead (perfect for meal prep), the leftovers freeze beautifully (which is why I usually go ahead and make a double batch while I’m at it), and they are also a wonderful meal to pack up and bring to friends who may be in need of some cozy comfort food (another good reason to make and freeze a second batch ♡). This recipe can also easily be adapted to be gluten-free or customized with your choice of protein, beans or cheese. And if you’d really like to make the prep quick and easy, I’ve included a few additional time-saving shortcuts below too.
Bottom line, these chicken enchiladas have been one of my go-to recipes for years and years, and they are always a hit when we serve them to friends and family. So if you have yet to give this recipe a try, I say that it’s time we make some enchiladas together!
Chicken Enchilada Recipe | 1-Minute Video
The History of Enchiladas
We have the rich food traditions of Mexico to thank for bringing enchiladas to the world. ♡ Historians believe that the origins of enchiladas actually date back to Aztec times, when the tradition of rolling or folding food into corn tortillas is believed to have begun. (The word enchilada is derived from the Spanish verb enchilar, which means “to season with chili.”)
In the centuries and decades since, dozens of different varieties of enchiladas have become traditional in different regions around Mexico, as well as in various nearby countries in Latin America (such as Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala). And of course, they have also become wildly popular in the United States as well, especially in New Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.
This particular chicken enchilada recipe probably most closely aligns with Tex-Mex and New Mexican styles of enchiladas, especially being made with flour tortillas (although you are welcome to use corn tortillas), filled with green chiles and soft shredded cheese, and made with a tomato-free red chile sauce. But if you are looking to try authentic Mexican-style chicken enchiladas, I would encourage you to consider this traditional recipe. So many delicious enchilada recipes to try!
Chicken Enchilada Ingredients
Before we get to the full recipe below for how to make chicken enchiladas, here are a few notes about the ingredients you will need to make this easy chicken enchilada recipe…
Chicken: I typically sauté diced boneless skinless chicken breasts for the enchilada filling. But feel free to use pre-cooked chicken (such as a shredded rotisserie or any leftover diced/shredded baked chicken) if you would like to save some prep time.
Onion and diced green chiles: White, yellow or red onion will work for the enchilada filling sauté. Then I always like to add in a can of diced green chiles too for extra flavor.
Beans: I typically add a can of black beans or pinto beans to the filling for extra protein. But white beans, lentils or chickpeas would also work well here.
Tortillas: Corn tortillas are traditionally used in Mexican-style enchiladas, but I typically use flour tortillas (which are more commonly used in Tex-Mex and American-style enchiladas) since they are much easier to roll. That said, just about any style of tortillas will work in this recipe.
Cheese: I most often use either Asadero, Pepper Jack, or a Mexican-blend of shredded cheese for these enchiladas. But feel free to use any type of shredded cheese that you love best.
Toppings: When it comes to enchiladas, I vote the more toppings the merrier! Any combination of chopped fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, diced red onion (or quick pickled red onions), sliced radishes, fresh or pickled jalapeños, sour cream or Mexican crema, and/or extra cheese would be delicious!
Enchilada sauce: Finally, you can use any type of enchilada sauce that you prefer for this recipe, but I highly recommend using my favorite homemade enchilada sauce! It only takes a few extra minutes to prep and can simmer on the stovetop while you prepare the rest of the enchiladas. It’s made with simple ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry (oil, flour, a handful of spices, and chicken stock). But most importantly, it’s incredibly delicious and tastes a million times better than the store-bought canned stuff. Thousands of our readers have made and loved it over the years, so I highly recommend giving it a try!
Chicken Enchilada Recipe Variations
As I mentioned above, this chicken enchilada recipe is incredibly flexible, so please feel free to customize it however you would like! For example, feel free to…
Use corn tortillas: To make Mexican-style enchiladas, use corn tortillas (homemade or store-bought) in place of flour tortillas. Since corn tortillas are typically smaller, you will likely need to use nearly double the quantity of tortillas. (Just arrange them in the pan however you’d like.) Then to bring out that toasty corn flavor and prevent the corn tortillas from tearing, I recommend either flash-frying the tortillas for about 10 seconds per side in a skillet that has been lightly drizzled with oil. Or alternately, you can just dip the tortillas briefly in the warm enchilada sauce before rolling them up.
Use green enchilada sauce: Instead of red enchilada sauce, try making green chicken enchiladas with my homemade green enchilada sauce recipe. It’s also very simple to make and brings the most delicious savory green chile flavor to this dish.
