Quick-Prep Chicken Enchiladas

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Easy chicken enchiladas come together quickly with a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and other clever short cuts to save time on dinner prep. Freezer friendly make ahead dinner you'll love to serve even on busy weeknights.

A baking pan filled with tomato sauce covered chicken enchiladas.

Chicken enchiladas is one of my favorite family dinner casseroles but it is one easy recipe that many cooks have been too intimidated to try at home.

With my easy short cuts, you can have a delicious pan of chicken enchiladas ready to go for dinnertime even on a busy night.

This easy Mexican recipe is perfect comfort food when served with a scoop of our favorite Mexican rice or easy Mexican corn casserole.

Don't miss the delicious variations using pulled pork and creamy chicken filling, too!

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Why This is the Best Recipe

My kids could eat Mexican food every night of the week but I think this is the best chicken enchilada recipe because:

  1. Easy Shortcuts: I've got 3 fantastic tricks that will make this a do-able dinner even on a busy night.
  2. Perfect Texture: The tortillas have a delicious crispy texture that pairs perfectly with that smooth enchilada sauce.
  3. Restaurant Flavor: Even though you're making this dish at home, you'll feel like you're eating at a fancy Mexican restaurant!
  4. Freezer Friendly: You can make the entire recipe in advance and just bake it for dinner.

Ingredients

The ingredients to make the chicken enchiladas are on the counter.

The delicious flavor of these chicken enchiladas comes from mixing both fresh and canned ingredients. You probably have a lot of these items in your pantry right now.

  • Shredded Chicken: There are several easy ways to use chicken in this recipe but the fastest is to just buy and shred a rotisserie chicken.
  • Corn Tortillas: These have a better flavor and texture than flour tortillas for enchiladas but you could use whatever you like.
  • Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese
  • Canned Tomato Sauce
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles: Like Rotel
  • Onion
  • Fresh Jalapeños: I promise this isn't too spicy.
  • Minced Garlic
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Sugar
  • Fresh Cilantro: Optional if you really don't like cilantro but I strongly encourage it.
  • Canola Oil
  • Cooking Spray

Adjust the Spice Level

The true heat of a fresh jalapeño comes from the ribs and the seeds.

If you LOVE very spicy dishes, mince the jalapeños with the seeds and ribs and use it all.

If you want a medium-spiced dish, use the seeds and ribs from just one half of one pepper.

If you want a very mild dish, slice the jalapeños in half. Use a spoon to carefully scoop out and remove the seeds and ribs before mincing the peppers.

A fresh jalapeno pepper has been sliced in half and the seeds and ribs removed from one side.

Make the Enchilada Sauce

First, prepare the enchilada sauce.

Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat and add the diced onion and minced jalapeños, cook until softened, 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar and cook until just fragrant.

The onions and can of Rotel are in a large skillet with a spoon.

Stir in the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes with their juices and bring mixture to a simmer.

Add ½ cup water as needed to loosen it up and make the sauce smooth.

The enchilada sauce has thickened, you can see trails left by the spoon stirring it.

Prep the Chicken Filling

Shred and cut the rotisserie chicken into bite-sized pieces and add it to a medium sized mixing bowl.

Add a ¼ cup of the sauce, 1 cup of cheese, and the cilantro to the bowl. Stir to combine.

The mixing bowl has shredded chicken, cheese, and enchilada sauce.

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Assemble the Enchiladas

Spoon 2 - 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of the tortilla.

A small flour tortilla has chicken enchilada filling in it.

Roll tightly and place seam side down in your prepared baking dish.

Repeat with the remaining tortillas & filling.

I can usually fit 8 in one long row and the last 4 in 2 rows of 2 facing the other direction. It’s ok to nestle them in there tightly.

The assembled chicken enchiladas are lined up in the baking dish.

If your tortillas are ripping as you try to fill them, you may wish to heat them in a covered stack in the microwave for 30 seconds.

A dampened paper towel for cover while heating will help moisten them enough to roll without ripping.

Baking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Lightly spray the tops of the prepared enchiladas with cooking spray.

Place the pan in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

Reduce the heat to 400°F.

Remove the enchiladas from the oven, pour the reserved pan of sauce over the top, sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Bake for a final 5 minutes to brown the cheese on top.

3 Easy Shortcuts for Fast Chicken Enchiladas

The baking pan has the finished chicken enchiladas.

Stock Up on Rotisserie Chicken

I keep bags of pre-shredded rotisserie chicken in my freezer for tossing into recipes in a pinch.

