The Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever: When you can make chicken enchiladas like these at home, there’s no reason to go out! These enchiladas are stuffed with chicken, black beans, and cheese and are smothered with a simple red enchilada sauce and PLENTY of melted cheese. Who’s making the margs??

The Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever

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 in this case, 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 (Cinco de Mayo!), 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!)

The Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever

So these enchiladas.  Guys, you need them in your lives!

I’ve adapted this recipe so many different ways too!

I’ve cleaned out the fridge some nights by adding leftover corn and red peppers. I’ve used a rotisserie chicken with a quick enchilada sauce. Have added a few squeezes of lime juice to the filling mix to brighten it up.

The Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever

I’ve also made a creamy filling by adding cream cheese to the mixture before rolling them. Man, was THAT delicious!

I’ve also topped them with avocado and cilantro and plenty of sour cream.

And I’ve made these chicken enchiladas with both homemade soft flour tortillas and corn tortillas. Both were equally delicious!

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?

Refried Beans with Bacon

DIY: Refried Beans with Bacon

Cilantro-Lime Rice

Cilantro Lime Rice

Cheddar Scallion Corn Muffins

Cheddar Scallion Corn Muffins

Black Beans

Elly's World Famous Black Beans

Grilled Corn Guacamole

Grilled Corn Guacamole

Salsa Verde

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa [Salsa Verde]

The Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever

The Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Chicken enchiladas are easy and delicious to make at home that you'll never need to get take out Mexican food again! 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.


For the chicken enchiladas:

  • 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

For serving:

  • Diced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Extra chopped cilantro


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425° F. Lightly spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. (If your tortillas are freshly made, you can skip this step.) 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. (See Note below for freezing instructions!)
  7. Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, for 7 to 9 minutes, until the tortillas are starting to brown slightly on the top.
  8. 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.


Freezer Instructions: At the end of Step 6, you can freeze the enchiladas in a glass or disposable aluminum baking pan. Freeze the remaining enchilada sauce in a zipper bag, laid flat in the freezer.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400° F and bake directly from the freezer, covered with foil for 45 minutes. Thaw the sauce and cover the enchiladas with it. Bake for another 15 minutes then sprinkle cheese over the enchiladas; bake for another 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sides of the enchiladas in the middle of the pan are hot.

adapted from America's Test Kitchen via Pink Parsley

How much do you love this recipe?

Follow Smells Like Home on Pinterest and click that little Pin button at the top of this recipe card to save this recipe and share with your Pinterest followers!

You Might Also Like:

Leave a Comment

  • May 2, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    Yes! Definitely the best-ever! I need a new photo too… gotta love the early days of blogging 🙂

  • Carol at Wild Goose Tea
    May 3, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    Well this photos certainly pulls the viewer in. I am glad I’m not hungry right now. The liberal garnish of avocados—-yum. What really pleases me about this recipe was your sharing of how often you have served the dish with and without modifications. Time tested recipes are THE best. That’s why potlucks often rule!

  • September 4, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    I love hearing about adaptations to what you guys are making from here! I’ve never thought to use ground turkey or beef in place of the chicken but I can only imagine either would be awesome as well. The enchilada sauce is really what makes the recipe so fantastic and I’ve used it in other recipes too with great results. (see: black bean + corn enchilada nachos) Thanks so much for coming back to comment and for leaving your suggestions, Chris!

  • Kristen
    May 6, 2020 at 11:04 AM

    We had this recipe last night for Cinco de Mayo! It was wonderful, and I appreciated that I had all the items necessary for it, minus fresh cilantro, in my pantry and freezer. My husband isn’t an enchilada fan, and he went back for seconds, and both my kids (6 and 9) ate their portions (bonus!). This will definitely be a repeat recipe in our home. 🙂

  • Raechel Palmer
    July 10, 2020 at 6:17 PM

    How much cream cheese would you recommend? I’m dying to try these, I have loved several of your recipes, so your blog is one of my go-tos 😀

    • Tara
      July 15, 2020 at 9:27 AM

      Hi Raechel! Thanks for your kind words! 🙂 To make these creamy enchiladas, you can add 4 oz of softened cream cheese to the mixture. This sounds so fantastic and I might need to try it myself soon! Thanks for the inspiration!!