Beef Enchiladas

BEEF ENCHILADA RECIPE TO RIVAL ANY RESTAURANT!

This Ground Beef Enchilada recipe is exploding with authentic Mexican flavor that will have you and your entire family drooling.  These Beef Enchiladas are easy, cheesy, comforting and wonderfully saucy loaded with juicy ground beef, two cheeses and the BEST homemade red enchilada sauce.  The sauce elevates these Ground Beef Enchiladas above any you’ve ever made or tasted before – you will never go back to store bought sauce again!  (Of course, if you’re running low on time you can use store-bought.) This Beef Enchilada recipe is always a crowd-pleaser, can be prepped in the morning and baked at night, made in mass quantities, and/or frozen for later for the ultimate make-ahead dinner.   It also makes terrific leftovers – even with eggs for breakfast! Get ready for the best Beef Enchilada recipe of your life! 

top view of beef enchilada recipe in a teal 9x13 pan showing how to garnish by topping with tomatoes, avocados and cilantro

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BEEF ENCHILADA RECIPE

If you love Mexican food, you are going to LOVE this Beef Enchilada recipe – and just in time for Cinco de Mayo!  Enchiladas are the epitome of Mexican comfort food (maybe aside from my Mexican Lasagna), and while I have shared numerous chicken enchilada recipes from Enchiladas Verdes to Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas to Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas– I have yet to share a ground beef enchilada recipe – that insanity stops now! 

After I shared my Chicken Enchilada recipe with my bold, smoky, quick and easy homemade enchilada sauce, I knew I needed to make a ground beef version, which I daresay is even more spectacular.  It’s SO satisfying, comforting, unapologetically flavorful, hot, meaty, and cheesy in each scrumptious bite.  

REASONS TO LOVE THIS BEST BEEF ENCHILADA RECIPE:

  • BEST ENCHILADA SAUCE.  Beef Enchiladas are only as good as the sauce their bathed in, and this homemade enchilada sauce is spectacular.  It’s layered with Mexican seasonings plus a hint of cocoa powder, sugar and a pinch of cinnamon (to mimic Mexican chocolate) to create a deeply complex flavor profile that’s absolutely mesmerizing.  The homemade enchilada sauce elevates these Beef Enchiladas to restaurant level – or beyond. 
  • FLAVOR!  Not only is the enchilada sauce bursting with flavor, but the tender beef itself is seasoned with fiesta seasonings, green chiles, enchilada sauce and cheese. 
  • ONE STEP FILLING.  Ground Beef Enchiladas are already easy to make but I’ve simplified the process by eliminating tedious layering. The seasoned beef is combined with some enchilada sauce, beans and cheese for a one-stop filling instead of layering them separately. This also creates the perfect ratio of ingredients in every bite.
  • PANTRY FRIENDLY.  This Beef Enchilada recipe uses pantry friendly ingredients, so keep them stocked and you can be basking in pure Mexican comfort food any night of the week!  You can even use defrosted beef and tortillas like I did!
  • VERSATILE.  You can follow this Ground Beef Beef Enchilada recipe as written or use it as a springboard to create your own favorite enchiladas.  Swap the flour tortillas for corn tortillas, add olives, jalapenos, and/or veggies such as squash/corn/zucchini/bell peppers, or swap the cheeses.
  • MAKE AHEAD.  These easy Beef Enchiladas can be completely assembled ahead of time then just popped in the oven at dinnertime for a stress free meal everyone can look forward to.
  • FREEZER FRIENDLY.  You can prep these Beef Enchiladas to freeze or double the recipe and enjoy one pan now and freeze one for later. 

WHAT IS THE BEST MEAT TO USE FOR BEEF ENCHILADA RECIPE?

You can virtually use any meat for this Beef Enchilada recipe, but I recommend 85-93% lean Angus beef for the best flavor.  Angus meat is known for being more tender, marbled, and flavorful than regular beef. The percentage means 85% is lean and 15% is fat.  The fat will give the ground beef juicy beefy flavor without all the dripping grease.  You can also drain any extra grease before adding the rest of the ingredients. 

