Mexican enchiladas are a historic and important part of Mexican culture. The practice of rolling tortillas around fish or other food actually dates back to the Aztecs! And the name enchilada comes from the past participle of the Spanish word enchilar which means, “to season with chili.”
This recipe for enchiladas is definitely well seasoned with the flavor of ancho chilis and comes to us from Chef Kelvin at the CasaMagna Puerto Vallarta Marriott. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him while working on the Passport To Paradise campaign. Chef Kelvin offered to share with us his abula’s recipe. And you know there’s nothing better than recipes passed down from grandmothers.
What’s In An Authentic Mexican Enchilada?
Enchiladas are found all over Mexico with different regional variations. They can be made with corn, flour, and even some with plantain tortillas. And the fillings are varied as well including fish, beef, or pork. Some enchiladas are vegetarian too, filled with cheese, beans, potatoes, grilled vegetables, or combinations of all of these.
This enchilada recipe below is made with corn tortillas dipped in an authentic chili sauce and filled with pre-cooked shredded chicken. It’s a great recipe to make with any leftover meats you have in your refrigerator! And while making the sauce from scratch is an extra cooking step, the flavor is so worth it.
Mexican Enchiladas vs Tex-Mex Enchiladas
In some enchilada recipes, you might see that the sauce is poured on top rather than cooked onto the tortilla. This is actually a regional difference. In Mexico, the tortillas used in making enchiladas are first dipped in a chili sauce (recipe for that included below), and then quickly pan fried or grilled. This layers the flavor on each tortilla, ensuring a bit of spice in each bite. While the Tex-Mex version of enchiladas simply roll or fold the tortillas around the filling and then generously pour the sauce on top.
Is It Better To Use Corn or Flour Tortillas For Enchiladas?
Corn tortillas are more authentic and traditional, but truly this is up to your own personal preference. Here’s a tip for both, though. Place the tortillas on a microwave safe plate, cover them with a damp paper towel, and microwave them for 30 seconds to make them more pliable and easy to work. This way the tortillas are less likely to tear while you’re working with them.
Mexican Enchiladas Recipe with Step-By-Step Photos
First, start by gathering your ingredients. This is a great recipe to use up some left over chicken from previous dinners, such as grilled or oven roasted chicken. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:
Enchilada Sauce Ingredients
- corn tortillas
- ancho chile
- Guajillo chile
- white onion
- white vinegar
- black pepper
- tomato sauce
- 3 cups of water (for boiling and/or thinning chile sauce)
Ingredients Needed For Toppings + Garnish
- chopped tomato
- red onion
- sour cream or queso blanco
We used pre-cooked, shredded chicken breast for this Mexican enchilada recipe. But you could also use beef, pork, or cheese. I have this recipe bookmarked as my go-to for using up left over chicken from previous dinners, such as grilled, oven roasted chicken, and even store-bought rotisserie chicken.
Making The Ancho Chili Enchilada Sauce
Once you have your ingredients gathered, start the recipe by making the ancho chile sauce. In a saucepan, boil the chiles, white onion and garlic with water.
Once they are soft, allow the contents of the pan to cool, then pour the content into a blender along with the vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper.
Blend the ingredients together to create a rich, colorful, homemade ancho chili sauce …
Seasoning The Tortillas
Now, let’s use the ancho chili sauce to season the tortillas. Dip the tortilla in the chile dressing, spreading it over both sides.
Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add the olive oil. Then fry the sauce-dipped tortilla in the skillet for about one to two minutes on each side.
Assembling The Enchiladas
Fill the fried tortilla with chicken, cheese, or meat and roll it together.
Place the rolled tortilla on a plate, and then continue frying, filling, and plating each tortilla. You can individually plate these, with two to three tortillas per plate. Or serve them in a large casserole dish for a family-style meal.
Once the tortillas are fried and rolled, spoon the tomato sauce on top and garnish with sour cream, lettuce, diced tomato, avocado, and marinated onions.
- 6-8 corn tortillas
- Pre-cooked, shredded chicken breast (can also use cheese or beef)
- 2 pcs Chile Ancho
- 1 pc Chile Guajillo
- 1 pc garlic
- 2 oz white onion (about 1/4 onion)
- 1 oz white vinegar
- pinch of cumin
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups of water (for boiling and/or thinning chile sauce)
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 3 pcs sliced tomato (garnish)
- 2 oz sliced red onion marinated in vinegar (garnish)
- 2 sliced avocado (garnish)
- 3 oz sliced lettuce (garnish)
- 2 oz sour cream (garnish)
- Start by making the ancho chile sauce. In a saucepan, boil the chiles, white onion and garlic with water.
- Once they are soft and have cooled, pour the content into a blender along with the tomato sauce, vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper. Blend the ingredients together to create a rich, colorful, flavorful homemade ancho chili sauce.
- Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add the olive oil.
- Dip the tortilla in the chile sauce, spreading it over both sides. Then fry the tortilla.
- Fill the fried tortilla with chicken, cheese, or meat and roll it together and place on a plate (or in a casserole dish for family-style serving).
- Repeat step 4 and 5 for all remaining tortillas.
- Top the rolled enchiladas with remaining sauce and garnish with lettuce, diced tomato, avocado, and marinated onions.
- Complete the dish by drizzling the enchiladas with sour cream, or topping with crumbled queso fresco.
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I was in Mexico as part of the Passport To Paradise project and was sponsored by Marriott Resorts. My enthusiasm for Mexico, the Caribbean, food and travel are all entirely my own.
Originally Posted In 2013. Updated In 2021.