This Chicken Enchilada recipe is easy, cheesy, wonderfully saucy, exploding with authentic Mexican flavor and destined to become a new family favorite. It’s loaded with juicy rotisserie chicken, two cheeses and the BEST homemade red enchilada sauce. The sauce really elevates this recipe into restaurant quality splendor – you’ll never go back to store bought again! This Chicken 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 make terrific leftovers – even with eggs for breakfast! Get ready for the best Chicken Enchiladas of your life!
I always stock shredded rotisserie chicken in my freezer and it’s a huge time/last-minute-dinner saver. I like to purchase rotisserie chicken from Costco because you get almost twice the amount of chicken on one bird for the same price. You can portion the chicken into sandwich bags and freeze so you’re ready to make this recipe at a moment’s notice!
This Chicken Enchilada recipe comes together quickly with rotisserie chicken, but if you don’t have it on hand, no fear! You can easily make your own shredded chicken, here are two options:
You can ask the butcher to cut the chicken up into pieces or you can do it yourself. If you’ve never cut up a chicken before, do a quick google search and watch a HOW-TO video. You really can’t go wrong and you don’t need to worry about it being pretty because we are shredding the chicken anyway.
Corn tortillas are the traditional tortillas used in authentic red Chicken Enchiladas – for a reason. They boast a robust, slightly charred, sweet corn flavor that beautifully compliments the red enchilada sauce. If you use flour tortillas which are neutral in flavor, you will be missing a dynamic flavor element. Another bonus of corn tortillas is they reheat and freeze better than flour tortillas. While flour tortillas are delicious right away, they tend to get soggy when frozen, whereas corn tortillas hold their shape.
You can certainly use flour tortillas if that is what your family prefers! I recommend toasting the tortillas in a skillet or over an open gas flame first to help prevent them from becoming soggy. If you use flour tortillas, you can skip the step of dipping the tortillas in enchilada sauce before filling.
Set yourself up for success by starting with quality corn tortillas such as La Tortilla Factory which roll beautifully and never tear (not an affiliate, just our favorite). This also allows you to skip the step of dipping the tortillas in enchilada sauce. They come in 8 per package which means you will need 2 packages for this Chicken Enchilada recipe. They are more expensive BUT less than dining out! Warning: be aware that this brand of corn tortillas is not gluten free as it does contain corn AND wheat.
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.
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 (it will work for La Tortilla Factory) – your call. No one will really know though if your tortillas 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.
You can prep the Chicken Enchilada recipe ahead of time in steps – any or all of the following:
You can make this chicken enchilada casserole recipe ahead of time for an easy bake and serve dinner! I especially love using corn tortillas if making ahead because they hold up much better than flour tortillas. If you choose to use flour tortillas, just be aware they can become soft or even soggy if made ahead so I suggest assembling the enchiladas without the enchilada sauce, then pouring the sauce on when read to bake.
This easy Chicken Enchilada recipe keeps and reheats well both in the oven and in the microwave when using corn tortillas:
If you choose to use flour tortillas, I suggest holding the sauce and freezing it separately from the assembled enchiladas.