This simple recipe is perfect for a weeknight. It’s made with both chicken and black beans to create a filling, hearty dish that your family will love.
Along with Italian cuisine, Mexican cuisine ranks up there as crowd-friendly. Cheese, meat, tortillas—it’s so easy to love!
These Easy Chicken Enchiladas are one of my go-tos when I’m making a baby meal or another meal to take to a friend. They’re hearty, easy to make, and well-loved by adults and children alike.
If there’s one thing I’ve found when delivering a meal to someone going through a transition (like moving, having a baby, recovering from a hospital stay, etc.), it’s that comfort food is king. That doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy food.
But food with some staying power helps fuel them through the day, especially when the day may not involve three square meals.
Casseroles are a classic comfort food, and it helps that they’re easily transportable and able to be reheated without compromising taste and texture.
These enchiladas fit the bill—hearty and comforting, easy to take in a foil pan, and quick to reheat in the oven or microwave.
These enchiladas are also easily adaptable. You can swap in ground beef for the chicken, or chicken breasts instead of thighs. You can use more meat and leave out the beans. And you can swap in corn tortillas to make these gluten-free.
- Flour tortillas or corn tortillas hold the delicious filling
- The filling is made with diced chicken thighs, black beans, and red onion
- Both shredded Mexican blend cheese and queso fresco make the enchiladas extra cheesy
- Enchilada sauce from a jar, a can, or a packet works perfectly here. Use your favorite brand.
There are plenty of recipes for DIY enchilada sauce, but I have yet to find one that I actually like. So I turned to Frontera red enchilada sauce, which comes in packets and can be found in your grocery store’s international foods aisle.
The sauce is perfectly seasoned and has a ton of flavor. If you can’t find it, a canned enchilada sauce would work here, too!
Adding authentic flavor
When I created this recipe, I wasn’t out to make the most authentic enchiladas ever (as evidenced by my use of flour tortillas). I also didn’t want to spend time individually frying each tortilla as they traditionally do for enchiladas.
But I did want these Easy Chicken Enchiladas to have elements of authentic flavor. So I used queso fresco, a Mexican farmers cheese that you often see at Mexican restaurants. It has a little bit of a sour kick to balance out the rich flavor of the enchilada sauce.
I tossed it with the filling and then also put it on top. It really adds a delicious salty-sour flavor to the dish. You can find it near the ricotta and feta in the cheese section of your grocery store. It sometimes comes already crumbled, or in one piece like mine was.
Can I freeze enchiladas?
Bake enchiladas as directed, then cover the pan with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, remove the plastic wrap and replace the foil. Heat in a 350°F oven for 1 hour, or until warm throughout.
Can I make enchiladas gluten-free?
Use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas to make gluten-free enchiladas. Be sure to check the label on your enchilada sauce to ensure that it does not contain gluten.
What to serve with enchiladas
Authentic Mexican Rice is a great accompaniment to enchiladas. Add a salad and dinner is done!
To drink, Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Iced Tea) is super refreshing and complements the enchiladas beautifully.
Easy Chicken Enchiladas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1¼ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can substitute chicken breasts)
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
- 16 oz red enchilada sauce (I used two 8-oz Frontera packets)
- 8 flour tortillas
- 1½ cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- For garnish: chopped cilantro, ½ cup queso fresco
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Place the chicken in the pan and cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 4–5 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until golden brown on the other side, about 4–5 more minutes.
- Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3–4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Empty the enchilada sauce into a 2-cup measuring cup. You’ll have a scant 2 cups.
- Chop the chicken into ½ inch pieces. Add it back to the skillet with the red onion. Add the black beans, 1 cup queso fresco, and ⅓ cup of the enchilada sauce. Stir to combine.
- Pour ½ cup enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 13x9 inch pan. Tip the pan until the sauce covers the entire bottom.
- Place a tortilla on a flat surface. Using a pastry brush, brush the tortilla lightly with some of the remaining enchilada sauce. Place a heaping ½ cup of the meat and bean mixture down the center of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla, making sure that the filling doesn’t escape. Place the filled tortilla in the pan. Repeat with the remaining 7 tortillas.
- Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Top with 1.5 cups of Mexican blend cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the filling is bubbly. Top with cilantro and additional queso fresco if desired, and serve.