Ok Today’s Best Chicken Enchilada Recipe is the only chicken enchilada recipe you’ll need from now until eternity. Tender and flavorful shredded chicken is stuffed into corn tortillas along with a little bit of cheese, smothered in an easy homemade enchilada sauce, and covered in more freshly shredded cheese. They’re popped into a hot oven just until the cheese melts, and served with your favorite Mexican condiments.
Best Chicken Enchilada Recipe
Ok, I honestly can’t get enough of enchiladas, and it shows. We have so many twists on enchiladas including these Creamy Hatch Peppers and Beef Enchiladas, these INSANE Shredded Beef Enchiladas, and these Breakfast Enchiladas.
If you’re looking for a healthier option when it comes to enchiladas, this Cheesy Mexican Quinoa is a great option.
All of the aforementioned are twists on traditional enchiladas – a little more upscale if you will. Today we’re going the opposite direction and going back to the basics. Delicious and simple, chicken enchiladas.
These easy chicken enchiladas are packed with tender shredded chicken, a little bit of shredded cheese and then rolled into corn tortillas. The enchiladas are smothered in a super easy homemade enchilada sauce made from basic ingredients, covered in cheese, and baked until gooey and bubbly.
The secret to The Best Chicken Enchiladas
There aren’t really “top” secrets per se, but when you’re making something as simple as chicken enchiladas, each component needs to be delicious. Here’s what I do:
- Cook your own chicken. Yes, you could use rotisserie chicken, and yes they will still be delicious. However, poaching your chicken breasts in a flavorful broth not only makes the chicken nice and moist but infuses it with so much flavor.
- Make your own enchilada sauce! I never buy canned enchilada sauce. Why? Not only does it taste infinitely better, but it’s easy to make. All of those canned enchilada sauces also have tons of preservatives and sodium, so making your own is healthier as well.
- For authentic chicken enchiladas, use corn tortillas. I know they tend to break easily, but if you follow our tips and tricks, you’ll end up with perfect enchiladas every time!
How to make homemade enchilada sauce
Here’s the basic ingredients you’ll need:
- olive oil or canola oil
- tomato paste
- chicken stock
- spices: coriander, chili powder, salt, sugar, chipotle chili powder (optional), oregano
- apple cider vinegar
Start by sweating the onion and garlic in the oil, then add in tomato paste. Cook for a minute or two, then whisk in chicken stock, spices, and apple cider vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes until it’s thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. It’s that easy!
Garnishes for Mexican Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
- sour cream
- black olives
Should I use corn tortillas or flour tortillas?
We do both. My husband and kids prefer flour tortillas, but traditionally you use corn tortillas. I like them both equally! Flour tortillas hold together a little bit better, and corn tortillas have a tendency to fall a part somewhat.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- If you have leftover chicken, you can use that. If you really don’t want to cook your own chicken, you can use a rotisserie.
- Do not over cook the chicken! The whole point of cooking it yourself is so it stays tender and moist. Overcooking it will give you dry chicken.
- Toss a little bit of the enchilada sauce with the chicken to keep it moist throughout baking.
- Dredge corn tortillas in hot oil to keep them from tearing during the rolling and baking process. You don’t want them to fry, you just want the hot oil to soften the tortilla.
- If you don’t like corn tortillas, you can easily use flour tortillas.
- Use a mix of cheddar and Monterey Jack or just co-jack cheese. Either will work!
What to serve with the Best Chicken Enchilada Recipe
- This Authentic Mexican Rice looks awesome. Plus, it’s the perfect carb-y side to cheesy enchiladas.
- This chorizo fundido would be a great precursor to the meal. I’m always up for a cheesy Mexican app!
- A Mexican meal isn’t completely without a big bowl of guacamole, and this goat cheese avocado dip always hits the spot!
- 2 large chicken breasts (1 3/4 pounds)
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- enchilada sauce (see recipe below)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
- sour cream and cilantro for serving
- 1 tbsp canola oil (if using corn tortillas)
- 8 corn or flour tortillas
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, grated
- 4 oz tomato paste
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/8 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- pinch sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- casserole dish
- Large skillet
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Place chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, carrot, and celery. Season with a few teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 12-15. minutes. To make sure it's cooked through, you an instant read thermometer, when it reaches 165 degrees, the chicken is done. Remove chicken from the cooking liquid and cool until it's easy enough to handle. Shred chicken, discard leftover liquid and veggies in the pot.
- While the chicken cooks, make the enchilada sauce. Heat a medium saucepan to a medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil and garlic. Saute until slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add tomato paste, cook 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock. Add chili powder, chipotle powder, oregano, coriander, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.
- Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce and cumin, toss until coated. Season the chicken to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon enough enchilada sauce into the casserole dish to lightly coat the bottom.
- Mix cheeses together in a small bowl.
- If using corn tortillas, add canola oil to a medium skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Use tongs to pull the corn tortillas through the oil until pliable. Place chicken filling in the tortilla and then sprinkle with a tablespoon of cheese. Roll up and place in the casserole dish, seam-side down. Continue with remaining tortillas. If using flour tortillas, simply roll, fill with chicken and cheese, and skip the oil.
- Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are hot and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with sour cream and cilantro.