Sheet Pan

No-Fuss Enchiladas

May  3, 2017
6 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

Adapted from Spike Gjerde's recipe for Smoky Chicken Enchiladas in the WSJ, this is the most unfussy enchilada recipe I've ever made, and it's incredibly delicious. The sauce begins by broiling onions and garlic until they are charred in spots. It then simmers for 7 minutes with a can of tomatoes, water, and chipotles in adobo (or rehydrated dried chilies if you want to stick to the original recipe). That's it!

Tortillas: I am partial to tortillas made with a mix of flour and corn. Whole Foods Market sells my favorite, but I also like Trader Joe's, pictured above, which are a little thicker than WF's. Use whatever you like. If you prefer all corn, use all corn. If you prefer flour, use all flour. I've made this with a mix of three different tortillas, and they all taste good once sauced and cheesed.

Heat level can be amped up by adding a tablespoon of the chipotle in adobo sauce. If you are sensitive to heat, I wouldn't use more than 1 chipotle in adobo.

I think this could easily be made vegetarian — I'm trying kale and mushrooms tonight. I'll report back!

If you don't want to poach chicken breasts, you could use rotisserie chicken, which is what the original recipe calls for. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • kosher salt
  • 1 28-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 chipotles in adobo, see notes above
  • 14 corn tortillas, see notes above
  • 9 ounces grated cheese, such as Monterey Jack or sharp Cheddar
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 6 scallions
  1. Preheat the broiler to high. Place the chicken breasts in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
  2. Place onions and garlic on a small sheet pan and season with salt all over. Broil until well charred in spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from broiler and set aside. Set oven temperature to 425 degrees.
  3. Place tomatoes, charred onions and garlic, ½ cup water, and 1 to 2 chipotles in adobo (depending on heat tolerance, see notes above). Bring liquid to a simmer and cook until onions soften, about 7 minutes. Off heat, use a handheld blender or food processor to purée to a thick, smooth, uniform sauce, taking care with hot liquid. Set sauce back over low heat and gently simmer to keep warm.
  4. Remove chicken from poaching liquid and set on a plate to cool. Once cool enough to handle, pull chicken into shreds. Coat bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Arrange a single layer of tortillas over sauce, trimming edges to fit. Add chicken to the pot with the remaining sauce.
  5. Spoon a thin layer of sauce/chicken over tortillas and top with a loose layer of grated cheese. Sprinkle over some cilantro and scallions. Continue layering tortillas, sauce, cheese, scallions, herbs until dish is nearly full. End with a layer of tortillas, a layer of sauce and a final layer of cheese. You should have three layers of tortillas.
  6. Bake enchiladas on top rack of oven until cheese topping bubbles and browns in spots, 15-20 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and scallions and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • hothead
  • Amy Kaufman
    Amy Kaufman
  • jenn@10
  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

30 Reviews

Heather July 27, 2020
Great recipe! My attempt at using a hand blender for the sauce made a mess, so i used the regular blender. This actually worked well for the layering process, as i could pour directly from the blender.
Jeanne2020 May 23, 2018
This was delicious 😋Any recipe I have made created by Alexandra has been wonderful, I’m never disappointed. Bread Toast Crumbs is one of my top favorite cookbooks 😊
Alexandra S. May 23, 2018
Jeanne2020 ... you are too kind to say such things :) :) :) Thank you thank you. I am so happy to hear all of this. xo
Lauren December 18, 2017
This is our new "go to" enchilada recipe. I love how it is more of a "formula" than a recipe... there are endless options for substitution depending on what you have on hand. Last time we made this, we decided to go a little overboard in the veggie department: subbed crumbled sauteed tempeh for the chicken and added sauteed kale and mushrooms, PLUS a layer of refried beans. It was a veggie delight! It also heats up well--my colleagues were very jealous when I brought this in for lunch! Thanks for the great recipe!
Alexandra S. December 22, 2017
Love all of these ideas, Lauren — sounds so, so good!
Meghan August 13, 2017
How would you recommend freezing this recipe? For a new mama :)
Alexandra S. August 14, 2017
That is a good question! I confess, I am terrible with the freezer. Just found this post, however, which has some helpful info:
Fresh T. December 18, 2017
I tweeted Nigella Lawson about how to freeze her Mexican lasagna the other day and she said to do individually wrapped slices well wrapped. I think that's how I'd freeze these enchiladas too. Individual slices....
Fresh T. May 23, 2017
I made these the other night with roasted chicken. LOVED LOVED LOVED. They'll be in my permanent meal rotation for sure. When I showed the recipe to my friend from Guadalajara she said they have something similar called pastel azteca. It's pretty much an enchilada lasagna with tortillas with difference vegetables, cheeses, and sauces. Fascinating! All the new possibilities. I love being introduced to new things. Thank you Ali. Somehow you make meals more delicious than it seems possible for the amount of prep or "fuss" involved. You are always a reliable source for recipes and know how. xoxo
Alexandra S. May 24, 2017
So happy to hear this, Dana!! Thanks for the pastel azteca reference. I'll check it out. And you are too kind, thank you :) :) :) xoxo
hothead May 16, 2017