These Ground Beef Enchiladas successfully use lean ground beef because the beef is spiked with enchilada sauce and green chilies which add moisture back into the meat.

CAN I USE GROUND TURKEY?

Yes!  This ground beef taco recipe works fabulous with turkey as well!  The enchilada sauce adds moisture and the beans add creaminess so you won’t even notice you are using a lean protein. 

If you really want the turkey to taste like ground beef, then I also suggest adding 2 additional teaspoons beef bouillon (in addition to the 1 teaspoon in the recipe).  I use this trick in my turkey tacos and turkey chili and it is AMAZING!  It infuses the turkey with rich, beefy flavor that will blow your mind!

If you do use beef bouillon, then omit the salt called for in the recipe and add salt to taste after the filling is combined with the beans and sauce.  Beef bouillon contains salt so you will likely need less salt than the recipe calls for.  

CAN I USE OTHER BEEF?

Absolutely!  I chose ground beef because it is the quickest, easiest and most economical beef option but this Beef Enchilada recipe would also be delectable with:

BEEF OPTIONS

  • Carne asada: juicy, marinated and spice rubbed steak
  • Beef Barbacoa: slow cooker tangy, smoky, rich, spicy, juicy, shredded beef

PORK OPTIONS

showing how to serve ground beef enchiladas by scooping out a serving with a spatula

WHAT GOES IN ENCHILADA SAUCE?

The homemade enchilada sauce MAKES this the BEST Beef Enchilada recipe. The ingredient list might look lengthy, but they are pantry friendly, dump and simmer and SO worth the 10 extra minutes – that’s right just 10 EASY MINUTES more to create the BEST BEEF ENCHILADAS! The sauce can also be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or even frozen. You will need:

  • Chili powder:  is where most of the flavor comes from so please use a quality brand such as McCormick.  Note that American chili powder is NOT cayenne pepper which it can sometimes be confused for internationally.  Chili powder is a blend of seasoning and 8X less spicy than cayenne pepper.
  • Seasonings:  In addition to chili powder, the enchilada sauce is seasoned with ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, ground coriander, smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt and cayenne pepper.  They all work together to create a deep, satisfying complexity.
  • Tomato paste:  adds the signature tomato flavor and slight tanginess.
  • Oil:  you will want to use a neutral oil such as vegetable oil that won’t add flavor to the sauce.  Other suitable neutral oils include grapeseed oilcorn, peanut, canola, or safflower oil.
  • Butter:  use unsalted butter so we can control the salt or you may substitute with the same amount of oil.
  • Flour:  is used to make a roux with the oil/butter to thicken the sauce.  You can use all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten free flour.  
  • Chicken broth: forms the base of the sauce.  You may substitute with vegetable broth but it is not as flavorful.
  • Cocoa Powder + sugar:  this is an easy substitute for Mexican chocolate which I’m pretty sure most of you don’t keep stocked.  It adds a depth of flavor you will LOVE.
  • Apple cider vinegar:  awakes the flavors of the sauce.  You may substitute with distilled white vinegar.

CAN I USE STORE-BOUGHT ENCHILADA SAUCE?

You may use store-bought enchilada sauce but don’t expect the best Beef Enchiladas.  The homemade enchilada sauce elevates this recipe to something truly spectacular and only takes 10 minutes to make!  If you do go the store-bought enchilada sauce route, you will need approximately two cups or 2 ½ for extra saucy.  

showing how to make enchiladas by making homemade enchilada sauce

WHICH TORTILLAS FOR THE BEST BEEF ENCHILADAS?

I prefer flour tortillas in these Beef Enchiladas to truly let the flavor of the ground beef shine as opposed to my Chicken Enchiladas (with red enchilada sauce) in which I prefer corn tortillas so the corn flavor can play up the chicken flavor, At the end of the day, it is 100% personal preference – either flour or corn tortillas will be delicious.   

FLOUR TORTILLAS

When selecting flour tortillas, look for a brand that is thick and soft such as Guerro tortillas – which also happens to be easy to find at your local grocery store.  I recommend toasting the flour tortillas in a skillet or over an open gas flame first to help prevent them from becoming soggy. This is not essential, but beneficial.

