These chicken enchiladas, bathed in a delicious, vibrant red sauce, are guaranteed to please and perfect for meal prep too.
This chicken enchilada casserole uses corn tortillas that took a dip in a rich, vibrant Homemade Enchilada Sauce, then stuffed with chicken and onion. Topped with more delicious red enchilada sauce and some cotija cheese, it’s baked sealing in that delicious flavor.
Rather than baking, traditional Mexican enchilada recipes dip the corn tortillas in the sauce, fry quickly so it’s not too crunchy, and then stuff with the filling. To cut down on the amount of oil used, we opted for a baking method.
Our homemade enchilada sauce is really the star of this dish. Made from dried chiles, it’s slightly sweet, slightly smoky deep flavor is *chef’s kiss*. It’s also incredibly easy and quick to make. Low effort and maximum flavor is a win for me.
This enchilada recipe is great because you can easily swap out the chicken for your protein of choice. Shredded pork, ground beef, or sirloin would be delicious. Make it vegetarian and use sweet potato and black beans. The possibilities are endless, and they would pair very well with a Green Goddess Salad.
What is an enchilada
Originally from Mexican cuisine, an enchilada is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a savory sauce. Enchiladas can be filled with various meats, cheese, potatoes, vegetables, and beans.
Enchiladas origins date back to Aztec times, long before the Spanish conquistadors came to Mexico. The first enchiladas were most likely corn tortillas with small fish in them.
Chicken: We use chicken thighs for this enchilada recipe, but chicken breast would also work well. Season the chicken and simply cook in a pan.
This is very versatile, so use what you have or what you would like. Baking the chicken works great. Have some leftover rotisserie chicken you don’t know what to do with? That works too!
Onion: This is totally optional, but I think adding some chopped white onion into the enchilada filling is worth it. It adds more flavor and some texture.
Red Enchilada sauce: It’s all about the sauce! While jarred sauce definitely saves you sometime, I highly recommend making the sauce from scratch with our red enchilada sauce recipe.
The flavor is very rich and complex- way tastier than the jarred stuff. I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to make. All it takes is blending a few ingredients together.
A spoonful or two of sauce gets mixed into the chicken, the tortillas bathe in it, and the rest is dolloped on top.
Corn tortillas: I do love a corn tortilla. They have so much texture and flavor!
Toppings: We add cotija cheese, bake it, and then sprinkle with fresh cilantro. It adds a pleasing contrast to the eye and an added freshness that cuts through the rich sauce. Sliced radishes also make for a lovely garnish.
How to make chicken enchiladas
After you’ve made the delicious red enchilada sauce, set it aside and prep your chicken.
Remove boneless chicken thighs from the packaging and add to a large bowl so have enough space to properly season. Add a tb of oil in addition to cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and onion powder. Give it a nice toss and it’s ready to be cooked. You could also use our chicken bouillon powder recipe to get this going!
Cook in a skillet over medium heat until done. If you would rather bake the chicken, that’s totally fine. Simply preheat your oven to 425 F and bake the chicken thighs on an oiled baking sheet for roughly 20 minutes.
Once the chicken thighs have cooled down a bit, shred into small manageable pieces. Don’t be shy- get in there with your hands. At this point, take a couple spoons of enchilada sauce and mix thoroughly with the chicken.
Most Mexican enchilada recipes then dunk the tortillas in sauce and fry them. Instead we decided to opt for the baking method. Less messy but still delicious.
Pour just enough sauce into a 13 x 9 casserole dish to cover the bottom of it. Dunk a warm tortilla into sauce, coating it nicely. Then place in the casserole dish and scoop some of the chicken filling, placing it in the center of the tortilla.
Sprinkle with a little white onion, wrap it up and then slide it over so it’s against the side. Repeat until you are out of chicken filling. At this point, you will spoon the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas.
Sprinkle some cheese on top and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before diving in. Feel free to also check out this incredible Air Fryer Enchiladas recipe!
- 1 Enchilada Sauce
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tb cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1½ tsp garlic powder
- 1½ tsp onion powder
- 2 tb neutral oil
- ½ medium white onion, thinly sliced
- crumbled cotija cheese
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Place chicken thighs in large bowl. Toss with 1 tb of oil with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, red chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Heat 1 tb of oil in skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until done.
- Allow chicken to cool some and shred with hands. Add two spoonfuls of the red enchilada sauce to the chicken and thoroughly mix.
- Cover the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds.
- To assemble the enchiladas, first scoop just enough enchilada sauce to cover the base of a 13 x 9 casserole dish. This will be where you assemble the enchiladas.
- Scoop some chicken mixture and place into the center of the tortilla. Add a sprinkle of white onion. Roll the tortilla, placing the side where the edges meet facing downward. Repeat, firmly packing enchiladas next to each other in casserole dish. Repeat until all chicken is used.
- Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro.