Homemade chicken enchiladas with red enchilada sauce made from scratch (with a secret ingredient; peanut butter!) is a great meal to use up leftover shredded chicken or leftovers from a roasted chicken. This is a comfort food recipe to enjoy in the fall or winter seasons for a weeknight dinner.
Tips and Tricks
Can you freeze homemade red enchilada sauce? Yes! After you make the sauce, store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. To defrost, take it out and put it in the fridge overnight. Once the sauce is thawed, use as the recipe is written.
Can you make the enchilada sauce ahead of time? This sauce can definitely be made ahead of time. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for three to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.
What sides go with homemade chicken enchiladas? These enchiladas are surprisingly filling. We usually each two each and have the rest as leftovers. However, you can definitely eat less enchiladas and make a side salad to serve with it, rice and beans or corn would all be great.
How many enchiladas does this recipe make? This recipe makes six to eight enchiladas which will serve three to four people. The enchiladas are deceptively filling!
How do you make shredded chicken? I make shredded chicken in the pressure cooker. I take boneless skinless chicken thigh and one cup of either broth or water and cook on high for 20 minutes. I do a quick release after five minutes and then drain the chicken. After the chicken is drained, I shred it and add it to the enchilada sauce and cheese mixture. You can also make shredded chicken in a slow cooker, but it will take four to six hours. A third option is to make enchiladas with leftover shredded chicken or roasted chicken from a previous meal.
How do you make red enchilada sauce? In a small bowl, start by mixing the flour and chile powder. Set aside. Next, mix the water, tomato paste, cumin and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set that aside. Put a medium saucepan over medium heat and chop up a medium onion and three cloves of garlic. Once the pan is preheated, add canola oil and onions. Stir and allow to soften for about two minutes. Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Grab a whisk and mix in the flour/chile powder mixture to form a roux. Allow to simmer for one minute and then add the water mixture and whisk until combined. Let the sauce come to a simmer and then add two cans of green chiles (plus their juices!) and allow to simmer for five minutes on medium low heat. Once the sauce has thickened slightly and reduced, take the pan off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. The sauce will lighten in color and be ready to use. If you want to prepare this ahead of time, you can store this in the fridge for three to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.
How do you make chicken enchiladas with red enchilada sauce? Start with about two cups of shredded chicken by either the pressure cooker method or using leftover cooked chicken. Preheat the oven to 400 F and spray a 9 x 13 in a glass pan with cooking spray so nothing sticks. Next, mix ½ cup of shredded cheese and one cup of sauce in with the shredded chicken. Using a ⅓ cup measuring cup, portion out the filling and place into one tortilla in a line, slightly off center. Roll and place seam side down in the pan. Repeat until you’ve done six to eight tortillas. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Once the tortillas have gotten a little brown in color, add the rest of the enchilada sauce, being sure to cover each tortilla. Top with the rest of the shredded cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes before serving with your choice of toppings like sour cream, avocado slices, cilantro or hot sauce.
How much filling do you add to enchiladas? I don’t measure precisely but I do use a ⅓ cup measuring cup to be somewhat consistent. Otherwise the last enchilada either has a lot or very little mixture in it.
Do you cover enchiladas when you bake them? I do not cover the enchiladas when I bake them. I found that’s just an extra step that has the cheese stick to the tin foil. I’ve done it both ways, but it isn’t necessary to cover them.
What temperature do you bake enchiladas at? Bake enchiladas at 400 F uncovered.
How do you fill and fold enchiladas before they are baked? After you mix the cheese, chicken and sauce together, use a ⅓ cup measuring cup and scoop out a portion. Place it on the side of a tortilla in a line, slightly off center. Roll the tortilla up and place it seam side down in the pan.
How do you store leftover enchiladas? Once the enchiladas are cooked and cooled a bit, I store them in food storage containers for lunch the next day or leave them in the pan covered. It is important to store any toppings separately so that they don’t go bad and you don’t have to reheat them. For example, cut avocado will turn brown, so I only cut and add it right before eating. I also don’t want to eat warm avocado. Store any toppings separately. Store in the fridge for three to four days.
How do you reheat leftover enchiladas? For lunches, I reheat the enchiladas in the microwave. I first cut them in half to reheat the center and microwave until warm, one to two minutes. If I’m at home and we have a lot of leftovers, I’ll reheat them in the pan they were cooked in in the oven at 350 F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through. Add toppings after enchiladas have been cooked and serve.
What toppings do you add to chicken enchiladas? Once the enchiladas are out of the oven and plated, I like to add a variety of toppings that include sour cream or Greek yogurt, hot sauce, avocado, squeeze of fresh lime or cilantro. When adding toppings look to add a brightness, color or texture to the plate.
What type of tortillas do you use? We use whole wheat flour tortillas. You could do this with corn or white flour tortillas as well. We buy the eight to ten inch tortillas.
What type of pan do you use for enchiladas? I use a glass 9 x 13 inch pan. If you’re bringing enchiladas to a friend’s house, you can make this in a disposable metal pan as well. Any metal, ceramic or glass pan will work as long as the enchiladas fit in it!
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Homemade Chicken Enchiladas
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup of chicken broth or water
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons chile powder
- 2 cups of room temperature water
- 6 oz of tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 cans 4.5 oz each green chiles
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 6-8 whole wheat 8 inch tortillas
- 1 ½ cup monterey jack cheese divided
- Sour cream
- Sliced avocado
- Hot sauce
- Fresh slices of limes
- In a pressure cooker add in boneless skinless chicken thighs and the broth.
- Seal pressure cooker and set pressure to high for 20 minutes.
- Do a quick release after 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the juices and shred with two forks in a separate bowl. Keep separated.
- While the chicken is cooking, begin the enchilada sauce. In a small bowl mix together flour and chile powder.
- In a medium mixing bowl mix together the water, tomato paste, cumin and salt.
- Preheat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once heated, add in the canola oil and onions. Allow to soften for 2 minutes.
- Next add in garlic and continue to stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add in the flour mixture and whisk to form a roux. If the mixture seems too dry, add 1 tablespoon more canola oil. Simmer for one minute.
- Carefully add in water mixture and whisk to combine. Let the sauce come to a simmer and add in both cans of chiles, including the juice from both cans and stir together.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and let reduce and thicken for 5-8 minutes.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and add the peanut butter. Stir well to combine.
- Once the chicken is cooked and sauce is done cooking, preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Spray a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
- To the shredded chicken, add ½ cup of the monterey jack cheese and 1 cup of the enchilada sauce and mix it well.
- Take a tortilla and use a ⅓ cup measuring cup to portion out chicken/cheese/sauce mixture. Add the mixture in a row down one side of the tortilla. Roll tortilla up and place in the pan, seam side down.
- Repeat until you have 6-8 tortillas in the pan. The pan may not be completely full of tortillas.
- Place the enchiladas in the oven uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and add the rest of the enchilada sauce over the rolled up tortillas. Top evenly with cheese and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite toppings like sour cream, sliced avocado, cilantro and/or hot sauce.
- If you are using already cooked and shredded chicken, this recipe uses about 2 cups of chicken.
- You can substitute chicken breast in this recipe.
- Shredded chicken can be made in the slow cooker on high for 4-6 hours and shredded or low for 8 hours and shredded.
- The sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.