CORNs TORTILLAS

When selecting corn tortillas, look for high quality tortillas such as La Tortilla Factory.  Quality corn tortillas are thicker and don’t tear even when rolling enchiladas. With quality tortillas, you don’t need to flash fry them (although I recommend for toasted corn flavor) and you don’t have to dip them in enchilada sauce tot prevent them from tearing which saves you time and hassle.

How to Prevent Corn Tortillas from Tearing? 

  • Flash fry tortillas.  If you don’t use quality corn tortillas, they will tear or completely fall apart if you try and roll them straight out of the package. Even if you dip them in enchilada sauce first, they will still break; but if you flash fry them, they emerge completely pliable.  Frying the tortillas also enhances the corn flavor – yum!
  • Microwave.  If you don’t want to fry your tortillas, you can soften them in the microwave instead but I don’t find this method 100% fool proof when not using quality tortillas – your call.  No one will really know if they have a couple cracks once they are smothered in enchilada sauce and cheese. To microwave, wrap a stack of tortillas in damp paper towels or clean kitchen cloth and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Fill and roll tortillas while they’re still warm then repeat with remaining tortillas. 
  • Dip in enchilada sauce.  If you use quality, thick tortillas, you won’t need the additional step of dipping them in enchilada sauce. If your tortillas are prone to tearing, however, immersing them in enchilada sauce makes them more pliable and creates a protective, cohesive coating.  

WHAT CHEESE IS BEST?

I love the combination of both sharp cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese.  Sharp cheese cuts through the earthy enchilada sauce and offers a distinct flavor contrast whereas Monterrey Jack is milder so it complements the sauce and offers hints of creamy, buttery flavor.  Monterrey Jack also melts beautifully to create a creamier filling.  Of course, you are welcome to use all cheddar or all Monterrey or even some Pepper Jack if you like it spicy.

No matter what cheese you choose, please use freshly shredded cheeses because pre-shredded packaged cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevent them from melting as well. 

showing how to make ground beef enchiladas by topping with enchilada sauce and cheese

HOW TO MAKE BEEF ENCHILADAS

STEP 1: MAKE ENCHILADA SAUCE: 

  • Cook flour and seasoning in butter/olive oil for a couple minutes then stir in tomato paste, followed by chicken broth. 
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer and continue to simmer, whisking often, until it thickens to your desired consistency, about 5 minutes.  Keep in mind the sauce will thicken some as it cools. 

STEP 2 – MAKE FILLING:

  • Brown beef and onions in a large skillet over medium heat, adding bouillon and all seasonings while breaking up meat.  Stir in ½ cup enchilada sauce, green chilies and black beans. 
  • Set aside to cool a few minutes then stir in 1 cup Monterrey Jack and 1 cup cheddar.

STEP 3 – ASSEMBLE:

  • Spread ½ cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish (layer will be thin).
  • Fill each tortilla with a generous amount of filling (about a heaping ½ cup). Roll up each tortilla and place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • Top enchiladas evenly with remaining Enchilada Sauce followed by remaining cheeses.
showing how to beef enchiladas by pouring enchilada sauce over rolled tortillas

STEP 4 – BAKE:

  • Cover pan tightly with foil and bake enchiladas at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and other desired toppings; serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

