Tender chicken, lots of cheese, and a super simple enchilada sauce make these easy chicken enchiladas perfect for any night of the week.
Is there a person on this planet that doesn’t love enchiladas? I sure hope not. I mean, what’s not to love?! We have a cheesy filling, a super flavorful sauce, and yummy toppings.
Who wouldn’t love that?
Maybe you don’t love the labor intensive process. But, I can promise you these are simple and relatively quick! If you’re wanting homemade enchiladas without a million steps, then this easy chicken enchilada recipe is for you.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
I did quite a bit of research on enchilada sauce prior to getting in the kitchen to experiment. Traditional authentic enchilada sauce is made with whole dried chilis that are toasted, combined with fresh aromatics (onion and garlic), and cooked with a few other spices and liquid. While delicious, it’s more time consuming and requires you to search for potentially hard to find ingredients.
So, I went with a quick enchilada sauce here. I’m not claiming it’s authentic, but it’s certainly delicious and does the trick. And all we need are a handful of pantry ingredients.
- Flour (regular all purpose or a gluten-free blend both work here)
- Taco seasoning (I use homemade that I keep in my pantry!)
- Ancho Chili Powder – ok so this may not be a pantry staple for some, but it is for me. This is what helps get a more authentic flavor in my opinion and it’s what I use in my chili recipe! This spice is pretty easy to find in most major grocery stores.
- Salt – duh, can’t have anything without salt!
- Oil for toasting the spices and creating the “roux” to thicken the sauce.
- Tomato paste – just a bit! You probably won’t find this in any authentic recipe, but I like the added flavor and thickness it adds to the sauce.
- Chicken stock -you can also use vegetable stock and a veggie filling to make a vegetarian version.
- Cinnamon stick – this is a common ingredient in Mexican cooking so again it helps add some authentic flavor to our sauce.
- Lime juice – a bit of acidity to brighten up the sauce.
Once you have your sauce made (only takes about 10 minutes!), you’ll use it to cook your chicken. You have options here – you can cook chicken thighs (or breasts) in some of the sauce, or if you want to shave 25 minutes you can use a rotisserie chicken and toss with some of the sauce.
Now its time to assemble! Just roll up some cheese and saucy chicken in warm corn tortillas, pop em in a baking dish, cover with sauce, and lots of cheese. Bake until bubbly and you’ll be in enchilada heaven in no time!
These easy chicken enchiladas are delicious topped with chopped white onion, fresh cilantro, and a scoop of guacamole (sour cream is also delish).
They also freeze beautifully! Check the recipe notes for how I like to freeze them. It’s great to have a stash in the freezer for super busy nights.
Easy chicken enchiladas are a favorite in our house and I hope they will become a favorite in yours, too. 😊
- 4 Tablespoons Flour, All Purpose or Gluten Free work well!
- 2 Tablespoons Homemade Taco Seasoning, store-bought is ok too!
- 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chili Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 4 Tablespoons Oil, Extra-Light Olive Oil or Canola Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 3 Cups Chicken Stock
- 1 Small Cinnamon Stick
- ½ Lime, juiced
- 1 lb. Chicken Thighs
- ½ Cup Enchilada Sauce
- ½ Cup Water
- Remaining Enchilada Sauce
- 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese
- 2 Cups Pepper Jack Cheese
- 12 Corn Tortillas, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave
- Diced Onion
- Fresh Cilantro
In a bowl, combine the flour, taco seasoning, chili powder, and salt. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat and once it’s hot, whisk in the flour/spice mixture. Cook the mixture for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Whisk in the tomato paste until combined and then pour in the chicken broth, whisking until well combined. Add the cinnamon stick and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Cook the enchilada sauce until thickened (it won’t be super thick), about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice, and set aside.
Combine the chicken thighs, enchilada sauce, and water in a pot and bring to a simmer. Cook the chicken over low heat until cooked through and it shreds easily, about 20-25 minutes. Shred the chicken with two forks.
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Coat a 9×13 inch baking dish with a thin layer of the enchilada sauce and set aside.
Line up all of your ingredients on a work surface – the cheese, chicken, and warmed tortillas.
Add a small amount of cheese and chicken to a tortilla and gently roll. Place seam side down in the baking dish and repeat with the remaining ingredients until you fill your dish – you should get around 12 enchiladas.
Top with the remaining sauce and cover the top with remaining cheese.
Bake the enchiladas for 20-25 minutes, or until brown and bubbly. Serve topped with diced onion, fresh cilantro, and guacamole. Enjoy!
You can make this recipe even quicker by using a rotisserie chicken! Shred the chicken and toss with enough enchilada sauce to coat.
Enchiladas freeze beautifully. I like to portion them out (fully assembled and unbaked) into smaller baking dishes, cover well, and freeze. To bake from frozen add to the oven while it’s preheating and add an additional 5-10 minutes if needed until they are brown, bubbly, and heated through.