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This recipe for shredded chicken enchiladas features a homemade red enchilada sauce that is bursting with flavor. The dish includes Mexican shredded chicken, hatch chilies, black beans, and melted cheese for a spicy and delicious meal. Make these enchiladas rojas for an easy and fast dinner that is sure to satisfy!
What are enchiladas?
They are essentially a Mexican dish made with corn or flour tortillas rolled around various fillings and covered in sauces.
Enchiladas have a long history dating back to the Mayans, who used to roll fish in corn tortillas to eat. In Mexico, the filling of enchiladas can be made up of various proteins, vegetables, or a mix of both and is typically topped with red (roja) or green (verde) sauce.
In this recipe, we’ll be making delicious shredded chicken enchiladas with red sauce. Although not entirely traditional, it draws inspiration from red enchiladas (enchiladas rojas).
This easy-to-make dinner is sure to become a family favorite!
Here’s everything you need to make the best chicken enchilada recipe…
- Avocado oil
- Yellow onion
- Hatch green chiles (canned)
- Garlic cloves
- Black beans
- Mexican shredded chicken
- Large flour tortillas
- Colby jack cheese
- Homemade enchilada sauce (keep scrolling!)
How to make shredded chicken filling
The first thing I like start on when I am making my enchiladas is the shredded chicken since it does take a bit longer than the rest of it.
To make the filling for this enchilada recipe, I highly recommend making my version of Mexican shredded chicken! It’s super easy to make in the crock pot and tastes absolutely delicious.
I also have the same recipe but for the Instant Pot!
If you are low on time or plan to make this for a busy weeknight dinner, you can easily use a rotisserie chicken and shred it yourself. Just mix it up with a cup of your favorite salsa. Mine is this oven-roasted salsa!
Can I use a different protein filling?
Absolutely. If you are looking for another protein to use, try making some pork carnitas or shredded beef.
Is there a vegetarian option?
Yes! I’ve actually shared my recipe for vegetarian enchiladas before. I made it with salsa verde (green salsa) instead, if you are interested.
Cook the vegetables
Besides the shredded chicken, I also like to mix in a combination of yummy veggies to my enchilada filling to add a little more flavor and texture.
Here’s how I cooked them:
- In a skillet over medium heat, add diced yellow onion and finely chopped jalapeños (removed the seeds).
- Sauté until the onions begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
- Next, add in the minced garlic and sauté an additional minute until fragrant.
- Then, add in the hatch chiles and black beans.
- Stir everything to combine!
You can use canned hatch chiles or fresh hatch chiles, depending if they are in season. If using fresh, toss them in with the onions to soften.
Shred the cheese
I always prefer grating fresh cheese when I am going to be melting a lot of it. Pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking agents which don’t allow it to melt as well but still can be used if that is what you have on hand.
I grated 8oz of Colby jack (which is a combination of Colby and Monterey jack cheese) to be used inside and on top of the enchiladas.
What other cheese can I use?
Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and pepper jack are also tasty options.
How to make red enchilada sauce from scratch
Now, it might be easier to go to the store to buy a can of premade enchilada sauce, but it’s so easy (and delicious) to make from scratch that you won’t regret it!
- Avocado oil
- All-purpose flour
- Dark chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Ground cumin
- Dried oregano
- Kosher salt
- Chicken broth
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned)
To make the red sauce:
- Heat the avocado oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Slowly whisk in all-purpose flour until fully incorporated to form a roux.
- Then, add in the dark chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and kosher salt while whisking.
- Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to remove any lumps.
- Finally, add chipotle peppers and let the sauce come to a gentle boil.
- Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
- Then, using an immersion or heat-resistant blender, blend the enchilada sauce until it becomes smooth.
- After that, take it off the heat and keep it aside.
Can I make this enchilada sauce gluten-free?
Yes! To make this recipe gluten-free, simply replace the all-purpose flour with gluten-free all-purpose flour.
How many chipotle peppers do I add?
It really depends on how spicy you like it!
I personally like to use 6 peppers, which is almost the entire can. However, you can adjust the spice level by using 4 or even 2 peppers based on your spice level.
FYI- The sauce alone will taste very spicy, but it won’t be so intense when combined with tortillas and other ingredients.
Assemble the shredded chicken enchiladas
Once you have all of your ingredients prepped, it’s time to assemble the chicken enchiladas with red sauce.
My hack to doing this is creating an assembly line of ingredients. Have your Mexican shredded chicken, hatch chili bean mixture, red enchilada sauce, cheese, tortillas, and a rectangular baking dish in order.
- Start by pouring a thin layer of enchilada sauce at the bottom of the baking dish and tilt so the entire bottom is coated.
- Grab one tortilla and add 1 heaping spoon of red enchilada sauce. Spread it around the tortilla.
- Next, add shredded chicken, grated cheese, and hatch chili black bean mixture.
- To roll, gently push the ingredients to one side and tightly roll the tortilla.
- Place the enchilada seam side down in the baking dish, so they do not unravel as you place them.
- Repeat with remaining tortillas.