HELPFUL TIPS TO MAKE GROUND BEEF ENCHILADAS

  • Frozen beef.  I always stock ground beef in my freezer and it’s a huge time/last-minute-dinner saver!  I like to purchase the 6-pound package of ground beef from Costco then portion the beef into 1-pound sections then transfer to sealable sandwich bags and freeze.  Now you’re ready to make this Beef Enchilada recipe at a moment’s notice! 
  • Flour or corn tortillas. You are welcome to use flour or corn tortillas.  If you choose corn, see my section on preventing corn tortillas from tearing.
  • Use homemade enchilada sauce.  Your enchiladas are only as good as the sauce, so start with the BEST enchilada sauce – you will not be sorry!
  • Customize heat.  If you don’t love heat, then omit the cayenne pepper from the enchilada sauce. Once the sauce is done, you can taste and add it back in if you wish.
  • INTERNATIONAL WARNING:  American Chili powder is a blend of chilies, cumin, garlic powder, and herbs with a ratio of one-part cayenne to seven parts the other spices.  Chili powders sold in other parts of the world, however, are 100% cayenne pepper and 8X hotter than chili powder! So, please use American-style chili powder to make this recipe or your mouth will be on FIRE!
  • Don’t skip cocoa!  The sugar, cocoa powder and the cinnamon in the homemade enchilada sauce simulate Mexican chocolate and add an authentic mole flair – please don’t skip them for the tastiest results!
  • Control consistency.  For a thicker enchilada sauce, simmer the sauce longer to reduce and thicken.  If you want thinner sauce, simply don’t simmer the sauce as long.  If your enchilada sauce has thickened too much while you make the filling, simply stir in chicken broth or water a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Use MILD green chiles. Chopped green chiles and add a subtle tang but are not spicy unless you accidentally purchase the ones labeled “hot.”  Learn from my mistake and double check that your can says “mild.”
  • Prep ahead.  You can prep the Beef Enchilada recipe ahead of time in steps:  make ground beef mixture and/or make the enchilada sauce OR completely assemble and refrigerate. See prep ahead instructions.
  • Customize enchiladas.  You can customize your Ground Beef Enchiladas with any vegetables you like (see ideas to follow).  You can also add other favorite add-ins such as jalapenos, olives, black beans, etc.
  • Toppings!  Top your easy Beef Enchiladas with all or some of your favorite toppings such as sour cream or Greek yogurt (highly recommend), cilantro, jalapenos, avocados, tomatoes, black olives, etc.

BEEF ENCHILADA RECIPE VARIATIONS

This Beef Enchilada recipe is extremely versatile and a great springboard for all sorts of add-ins.  Just keep in mind that you will need to reduce the amount of beef by the amount of add-ins in order to maintain the correct ratio of sauce/ cheese to filling and so you don’t end up with lots of extra filling.

  • Add vegetables: corn, zucchini, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, olives, jalapenos, etc.  Pick your favs!
  • Add rice or quinoa. Add cooked rice or cooked quinoa directly into the filling for yummy texture.
  • Swap protein:  Although this recipe is “Beef Enchiladas,” the recipe works well for shredded beef, ground turkey, and ground chicken.  You can also use any of my Mexican proteins (and skip the step of seasoning the protein in the recipe) such as  Crockpot Mexican Chicken10 Minute Mexican ChickenChipotle Sweet and Spicy Pork, or Carnitas.
  • Swap cheese.  Use more or less cheese – and when I say “more or less,” I, of course, mean more. You can also swap the type of cheese but be aware this will change the flavor profile.  If you love spicy, consider using Pepper Jack cheese (you might want to omit the cayenne pepper in the enchilada sauce in this case).
  • Spice it up.  If you love heat, you have a few options to spice up these Ground Beef Enchiladas:  1) add additional cayenne pepper to the sauce, 2)  add hot sauce to the sauce, 3) add chopped, pickled jalapenos to the filling, 4) add minced chipotle peppers to the filling 5) swap the Monterrey for Pepper Jack.  Alternatively, you can allow everyone to control the spice level of their own portion by passing around a bottle of hot sauce.
showing how to serve easy beef enchiladas by setting out avocados and limes

WHAT TOPPINGS FOR GROUND
BEEF ENCHILADAS?

These Ground Beef Enchiladas are stand alone addicting, but as is the case with all Mexican food, whether it’s tacos, burritos, fajitas, tortilla soup, they are even better with toppings!   

