Chicken Enchiladas

If you know my blog well, then you know about Benchiladas – the creamy, cheesy chicken enchiladas that my husband loves more than just about any other food in the world.  And if you know how he feels about the Benchiladas, then you probably understand how difficult it might be to make another chicken enchilada recipe and have it be well received.  I wasn’t even sure how to tell Ben that I was making chicken enchiladas, but that they were a new kind with red sauce.  But he is so wonderful and supportive of all my cooking endeavors, he said, “Great!  Can’t wait to try them.”  And we are both SO glad we tried them.  I don’t even bother comparing them to the Benchiladas because they are different enough it’s like apples and oranges.  What I do know is we absolutely loved them, and I think it is a great thing to have two phenomenal versions of chicken enchiladas in my repertoire.

These are what I think of as restaurant-style enchiladas, because they are so similar to the versions I’ve had when dining out.  The homemade red sauce is easy to make, and it adds a ton of flavor to this meal.  By cooking the chicken in the sauce, it becomes very tender and moist, absorbing the flavor of the sauce.  They may seem a little time intensive, and may dirty quite a few dishes, but I think it is completely worthwhile for a dinner that tastes this good.  In fact, we’ve had them twice in a month which is a very rare occurrence around here.  Give them a try, you will not be disappointed!

Chicken Enchiladas
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1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 tsp. canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray

Combine the onion, jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds.  Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato.  Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Nestle the chicken into the sauce.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible.  Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside.  Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the onion mixture.  Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, and the cilantro.  Stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable.  Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla.  Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down.  Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray.  Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F.  Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned.  Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Pink Parsley Catering, originally from America’s Test Kitchen

55 Responses

  1. I will definitely give this a try! It looks and sounds delicious! Thanks!

  2. These do look like restaurant enchiladas! I’m sure they went perfect with the Mexican rice 🙂 When you said enchiladas I thought they would probably be either CI (test kitchen) or Bayless. It’s never a bad thing to have more than one version of a dish, especially when they are so different. Will definitely be making this recipe!

  3. Hi Annie.
    Thanks for posting this recipe, it looks awesome. Question about your “Benchiladas” – I’ve been wanting to try them but my husband isn’t a fan of ranch dressing. Does the filling end up tasting very ranch-y, or just nice and creamy? Thanks!

    • Hi Sarah,
      I don’t think the Ranch flavor is very prominent at all, I think it just adds some seasoning and creaminess.

  4. I love chicken enchiladas and these look amazing!

  5. These enchiladas look beautiful!! Wow. I’ve never seen such pretty enchiladas. Have you tried Tex-Mex Enchiladas? Homesick Texan has a great recipe for that, since you’ve ventured out on other recipes. Anyway, this one looks great!

  6. we loved these as well! i have a second batch in the freezer and have been waiting to cook and blog about them until i get a new camera and lightbox because they are deserving of the inaugural post with my new toys. 🙂

  7. These look so, so good! My hubby and I love enchiladas.

  8. Great timing!! I was planning on making chicken enchiladas for dinner tonight. Now I have a different spin from the ones I usually make. Thanks and I love your blog! I don’t know where you find the time to make all these delicious meals!!

  9. My dad always gets super frustrated that I rarely ever make the same recipe twice. there are certain things (like a chocolate mousse cake I made for him a while back) that he refuses to try new versions of.

    At least Ben is open-minded! These look great.

  10. Yum, our favorite!! Glad you liked them!!

  11. Both recipes look great! Thanks for posting. I think I’m going to have to try the Benchiladas first. I love anything with ranch!
    Yum. ~Emerging Domesticity

  12. These look great! Do you think they could be made without the jalapeño? I wasn’t sure if it added more than just heat and I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to spicy food 🙂

    • Leigh Ann,
      You could omit the jalapeno but I don’t think it’s necessary. When jalapenos are seeded and sauteed, they lose most of their heat, in my opinion. But, there are a lot of other flavors going on so it would still taste fine if you did omit it.

  13. Annie, I made these for dinner tonight and they were amazing! My husband is a huge enchilada fan and it was the one meal he missed from his mom’s cooking. I asked him what he would alter about the recipe and he said nothing. I asked how they compared to his mom’s and he said they were so much more amazing. 🙂
    Thanks for yet another successful meal!!

  14. Ooo! I’ve been looking for a homemade ench sauce. I can’t wait to try this…Thanks 🙂

  15. Ooh, yum. I’ve been wanting to make my own enchilada sauce and cooking the chicken in it sounds great. I had to go look at your “Benchiladas” and will definitely be making them for my Mom and I soon (dh won’t eat any dressings or sour cream so I don’t think he’d even take a bite). Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  16. I have been looking for a good “authentic” Chicken Enchilada recipe for such a long time. This looks excellent and I am loving the ingredient list. Must make soon.

  17. Sooo yummy! I just made these for dinner and they were absolutely delicious. Another dinner to add to my list of great ones from your website. Thanks!

  18. I made these last night and they were delicious! Instead of rolling them, I stacked them (didn’t have the time to roll). The sauce is perfect! Thanks for a great recipe and a wonderful site. I love it!

  19. Delicious! I just made them and blogged about them. I included a link to your original post

  20. These are so pretty! I love your benchilada recipe too! I do one so similar that my family all loves!

  21. Thank you for this recipe…absolutely delicious!!!!!! My 2.5 year old loved the sauce!!

  22. Annie,
    I am going to try these out tonight-look great! One question–when you say “1 15 oz can of tomato sauce”, do you mean like a marinara sauce or a can of crushed or diced tomatoes?
    Thanks! LOVE the blog–have made so many of your recipes in the last two months, and all have been a hit.

  23. Annie, I made these for dinner tonight and they were a hit! My hubby-chef was even impressed. The sauce was perfectly balanced and tasted homemade. I will never go back to canned enchilada sauce again. They can be so gritty and bitter. He was impressed with it and said it was a keeper in our household! (By the way, being married to a chef is mostly a curse…he rarely cooks at home and if I hope to feed our child healthy meals, the burden is on me!). Therefore, I will continue to try out recipes from your blog! I’m linking this recipe onto my Facebook page!

  24. This is the first recipe of yours I’ve actually gotten to trying, I’m a relatively new reader and have been drooling over all your photos. I made these for dinner last night and my heartburn-prone husband was very pleasantly surprised at how mild and delicious these are. He went back for seconds (a rarity these days) and even despite the jalapenos had no troubles later in the evening.

    They are definitely worth the effort but just wanted to suggest to your working readers that they could do the recipe up through making the sauce and chicken/onion mixture and then freeze it for final preparation on another evening. Prepare those two things on the weekend and you can have wonderful enchiladas within 5 minutes of hands-on time and 25 minutes of baking on a weeknight when you’re tired.

  25. i made these last night and they were GREAT! i can’t wait to make them again!

  26. These are absolutely phenomenal!!! The leftovers taste almost as good as the original dish.

  27. I stumbled upon your blog from another blog I follow. I saw these and just had to make them. They were great! Thanks for the recipes, I will continue to follow.

  28. Annie,
    My boyfriend and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! We’ve also made it twice in the last month, and that here, too, is no small feat!
    I’m wondering, though, since the recipe is a little time consuming, and since grad school is, in fact, the time-suck, if you think it’s possible to make the sauce ahead of time and either freeze it or jar it? How long do you suppose either option might last? Thanks for any advice you can offer, and for the killer recipe!

    • Hi Adrianne,
      I’m sure you could make the sauce in advance. I would probably freeze it. I have no idea how long it will last as I have never tried either freezing or refrigerating, your guess is as good as mine. You could also cook the chicken in advance and freeze it in the sauce mixture, that way you would have even less to do on a busy night.

  29. I love this recipe! It was quite a bit of work but definitely worth it. I also made your “Favorite Salsa” which was also fabulous. Thanks for sharing! These recipes will definitely be regulars in our house.

  30. Wow. This is a Keeper! I doubled the chicken to about 2 pounds and it made 16 large enchiladas. The family LOVED them! Thanks for the great recipe!!

  31. Hi. I just made the enchiladas yesterday. It was my first recipe from the web site that I have tried. My family loved them. I also doubled the chicken and made two huge pans! They take a lot of time to make though…I hadn’t quite planned for that. Definitely something I will make again-but only on the weekends when I have more time. Thanks!

    • Mary,
      Glad you enjoyed them! I did mention in my post that they took quite a bit of time. However, I have found that if you prepare the chicken and sauce one day, you can refrigerate it (or probably freeze it) and use it later. Then all you have to do is assemble, and it’s actually pretty quick!

  32. Annie, I made these for dinner tonight and they were a hit! My hubby-chef was even impressed. The sauce was perfectly balanced and tasted homemade. I will never go back to canned enchilada sauce again. They can be so gritty and bitter. He was impressed with it and said it was a keeper in our household! (By the way, being married to a chef is mostly a curse…he rarely cooks at home and if I hope to feed our child healthy meals, the burden is on me!). Therefore, I will continue to try out recipes from your blog! I’m linking this recipe onto my Facebook page!

  33. ok….You are amazingly creative. This is my new go-to site for everything food. Thanks!

  34. I made these yesterday and loved them. Due to time constraints, I made the sauce and chicken one day, refrigerated the sauce and finished them up the next day. Worked great.

    I love your site! Your photos are beautiful, and I look forward to trying more recipes.

  35. These are the best enchiladas I’ve ever tasted. My husband and I ate almost the whole pan. The sauce is delicious. I did make them two days ahead then added the sauce when baking as directed. Wonderful. Love your recipes. Thank you.

  36. I just made these last night for dinner! They were fantastic! The homemade enchilada sauce was wonderful – much better then store bought!

  37. I made these for my hubby. He love them!!! He and his parent’s had a mexican resturant at one time and are hispanic, so he is a hard man to please! He hopes you have some verde enchaladias up soon 🙂

  38. I made these for dinner last night and did’nt find it time consuming at all. They were absolutely delecious. My husband who does not like things made in tomato sauce also loved them. Will definitely make them again !

  39. Huge Hit with family and friends. Yes, it was work when done on the same day ( 3 hours) but very much worth it. My tween boys even want me to make this meal over again. That is impressive. I would double the sauce next time, and set some sauce aside for the Veg head to make some enchiladas with black beans. My first recipe…I look forward to making it again. Thanks Annie!

  40. I made the recipe last night for a bunch of friends that came over for dinner. It was a complete success!!! Love, love, love the flavors and they looked so pretty too. I don’t know if you might be interested or not to try it, but I made the recipe with homemade flour tortillas (from the pioneer woman’s blog). It was totally worth the effort! Thanks again for sharing the recipe!!

  41. I just made this tonight and my husband loves it!!! It was so good. Juicy and full of flavor!!!

  42. Hi Annie!
    Love your website! These look amazing. Do you think you could cook the chicken and sauce in a slow cooker?

  43. I made these today and boy, were they a success. Delicious!! Thanks Annie for all the work that you do…Your comment about dirty dishes was right on but the outcome was worth it.

  44. I was looking for ur nutritional facts so i knew how many calories per serving n fat, protein, fiber, sodium n so on. Is there a way to let me know?

  45. Hmmmm……these sound very yummy. My significant other is the cook in the family and he Loves enchiladas. I think I will surprise him tonight with this recipe and see what he thinks. Thanks!

  46. I’m thinking that the sauce & chicken could be done ahead of time in the crock-pot. That would reduce the hands-on time at dinnertime, and it makes the chicken so tender and shred-able.

  47. Wow – these were delicious. I made them for a party we had and when I took them out of the oven I thought how they smell just like good enchiladas when brought to my table at a restaurant – they taste even better though. Thanks!

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