This Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe is everything you love about chicken enchiladas…stacked into delicious layers instead of rolled up. Easy to customize and always so delicious!
Friends, have you tried my favorite chicken enchilada casserole recipe yet?
I first shared it on the blog about four years ago, as a stackable casserole riff on my favorite chicken enchilada recipe. And in the years since, it has continued to be a regular in my rotation, as well as a total fave with family and friends. It’s made with my favorite easy homemade enchilada sauce, which automatically bumps any enchilada recipe up a mega notch. It’s easy to customize with any of your favorite enchilada fillings. It makes a big batch, making this the perfect casserole to make for a party, or taking to a friend in need, or just having extras for leftovers. It’s made with corn tortillas and is naturally gluten-free. And it is downright delicious.
I’ve tweaked and updated the recipe a tad on my own over the years. So today, I thought I would bump this chicken enchilada bake back to the top of the blog and give it a quick refresh with some new photos and recipe tweaks. Because in case you’ve never tried it…it’s time. :)
Chicken Enchilada Casserole Recipe | 1-Minute Video
My Favorite Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe:
Alright, before we get to the full ingredient list, a quick word about the homemade enchilada sauce included in the recipe. In my opinion, it’s simply the best. It’s irresistibly delicious, and made in the New Mexican tradition (without tomatoes, which I love). It calls for a simply ingredient list that you likely already have in your pantry. And it’s absolutely worth the extra 5 minutes of prep time (plus 20 or so minutes simmering on the stove, which you can multitask) that it requires to make. Thousands of readers have made it and agree — it’s a total keeper!
That said, if you’re absolutely in a hurry, you can sub in some store-bought green or red enchilada sauce instead. But I’d urge you to go homemade if you can. The sauce is the main seasoning in this recipe, and makes all the difference.
Here’s my full post about how to make enchilada sauce. (*Also, be sure to note that this casserole requires a double batch of this sauce!)
Chicken Enchilada Casserole Ingredients:
As I mentioned above, the ingredient list for this recipe is super-flexible, so feel free to add in any of your favorite fillings for chicken enchiladas. I like to use:
Cooked chicken: Either from my recipe for baked chicken breasts, or I often just shred a rotisserie chicken.
Veggies: The recipe below uses a quick blend of onion, red bell pepper, diced green chiles and corn. But feel free to add any other favorite veggies to the sauté.
Beans: Two cans of your faves. I like to use one can of black beans, one can of pinto.
2 (15 ounce) cans beans, rinsed and drained (I used one can pinto, one can black beans)
1 (8 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
3 cups (about 1.5 pounds) shredded or diced cooked chicken
3 cups red enchilada sauce, homemade or store-bought, divided
12 corn tortillas, halved
3 cups shredded Monterrey Jack or Mexican blend cheese
toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, diced red onion, thinly-sliced green onion and/or diced avocado
Heat oven to 375°F. Mist a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté for 6-7 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the diced green chiles, beans, corn, chicken and 2 cups enchilada sauce, and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
Pour about 1/2 cup of the remaining enchilada sauce in the baking dish, and spread until the bottom of the dish is evenly coated. Top with a layer of about 8 tortilla halves, so that the entire dish is covered. Top evenly with 1/3 of the chicken mixture, followed by 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, chicken mixture, and cheese. Followed by a final layer of tortillas, chicken mixture, the remaining 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce, and cheese.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil, then bake for 20 minutes.
Remove pan and remove aluminum foil. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes, until the cheese is thoroughly melted.
Remove from the oven and serve warm, garnished with your desired toppings.
*To make this recipe gluten-free, double check the labels of all ingredients to ensure that they are certified gluten-free.
*This recipe was originally published in April 2014, and updated in July 2018.
I made it tonight with shredded carne asada meat and it is sooo amazing!!! Much healthier than other enchilada casseroles out there, too. I love your website!!
Worked fine but a little bland. I used the enchilada sauce recipe that is linked to in the recipe. If I did this again, I’d probably put some ground ancho chile into the recipe, not just chile powder, to make the sauce spicier. Another thing to beware of – the casserole recipe calls for 3 cups of sauce, but the sauce recipe it links to only makes about 1.5 cups, so you’ll have to double that recipe. And frankly I’d go a bit further and more than double it, the casserole was not very “saucy,” and I like enchiladas that are smothered in sauce so this casserole seemed too dry to me. But the basic concept and ingredients are sound, and I’ll probably try this recipe again sometime. It’s a great way to use leftover chicken.
