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14 Excellent Enchilada Recipes (All Types)

A plate of Enchilada and a baking pan.

Mexican food has all the things I love:  lots of cheese, fragrant herbs and spices, bright and fresh citrus flavor, and the festive vibes of a vacation in the Caribbean. The simple and traditional ingredients make it a fairly inexpensive dinner out at a cantina with friends, and even cheaper to prepare at home. 

With so many tangy and flavorful dishes it’s easy to find Mexican favorites to suit any taste. Tacos and tostadas offer the crisp texture of a crunchy shell, while enchiladas use corn tortillas to wrap up any protein, veggie, or cheese filling and then smother them in sauce and more cheese before baking.

Enchiladas make dinnertime a special occasion and garner raves from family members of every age. Try out some—or all—of the enchiladas below.

1. Make enough for a fiesta with this Beef Enchilada Dinner Recipe

Beef Enchilada Dinner on a plate.

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Often when ordering out at Mexican restaurants, I’ll get enchiladas with a single ingredient as a filling and rely on the sauce on top to keep things moist and tender. This generous panful of global goodness incorporates beef and both black and refried beans in its filling and scratch-made enchilada sauce throughout.

For the sauce, simmer tomato sauce with chicken broth, salt, and pepper, and thicken with a good ol’-fashioned flour roux you can well imagine generations of traditional chefs expertly wielding. Putting together an aromatic blend of spices, homemade enchilada sauce, and meat and bean filling sound like a high-maintenance dinner, but the guide to this recipe really gets it right.

Each step is described in vivid detail, clear and coherent to beginners and savants alike. I also don’t need to stop the cooking process to scrounge for that perfectly-sized pan on my kitchen’s top shelf because it outlines everything you’ll need besides ingredients. 

2. Zesty, extra-extra-creamy, stuffed-to-the-brim Pepper Jack Chicken Enchilada Recipe

Pepper Jack Chicken Enchilada on a plate.

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Red sauce and green sauce to top tender-baked enchiladas both provide perfect complements, but these spicy and moist hearty helpings make a velvety-smooth cream sauce the star of the show, adding the pop of citrus with a full cup of salsa mixed in. Sour cream and cream cheese team up for a buttery base to the sauce before the addition of freshly-shredded chicken breasts and salsa.

This Mexican classic benefits from the use of larger flour tortillas to stand up to a generous portion of rich filling, which is rolled up in each enchilada and then spread on top for maximum saucy tenderness.

The dish gets a finishing touch with the favorite cheese of all spicy-food lovers: pepper jack. Cheese with a flavorful bite cuts beautifully into the creamy texture and lends the kind of heat we’re seeking out when those Mexican cravings begin.

3. The fact that I’m sticking to my diet never needs to cross my mind while devouring SkinnyTaste Enchilada Chicken Roll-Ups

Enchilada Chicken Roll-Ups on a wooden board.

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I know we all associate the time-honored addition of soft and chewy tortillas with almost all Mexican food, but really, it all comes down to the spices and the punch of tomato flavor. Cheesy, zesty Mexican might seem like the last category of food that could be converted to diet-friendly, but if you’re watching your carbohydrate intake it’s often as simple as leaving out the tortillas.

This clever take on the stuffed dish employs a thinly-sliced chicken breast to substitute as the tortilla, slathering it in enchilada sauce and cheese and rolling it like a thin, tender shell. What really lends these enchiladas some extra originality is the additional recipe for homemade sauce, for which you’ll simmer chilis, tomato sauce, and fresh garlic with spices for a restaurant-quality topping.

4. The authenticity is right there in the name:  Enchiladas Rojas

Enchiladas Rojas on a plate and a slice of lime.

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The Spanish word ‘rojas’ means red, but I was intrigued to find that the procedure of hand-crafting this authentic Mexican red enchilada sauce differs from what I had guessed. Instead of tomatoes being the source of the namesake color, ancho and guajillo chilis are first fire-roasted for flavor and then simmered and pureed with garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Corn tortillas are livened up by first dipping them in this sauce and then frying, a step that makes the enchiladas so flavorful that traditional Mexican chefs deem the meat filling optional. The rolled or folded tortillas are then covered with heaps of crumbled queso fresco and white onion. This authentic recipe surprised me again with a garnish of diced potatoes and carrots crispy-fried in the red sauce. 

5. Bring on the celebratory spirit of Mexican cooking with bright red and green vegetables in Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas

Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas on a plate.

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Health food makes you feel great because you get none of the heavy, weighted-down food-coma feelings, and when you pick the right recipes, you never have to sacrifice taste. Mild and silky black beans, a staple in authentic Mexican cooking, meld with the bright flavor and crunchy texture of sauteed bell pepper, broccoli, onion, and spinach. 

Homemade enchilada sauce compiles a considerable list of ingredients, which shouldn’t frighten anyone since many are spices simply tossed in. The addition of just a hint of cinnamon and a splash of vinegar gives this sauce a ton of dimension.

6. Cross an Italian favorite with Mexican spice and you get…delectable Spinach Enchiladas

Spinach Enchiladas with bell peppers.

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Sauteed spinach and garlic embedded in a light yet rich ricotta lay the foundation for home-baked comfort food from Italian cookbooks like stuffed shells and baked manicotti, but such brilliant combinations should be shared across the globe. Tomato sauce gets a cumin-scented kick before being drizzled over stuffed enchiladas.

The ricotta filling gets elevated with fresh, tart sour cream and stringy Monterey Jack cheese. Chopped green onions sprinkled into the filling make them even more cantina-ready. 