TOPPING IDEAS:

  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt:  the bright tangy creaminess cuts through and compliments the earthy flavor profile.
  • Tomatoes: quartered cherry tomatoes or seeded, chopped Roma tomatoes or skip the plain tomatoes and use pico de gallo.
  • Pico de gallo:  is fresh tomato salsa that adds a vibrant, punchy freshness.  You can use my homemade pico de de gallo recipe or store bought. You can make the pico de gallo ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Cilantro:  if you skip the pico de gallo, you can load on fresh cilantro and tomatoes instead for a fresh, zesty flair.
  • Avocado Crema: if you’ve been following me for long, you know I top practically everything with avocado crema – AKA my addiction.  Avocado crema is a marriage of avocados, sour cream and lime juice. It is wonderfully silky, tangy and just takes minutes to make in your blender.  The luscious, refreshing tanginess cuts through and compliments the robust, chili flavors of the enchiladas.
  • Guacamole:  use my homemade guacamole recipe (amazing!) I use in my Street Tacos, your favorite recipe or even use store bought.
  • Avocados: chopped or sliced avocados are the easiest avocado option and add a wonderful creaminess. You might want to add a splash of lime juice if you use plain avocados.
  • Lettuce: chopped Romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce – anything with a nice crunch and neutral flavor. You can also purchase pre-chopped lettuce.
  • Hot Sauce: pass around the hot sauce so individuals can customize the heat.
  • Jalapenos: you can also amp up the heat with chopped or sliced jalapenos or pickled jalapenos.

WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH EASY BEEF ENCHILADAS?

These easy Beef Enchiladas are the main event and don’t need much of a supporting cast, but I always love serving it with rice and some sort of fruit. Here are a few side ideas:

WHAT CAN I PREP AHEAD?

You can prep the Beef Enchilada recipe ahead of time in steps – any or all of the following: 

  • Make enchilada sauce: prepare a batch of enchilada sauce according to recipe directions. Keep in an airtight container for up to one week. When ready to use, add to a skillet and gently warm with a little Beef broth in order to thin to desired consistency.
  • Make filling: brown the beef and mix in all the filling ingredients so you’re ready for super quick assembly.
showing how to top beef enchilada recipe by adding chopped tomatoes, avocado and cilantro

CAN GROUND BEEF ENCHILADAS BE MADE AHEAD OF TIME?

Yes! You can make these Ground Beef Enchiladas ahead of time for an easy bake and serve dinner!  If you are purposefully making ahead, I highly suggest toasting your flour tortillas or using corn tortillas OR assembling the enchiladas without the enchilada sauce then pouring the sauce over top when read to bake.

To make Beef Enchiladas ahead:

  • Prepare enchiladas according to directions but DON’T top with enchilada  sauce – keep  enchilada sauce in a separate airtight container in the  refrigerator.  Cover enchiladas tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to cook, thin enchilada sauce if needed by stirring in some water or broth then pouring over enchiladas.
  • Bake enchiladas, covered, at 350 degrees F covered in foil for 45 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the enchiladas are completely heated through.
  • You can also prep all of your toppings ahead of time by chopping and storing in airtight containers or baggies.  The guacamole (if using) will keep for up to a day without changing color very much – just make sure to press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the guac to prevent oxidation. 

HOW TO REHEAT EASY BEEF ENCHILADAS?

These easy Beef Enchiladas keep and reheat well both in the oven and in the microwave:

  • OVEN:  cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  • MICROWAVE:  you can also reheat individual servings in the microwave by transferring to a microwave safe plate and microwaving for 90 seconds.  Continue to microwave at 30 second intervals until heated through.

HOW LONG ARE ENCHILADAS GOOD FOR?

Beef Enchiladas should be covered tightly in plastic wrap or foil and stored in the refrigerator.  When stored correctly, they are good for about 5 days.  

HOW TO FREEZE ENCHILADAS?

These Beef Enchiladas freeze very well, however, I suggest holding the sauce and cheese and freezing it separately from the assembled enchiladas for best results.  This isn’t a must, but it does help the tortillas from becoming soggy.

I like to freeze my Beef enchiladas in a disposable pan for easy cleanup, but any freezer friendly 9×13 pan will also work.  To freeze enchiladas:

  1. Assemble enchiladas up to the point of adding the enchilada sauce. 
  2. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap a couple times then cover with foil. Freeze enchilada sauce in a separate airtight container.   
  3. Label and freeze for up to three months. 
  4. When ready to eat, let enchiladas defrost in the fridge overnight.
  5. Add sauce, followed by cheese.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or completely heated through.
  6. Alternatively, you can completely assemble the enchiladas, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil followed by foil.
showing how to serve ground beef enchiladas by cutting in half and scooping up with a spatula

MORE ENCHILADA RECIPES!