Can you prep a day ahead and bake later?
That is exactly what I am doing. In fact, I made the sauce the previous day. Chili type recipes benefit from allowing the spices to marinate overnight and get acquainted with each other.
Almost everything I cook (chili, gumbo, etc) is designed to be cooked, refrigerated overnight, and reheated the next day. The very best chili I ever had was one that had been frozen for about a year and reheated on the stove.
This may be a dumb question, but I’m not much of a cook. Does the recipe require hard or soft shell tortillas?
Soft shell tortillas will be best. Enjoy! :)
Really enjoyed this, I’m a young , often tired student and casseroles are the easiest way to make sure I actually eat a proper meal twice day during the week because they are always ready to eat after you’ve cooked them. (No need to cook rice etc to go along with it) I’m a vegetarian so I just subbed the chicken with some soy bits and it came out great. I like my casseroles extra saucy so I poured some extra enchilada sauce over it after plating. Really good and satisfying and now I have hassle-free food for the next four days. I’m going to add broccoli the next time I cook this, I like my meals vegetable heavy.
O.M.G! So so good! I was looking for a recipe I could make for a family who needed a little support after having a baby, and said they liked Mexican food. I just threw a couple chicken breasts in a slow cooker until they pulled apart easily. I made extra so we could try it. My husband thinks catsup is spicy, so I was hesitant with that home-made enchilada sauce with so much chili powder. He did say it was a bit spicy (so, not spicy for most of us) but he had seconds (!) and agreed it was good and would have it again (in a heartbeat, really!) While cooking it, I was like, “What? No tomatoes?” But we served it with salsa and sour cream. Perfect! I am not a huge lover of corn tortillas or enchiladas in general, but this was a diet changer. We will be making this again, and when 2020 is over, likely taking it to potlucks. Thank you for sharing, for tweaking, for making this your passion!
Haven’t tried this recipe yet but I am prepping food for when I have rotator cuff surgery. How does this act after being frozen?? Would you bake it then freeze it or freeze before baking?
Had left over roasted chicken from Thanksgiving (not a fan of turkey), this recipe was very good. Followed recipe exactly. If you are using the home made enchilada sauce, you will need to double the recipe! It’s just me and hubby now so we always have leftover from one roasted chicken. Great way to use it all up and plan on making this again
This was delicious! I made the homemade sauce as well, and only used the 2 cups in the recipe and it worked out fine…I used leftover turkey from Thanksgiving for the meat. LOVED it. Can’t wait to try the green sauce.
This was wonderful! Can this be made ahead and frozen?
Thanks so much for your recipes.
I’m not leaving this comment to “hate”… just more so to HELP. The recipe is nice to look at… There are a lot of pretty colors associated… however, it’s more of a recipe for nachos. Cilantro shouldn’t ever go on an enchilada casserole. In fact… Most of the stuff shown in the video doesn’t belong. If you want chicken enchiladas… use green chili. The best green chili is from Hatch, New Mexico… but you can use Bueno as well. It’s in the frozen aisle. Mix the cooked chicken with cans of cream of mushroom, chopped white onion and chopped green chili. THATS PRETTY MUCH IT. Layer the baking dish as it shows in the video, with the mixture, including the cheese. You don’t need red peppers, cilantro, RED ENCHILADA SAUCE, or any of that aesthetic garnish. Red enchilada sauce should be on beef, not chicken. If you want authentic red chili enchiladas, brown lean ground beef and chopped white onions. Layer your baking dish with the ground beef, enchilada sauce and cheese. Colby Jack is the best. When your casserole is done, you can garnish either dish with lettuce and tomato. You can go a step further on the authenticity, and use red chili pods in lieu of enchilada sauce. My point is, don’t complicate something so easy with Taco Bell looking ingredients.
That sounds like a tasty alternative. And Hatch Chile green enchiladas is certainly a New Mexican specialty. But there are many “authentic” recipes out there. And as this is a casserole recipe it makes sense to add more ingredients to it. My abuela always made us red chili sauce chicken enchiladas. And this was a neat twist on my authentic.
