Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Casserole

published Aug 16, 2021
Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Enchiladas are one of those perfect meals where you get a little bit of something delicious in every bite.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook45 minutes

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Chicken Enchilada Casserole in a white pan, with sour cream, tomato and olives on top
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

Enchiladas are one of those perfect meals where you get a little bit of something delicious in every bite—protein, beans, veggies, a zesty sauce, and, of course, lots and lots of cheese. The only thing that can be frustrating, at least when you’re in a hurry, is rolling the enchiladas themselves. So often corn tortillas can break or crumble during the assembly. This is where the ingenuity of an enchilada casserole saves the day. Instead of filling and rolling the tortillas, they are simply layered into a casserole dish to create an enchilada experience that can easily be cut into squares to serve.

Enchilada casserole is also fun to make (and eat!) because it’s endlessly customizable. Here I added some chopped tomatoes, sliced olives, fresh cilantro and a drizzle of Mexican crema. Together they add bursts of color to the top of the dish. Pickled red onions, crumbled cotija cheese, and sliced avocados would also be wonderful. The recipe calls for three cups of cooked, shredded chicken. Got leftovers? Great! Use that. But don’t worry if you don’t. You can also start with a rotisserie chicken, or poach and shred a couple of chicken breasts. Of course, if you want to repurpose remaining holiday turkey, enchilada casserole is a great way to revive leftovers into a whole new meal.

How Do You Keep Tortilla From Getting Soggy In A Casserole?

The best way to keep tortillas from getting soggy in a casserole is to make sure the filling isn’t too wet. Use enough enchilada sauce to keep the filling moist, but not so much that it will over saturate the layers of tortillas.

What Do You Put Inside Enchiladas?

The best part of making enchilada casserole is that the filling can be customized to fit your palate and dietary needs. Cooked chicken and turkey are great options as is fully cooked seasoned ground beef or chorizo. Of course, they can easily be made meat-free as well. Sautéed vegetables make for a great filling, or you can even try making them with your favorite meat substitute.

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

Can You Make Enchiladas Without Frying the Tortillas?

It is certainly possible to make enchiladas without frying the tortillas. If making rolled enchiladas, gently warm the tortillas so they are pliable without breaking. When making an enchilada casserole, the tortillas can be layered into the dish without warming or frying.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Enchiladas are one of those perfect meals where you get a little bit of something delicious in every bite.

Prep time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2

    large yellow onion

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    black beans

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    corn kernels

  • 12 ounces

    cooked chicken (about 3 cups shredded)

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can

    diced green chiles

  • 2 (10-ounce) cans

    enchilada sauce, divided

  • 18

    (5- to 6-inch) corn tortillas, divided

  • 3 cups

    shredded Mexican cheese blend (12 ounces), divided

  • 1

    medium tomato

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

  • 1/4 cup

    sliced black olives, drained

  • 1/3 cup

    Mexican crema

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Meanwhile, dice 1/2 large yellow onion (about 1 cup) and 1 medium red bell pepper (about 1 1/4 cups). Rinse and drain 1 can black beans and 1 can corn kernels. Shred 12 ounces cooked chicken if needed (about 3 cups)

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, black beans, corn, and 1 can diced green chiles and any juices. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes.

  3. Open 2 (10-ounce) cans enchilada sauce. Set aside 1/2 cup of the sauce. Add the remaining sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.

  4. Pour the reserved enchilada sauce into a 9x13 baking dish and spread it all the way to the edges. Lay 6 of the small corn tortillas in the baking dish, overlapping them to cover the bottom. Spoon about 1/3 of the chicken filling over the tortillas and spread into an even layer, then sprinkle with 1 cup of the Mexican cheese blend. Repeat building two more layers with the remaining tortillas, chicken filling, and cheese.

  5. Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, dice 1 medium tomato (about 1/2 cup) and finely chop 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 2 tablespoons).

  6. Remove the casserole from the oven. Sprinkle with the tomato and 1/4 cup sliced and drained black olives. Drizzle with 1/3 cup Mexican crema and garnish with the cilantro. Cut into squares to serve.

Recipe Notes

Gluten-free: To make this recipe gluten free, make sure the enchilada sauce contains no gluten.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat servings in the microwave.