If you love enchiladas, you will love my other enchilada recipes!  Each one of them boasts a different flavor profile from honey lime salsa verde sauce to creamy jalapeno sour cream sauce, to green enchilada sauce to creamy green chile sauce so you can have a new taste bud thrilling experience every time:

  • Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas:  These are my most popular chicken enchiladas and one of my husband’s favorite recipes of all time.   They are a tantalizing combination of robust seasonings, tender Beef and sweet and tangy salsa verde sauce – and of course Pepper Jack cheese. 
  • Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas: These are tied for my most favorite enchilada recipe.  They are addictingly rich, creamy, cheesy, tangy, saucy, with flavor exploding homemade green chilie sour cream sauce.
  • Cheesy Jalapeno Chicken Enchiladas:  These enchiladas are irresistibly cheesy, stuffed with juicy Beef, both Monterrey Jack cheese and sharp cheddar cheese then doused in the most irresistible creamy jalapeno lime sour cream sauce – and of course topped with more cheese. 
  • Enchiladas Verdes: This enchilada recipe is my only recipe (so far) that uses green enchilada sauce and corn tortillas.  They are cheesy, savory, tangy, smoky, flavorful and everything enchiladas should be.  I had to pull myself away from eating an unreasonable portion of these enchiladas – but then I went back for more.
  • Barbacoa Beef Enchiladas these beef enchiladas are bursting with unbelievably tender, flavorful Beef Barbacoa, loaded with cheese then smothered in rich, tangy enchilada sauce.

LOOKING FOR MORE MEXICAN DINNER FAVORITES?

HELPFUL TOOLS TO MAKE THIS BEEF ENCHILADA RECIPE

  • 9x 13 Rectangular Dish:  glass dishes are an easy, inexpensive go-to but they are not broiler-safe or conduct heat evenly. Instead, ceramic is the way to go.  I love this Staub 9×13 because not only is it elegant enough to seamlessly transition from oven to table, but the beautiful glass porcelain-enamel finish is highly scratch resistant, and most importantly, it diffuses heat gently and retains heat exceptionally well for even cooking.  Note that different colors vary in price.  This less expensive Modern Classics 9×13 is also extremely quality.
  • Saute Pan:  are wonderfully deep, are virtually indestructible, distribute heat evenly, and won’t leech into the food.  It is particularly useful when cooking with acidic ingredients like tomatoes or vinegar because the metal won’t react with the acidity. I love both my 10 and 12-inch Le Creuset Stainless Steel Pans with a limited lifetime warranty but this more economical pan also has excellent reviews.
  • Onion chopper:  onions make me cry like crazy so I LOVE this onion chopper!   It’s made with stainless steel discs for chopping/dicing the hardest vegetables/cheeses with 1 easy motion.  It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty- and I can guarantee way less tears!
  • Cheese grater:  I use this kitchen tool constantly because FRESHLY grated cheese as opposed to bagged shredded cheese is always the way to go!  Using freshly grated cheese also saves money, tastes better, and MELTS better. 
showing how to serve beef enchilada recipe adding two enchiladas to a plate and topping with sour cream, cilantro and tomatoes

Want to try this BEEF ENCHILADA RECIPE?

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Beef Enchiladas

This Ground Beef Enchilada recipe is exploding with authentic Mexican flavor that will have you and your entire family drooling. These Beef Enchiladas are easy, cheesy, comforting and wonderfully saucy loaded with juicy ground beef, two cheeses and the BEST homemade red enchilada sauce. The sauce elevates these Ground Beef Enchiladas above any you’ve ever made or tasted before – you will never go back to store bought sauce again! (Of course, if you’re running low on time you can use store-bought.) This Beef Enchilada recipe is always a crowd-pleaser, can be prepped in the morning and baked at night, made in mass quantities, and/or frozen for later for the ultimate make-ahead dinner. It also makes terrific leftovers – even with eggs for breakfast! Get ready for the best Beef Enchilada recipe of your life!
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