JP’s post is my favorite recipe comment ever! Like, “I didn’t actually make this, but here’s an entirely different recipe to try instead. Also, I think I’m smarter than you. And also, real Mexicans make their casseroles with lean ground beef and Colby jack cheese.” ?
5-stars for the recipe (because it’s delicious, and if I were looking for “authentic” Mexican food I wouldn’t Google “casseroles with Colby jack and ground beef.”)
2-stars for JP’s comment, because while extremely arrogant, it’s also pretty hilarious. Thanks for the laughs!
Who said anything about “authentic”? It’s a Tex-mex food anyway, it’s not real Mexican no matter what you use or call it. I’m not sure where your idea of authenticity stems from…
Absolutely delicious! I ended up adding an additional 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce and 1 tsp of salt to the chicken mixture. Great meal to freeze as well!
I want to try this within the next day or two and I was wondering what size tortillas? I have some here that are 5 1/2″ diameter. Do I need the bigger ones? Thanks in advance.
Delicious! I substituted beef for the chicken and made a beef enchilada casserole. Everyone inthe household raves about it.
So easy and delicious. I made the homemade red enchilada sauce recipe too –I won’t buy store enchilada sauce ever again. This is a must make recipe! I cut the finished product into portions, and freeze in FoodSaver vacuum bags.
My kids love this dish! It’s great for left overs, super easy to make. The home made enchilada sauce is a game changer! I will never use canned again.
The flavor is wonderful and packed full of protein. Thumbs up!!!
Very good made your enchilada sauce had to use knorr chicken broth for 1st time the sauce,husband loved it 1 can corn and black beans not quite the amount of sauce but flavorful. Maybe could have used a few more tortillas, but next time. And thought the 7oz chilies 2 much for me but no.
Do you have a good brand for gluten free corn tortillas?
I ommited beans and used corn tortillas. It was excellent! The entire family loved it! Thank you for sharing the recipe!
Corn tortillas as gluten free!
I made this and it was excellent. I cooked the chicken breast in the crock-pot which was very easy. I slowed cooked it and shred the chicken. Paired with simple salad and lots of guacamole.
Can you make ahead and freeze?
The flavors of this were awesome! I decided that your homemade sauce wasn’t tomato-y enough, so I used some store bought sauce + 1 recipe of yours. However, my casserole turned into a soupy mess! It was like enchilada soup rather than a casserole. It tasted great, but I was sad about the consistency. I’ll try it again, but maybe with half of the liquid.
Always make a pan (13×9) of this for me and my hubby. Eat for a couple of days and then freeze in one serving containers for when I’m away…great freezer leftovers!
FYI – make my own bone broth from Costco roasted chicken…perfect for ranchero sauce. Also debone for the chicken in this recipe.
Do you cook from frozen or defrost it first? How long do you cook it from frozen if that’s how you do it?
I made this recipe for the first time last month. Me and my neighbor loved it! My neighbor is having a birthday soon and would like me to make this recipe again. She and I both ate alot of leftovers. However, due to limited space in our freezers, some went to waste. I plan to make it in an 8×11 inch pan. I’m afraid that if I cut the recipe in half that I won’t have enough ingredients. Has anyone tried this? Does anyone know the exact amounts of the ingredients to use? I would appreciate any kind of help. Thank you!
Did I miss something in your sauce recipe? I only got 2cups from it but the enchilada casserole recipe calls for 3 cups
I made a lot of adaptations to this recipe. I made more, I used ground turkey. So I needed more cheese and enchilada sauce. I didn’t have red peppers, so I used an orange. I used a jalapeño pepper instead of the green chilies. I didn’t have enough Mexican blend cheese so I added sharp cheddar. I kept the last layer of cheese till after the first part of the baking time. I added black olives after the enchilada sauce and before adding the cheese. I also sprinkled some diced red onion on before adding the last layer of cheese. Extending the cooking time made the shells go mushy, but the greater volume needed more cooking time. My family loved it. It’s very adaptable. I used canned enchilada sauce and it still tasted great. My son made Alton Brown’s guacamole (west coast – no pineapple), and the limey guacamole added to the enchilada casserole on the plate tasted delicious.