Use a different protein: I most often make these enchiladas with chicken, but they would also be delicious with ground or shredded beef, shredded pork (especially carnitas), shrimp, or any other protein that you prefer.
Use different beans: As I mentioned above, white beans, lentils or chickpeas would also work well here in place of pinto or black beans.
Make vegetarian enchiladas: To make these vegetarian enchiladas, simply omit the chicken and replace it with veggies (such as roasted cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, etc), extra beans, or any other vegetarian fillings you prefer. To make vegan enchiladas, use a vegetarian filling as well as vegan cheese.
Make gluten-free enchiladas: To make gluten-free enchiladas, use gluten-free corn or flour tortillas. And also be sure to use a 1-for-1 gluten-free flour blend (in place of all-purpose flour) in the homemade enchilada sauce recipe.
What To Serve With Chicken Enchiladas
Looking for some recommendations for side dishes to round out your meal? Feel free to check out our Mexican recipe archives for inspiration, or consider some of these favorite recipes…
Prep oven and enchilada sauce. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare your enchilada sauce.
Sauté the filling mixture. In large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced chicken and green chiles, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the mixture for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add in the beans and stir until evenly combined. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
Assemble the enchiladas. To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line including: tortillas, enchilada sauce, chicken mixture, and cheese. Lay out a tortilla, and spread two tablespoons of sauce over the surface of the tortilla. Add a generous spoonful of the chicken mixture in a line down the center of the tortilla, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Roll up tortilla and place in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Assemble the remaining enchiladas. Then spread any remaining sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas, followed by any extra cheese.
Bake. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, until the enchiladas are cooked through and the tortillas are slightly crispy on the outside. Transfer the baking dish to a wire baking rack.
Serve. Serve the enchiladas immediately while they’re nice and hot and melty, garnished with lots of fresh toppings. Enjoy!
Storage instructions: Leftover (cooked) enchiladas can be transferred to a sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Make ahead instructions. If you would like to make a pan of enchiladas in advance, follow the recipe instructions through step 3 (assembling the enchiladas). Wrap the pan tightly with foil. Then you can either refrigerate the enchiladas for up to 3 days, then bake as directed. Or you can freeze the enchiladas for up to 3 months, then let them thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then bake as directed.
Ali….I am hooked!!! I just bookmarked your site and I am in LOVE with it! I have recently discovered that I love to cook! (part of that may be that when Adam comes over, he keeps 3 yo Kristina out of the kitchen) I’m excited to try these recipes. Keep ’em coming!!
I can vouch for these! Love them!
These look YUMMY!! I have one question…. in the recipe directions you state to add the first six ingredients into the melted butter, but you don’t give us the measurement of butter to use. Or is it there and I can’t see it? It wouldn’t be the first time, I’m blind as a bat!! Can you help me out and give me the amount? Thank You!!
Thanks, all! :)
And Meredith — thank you, thank you for catching the typo! I meant to write “add the first six ingredients to the oil” (not butter — oops! — although you could probably use that if you prefer). But yes, just the 2 Tbsp. of oil that you initially heat in the skillet should be sufficient.
Thanks again – hope that helps! Would love to hear what you think of the enchiladas! :)
Thank YOU!! I will be making these tonight!
You say to use cooked chicken – how do you cook the chicken? Is there a certain way, or certain spices I should use, for best results? Thanks for the recipe, it looks awesome.
You can pretty much do whatever you’d like with the chicken! The sauce provides so much flavor that it would be ok to use just about anything — from leftover rotisserie chicken (one of my favorite ways to keep shredded chicken on hand), to a chicken breast that has been either baked, broiled, or cooked on the stove. If you end up doing the latter (which is what I did when I made this recipe the last time), you could season the chicken with some cumin, chili powder, and salt+pepper for an extra little kick.
Long answer! But basically, I don’t think you can go wrong. :) So be creative if you’d like!!
hi, i made these tonight and thought they were fabulous! followed the recipe to the tee, and i wouldn’t change a thing. thanks for posting such a great recipe!
Thanks, Ali! Making these tonight!
Yum. Loved the chilis in the enchiladas. They added so much flavor!
How thick should the sauce get. I am doing mine right now and it doesn’t seem to be getting thick.
hi susie!! sorry for the late reply – i’ve been out of town this weekend.
but the sauce only gets somewhat thick. probably similar to a gravy or slightly thinner, but still thick enough that it should definitely be able to add a little texture to the insides and tops of the enchiladas. hope that helps, and that you enjoyed them! :)
Wow, incredibly simple sauce! I’m definitely considering this for dinner tonight.
I’m not sure they were the best ever, for I’ve never had so many to compare with… but I made them last week, and have to admit, they were pretty darn excellent!
I changed a couple small things, but I don’t think it change much of anything.
Thank you very much for sharing!
made these tonight for the first time- a couple of questions:
one- how do you reheat them if you don’t serve immediately? and
two- whats the reheating directions if you freeze them?
They smell yummy and look great- can’t wait to try them…
So glad you gave these a try! You can really reheat these however. I prefer to pop them in the oven (or toaster oven) to make them a little more crisp. But you could microwave them as well.
After freezing, if you have the time, would definitely recommend letting these thaw in the refrigerator for awhile before heating. But if not, I’ve also had a craving and popped them straight from the freezer into the microwave for a bit to defrost, and then to the toaster oven.
Hope that helps!
amazing. if that one word could describe how awesomely tasty, and super delicious this is. i made it earlier tonight, the step by step made it easy, and like i said AMAZING!!! love your website, love your food. already book marked it once i found it.
Okay, I admit I was skeptical at first. However, after making these recently, I am in agreement…. they ARE the best enchiladas ever! They were soooo good – especially the sauce. I used rotisseree chicken in mine, so I just cooked the onions and green chilis before I started my sauce. I used the same pan, so they became incorporated with the sauce instead of the chicken. It still tasted great! I will make these again soon. Thanks!
Another question. :) I have a bunch of the sauce left over….not sure why. Can I save it? For how long in the fridge? Or should I freeze it?
Sometimes I have some sauce leftover too! I imagine you could definitely freeze it, or probably keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days (or maybe a week…but I’m always paranoid about keeping things in the fridge!). Good luck!
I love these enchiladas!
I made them for the pickiest five and nine year old and they loved them too.
We really liked the heat and we started to shred the chicken and marinaded them in lime juice and mint (a little mojito!) That experiment is tonight, and we’ll tell you how it went.
Enchiladas are so good!
I just made these tonight for my dinner party! The guests went back for seconds!
delicious meal. =)
Wow, awesome recipe. Delicious and easy to make. Sitting on the couch now recovering from a feast.
I’ve made this recipe 3x now!! They are the best enchiladas i’ve ever had. I love the home-made sauce. I only use one bullion cube though. 2 makes it SUPER SUPER crazy salty. I have forwarded this recipe to everyone i know as well =)
This is the best enchilada recipe.
We used it so much that we had to take a break and are always changing it around.
Your blog is great and we’re really thankful for the recipe.
Could you give more info on your freezing of this recipe? If we are planning on making these to freeze and use later would we bake them in the oven first? Or is it possible to put them all together freeze them, then bake them in the oven for 20 minutes later when we plan on eating them?
Thanks a bunch! Love your website
Oh my goodness. Made these for the first time last night and they really were “the best chicken enchiladas ever”!!! Thank you so much!
made these tonight…….fabulous!
I first used this recipe a year and a half ago. Ever since then this has been one of my favorite regular recipes in my house. My husband is a picky eater and he loves it. Just wanted to let you know how much I love it!
nice recipe and looks yummy :)
My husband decided to make the dinner for a change and realised after hr had filled the enchiladas that he used uncooked chicken when the recipe calls for cooked chicken. How can I remedy this?! Help.
Ali, thank you for this receipe! These are the BEST enchiladas EVER!! I was a bit nervous making this for my husbad because enchiladas are his favorite and he considers himself an “exchilada expert”. He absolutely LOVED them. He actually asked that I make them again. Thanks again!!!
I just have to say that I’ve been making this recipe since you first posted it in 2009, and it is still one of the favorite dishes I make at our house. My husband LOVES the leftovers – there’s usually none left for me!
Thank you so much for sharing!
Great recipe. I shredded my chicken. Also Ali, I want to give you another great spice. Badkia Colette seasoning is amazing. I get chicken breasts and put in foil pouch in oven with oil and this seasoning. They come out really moist and ready to shred. Also try adding a tablespoon of cocoa to the sauce when making. True South American dishes add that.
