How to Make Chicken Enchiladas

by Caroline Stegner ; Updated August 31, 2017

There's a comfort to chicken enchiladas that's obvious in its rich layer of sauce and gooey topping of cheese. But making this recipe from scratch has its own form of reassurance, too: the process of dipping warm tortillas into a spicy sauce and placing a flavorful filling between its folds can quickly become a familiar routine. Make these hearty chicken enchiladas as a crowd pleaser that'll gratify you and your guests. Packed with bell peppers, jalapeños and black beans — and topped with your choice of red or green sauce — these enchiladas have a homespun quality that still comes across as decadent. Top them with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro, and your cozy dinner will be complete.

Make the Red Sauce

If you'd like to make your enchiladas with a red sauce, start with this recipe. The green sauce is below.

Blend the Ingredients for the Red Sauce

Combine the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce and a half cup of the chicken stock in a blender. Blend until the chipotle pepper is completely blended.

Cook the Red Sauce

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute, making sure the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic, cumin, dried oregano, dried parsley, onion powder, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk, and then add the chipotle pepper mixture. Once the sauce starts to thicken, add in the chicken stock a half cup at a time. Remove the sauce from the heat once it's just thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Make the Enchiladas

Now that you have the sauce in place, make the filling for the enchiladas.

Cook and Shred the Chicken

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the boiling water and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook the chicken until it's done, or for about 20 minutes. Then, remove the chicken from the water. Once it's cool enough to handle, shred the chicken using your hands or two forks.

Finish Making the Enchilada Filling

Place a large skillet over medium-heat heat, and then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once it's hot, add the red and orange bell peppers and jalapeño. Sauté until slightly browned, or for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the shredded chicken and black beans. Next, toss in a half cup of the red sauce and 1/4 cup of sour cream. Stir it together and mix in the cilantro. Lastly, season the mixture with salt, if necessary.

Coat the Bottom of a Baking Dish

Pour a large spoonful of the red sauce into a 9 inch x 13 inch baking dish. Coat the bottom using a spatula.

Assemble the Enchiladas

Place 9 to 10 corn tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and microwave them for 20 to 30 seconds, until soft. Working one at a time, dip both sides of a corn tortilla into the remaining red sauce. Place the sauce-coated tortilla on a cutting board, and then position a small portion of the chicken mixture in the middle. Top it with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and fresh cilantro. Now, carefully and tightly roll the tortilla, and place it seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat this process with the remaining tortillas.

Cover the Enchiladas With Sauce and Garnish

Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, and then sprinkle 3/4 cup to 1 cup of shredded cheese on top, plus fresh cilantro.

Cook the Enchiladas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and cook the enchiladas for 15 to 20 minutes on the middle rack, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Plate the enchiladas and garnish with sour cream, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

Make the Green Sauce

In case you prefer green sauce to red sauce, you can use this recipe instead. Follow the same instructions above to create your enchiladas once you've made the sauce.

Prepare Vegetables for Green Sauce

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse. Quarter the yellow onion and cut the jalapeños in half, and then remove the veins and seeds.

Poach the Vegetables

Place the tomatillos, jalapeños, onion and 1 teaspoon of white vinegar in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Poach until the tomatillos are soft, or for about 7 to 10 minutes. Drain the vegetables.

Blend the Green Sauce

Place the poached tomatillos, jalapeños and onion in a blender, and then add the cumin, garlic, cilantro and lime juice. Pulse to combine, and then season with salt. When the sauce is ready, use the same instructions as the red sauce to assemble your enchiladas. Enjoy!

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About the Author

Caroline Stegner is the creator, editor and photographer of Sweet Caroline’s Cooking. She is a self-taught cook and baker who expands her culinary knowledge and experience via trial and error. Aside from cooking, Stegner enjoys tap dancing and anything and everything music-related.