Vegan Enchiladas

published Feb 8, 2022
Vegan Enchiladas Recipe

These spiced-up, vegan red sauce enchiladas are totally animal-free and bursting with flavor.

Serves4 to 6

Makes8 (6-inch) enchiladas

Prep20 minutes

Cook1 hour 3 minutes to 1 hour 12 minutes

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vegan enchiladas in a white baking pan with a green garnish sprinkled over the top.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Saucy, comforting, and meaty — yet meatless. These spiced-up, vegan red sauce enchiladas are totally animal-free and bursting with flavor. I love experimenting with making Latin American dishes vegan. Although I grew up eating ooey-gooey cheese and beef (or chicken) enchiladas, it’s totally possible to achieve that same satiating feeling with plants. Here’s how.

Enchilada vs. Burrito

Before getting into how I made these vegan, let’s chat about the other question that’s probably on your mind: What’s the difference between an enchilada and a burrito?

An enchilada is baked in an oven instead of (totally) cooked on a stovetop. And it is baked with sauces. A burrito (specifically, a wet burrito), has the sauce poured on post-cooking. The ends of an enchilada are not rolled, whereas a burrito is tucked in. Enchiladas use either a red or green sauce, while a burrito can use a variety of sauces, like melted cheese. Burritos use a large flour tortilla ,while enchiladas can use corn or flour tortillas.

Corn vs. Flour Tortillas

Traditional enchiladas are made using corn tortillas. I personally love the texture of flour tortillas and they soak up the sauce without getting soggy, so that’s what I’ve used here. Flour tortillas are emblematic of Mexican American recipes and the influence of American ingredients. 

I also used soft flour tortillas to skip a step: When using corn tortillas to make enchiladas, you have to soften the tortillas in a little bit of oil and cook in a pan. This helps make the corn tortilla flexible and pliable, so it rolls over the filling without cracking or splitting. 

Red Sauce vs. Green Sauce Enchiladas

A red enchilada sauce is made with red chilies, like the chili powder used in this recipe. Green enchilada sauce is made with green chilis. I added red bell pepper to my red enchilada sauce for a hint of zest, along with tomato paste for a vegetable-packed sauce. 

Credit: Kelli Foster

Vegan Meat Mixture

Rather than using store-bought alternative vegan meat, this enchilada filling uses vegetable ingredients without any additives or chemicals. To create a meaty texture, grated mushrooms and chopped walnuts come together with crushed tofu to form a beefy filling and flavor-soaking base for our spices.  

Like cold pizza, I like to eat these vegan enchiladas cooled, straight from the refrigerator the next day — no heating required. You can also zap leftovers in the microwave for about 30 seconds or reheat in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes until warmed. 

Vegan Enchiladas Recipe

These spiced-up, vegan red sauce enchiladas are totally animal-free and bursting with flavor.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 3 minutes to 1 hour 12 minutes

Makes 8 (6-inch) enchiladas

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 1

    large yellow or Vidalia onion

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 8 ounces

    cremini mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 8 ounces

    firm or extra-firm tofu

  • 2 teaspoons

    adobo powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    tomato purée

  • 1/2 cup

    walnuts

  • 2 tablespoons

    apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • Kosher salt

For the sauce:

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper

  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon

    chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups

    vegetable broth

  • 2 tablespoons

    tomato paste

For the enchiladas:

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 (4-ounce) can

    diced green chiles

  • 1/4 bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • 8

    (6-inch) flour tortillas (soft taco size)

Instructions

Make the filling:

  1. Finely chop 1 large yellow or Vidalia onion and 3 garlic cloves. Grate 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, including the stems, on the large holes of a box grater. (Alternatively, mince the mushrooms.)

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-inch or larger skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, drain 8 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu. Pat dry with paper towels, and mash with a potato masher or use a fork to smash it into fine crumbles.

  3. Add the mushrooms, tofu, 2 teaspoons adobo powder,1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms soften and are nearly dry, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop 1/2 cup walnuts.

  4. Add the walnuts, 1 (15-ounce can) tomato purée, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce to the skillet. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, about 30 seconds. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Taste and season with kosher salt as needed. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Make the sauce:

  1. Trim and dice 1 medium red bell pepper. Dice 1 small yellow onion and finely chop 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-inch or larger skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the red bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant and dry, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add 2 cups vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces by about a third, about 10 minutes.

  3. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the sauce cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Drain 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles. Coarsely chop the leaves and tender stems of 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro until you have 2 tablespoons.

  4. Use an immersion blender or transfer to a standing blender and blend the sauce until smooth. Spread about 1/3 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Place 1/3 cup filling down the center of 1 (6-inch) flour tortilla. Roll up the tortilla, leaving ends untucked, and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining 7 tortillas. Spread the remaining sauce over the enchiladas until they are completely covered. Sprinkle the chiles evenly over the enchiladas.

  5. Bake until sauce just begins to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The sauce and the filling can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in separate airtight containers. Assemble and bake as directed.

Variations: These vegan enchiladas can also be made gluten-free by substituting corn tortillas. Your individual enchilada yield may be higher depending on the size of your corn tortillas.

Storage: Refrigerate leftover cooked enchiladas in an airtight container for up to 3 days or or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake in 350°F oven until warmed through.