If you’re looking for a healthy chicken enchiladas recipe to add to your repertoire, this one won’t let you down.
What Are Enchiladas?
“Enchiladas” are corn tortilla rolls filled with meat, beans, veg, cheese, etc. and covered in a savory sauce. It is a common dish in Mexico and has been around for a long time.
Enchiladas have a lot of variations. There is even a street version, which includes no filling but only slightly toasted corn tortillas dipped in chili sauce.
In this chicken enchiladas recipe, we’re using the basic combination of chicken, beans, corn, bell pepper, and cheese. Of course, they are baked in our hands-down best homemade enchilada sauce.
Are Chicken Enchiladas Healthy?
To begin with, this chicken enchiladas recipe complies with our healthy eating guidelines, based on the USDA’s dietary guidelines. It is moderate in calories (around 487), saturated fat (7 g) and sodium (589 mg).
As for the protein, we used skinless, boneless chicken breast, known to be the leanest cut of the chicken. It packs protein (about 22.5%) and contains very little saturated fat, often regarded as unhealthy fat.
If you’re interested in chicken breast recipes, check out our delicious baked chicken breast recipe.
Besides chicken breast, kidney beans make for an additional source of protein and healthy carbs.
- Vitamin C: bell peppers are chock-full of this nutrient which improves the immune system and can help prevent diseases.
- Vitamin B3: helps regulate cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and boost certain bodily functions. This vitamin is also referred to as niacin.
- Vitamin B6: takes part in several enzymatic reactions in the body and assures the normal functioning of cells.
How to Make Chicken Enchiladas
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Step 1: Cook the chicken
In a cast-iron skillet, sear chicken on medium-high heat with 1 tbsp olive oil, 5 minutes per side. Season both sides with half the salt and pepper. Take them out and put them in a large bowl.
Step 2: Make the enchilada sauce
In the same skillet, mix the onion powder, cumin, cornstarch, chili powder, and the remaining salt and pepper, and stir for 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and water. Simmer for 8 minutes.
Step 3: Shred the chicken
Use two forks and start shredding the chicken into small strips.
Step 4: Cook the veg
In a new skillet, stir-fry onion and garlic with 1 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Add green bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Add corn and cook for 1 minute.
Step 5: Prepare the filling
Turn off the stove and mix in shredded chicken, beans, half the amount of sauce, and parsley.
Step 6: Roll the enchiladas
Divide the filling into 4 equal parts. Carefully roll the tortillas and place them onto a baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Cover it with foil.
Step 7: Bake
Bake at 400ºF for 20 minutes. When it’s done, uncover and broil for 4 minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly.
Step 8: Serve
Use a pair of tongs to take the enchiladas out and place two rolls on each plate. Garnish with more parsley if desired.
How Long Should You Bake Enchiladas?
Because the filling is thoroughly cooked, there’s no need to stress over undercooked meat or vegetables. At this point, the oven’s job is to cook the corn tortillas to tender perfection and infuse it with flavors.
With that said, at 400ºF, the tortillas need only 20 minutes to cook, covered with foil. You can turn the oven to 350ºF and cook them uncovered for just 15 minutes.
Tortillas for Enchiladas
To help you run your errands more quickly, here’s a short review about corn and flour tortillas:
1. Corn Tortillas
These are what the recipe originally calls for, and they have the best texture. Made entirely of corn, the dough contains no gluten and turns tender when cooked.
Corn tortillas also hold a distinct smell that no other types of tortilla share. It is thanks to the process of making the masa dough, involving steeping dried corn kernels in a special solution.
2. Flour Tortillas
Flour tortillas, on the other hand, contain gluten and have a more chewy texture.
There are two versions of flour tortillas, plain flour and whole wheat. While plain flour often tastes better uncooked, wholewheat offers a little more fiber, and both work well with enchiladas.
Although not as flavorful as corn tortillas, flour tortillas are great for burritos and quesadillas. They are easier to maneuver when it comes to holding large amounts of filling.
Our chicken enchiladas recipe calls for flour tortillas. You can use corn tortillas if you prefer.
Sauce for Chicken Enchiladas
Originally, chicken enchiladas were best complemented when paired with red enchilada sauce. But as mentioned earlier, there are many variations, which might require the following instead of enchilada sauce:
1. Red Sauce
Red sauce is another name for enchilada sauce, and of course, the most popular. You can expect how it tastes by how it look— mildly hot and really pungent.
We begin by cooking the dry ingredients in the leftover fat from cooking the chicken. These include spices like cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and cornstarch to thicken the sauce without adding gluten.
Then, add tomato sauce and water and simmer until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper, and you have an easy red enchilada sauce.
2. White Sauce
You’ll find this version under a more popular name, “white chicken enchiladas”. As the color of the sauce is from sour cream, it’s also called “sour cream chicken enchiladas”.
To make the white sauce, first, make a roux by melting butter over medium heat and whisking in flour. Let it cook for a minute then add chicken broth and simmer until the consistency becomes thick.
All that’s left to do after that is to add sour cream, green chiles (to taste), and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
3. Green Sauce
The vibrant green color emanates from salsa verde, and that’s right, this bad boy gives loads of heat! If you’re a fan of the tangy, spicy salsa, green enchiladas surely won’t let you down.
You can use store-bought salsa for convenience, or simply gather the ingredients and blend away for an easy homemade sauce. The ingredients are tomatillos, jalapeños, white onions, cilantro, lime juice, and salt (to taste).
What Goes with Chicken Enchiladas?
1. Cream Cheese
The cheeses used in this chicken and enchiladas recipe are cheddar and mozzarella. We enjoy their chewy texture, and it’s fun to see how long it can stretch.
Cream cheese, on the other hand, may not have the stretch, but it’s definitely creamier. Besides, it gives a slightly tangy taste, which pairs really well with the enchilada sauce.
While corn adds crisp texture and freshness, the beans add tenderness to every bite. It would be a big loss without beans in enchiladas.
The recipe originally calls for black beans, as it’s the most favored kind in Mexican cuisine. We used red kidney beans instead, and we believe the result is still as good.
3. Sweet Potato
For a vegan version of enchiladas, sweet potatoes are often included in the filling, along with beans, corn, and bell pepper. Their sweetness mellows out the tangy, pungent taste of the enchilada sauce, and hence makes the dish more balanced.
Unique in texture and taste, mushrooms can make any dish tastier when properly sauteed.
If you don’t know which kind to add to this enchiladas recipe, go for the basic button mushrooms. You can hardly go wrong.
How Long Can Enchiladas Last in the Fridge?
Like most foods, chicken enchiladas can last for about 2 days in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap. We recommend eating them up as quickly as possible, because the longer they sit, the mushier they become.
How Long do Frozen Enchiladas Last?
Frozen enchiladas can last up to three months if stored properly since the filling is already cooked.
To store these rolls, simply put the fresh tortilla rolls in a ziplock bag then pop them into the freezer. You can store the cheese in the fridge and keep the sauce frozen as well.
When it’s time to serve, first melt the sauce in a pan or a microwave-safe container. Then, place the enchiladas in a baking dish, pour the sauce over, and put them in a 400ºF oven for about 1 hour.
When it all cooks, add cheese on top and put it on broil until it’s bubbly and golden.
What to Serve with Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
At Healthy Kitchen 101, we plan the menu for you! Here’s what you can have with chicken enchiladas to make a full meal:
Belonging to the same cuisine, guacamole has a creamy texture to take the enchiladas up a level. Also, the guacamole comes with crispy Doritos, giving not only the missing texture but also the saltiness.
|Chicken Enchiladas||Main Dish||484||6.4 g||598 mg|
|Guacamole||Side Dish||256||2.2 g||260 mg|
|Total||740||8.6 g||858 mg|
Healthy Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
- 6 oz skinless boneless chicken breast
- 5.3 oz onion minced
- 5.3 oz green bell pepper minced
- 5.3 oz corn
- 3.5 oz unsalted dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1.5 tbsp garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp salt divided
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1/8 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup Hunt’s unsalted tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp parsley chopped
- 2.3 oz Cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 oz Mozzarella cheese shredded
- 4 flour tortillas
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a cast iron skillet, sear chicken on medium high heat with 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes per side. Season each side with half the amount of salt and pepper. When it’s done, take the chicken out and leave to cool.
- In the same skillet, mix the onion powder, cumin, cornstarch, chili powder, the remaining salt and pepper, and stir for 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and water. Simmer for 8 minutes. Turn off the stove and set aside.
- Shred the chicken.
- In a new skillet, stir-fry onion and garlic with 1 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Add green bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Add corn and cook for 1 minutes. Turn off the stove and mix in shredded chicken, beans, half the amount of sauce and parsley.
- Divide the filling into 4 equal parts. Carefully roll the tortillas and place them onto a baking dish.
- Pour in the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Cover it with foil.
- Bake at 400ºF for 20 minutes. When it’s done, uncover and broil for 4 minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly.