Recipe: Slow-Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas

Dinner Recipes from The Kitchn

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This dish may not win any beauty contests, but I'll say this: it's seriously good. The tortillas get soft and chewy during cooking, absorbing some of the salsa and becoming the perfect vehicle for beans, corns, and lots of melted cheese. (And isn't it all about the melty cheese, really?)

These slow-cooker enchiladas are one of my go-to meals when I'm out of ideas and have some bits and leftovers to use up, and it always hits the spot.

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I also like that this is a classic dump-and-cook slow cooker recipe. It only requires you to mix the filling and roll up the tortillas before plugging in the cooker and walking away. The onions soften during cooking and the flavors have plenty of time to meld. It's perfect for times when I don't want to dirty a lot of dishes or deal with an extra step of pre-cooking vegetables.

Tester's Notes

These enchiladas are a personal favorite. They're not the kind of thing I'd serve to guests — things get a bit messy and less-than-photogenic when served from the slow cooker — but they are most definitely the kind of thing I adore eating when it's just me and my husband, coming home ravenous at the end of the day.

Some of you who've made this recipe over the years describe it as "mushy but delicious," and I have to agree with that assessment. Using tortillas that are a few days old and a little stale helps with this situation, and flour tortillas hold up better than corn tortillas. But, to be completely honest, I kind of love that slightly mushy, chewy quality! It sounds like such a negative, I know, but this feels like comfort food to me. These enchiladas are the perfect meal scoop onto a plate and take to the couch. From your comments and feedback, I know many of you agree!

On the other hand, you'd prefer more classic enchiladas (and I respect that), I recommend baking this recipe in the oven instead of the slow cooker. There are instructions for this at the end of the recipe below.

Either way, I do hope you enjoy this recipe. Pick a night when the weather keeps you inside and you have a good movie that's waiting to be watched. Enjoy!

- Emma, March 2015

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Slow Cooker Enchiladas

Serves 6 to 8

1 small yellow onion, diced small
1 sweet bell pepper, diced small
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Monterey jack, colby, or other melting cheese, shredded and divided
2 (16-ounce) jars salsa, any kind
12 to 15 medium (6-inch or so) flour tortillas
Optional: 1 cup leftover meat or extra veggies — chicken, pork, hamburger, beef, baked tofu, or roasted vegetables

In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, pepper, black beans, corn, spices, meat (if using), and just 1/2 cup of the cheese. Spread a cup or so of salsa over the bottom of a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker, enough to evenly coat the bottom with a bit of sauce. (See the Recipe Note below for cooking in smaller slow cookers.)

Fill each of the tortillas with about 1/3 cup of the filling, roll them up as tightly as you can, and pack them seam-side down into the bottom of the slow cooker. When you complete the layer, spread another cup of salsa over the top and sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of the remaining cheese. Continue rolling the remaining tortillas with the remaining filling to make one more layer; if you have leftover filling, sprinkle this over the top. Finish by pouring another cup of salsa over the top of the enchiladas. Reserve the last 1/2 cup of cheese to add later.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2 to 4 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top, recover the slow cooker, and finish cooking.

Serve the enchiladas with any remaining salsa. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

  • Gluten-Free Enchiladas: Use gluten-free corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas. These tortillas tend to fall apart a bit more during cooking, but I've tried them and the dish is still just as tasty!
  • Longer Slow Cooker Times: You can cook the enchiladas for longer (6 to 8 hours on LOW), but I find that the tortillas in the middle start to get very mushy while the ones touching the sides of the cooker get crispy. Still tasty, though!
  • Oven-Baked Enchiladas: To cook these enchiladas in the oven, layer the rolled tortillas in a 9x13-inch baking pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake uncovered for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the dish is bubbling.
  • Smaller Slow Cookers: To make this recipe in a smaller (3-quart or so) slow cooker, half the recipe and make three layers instead of two.
  • Doubling the Recipe: If your slow cooker is large enough, you can also double the recipe. Just continue creating layers in the slow cooker and bake as usual.

This recipe was originally published September 2010.

Per serving, based on 6 servings. (% daily value)
Calories
611
Fat
18.2 g (28%)
Saturated
7 g (35%)
Trans
0 g
Carbs
90 g (30%)
Fiber
13.4 g (53.6%)
Sugars
11.9 g
Protein
26.1 g (52.1%)
Cholesterol
25.1 mg (8.4%)
Sodium
2473.1 mg (103%)

(Image credits: Emma Christensen)