How to Make Quick Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Updated on March 6, 2020
akirchner profile image

Audrey is a medical transcriptionist, instructor, writer, photographer, and dog trainer who writes on a variety of topics.

An Easy Variation on Chicken Enchiladas

As my profile states, I love recipes and I love to cook. However, for years, making chicken enchiladas has been my way of thinking very labor intensive. I came across this chicken enchilada recipe in the magazine Cooking Light about three or four years ago when I was planning my husband's big birthday bash. Unlike a lot of my recipes, it did not become one of my notebook's "make it once, maybe think about it again" recipes. This recipe moved to the head of the class because it is so simple, so delicious, and can be tweaked so many different ways. It is now my gold standard for making enchiladas for a crowd.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you do not have to roll the individual enchiladas. There is no frying them or softening each one up first. This recipe can be altered in many ways and I will note the tweaks I've personally tried and found workable. This recipe also freezes very well. It doesn't become mushy and just reheating it in the microwave makes for a delicious meal. I freeze portions of it in lasagna-like cuts in flat plastic lidded containers, marked with the date, but you can also freeze in Ziploc freezer bags.

Serve with "rancho beans," a green salad or Spanish rice alongside a beer, wine, or sangria and you have yourself a great meal without all the traditional prep of enchiladas.

Easy Chicken Enchilada Recipe


  • 2 cups of cooked shredded/skinned/boneless chicken
  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans of small red beans, rinsed, drained
  • Cooking spray or 1 tablespoon oil (olive or canola)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (white or sweet)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 crushed/minced garlic clove
  • Dash of ground red pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions divided into 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
  • 18 (6-inch) whole corn tortillas (divided into 3 layers in recipe)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheese, divided into 3/4 cup, 3/4 cup and 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup 1% skim milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar red salsa
  • Reduced fat sour cream
  • Cilantro for decoration (optional)
  • Few tablespoons of sliced ripe olives for decoration (optional)
  • Pico de gallo (optional)
  • Guacamole or avocado slices (optional)
  • Extra red or green salsa (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside for enchiladas.
  3. Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray (or use 1 tablespoon oil).
  4. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  6. Add cumin, chili powder, and pepper. Cook for about a minute.
  7. Add beans to skillet and cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat. Add chicken, 1/2 cup green onions, and 1/2 cup sliced olives; stir well.
  9. Layer 6 tortillas on the bottom of the 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  10. Spread out 2 cups of the chicken/bean combination over tortillas.
  11. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese.
  12. Repeat these layers once. (Tortillas, chicken/bean mix, 3/4 cup cheese)
  13. Top with remaining 6 tortillas.
  14. In a large mixing bowl or large mixing cup, combine the milk, chopped cilantro, and salsa in a food processor (or blender) or beat with a mixer until smooth.
  15. Pour this liquid over the top of tortillas, pressing the tortillas on top down into the liquid. (It will look rather wet but that is correct)
  16. Cover with lid for pan or cooking-sprayed foil and bake at 350° for 35 minutes.
  17. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, remaining 1/2 cup green onions, and a few tablespoons of olives.
  18. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
  19. Serve with sour cream and above optionals such as avocado slices, salsa, pico de gallo, etc. Garnish with little sprays of cilantro if desired.

This recipe easily feeds 10.

Some Substitutions I've Tried

All of these things worked really well when I substituted them. There any number of variations you can make to the recipe as long as you keep to the amounts required for the basic ingredients.

  • The original recipe in Cooking Light called for rotisserie chicken but I found that a bit dry and salty so have always used my own cooked chicken (poached) or even shredded turkey (But the rotisserie chicken worked great for when I had to make it away from home)
  • The original recipe also calls for 2 cans of Great Northern beans rinsed and drained. I like the small red beans personally as I thought they had more flavor
  • Substitute pinto beans, kidney beans or a combination if you have those on hand—always just rinse and drain before adding in
  • Substitute homemade pinto or kidney beans, Great Northern beans—sometimes if I'm making a soup or minestrone, I have beans that I've cooked on the stove or in the crock pot on hand and substitute those instead
  • Shallots can be substituted for the onions if you prefer the taste
  • You can leave off the garlic and use garlic salt—1/4 teaspoon but I prefer fresh garlic
  • I have substituted flour tortillas for the corn and they were great as well—I did heat those in the microwave for about 20 seconds but you can also wrap them in foil and heat in a 200 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes before using. Flour tortillas just seem to like a bit of cooking before adding to the recipe
  • The original recipe calls for 1% (low-fat) milk—I use skim for almost everything
  • You can use Mexican blend cheese instead of shredding your own cheese - or use Monterey Jack cheese - or any variety of Cheddar or a combination of hard cheese. I have even cheated a bit and added a bit of mozzarella when I did not have quite enough of the other kinds typically used. Blended together, you could not tell the difference
  • The original recipe calls for 1 (16-ounce) jar of green salsa. I prefer red salsa so that is what I generally use
  • For a really large crowd, double the recipe and make 1 recipe with green salsa and 1 recipe with red salsa
  • Substitute shredded beef or pork for the chicken and you have an entirely different enchilada that is equally delicious
  • I am working on a recipe substituting rice for part of the small red beans and adding vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and spinach—the vegetarian version


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Top Ten - they are really, really good~

    • toptenluxury profile image

      Adrian Cloute 

      6 years ago from Cedartown, GA

      These look amazing. I love enchiladas. I think that these would be a great addition.

    • profile image

      cindy fortune 

      8 years ago

      I look forward to making these chicken enchilada's for my husband. I hope everything goes great for me. The recipe is pretty easy and that's what I like.

    • jbrock2041 profile image


      8 years ago from Park City, UT

      I agree that it sounds like a great recipe. I would have never thought to use red beans, since typically we use black beans, so I'm excited to try the variation. Thanks for sharing. I, too, have found many great recipes in Cooking Light, I think it's one of the best cooking magazines out there.

    • Karen N profile image

      Karen N 

      8 years ago from United States

      Sounds wonderful, this recipe is definitely a keeper!

    • gryphin423 profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      These sound delicious and easy to make. I love enchiladas! Thanks also for the suggestions on the variations. Bookmarked and voted up/useful!!

    • camdjohnston12 profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow! Perfect recipe for my incoming birthday! I'll try this one.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      9 years ago from Washington

      Shawn - I surely hope it does and I've made it with shredded beef as well and it was equally delicious - it is so easy it is remarkable! Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • Shawn Scarborough profile image

      Shawn Scarborough 

      9 years ago from The Lone Star State

      This is a very interesting recipe. I've been looking for a good chicken enchilada recipe and this one looks great. I usually make beef enchiladas but have been thinking about doing something different. I'm going to try it next week and let you know how it turns out. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Cool! Glad to be of help - it is so easy it is insane to make. I made them the first time for a huge gathering for Bob's birthday bash and think there were 10-12 people there for dinner. It was a huge hit. I was skeptical as combining milk with salsa kinda made me go 'ew' - but it really worked. I've since done beef and changed it out with salsa verde or regular - even tried it with flour tortillas - and it's all good! I have another recipe that I just found in a diabetic cookbook so now gotta add that one, too....thanks for reading. There are just too many recipes out there for me to not mess with them!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Johnny would LOVE these!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)