Just wanted to give you a shout out for such an easy and wonderful recipe to put on the table! We make this at least once a month…thank you!
Can this be assembled early in the day and put in the fridge until you want to have supper?
Absolutely – I do that a lot! :) Just cover and refrigerate and bake them the next day.
These turned out great. I am always looking for good “leftover chicken” recipes, and this one fit the bill. Thanks.
Tip for shredding the chicken: Throw it in the stand mixer with the paddle and let ‘er rip.
IF YOU MAKE ENCHILADAS OR CHILAQUILES WITH FLOUR TORTILLAS. THAT IS NOT MEXICAN AT ALL. YOU must AND SHOULD USE CORN TORTILLAS. THE CORN TORTILLAS GIVES A SPECIAL TASTE. I AM FROM MEXICO CITY AND THE BEST ENCHILADAS COME FROM GUADALAJARA.
Agreed!!! Mexican Enchiladas should be CORN!!! Half-Mexican and Texan here.
I AGREE!! These are American enchiladas I guess. The minute I see FLOUR tortillas, I move on. Authentic enchiladas are made from corn tortillas or masa. This is not Mexican, maybe it’s a good recipe, but call them Chicken Rollups with enchilada sauce. The difference in the dish is huge. Corn tortillas don’t get pasty and soggy, and they are superior in taste and texture.
And for those interpreting certain comments as negative when others are giving their take on a recipe . . . Chill. We’re in the USA, we can disagree. The comments about using flour tortillas are just as valid. In fact, as a reviewer, I go to the lowest rating comments first, they are just as valid.
We got 10 enchiladas from this recipe. Two things – 1. the sauce was on the salty side, so I would cut the salt in half — 2. one can of black beans is a stretch, I used two cans. Yes these were good, but I have another recipe I like better, so I won’t be doing these again.
If you use corn tortillas, fry them in a small amount of oil just until they start to get crisp. You still want to be able to roll them up. Then dip them into the enchilada sauce before adding the filling. This gives the best flavor to the enchilada. I learned this from an older Mexican woman years ago. Thanks for this recipe. I am going to make it tonight.
That is what I do also. Learned that way from my Mexican mother-in-law. They are also nice and moist when done that way.
I made these for the first time and am a little dissapointed. The reviews were great, the recipe easy. However, I must say these are much spicier than I expected. I love heat. I’m a medium plus Thai food spice level, but the heat overpowered the potential flavor. I followed the recipe exactly, as I always do on first new recipes. Maybe 1/2 the chili powder next time? Or maybe add some sour cream to the sauce to calm the spice? Sorry, but I just didn’t like these as much as the other people that have commented.
Since living near San Antonio we LOVE our Mexican food. I’ve made a recipe very similar to this, but tear the tortillas and put the ingredients into layers. Little of this and a little that. Top with the extra cheese and sauce. It is easier for me since I am gluten-free and use corn tortillas.
Thanks for posting, a good reminder it is time for Mexican Food!
I made these for the first time last night and we didn’t care much for them. The chili powder really overpowered the dish. I may try making them again with a lot less chili powder and maybe some sour cream, as another reviewer suggested. It was a relatively simple recipe though, so maybe worth a try if you like spicy food.
I was sad when I realized this is not a sauce as described.
Oooohhh this sounds so good! And if it is your best recipe ever, I am sure it is! Thanks for this, I will definitely be pinning right now!
These DO look like the best chicken enchiladas ever! Especially with that homemade sauce. YUM!
Love these enchiladas. And you are brave…I HATE going through my archives. Love your updated photos — gorgeous!
I love seeing the old photo. And your point about the garnishes is taken, though possibly more notable would be the “gorgeous lighting phase” you’re going through. Thank you for reviving this one. It looks like a keeper.
I can’t wait to make these! This is one of our son’s favorite foods so when he arrives home from college – they’ll be ready!
Enchiladas are such a great recipe for a crowd!
I mean… they certainly LOOK like the best enchiladas ever. And you know that if you’re bringing back old recipes, you’ve got something special on your hands (or plate?). Pinned :)
I want these enchiladas right now. I can put an egg on it, right? Plus, I love that you are brining back old recipes. Great idea!
I’ve always struggled making enchiladas at home which don’t turn all gloopy – I’m definitely going to use this recipe next time. I can I say no to the best chicken enchiladas ever?!
If you don’t want “gloopy” don’t use flour tortillas.