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In the Midwest, enchiladas are made in a casserole dish, which makes them super easy to make. Growing up, chicken enchiladas were a weeknight staple, probably because of their simplicity. Mom would have them all ready to go in the refrigerator and about an hour before dinner, we would put them in the oven. And pretty soon after that, we were at the table eating.
This chicken enchiladas recipe is slightly different than what I grew up with. To add more flavor, I cook the chicken breast right in a quick enchilada sauce. As the two cook together, the flavors of both components are enhanced. The resulting sauce and meat are both ready to go at the same time.
After the chicken and sauce are done cooking, all that’s needed is some assemble and a quick bake. These enchiladas are just as easy as any casserole with an equally delicious flavor turned way up!
The ingredients that make these the best chicken enchiladas
- Onion is first sautéed slightly to give a base flavor to the sauce. You do not need to add color to the onions, but simply wait for them to soften.
- Garlic enhances the sauce and needs just a minute to sauté with the onions so it does not burn.
- Chili powder is a good starting place for adding flavor to an enchilada sauce. Chili powders are a combination of spices and usually fairly mild.
- Smoked paprika is my favorite way to add a hint of smoky flavor to a dish. The smokiness gives the idea that something has cooked for longer.
- Cumin and cayenne are added to enhance the chili powder and bring out a little spicy heat.
- Tomato sauce is thicker than diced, canned tomatoes so it’s better to use. Plus, it gives more body to the enchilada sauce.
- Chicken breast is an easy meat to keep in the freezer and use as needed. To save time and add flavor, the breast cooks right in the sauce.
- Black beans add additional substance to the enchiladas and great creamy texture.
- Cream cheese is mixed with the enchilada filling. The resulting creamy texture and richness pulls together the filling and really makes these mouthwateringly delicious. This ingenious concept is derived from when my mom would make enchiladas. Thanks, Mom!
- Flour tortillas are intentionally used instead of corn. Corn tortillas can dry out quickly and tend to crack or break when folded. Flour tortillas are soft and pliable to work every time.
- Cheese sprinkled all over the top and melted during baking is what excites a lot of us. The melted cheese adds that finishing touch everyone loves.
These enchiladas use simple ingredients that are often already commonly found in the pantry. The dish can be made in the morning, stored in the refrigerator, and baked in the evening. Or it can even be made the day before.
Like a lot of casseroles, the leftovers are perfect for lunches and other quick meals. These enchiladas may just become your new favorite!
Watch how to make these chicken enchiladas
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 15-oz can tomato sauce
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 15-oz can black beans drained and rinsed
- 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 12 flour tortillas
- 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat to 350°F.
- Over medium heat, add the neutral oil to a 4-quart saucepan. Sauté the onion and salt until the onion is translucent and soft, 4-6 minutes. Once the onion is soft, add the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne powder. Stir until the spices and garlic are fragrant, 1 minute.1 medium onion, 2 tbsp neutral oil, 1 ½ tsp salt, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp chili powder, ½ tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- Once fragrant, add the tomato sauce and chicken breast. Bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken breast reaches 160°F, 15-18 minutes. Once the chicken is done, remove from the heat and remove the chicken from the sauce to cool slightly. Using two forks, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces.2 15-oz can tomato sauce, 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Spread a small amount of the sauce in the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, black beans, 1 cup of prepared sauce, and cream cheese. Stir to combine and dissolve the cream cheese. Divide the chicken filling among the flour tortillas. Roll the enchiladas and place them in the prepared baking dish. Top enchiladas with the remaining sauce, spreading to cover. Sprinkle with cheese and place in preheated oven.1 15-oz can black beans, 4 oz cream cheese, 12 flour tortillas, 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- Bake until the sauce is bubbling throughout and cheese is melted, 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with favorite toppings.