This is delicious! My daughter’s boyfriend, who grew up on his Mexican grandmother’s home cooking, asked for the recipe. Need I say more?
We loved this. I was short of Red Enchilada Sauce, so added Green Enchilada Sauce! Really can’t imagine it could be better! Left the corn out. Only used black beans, and only half what was in the recipe!
What a delicious casserole! I made the enchilada sauce per your recipe. I don”t like canned enchilada sauce so using homemade sauce made it even better! I was concerned how spicy the sauce would by using so much chili powder but it wasn’t after putting it in the chicken mixture. I used mozzarella cheese and swiss cheese that I already had and it was a hit! I will make this again. Thank you!
Our go to meal for holidays as we can make it in advance. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us. We absolutely love your Enchilada Casserole! We now make it in a variety of ways, add more, add less, alternate proteins, jackfruit for veggies. Yummy!!
Love the recipe. added more red pepper and cut the tortilla shells by about half.
Quick meal and great tasting. I like the flexibility within the recipe. So many ways to change it up and keep the meal fresh.
Delicious and easy for a weekday, especially when I already have rotisserie chicken left over! I got canned/jarred mild enchilada sauce so I added some cayenne to compensate and it was great! Perhaps on a weekend I’ll try making the enchilada sauce in the recipe and up the spice a little for my personal taste. Thanks for a great weekday meal!
It’s in the oven now!!! Can’t wait to try it
Made this for dinner tonight and served it with a quick avocado & tomato salad. It was so delicious, everyone had seconds! Thanks for the recipe!
Can this casserole be make ahead of time and frozen before it’s cooked? Thanks!
No Tomato? Sorry, but that is a deal killer for me.
I cooked the ingredients in the sauce and also substituted Hungarian paprika for chili powder and my family raved about it! They asked when I was going to make it again!
Can I make this with flour tortillas as my husband cannot eat corn?
This was pretty good! I used canned enchilada sauce for simplicity and speed, and regret doing so – it just doesn’t have the depth of flavor homemade sauce would. I did sub ground beef for the chicken, and added some adobo seasoning that I get at my local spice shop. My partner had seconds, so this is definitely something I can put on rotation at my house.
I’m making this tonight for dinner. It’s beginning to feel like fall in my area and I love making casseroles in the cooler seasons.
So so good. Wanted to note that to have enough enchilada sauce you should double the recipe linked.
This was the first time I’ve ever made enchiladas and it came out perfect! I’ll definitely be making this regularly. Thanks!
My husband grew up in a restaurant, so when he gives a thumbs up, you can bet it’s good. First time in 43 years together, he gave this recipe 7 stars. My grandson said it was impossible as there was only 5 stars. LOL! All 4 of my grandkids (5 to 13) & their mom said it was amazing! I have to say I loved it as well. Followed your recipe to the T for the sauce and casserole. Thank you so much.
Do you have the nutritional information for this Chicken Enchilada Casserole? Thanks.
When I want to make sure everyone will come home for dinner, this is what I make. I don’t change a thing. I don’t have to serve anything else if I don’t want to. All I gotta say is “chicken enchilada casserole” and everyone shows up. Every. Time. (I’ve probably made this 10 times already!)
I use the Safeway/Vons enchilada sauce (the red and white can, 28 oz.) because it’s easy and my Latino familia seems to like it the best.
This is so fantastic!! You are a genius!
We omitted the pinto beans and red pepper (My Sig Other is burnt out on peppers and I don’t like that many beans)
We added a full cup of green chilis from Costco, added a pound of chorizo and cut the chicken to 2 cups of rotisserie breast meat. We put a cup of cheese on each layer and doubled your super delicious enchilada sauce. This is by far one of the very best recipes we have tried in years :)
Can I prepare the casserole the evening before and cook it the following day? Or is it recommended to cook it that evening and reheat the following day?
I have made this multiple times and we LOVE it. Extended family members ask for me to make this for family dinners. Can this be made ahead and frozen? Any tips? I am needing to make massive quantities for an event.
Why not make the homemade enchilada sauce recipe large enough to make the enchilada casserole? Overall a great recipe but I had to make the enchilada sauce twice.