Most of the remaining ingredients are pantry staples, so as long as you've got the chicken on hand, you could make this casserole any time you want.

Make the Chicken Filling Ahead

You can easily break this recipe up into stages.

If you have extra time on the weekend, you can prepare the chicken filling and just store it in the fridge overnight or freeze it for later.

Simply thaw and warm the filling and all you'll need to do is assemble the enchiladas before baking.

How to Freeze Chicken Enchiladas

This is a great make-ahead dinner recipe for busy nights. You can prepare the entire pan of chicken enchiladas and then freeze.

Thaw the pan of enchiladas in the fridge overnight and then just pop them in the oven the night you want to bake them.

Variations

Pulled Pork Enchiladas: Instead of the rotisserie chicken, use leftover Mexican pulled pork carnitas.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken: Instead of a rotisserie chicken, make my awesome Instant Pot Mexican shredded chicken with poblanos. This would make an extra-flavorful filling.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas: Make my recipe for Crockpot creamy chicken and use that instead of the rotisserie chicken for creamy enchiladas.

Gluten Free Enchiladas: Prepare this recipe with gluten free tortillas and this awesome gluten free enchilada sauce.

Serving Suggestions

The baking pan has the finished chicken enchiladas.

On a super busy night, I serve these chicken enchiladas with a bag of frozen corn on the side or a simple green salad.

If I have a little more time and I want a hearty dinner, I'll serve it with my homemade Mexican corn rice and a pan of Mexican street corn casserole on the side.

More Easy Mexican Recipes

Want to learn how to make even more Mexican restaurant favorites at home?

Don't miss these favorite family recipes:

📖 Recipe

A baking pan filled with tomato sauce covered chicken enchiladas.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

4.97 from 51 votes
Chicken enchiladas are always a hit with kids who love Mexican food but they usually take a lot of time to prepare. This fast and easy recipe comes together quickly with several busy-parent shortcuts.
TOTAL TIME 47 minutes
PREP TIME 20 minutes
COOK TIME 27 minutes
YIELD 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 jalapeños seeded and minced
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes with chilis Like Rotel
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese or sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro minced
  • 12 8- inch corn tortillas
  • OPTIONAL: sour cream for serving green onions for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat the over to 425°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion & jalapeños, cook until softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar and cook until just fragrant.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes with their juices and bring mixture to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup water as needed to loosen it up and make the sauce smooth.
  • Shred and cut the rotisserie chicken into bite-sized pieces and add it to a medium sized mixing bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of the sauce, 1 cup of cheese, and the cilantro to the bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Spoon 2 - 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of the tortilla. Roll tightly and place seam side down in your prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas & filling. I can usually fit 8 in one long row and the last 4 in 2 rows of 2 facing the other direction. It’s ok to nestle them in there tightly. If your tortillas are ripping as you try to fill them, you may wish to heat them in a covered stack in the microwave for 30 seconds. A dampened paper towel for cover while heating will help moisten them enough to roll without ripping.
  • Lightly spray the tops of the prepared enchiladas with cooking spray. Place the pan in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes until the tortillas start to brown slightly.
  • Reduce the oven to 400°F.
  • Remove the enchiladas from the oven, pour the reserved pan of sauce over the top, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Bake for a final 5 minutes to brown the cheese on top.
  • Serve with sour cream and chopped green onions.

Recipe Notes

MAKE AHEAD FREEZER TIPS:
Assemble it up to the point where the sauce and cheese are put on the top. Freeze and then bake from there.
Alternatively, you can prepare just the chicken filling in the sauce and freeze in one container. Thaw the mixture, separate the chicken from the sauce with a slotted spoon, and assemble the enchiladas fresh the night you want to bake them.
SUBSTITUTIONS:
If you don't have fresh jalapeños, you can substitute with ONE of the following:
  • 2 tablespoons of canned diced jalapeños, drained of juices
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chipotle seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the tomato sauce: you can used canned tomato sauce or 1 1/2 cups leftover jarred spaghetti sauce.
COURSEMain Dish
CUISINEMexican

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The photo collage shows the pan of baked chicken enchiladas on top next to a photo of the ingredients to make it on the kitchen counter.

12 Comments

  1. Pingback: Crazy easy Instant Pot shredded chicken tacos that kids beg for
  2. Pingback: 10 magic tricks for turning a rotisserie chicken into a family dinner - Lasso the Moon
4.97 from 51 votes (51 ratings without comment)

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