That’s sort of a lofty claim for a recipe, isn’t it? You hear it all the time these days – the best this, the best that. Buuut…it’s true nonetheless. These chicken enchiladas have graced our table more times than I can count in the past 4 years and now that we’re brushing up against the pinnacle of quite possibly the most outstanding food holiday of the whole year, I thought it was time to reintroduce them to you. The original photo desperately needed an update as well. (Sidebar: Who else has been ravenous when looking at Pinterest this week? Tex-Mex up the wazoo!)
So these enchiladas. Guys, you need them in your life. I’ve adapted this recipe so many different ways: cleaning out the fridge by adding corn and red peppers, using rotisserie chicken with a quick enchilada sauce, adding a few squeezes of lime juice, making a creamy filling by adding cream cheese, topping them with avocado, making homemade tortillas or using store-bought.
I adore how versatile this meal is but what it really comes down to, what makes these the best chicken enchiladas ever, is the red enchilada sauce. I could seriously drink this stuff. It seeps into the tortillas and permeates throughout the filling. It makes these chicken enchiladas unforgettable, classic, and so easily devoured. So yeah, it’s a big claim, but these really are the best chicken enchiladas ever.
How about some Tex-Mex side dishes for these chicken enchiladas?
If you're short on time, make a quick batch of enchilada sauce and shred some rotisserie chicken (leftover roast chicken works great too!) while the sauce simmer to add to the enchilada filling. This will save you about 20 minutes and it's a fantastic option for making these enchiladas as a weeknight meal.
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp chili powder (I love ancho chile powder here)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 15 oz canned tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 ½ cups shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup minced fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
- Juice of ½ lime
- 12 (6-inch) soft corn or flour tortillas
- Cooking spray
- Diced avocado
- Sour cream
- Lime wedges
- Extra chopped cilantro
- Combine the onion, oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the onions have softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer, 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 no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 165° F on an instant-read thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside to cool. Strain the sauce through a medium-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the onions to extract as much liquid as possible. Place onion mixture in a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425° F. Lightly spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred or cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the bowl along with the onion mixture. Add in ¼ cup enchilada sauce, 1 cup of each cheese, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice. Toss to combine.
- Stack and wrap the tortillas in a moist paper towel, place on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high until warm and pliable, about 30 seconds. Working with one tortilla at a time (keep the others inside the warm towel), place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll each tortilla around the filling and lay them seam-side down in the baking dish.
- Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, for 7-9 minutes, until the tortillas are starting to brown slightly on the top.
- Reduce oven temperature to 400° F. Remove the dish from the oven and cover the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.