Garnishes (Optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare enchilada sauce according to recipe directions (click on “enchilada sauce” in the ingredients).
  • Brown beef and onions in a large skillet over medium heat, adding bouillon and all seasonings while breaking up meat. Once cooked, stir in ½ cup enchilada sauce, green chilies and black beans. Set aside to cool a few minutes then stir in 1 cup Monterrey Jack and 1 cup cheddar; set aside.
  • Spread ½ cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish (layer will be thin). Fill each tortilla with a generous amount of filling (about a heaping ½ cup). Roll up each tortilla and place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top enchiladas evenly with remaining Enchilada Sauce followed by remaining cheeses.
  • Cover tightly with foil and bake enchiladas at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and other desired toppings; serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Notes

HELPFUL TIPS 

  • Frozen beef.  I always stock ground beef in my freezer and it’s a huge time/last-minute-dinner saver!  I like to purchase the 6-pound package of ground beef from Costco then portion the beef into 1-pound sections then transfer to sealable sandwich bags and freeze.  Now you’re ready to make this Beef Enchilada recipe at a moment’s notice!
  • Flour or corn tortillas. You are welcome to use flour or corn tortillas.  If you choose corn, see my section in the post on preventing corn tortillas from tearing.
  • Use homemade enchilada sauce.  Your enchiladas are only as good as the sauce, so start with the BEST enchilada sauce – you will not be sorry!
  • Customize heat.  If you don’t love heat, then omit the cayenne pepper from the enchilada sauce. Once the sauce is done, you can taste and add it back in if you wish.
  • INTERNATIONAL WARNING:  American Chili powder is a blend of chilies, cumin, garlic powder, and herbs with a ratio of one-part cayenne to seven parts the other spices.  Chili powders sold in other parts of the world, however, are 100% cayenne pepper and 8X hotter than chili powder! So, please use American-style chili powder to make this recipe or your mouth will be on FIRE!
  • Don’t skip cocoa!  The sugar, cocoa powder and the cinnamon in the homemade enchilada sauce simulate Mexican chocolate and add an authentic mole flair - please don’t skip them for the tastiest results!
  • Control consistency.  For a thicker enchilada sauce, simmer the sauce longer to reduce and thicken.  If you want thinner sauce, simply don’t simmer the sauce as long.  If your enchilada sauce has thickened too much while you make the filling, simply stir in chicken broth or water a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Customize enchiladas.  You can customize your Ground Beef Enchiladas with any vegetables you like (see ideas to follow).  You can also add other favorite add-ins such as jalapenos, olives, black beans, etc.

PREP AHEAD

You can prep the enchiladas in stages  - one or all of the following:
  • Make enchilada sauce: prepare a batch of enchilada sauce according to recipe directions. Keep in an airtight container for up to one week. When ready to use, add to a skillet and gently warm with a little Beef broth in order to thin to desired consistency.
  • Make filling: brown the beef and mix in all the filling ingredients so you’re ready for super quick assembly.
  • Roll tortillas:   fill and roll tortillas but don't top with enchilada sauce.

MAKE AHEAD

Yes! You can make these Ground Beef Enchiladas ahead of time for an easy bake and serve dinner!  If you are purposefully making ahead, I highly suggest toasting your flour tortillas or using corn tortillas OR assembling the enchiladas without the enchilada sauce then pouring the sauce over top when read to bake.
  • Prepare enchiladas according to directions but DON’T top with enchilada  sauce – keep  enchilada sauce in a separate airtight container in the  refrigerator.  Cover enchiladas tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to cook, thin enchilada sauce if needed by stirring in some water or broth then pouring over enchiladas.
  • Bake enchiladas, covered, at 350 degrees F covered in foil for 45 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the enchiladas are completely heated through.
  • You can also prep all of your toppings ahead of time by chopping and storing in airtight containers or baggies.  The guacamole (if using) will keep for up to a day without changing color very much – just make sure to press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the guac to prevent oxidation.

HOW TO FREEZE

These Beef Enchiladas freeze very well, however, I suggest holding the sauce and cheese and freezing it separately from the assembled enchiladas for best results.  This isn’t a must, but it does help the tortillas from becoming soggy.
  1. Assemble enchiladas up to the point of adding the enchilada sauce.
  2. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap a couple times then cover with foil. Freeze enchilada sauce in a separate airtight container.
  3. Label and freeze for up to three months.
  4. When ready to eat, let enchiladas defrost in the fridge overnight.
  5. Add sauce, followed by cheese.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or completely heated through.

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17 Comments

  1. Reagen says

    You really have perfected the enchilada sauce! We love the chicken version of this recipe and can’t wait to try the beef!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Reagen! I love hearing you love the chicken version – can’t wait to hear what you think of these Beef Enchiladas!

    • Stephanie says

      Reagan… is the sauce not the best thing EVER. You could put it on an old piece of leather and it would taste divine. We’ve made many times and this will be our family’s go-to recipe for years to come.

  2. Stephanie says

    This beef version of your enchiladas was outstanding! Served it topped with sliced grape tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream & avocados just like you pictures. Have made the chicken enchiladas several times, this was a nice variation. Also made your Mexican rice which was delicious! Your salsa which we had earlier in the day for a snack was fantastic.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Stephanie, that’s awesome you’ve now made both versions! I’m so pleased they are both winners in your family and that you enjoyed my rice as ell!

  3. Paddy says

    Hey Jen,
    As always these were fantastic!!!! HUGE hit in our home!!!
    Thank you for all these years of makeing me a hero in the kitchen to my family!! Maken your chili and sweet cornbread tonight my wife always makes me make a ton of it to pass out to people, it too is a huge success!
    Thanks again and stay healthy!!!!!
    Paddy

    • Jen says

      Thank you Paddy, I always love hearing from you! I’m so happy to hear these beef enchiladas were another winner and that my chili and cornbread continue to be a favorite!

  4. Diana says

    I think I’m going to make this tomorrow, including the homemade enchilada sauce, because I have most everything in my pantry. Just need the ground beef.

    My question is what about Gouda cheese? Do you think that will ruin the flavoring? The reason is I ask is because for some reason I bought a big block of Gouda cheese during the panic buying around March 15th (when my California county was announcing lockdown) and I haven’t used it yet. I’m guessing I bought it because at the time the cheese shelves were running empty.

    I just checked the expiration date and it supposedly does not expire until 2021, so I guess there’s no great urgency to use it. But I’m wondering how I’m ever going to use it and should I use it on this. If you honestly do not believe it will work, please let me know. I have no problem getting cheddar and jack as the shelves are now filled again, months after the panic buying stopped.

    I normally think cheddar with beef in my ground beef Mexican meals. Don’t feel sorry for my Gouda. Just want your honest opinion since you are a great chef. Thank you. I will check back later for your response.

    • Jen says

      Hi Diana, I would skip the Gouda for this recipe. I think the sweet/nutty notes would be distracting. Sorry!

  5. Sophie says

    Hi, this looks delicious! Can I use ground porc instead of beef?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Jen says

      Absolutely, it totally comes down to personal preference. Enjoy!

  6. Diana says

    I finally made this and I used cheddar and jack. Not Gouda as I threatened to before. (Still have that block of Gouda.) The sauce was really good. I don’t like the texture of ground beef with enchiladas, but I tried it anyway. My family gave it five stars. Personally, I wouldn’t make this again with ground beef. The texture does not work for me. I’m a ground beef lover – don’t get me wrong – but I don’t care for it in enchiladas. Like I said, my family was raving about it. They all loved it. Loved it! I got praises to the sky. And it was all because of your enchilada sauce.

    I am going to make it again. because it was so loved in my household. I’ll figure it out. Sirloin steak or something. My thoughts went to rotisserie chicken at first, but then I remembered that beef bouillon ingredient and I’m not sure that will work with chicken. Maybe?

    I even used the Guerro tortillas you recommended. They are perfect for enchiladas!

    • Noel says

      I don’t have any Monterey jack cheese right now, can I just double the cheddar or should I use any mozzarella or Swiss? Those are the only other 2 cheeses I currently have.

      • Jen says

        Hi Noel, I would double the cheddar, best!

  7. Stacy says

    Amazing! Your recipes never let me down!