Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Image of Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas
Molly Watson
  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 12 enchiladas (6 servings)

These Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas are a bit of a departure from what a lot of people think of when they think of enchiladas because they aren't smothered in cheese - they have a super flavorful topping of crumbled salty cheese, sliced onions, and chopped cilantro instead. It all makes them a fresher, healthier take on a family favorite. They're also a fabulous way to use leftover cooked chicken (I've been known to roast an extra chicken when I roast chicken, just to have the leftovers to shred and tuck into these enchiladas). I like to make my own enchilada sauce, but whatever version you like will probably please you here.

I find these enchiladas shine best when served with a simple green salad (see how to make one here). If you want to go all out, though, and make rice and beans and some salsa fresca and other dishes, they'll fit right in with any Mexican-style feast.


  • 12 corn tortillas (soft)
  • 2 cups enchilada sauce jarred or ( homemade, red chile)
  • 4 cups cooked chicken (shredded)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cotija cheese (or other salty, crumbly cheese)
  • 1/2​ red onion ​(thinly sliced, or 4 green onions finely chopped)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro (finely chopped​)

Steps to Make It

  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F and lightly oil a baking pan.

  2. Depending on what kind of corn tortillas you buy, you may need to soften them up so you can roll them. There are a few ways to do this. 1) The classic method is to heat some oil in a large frying pan and, working with 1 tortilla at a time, quickly fry the tortillas, about 10 seconds per side each. Drain them on paper towels as you go. 2) If you'd like to avoid frying, dipping them in the sauce works, too, especially if you warm the sauce first. 3) I've been known to give them each a turn over a gas flame, 10-20 seconds per side. 

  3. However you choose to soften them, you need to then fill them. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, lay a tortilla on a flat work surface, place 1/3 cup of the chicken in the middle of the tortilla, and fold up two opposite sides to "roll" the enchilada, and place ends-side down in the baking pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken.

  4. Pour the sauce evenly over the enchiladas. Cover the pan with foil and bake until the sauce is bubbling and the enchiladas are hot, about 25 minutes.

  5. Transfer the hot enchiladas to plates and top them with the crumbled cheese, sliced onions, and cilantro. Serve hot.