Meat Mains | Recipes

Chicken Enchiladas Verde (And My Basic Enchilada Template)

This week, we’ve all been thinking—whether consciously or not—about what we’ve lost and what’s irrevocably shifted in our lives over the past year.

We’ve been extremely lucky and privileged despite it all. And I’m trying to regain the optimism that I could feel slowly being stripped from me, sliver by sliver like peeling wallpaper, since last March 11.

So I’m also taking stock of the ways my life has changed for the better in the midst of all of this.

chicken enchiladas verde
Photo: Casey Barber

And one of the best things that came from our pandemic year is that I finally codified my enchiladas recipe.

It sounds so basic and almost silly, but I think we all can relate to the feeling that when there’s not much to look forward to, a simple good meal can be a freaking big deal.

Now there’s always two nights’ worth of enchiladas on the monthly meal plan.

The specific kind is different every month—sometimes it’s chicken enchiladas verde, sometimes it’s black bean, poblano, and red pepper enchiladas, sometimes it’s pulled pork with mole sauce.

Enchilada Tuesday poster illustration
Illustration: Casey Barber

But I always make sure to schedule them on a Tuesday, because of the “Enchilada Tuesday” inside joke from Amanda Shires’ I So Lounging livestream last spring.

(I miss you, I So Lounging! We had a time. And a lot of fun with tequila sunrise spritz cocktails.)

My basic ratio for four servings’ worth of enchiladas is as follows.

By no means am I saying that this is the one true authentic way to make enchiladas—the only time-tested guarantee I can give is that it has been successfully used again and again in my own kitchen.

chicken enchiladas verde
Photo: Casey Barber

Basic Enchilada Ingredient Ratio

  • 12 8-inch tortillas
  • 3/4 pound (12 ounces) protein
  • 6 ounces cheese, divided
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups vegetables
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) enchilada sauce

This is a malleable recipe template, giving you room to mix and match various proteins, vegetables, cheeses, and types of sauce.

Ground beef or turkey, soy crumbles, pulled pork or chicken, black beans, borracho beans, chorizo (meat or plant-based), it all works as a base.

I now freeze extra leftover cooked meat and beans in 12-ounce portions so it will be ready to go for future enchiladas.

chicken enchiladas verde
Photo: Casey Barber

If you’re using beans as your main protein, you may want to up the amount of vegetables to 1 1/2 cups to really fill out your enchilada rolls.

As for tortillas, we “splurged” on a tortilla press early on in lockdown so I could finally start making my own. What a revelation!

I use an adaptation of the King Arthur Baking recipe for blended corn and flour tortillas, which are super pliable and toothsome, and I’m never going back.

chicken enchiladas verde

But if that’s a step too much for you, go ahead and buy some good-quality tortillas. Corn or flour (or alternative flour), your choice.

Just make sure they’re about 8 inches in diameter to most effectively fill a 9×13-inch casserole dish.

The following recipe for chicken enchiladas verde is just one example of the many variations you can try. Whether you’re starting Enchilada Tuesday as a new tradition or just making it Enchiladas Monthly, you’ll never get sick of them.

chicken enchiladas verde

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Chicken enchiladas verde are a simple make-ahead casserole dinner topped with tangy green enchilada sauce and melty Colby Jack cheese.

Ingredients

Enchiladas

  • 2 cups (16 ounces) green enchilada sauce
  • 3/4 pound (12 ounces) chopped or shredded cooked chicken
  • 6 ounces coarsely shredded Colby Jack cheese, divided
  • 1 cup diced cooked poblano peppers or raw bell pepper

Garnishes

  • chopped cilantro
  • sliced scallions
  • sour cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Pour 3/4 cup sauce into a 9x13-inch casserole dish and tilt the dish so the sauce evenly covers the bottom.
  3. In a large bowl, stir the chicken, 2 ounces cheese, peppers, and 1/4 cup sauce together for the filling.
  4. Lay a tortilla out on a cutting board and place about 2-3 tablespoons filling just off-center on the tortilla.

    It's honestly much easier to eyeball this than you would think—you'll get the feel of what is too skimpy and what is too much to include as you roll your tortillas up.
  5. To roll your tortilla, fold the side closest to the filling over the filling, then tuck the ends in as you roll. You probably can already do this from muscle memory.
  6. To fit 12 enchiladas into the dish, I line mine up in two short rows of 6 enchiladas each, rather than trying to fit one loooong row down the length of the dish.
  7. Fill and roll all your tortillas, lining them up in the dish as you go.
  8. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinkle with the remaining 4 ounces cheese.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the edges of the tortillas are nice and crispy.
  10. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and sliced scallions, if desired, and serve with sour cream.

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