7. Still saving for a vacation in Puerto Vallarta?  Take the shortcut to the coast with Seafood Enchiladas

Seafood Enchiladas with cheese toppings.

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One of the best parts of enjoying good, authentic-tasting Mexican food is the sensation that it came straight from a street fair and from talented and experienced hands. From ceviche to paella and more, the genre of Latin cuisine has authored gorgeous seafood dishes whose freshness gets a powerful boost from citrus and spice.

These enchiladas highlight the mild and buttery flavor of shrimp and crab, pairing them with a smooth, creamy sauce and going in a rich and savory direction instead of using a red sauce. The tortilla filling is simply seafood, butter, and cheese, and then the entire pan is smothered in a wealth of sauce made from half and half, sour cream, butter, and shredded Colby.

These flavors, gentle and powerful at the same time, will let the taste of fresh crab and shrimp shine through. Succulent black olives team well with seafood and are suggested as a garnish.

8. A great intro to Mexican cuisine for kids and families:  Layered Enchilada Bake

Layered Enchilada on a plate and wooden fork.

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This enchilada-themed casserole serves as not only a crowd-pleasing dinner that’s quick to come together but a great practice opportunity for young or novice chefs to hone those cooking skills. For me, international cuisine was what really seduced me into the kitchen in the first place.

Brown ground beef with onions, then add salsa, black beans, a dash of Italian dressing, and taco seasoning for a full-bodied spicy flavor. Layer flour tortillas in a generous baking dish and layer with seasoned ground beef, sour cream, and Mexican four-cheese blend before baking until all layers are heated through and cheese is bubbly.

9. No-fuss, no-rolling, hearty grain Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole and basil leaves.

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This is what I’ll reach for when hunger pangs strike and time is tight. Usually, the fastest and most convenient dinners derail any plans of getting good nutrition—funny how that happens! Well, layers upon layers of black beans, cheese, chiles, and enchilada sauce do taste decadent.

Trading the tortillas for heart-healthy quinoa packs a gooey, cheesy dish with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. All this, and the most difficult and time-consuming skill required here is boiling quinoa. 

10. Simple and Irresistible Cheese Enchiladas

Cheese Enchiladas on a metal baking pan.

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The author published this recipe after living in Mexico, enjoying bona fide cheese enchiladas straight from the source. While still embracing the classic ingredients of corn tortillas filled with cheddar cheese and drenched in bubbling red sauce, the fresh veggie and dairy garnishes present slightly different choices than the Americanized cuisine we order in restaurants.

Shredded cabbage, diced tomato, and sour cream spike the melted cheddar dish with a cooling crunch, and cotija cheese crumbles bring something different and decidedly authentic. Simmer your own red sauce from scratch using tomato sauce and beef broth, garlic, and the tried-and-true trio of spices cumin, chili powder, and oregano.

11. And because this list wouldn’t be complete without a representative for Tex-Mex…Enchiladas Con Carne

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It’s Tex-Mex, so obviously, each and every component of this recipe is skillfully handled to bring out the biggest and best in taste. You’ll start by making the chili, which is a recipe worth working into other dishes or using all on its own for a meal.

With ground beef and tomato base spiced with jalapeno, oregano, cumin, and chili powder, it’s cooked down to a consistency that can remain semi-neatly inside a tortilla when rolled; of course, different chefs may have varying definitions of that.

The corn tortillas are gently fried in oil before being stuffed to increase the crispness to Tex-Mex level. For a smooth melty cheese to cover everything, use a mixture of cheddar and Velveeta, then top everything with diced white onion.

12. For something a little different:  White Chicken Enchiladas

White Chicken Enchiladas on a white plate.

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The sweet acidity of fresh ripe tomatoes and salsa that comes with almost all Mexican dishes is swapped for something new and decadent. Instead of red or green sauce, chicken enchiladas get the buttery, creamy treatment with a sauce made of butter, sour cream, chicken broth, and piquant green chiles.

Soft flour tortillas are stuffed with shredded chicken and a Colby and Monterey Jack cheese combo. The lean protein lets rich flavors of butter, cream, and cheeses take over. Serve this on Mexican night for something refreshingly unexpected.

13. The unbelievably flavorful combo of Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas With Jalapeno Cream Sauce

Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas with lime slices.

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A sauce loaded with mighty jalapeno flavor and full-bodied sour cream is where it’s at. Even better, the procedure starts off in the best possible way with jumbo shrimp tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted to perfection. You’ll add in sauteed cabbage, carrot, and spinach for crunch and deeper flavor, and season with the favored spices of Mexican cuisine.

Some of the sauce gets baked along with the enchiladas to keep things moist and tender, and then, just like any great restaurant would, you’ll want to add another helping of sauce on top once the portions get plated.  Obviously. 

14. It’s a crime there aren’t more recipes with chorizo, but take heart and make your own Chicken and Chorizo Spanish Enchiladas

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Read down the list of ingredients here and you’ll know you’re in for an upgrade from the typical. Choosing fresh chiles, fire-roasted tomatoes, onions and olives of the Spanish variety, and a pinch of cinnamon for enchiladas may very well change the entire ambiance in your kitchen.

Charring the tortillas first is a winning trick worth applying to lots of other recipes once you see and taste its effects for yourself. Create a rich Spanish red sauce with stock and tomato spiked with cinnamon, chiles, and paprika. You’ll slather this both under and on top of the enchiladas, which are stuffed with a full-bodied mixture of chorizo and chicken with cheese, olives, and parsley.