- Once you have rolled all the enchiladas and placed them in the baking dish, add enchilada sauce over the top. Then, spread the rest of the shredded cheese over all the enchiladas.
If you noticed some of the tortillas are more fragile than others, you can lightly toast them prior to filling).
Bake the enchiladas
In a 350°F oven, add the chicken enchiladas uncovered and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remember, everything is pretty much pre-cooked, so you are just baking to melt the cheese and allow all the flavors to come together.
If you want the cheese more well done, you can broil it for 1 minute at the end to brown the cheese (keep a close eye).
How to serve
Once the shredded chicken enchiladas are finished baking, carefully remove them from the oven and garnish.
Another favorite part about enchiladas is you can personalize your garnishes! I typically stick to cilantro and diced avocado.
Since the enchiladas are spicy, the creamy avocado is a nice cooling addition to the dish. I’ve also topped them with red onion, cotija cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.
To serve, my best tip is to use two spatulas! First, I separate them depending on how many you want, and then I use a spatula on each end of the enchilada so it doesn’t break in half.
Can I make these chicken enchiladas ahead of time?
You can prepare the enchiladas in advance and refrigerate them before baking!
Make sure to completely cover the enchiladas in the baking dish to maintain their freshness and increase the baking time by 10 minutes.
Can I freeze them?
To freeze the enchiladas, use a disposable pan and complete all the steps except adding cheese on top before baking. Then, tightly cover them with plastic wrap to seal them and freeze them for up to 3 months.
To prepare, defrost in the fridge overnight and then bake!
Love Mexican cuisine? Try out these other recipes:
- Queso Fundido
- Spicy Shrimp Tacos With Avocado Crema
- Southwestern Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Carne Asada Tacos
- Spicy Chicken Taquitos
For the web story version of this recipe, click here!
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Red Enchilada Sauce
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- ⅓ cup diced yellow onion
- 4 ounce diced hatch green chiles (1 can)
- 1 jalapeño (seeded and finely chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 15 ounces black beans (rinsed)
- 1 1/2 pounds Mexican shredded chicken (see note)
- Large flour tortillas (10-12 pack)
- 8 ounces Colby jack cheese (freshly grated (see note))
- Enchilada sauce (homemade above)
- Diced avocado
- Freshly chopped cilantro
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Red Enchilada Sauce
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add avocado oil. Once hot, whisk in the all purpose flour until fully incorporated to form a roux. Whisk in the dark chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and kosher salt. Slowly begin whisking in the chicken broth, removing any lumps. Add in chipotle peppers and allow enchilada sauce to come to a gentle boil.
- Lower heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes for flavors to meld. Using an immersion or heat-safe blender, blend the enchilada sauce until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large skillet over medium/high heat, add 2 tbsp avocado oil. Add in the yellow onion and jalapeño, sauté until onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Next, add in the minced garlic and sauté an additional minute until fragrant. Add in the diced hatch chiles and black beans and mix all the ingredients together. Allow the beans to heat through, 2 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.
- The easiest way to assemble the chicken enchiladas, is to make an assembly line of ingredients. Have your Mexican shredded chicken, hatch chili bean mixture, red enchilada sauce, cheese, tortillas, and a rectangular baking dish. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce at the bottom of the baking dish, tilt so the entire bottom is coated.
- Grab one tortilla and add 1 heaping spoon of red enchilada sauce, spread around tortilla. (Some tortillas are more fragile than other, if you find them tearing, you can lightly toast them prior to filling). Next add a line of shredded chicken, grated cheese, and hatch chili black bean mixture. To roll, gently push ingredients to one side and tightly roll the tortilla. Place the enchilada seam side down in the baking dish, so they do not unravel as you place them. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
- Once you have rolled all the enchiladas and placed them in the baking dish, add enchilada sauce over the top. Next, spread the rest of the shredded cheese over all the enchiladas. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until all the cheese is melted and edges of tortillas are charred. If you want the cheese more well done, you can broil for 1 minute at the end to brown the cheese (keep a close eye).
- Carefully remove from oven and garnish. To serve, my best tip is to use two spatulas. First, I separate them depending on how many you want, and then I use a spatula on each end of the enchilada so it doesn’t break in half.
- How many chipotle peppers you add, will dictate how spicy the sauce will be. I use 6 peppers (almost the whole can) for very spicy, but you can use 4 peppers or even 2 for your spice preference. [Note: the sauce on it’s own will taste very spicy, but it will mellow out when it is eaten with the tortillas and other ingredients]
- I always prefer grating fresh cheese when I am going to be melting a lot of it. Pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking agents which don’t allow it to melt as well, but still can be used if that is what you have on hand. I grated 8oz of Colby jack (which is a combination of Colby and Monterey jack cheese) to be used inside and on top of the enchiladas.
- You can assemble the enchiladas ahead of time and place in the refrigerator prior to baking. Ensure to fully seal the enchiladas in the baking dish to keep them fresh and add an additional 10 minutes to bake time.
- To freeze the enchiladas, I recommend using a disposable pan. Do all the steps except for adding the cheese on top prior to baking, cover tightly with plastic wrap so they are fully sealed, and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in fridge overnight, then bake.