This chicken enchiladas recipe is packed with flavor, with shredded meat, cheese, and a zingy red enchilada sauce. The perfect easy dinner!
Here’s a crowd-pleasing dinner recipe to put in your rotation: chicken enchiladas recipe! It’s hard to find someone who will turn down this Tex Mex favorite. Each enchilada is stuffed with shredded chicken and cheese, then drowned in a zingy red sauce and baked until warm and gooey. It’s also extremely versatile for various diets: you can easily make half the pan vegetarian or use corn tortillas for gluten-free. Everyone wins here, and whipping up a big pan makes dinnertime magic.
Ingredients in chicken enchiladas
This chicken enchiladas recipe is a play on the Tex Mex dish, which is in turn a riff on the classic Mexican enchilada. The first reference to the modern enchilada dates back to 1885 in Mexico, but the tradition of rolling a tortilla around fillings has been around since the Aztec times.
There are a few differences between Mexican enchiladas and Tex Mex style; often Mexican enchiladas use corn tortillas and are fried vs Tex Mex which use flour tortillas and are baked. This rendition is Tex Mex in style, and we honor the great tradition of Mexican cooks and chefs who brought us the mighty enchilada. Here’s what you’ll need for this chicken enchiladas recipe:
- Shredded chicken: Make homemade shredded chicken for best flavor, or go quick and easy with store-bought.
- Red enchilada sauce: For fast enchiladas, we recommend finding a great store-bought sauce, but you can also make homemade enchilada sauce.
- Onion and green chiles: These veggies add nuance to the flavor.
- Cumin, oregano, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper: This blend of spices makes well-seasoned chicken.
- Colby jack cheese: We like Colby jack for flavor, but you can also use Mexican blend cheese or cheddar.
- Tortillas: We use flour tortillas for this Tex Mex variation, but you can use corn tortillas as well, which are more traditional in Mexican-style enchiladas and a gluten free option.
How to shred chicken
The quickest way to chicken enchiladas is with purchased shredded chicken, but it’s got the best flavor when you make it homemade! It takes about 10 minutes to boil. The best way we’ve found to make shredded chicken is to butterfly it, boil it, and then pull it into strips using your hands. Here’s how to make shredded chicken (or click the link):
- Butterfly the chicken so that it cooks evenly. Place your hand over the top of each chicken breast and use a sharp knife to carefully slice the breast horizontally, leaving the edge intact so it can open up like a book. Open up the breast then cut along the fold to separate the two halves.
- Boil for 7 to 10 minutes. Place 1 pound chicken in a pot with 6 cups water, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and seasonings (or use chicken broth and half the salt). Boil for 7 to 10 minutes until the center is no longer pink and the internal temperature is 160°F.
- Tear the chicken into shreds. Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, use your fingers to tear the chicken into shreds.
Use a great red enchilada sauce
This might be a hot take, but for chicken enchiladas we like to buy the enchilada sauce. Many people swear by homemade, but it can take a bit of time and leave you with some mess. If you’re going to make homemade, it’s easiest to make it in advance. But we love a great purchased red enchilada sauce! Here are some options:
- Purchased red enchilada sauce: There are lots of fantastic enchilada sauce brands at the store, and many of them are minimally processed. Every brand is different, so experiment to find one you love. We like Siete Foods enchilada sauce.
- Homemade, made in advance: Or, make a batch of our Homemade Red Enchilada sauce! It’s easiest to make it in advance to ensure quick prep.
Flour tortillas vs corn tortillas
What are the best tortillas for chicken enchiladas? Corn tortillas are traditional in Mexican-style enchiladas, and flour tortillas are used in Tex Mex enchiladas. Here’s what to know about the differences:
- Corn tortillas are gluten-free. Some brands tend to split when you go to roll them! To combat this, find the best quality corn tortilla brand you can. Then brush it with oil and cook it 15 seconds per side before assembling. This makes it easier to roll.
- Flour tortillas are not gluten-free, but they are much easier to roll and more durable in general. They also get nice and gooey from the enchilada sauce.
- What about grain free tortillas? There are are other types of grain-free tortillas available at many grocery stores: almond flour, cassava flour, or chickpea flour (try Siete brand). We haven’t tested these, so let us know in the comments below if you try them!
How to assemble chicken enchiladas: a few tips!
The filling for this chicken enchiladas recipe features shredded chicken, onion and green chilies, with a mixture of savory spices. Once you’ve got it ready, it’s time to assemble! It’s helpful to have another person to help for assembly. Here are a few tips for a smooth and speedy process:
- Don’t overfill the tortillas. It’s easy to want to put in way too much filling. All you need is ¼ cup chicken and 2 tablespoons cheese. Spread them in a line down the center.
- Roll them tightly and place seam side down. Placing seam side down helps them stay rolled.
- If using corn tortillas, use a durable brand and cook in oil prior to rolling. Corn tortillas can easily tear and split when rolling them. Before assembling, brush both sides of each tortilla lightly with olive oil. Heat a large griddle to medium-high heat, and cook the tortillas in batches for 15 seconds per side until lightly browned.
Favorite enchilada toppings
The best part of this easy chicken enchiladas recipe? Loading them up with all the best toppings! Here are a few enchilada topping ideas:
- Sour cream
- Feta or queso fresco crumbles
- Red onion or green onion
- Purchased pico de gallo
- Pickled onions
Sides to serve with chicken enchiladas
Once we’ve whipped up a pan of chicken enchiladas, we use the bake time to pull together a few simple side dishes. Here are a few sides that go with enchiladas:
- Throw together one of those quick bag chopped salads (we do this often!)
- Make Cilantro Lime Slaw
- Add Simple Guacamole or 5-Minute Bean Dip and tortilla chips
- Go for Mexican-Style Chopped Salad or Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
This chicken enchiladas recipe is…
Gluten-free with corn tortillas.
Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
- 1 pound shredded chicken about 2 ½ cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 sweet yellow onion finely diced
- 4 ounces canned diced green chilies
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 cups 15 ounces red enchilada sauce, purchased or homemade
- 8 ounces 2 cups Colby jack cheese, shredded
- 10 8- inch flour tortillas or corn tortillas*
- For the topping: sour cream chopped cilantro, guacamole, pico de gallo, cotija or feta cheese crumbles, pickled red onions
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the shredded chicken (prep in advance and refrigerate if desired).
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, green chilies, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, chili powder and kosher salt. Taste and add a few more pinches of kosher salt if desired.
- Warm the tortillas for a minute in the microwave, or in a pan for a few seconds per side, so that they are flexible*. In a large baking dish, spread 1 cup of the enchilada sauce.
- Fill each tortilla with a ¼ cup scoop of the filling, srpinkle with 2 tablespoons of the cheese, and roll it up. Place each enchilada seam-side down in the baking dish (there will be some leftover filling). Repeat for the remaining tortillas.
- Top the enchiladas with the remaining 1 cup enchilada sauce and the remaining cheese.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve garnished with sour cream, chopped cilantro, and other garnishes as desired.