Which cheese did you use in this recipe, jack or cheddar?
Alexandra S. May 16, 2017
I've used both but might prefer Jack ever so slightly.
Yes C. May 9, 2017
I made this tonight. It was absolutely delicious. I used leftover roasted chicken. I also had a couple of jalapeños in the fridge and broiled them as well with the garlic and onions. This will become my new go to recipe for enchiladas. I've made many, but this one gets top marks for taste and easiness.
Alexandra S. May 10, 2017
So happy to hear this! Love the idea of broiling jalapeños with the onions/garlic.
Chris G. May 7, 2017
Thank you so very much for sharing this, the recipe sounds really wonderful and does not include the reason I don't like "red sauced" enchiladas! Toasted Chilies! I've never had a version of red enchiladas that did not have the bitter taste of over toasted dried chilies. Every commercial version I purchased tasted nasty to me!
Anyway I will make this the first time, as written but I keep thinking about poaching a mixture of white and dark meat and also experimenting with adding "some" Mexican Oregano. Thanks again!
Alexandra S. May 9, 2017
Chris, I can relate! I've tried making sauces with dried chiles, and I just haven't had the best success. I imagine they can be so good when done right, and I would love to learn, but for now, I'm happy to have another option. Yes to dark meat (most often my preference, too) and Mexican oregano (original recipe calls for oregano). Hope you like this!
BakerRB May 7, 2017
These are tasty! It's definitely a good bang for your buck (well, effort) recipe . I used a combination of flour and corn tortillas (what I had on hand) and I'd recommend against flour except as the top layer. They pretty much turned back to dough even for the first servings. The corn held up better even as leftovers, but admittedly not as well as when they're fried somewhat in a traditional recipe. For me the ease is worth skipping that step on a daily basis.
Alexandra S. May 9, 2017
So happy to hear this! Thanks for the tips on flour tortillas, too.
Amy K. May 6, 2017
Can I make a day ahead or best to prepare and serve the same day? Love your recipes! I am on an #alexandracooks steady diet.
Alexandra S. May 6, 2017
You're too kind, thank you :) :) :) I have only every prepared them and baked them right away, So I can't say for sure. I worry a little that the tortillas might soak up the sauce and get too soggy? You can definitely make the sauce ahead, poach the chicken ahead, grate the cheese and cut the herbs, etc. The assembly takes no time once you have all of these parts prepared. Hope that helps!
Amy K. May 6, 2017
Yes thank you! My instincts as well. Doubling the recipe and hosting a small gathering. So grateful to have you as a resource.
Alexandra S. May 6, 2017
You are so welcome! And thank you :) Happy to help. Have a great party!
jenn@10 May 5, 2017
Making these tonight! By the way I'm also making Holly's Challah, today. I've made it several times and it never fails...delicious, makes wonderful French toast. It's a rainy day in CT, so I'm spending it in the kitchen. Have a great weekend!
Alexandra S. May 5, 2017
It's a rainy day up here, too! Perfect for baking and cooking. So happy you like Holly's Challah—it does make excellent French toast. Yay for enchiladas tonight! I made a kale and mushroom variation last night, and I loved it.
pat S. May 4, 2017
which size tortillas do you use?
Alexandra S. May 4, 2017
I use small tortillas — 6 to 8 inches, but you really could use any size because you break them up as needed to fit. They should fit in a single layer. (You make three single layers.)
Lori May 4, 2017
Was thinking it would be easy swap to use black beans instead of chicken for great vegetarian option. Looks so good. Thanks, have used many of your recipes.
Alexandra S. May 4, 2017
Yes, absolutely! Tonight, I sautéed kale and mushrooms. I loved it. Thanks for the kind words — means a lot.
Bee May 4, 2017
Yum! I will make this tomorrow tonight!!! #cincodemayo
Alexandra S. May 4, 2017