Chicken Enchiladas are my favorite when I go out for mexican dinner! Made with homemade enchilada sauce, shredded chicken, and melty cheese, these make the perfect weeknight dinner.
I love authentic chicken enchiladas from my local Mexican restaurant. However, eating out can get expensive so I figured there has got to be a way to make it at home. On a recent visit to my mother’s house, she made the best chicken enchilada recipe I have ever had outside a restaurant. Naturally, this sent me “down the rabbit hole” in search of the perfect recipe. It’s also going to be great when Cinco de Mayo rolls around.
The homemade enchilada sauce is what makes it perfect, so don’t skip on making the sauce. It would be hard to have an authentic chicken enchilada recipe without it. So if you have a craving for fresh Mexican, try it! This recipe will satisfy those cravings any day of the week.
Notes for How To Make Authentic Chicken Enchiladas
Soggy flour tortillas are the worst. I repeat soggy flour tortillas are the worst!
I love anything with tortillas that have been baked, steamed, or heat pressed before adding the sauce. It makes all the difference in Mexican recipes. In this recipe, I highly recommend baking the tortillas until the edges crisp a bit. Then topping with sauce and cheese to finish baking.
This chicken enchilada recipe has a kick, but I wouldn’t call it very spicy. If you want more heat, substitute fresh jalapenos or double the amount of chopped green chilis. You can also substitute any fresh diced peppers for the green chilis.
Want less heat level? When I make these enchiladas for the kids, I dice poblano peppers up instead of green chilis. I also use mild or medium salsa.
How to shred chicken for enchiladas
If all else fails, you can use canned chicken with little difference for this recipe. Just make sure to drain well.
Shredded chicken can be made a variety of ways. I generally prefer to either grill or saute the chicken first. Boiling works, but I find that the chicken retains a lot of moisture that this recipe doesn’t need. You can also use a store-bought plain rotisserie chicken for a fast fix.
The fastest way to easily shred chicken is with a stand mixer. Break up the chicken breasts into big pieces, pop in the mixer, and turn it on setting 2 to 4. Start slow and increase speed.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can shred with a hand mixer and the largest bowl. Just be careful not to fling the chicken out of the bowl. Use one fork to hold the chicken steady. With the other fork, scrape and tear the chicken into shreds. Forks also produce the thinnest, smallest pieces.
Variations on how to make chicken enchiladas
Chicken Enchiladas Verde – leave out the red sauce, and substitute the regular salsa for salsa verde or tomatillo salsa. I do this variation often when I want a lighter tasting enchilada. It’s my personal favorite, but my husband prefers the red sauce.
Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce – These use mexican white cheese dip on top for an extra creamy treat. You can substitute the red sauce and cheese on top of the enchiladas for mexican white sauce. Here is a basic recipe:
- 12 ounces evaporated milk (1 can)
- 3/4 lb white american cheese buy it sliced at the deli counter at your grocery store. Then chop into small squares
- 2 tablespoons canned jalapenos chopped, or chopped green chiles
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, add the evaporated milk and american cheese. With a whisk or spoon, stir almost constantly until the cheese melts. Remove from heat.
- Pour about 1 cup out of the saucepan into a small bowl. Whisk in corn starch until well mixed and thick. Add back to the saucepan and stir until creamy and consistent.
- Stir in the jalapenos, chili powder, and salt and pepper.
Enchilada Ingredient Toppings
You can top the enchiladas to suit your tastes, some ideas include:
- Diced Tomatoes
- Canned Sliced Jalapenos
- Mexican White Sauce (see above)
- Sliced Olives
- Sliced Green Onions
- Red Onions
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro
- Diced Avocado
- Lettuce (Iceberg is great on Red Sauce Enchiladas)
- 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese or Cheddar Cheese divided
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 can chopped green chilis drained (4.5 oz can) or fresh peppers of choice, diced
- 1/4 cup freshed chopped cilantro optional- skip if you aren’t a fan of cilantro
- 8 flour tortillas 8 inch size
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup salsa of choice
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp butter
- 1-2 tbsp chilis in adobo sauce for less heat, use the sauce but not the chilies
- 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Toppings: Diced Tomatoes sliced green onions, sliced olives, chopped cilantro, avocado
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add butter and garlic. Stir and heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chilies in adobo sauce , chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease with butter a 13×9 inch pan.
- Stir together shredded chicken, 1 1/2 cups of cheese, 1/2 cup of sour cream, green chilies, and chopped cilantro.
- Spoon mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla and roll up. Arrange, seam side down, in the baking dish. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges of the tortillas start to brown. Pour the enchilada sauce over top and add the remaining cheese. Bake another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is hot.
- Stir together 1/2 cup of sour cream and salsa. Spoon over hot enchiladas and scatter with desired toppings or serve them on the side.
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