Bake a Shredded Chicken Enchilada Casserole in 3 Easy Steps
Easy Tex-Mex Recipe
This scrumptious, Mexican-style casserole is easy to put together, and it contains only a handful of ingredients. Once the ingredients are prepped, the casserole is assembled in three easy steps. In about thirty minutes, it's ready to serve.
The featured casserole is made with shredded chicken in salsa, but it is an extremely versatile recipe. The chicken can easily be replaced with pork, beef, or shrimp. For a vegetarian version, use red beans and rice as the filling.
This dish feeds six to ten, depending on whether it is served alone or with sides. It is a very filling, satisfying meal, and it tastes just as delicious reheated. We like it with guacamole, sour cream, and tortilla chips. It also goes great with a side of black beans and rice.
As usual, I've included some bonus recipes for those who like to switch things up. For seafood lovers, there is a version with shrimp and crab meat, and for those who would rather have ground beef, there's a variation for you as well. You'll also find a recipe for chicken nachos, because who doesn't love a big plate of nachos?
What You Will Need
1. 2 pounds cooked, shredded chicken in salsa (see link above for my easy recipe)
2. 2 cups enchilada sauce
3. 12 corn tortillas
4. 1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
5. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
6. 1/2 cup scallions, chopped (optional)
You will need a baking dish that is at least this big. I recommend Pyrex; I absolutely love their products. You can buy them with air-tight lids so that storing your leftovers is a breeze. You can even freeze leftovers, because the containers are all freezer, dishwasher, and microwave safe. I own several sets of these, and I don't know how I ever managed without them. It's more cost effective to buy them in sets of three, plus you'll always have just the right size dish for anything you bake. However, each size is also sold separately, with or without the matching lids. One caveat is that the plastic lids will not withstand the heat from an oven, so if your recipe requires that the dish be covered during cooking, you will need to use aluminum foil.
Preparing the Casserole
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Spread about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) into a greased 9X13 inch glass baking dish. Overlap six corn tortillas in bottom of pan. Spread half of the chicken on top of the tortillas. Top with cheese. Add a second layer of enchilada sauce, tortillas, chicken, and cheese. Top with any remaining enchilada sauce.
3. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for twenty minutes. Remove foil, top with cilantro and scallions (if using), and bake for an additional five to seven minutes.
Tips & Tricks
For a Hassle Free Experience
- Cooking sprays tend to leave a sticky residue on bake-ware. The residue won't bake off or wash off. If you don't want to deal with that, put some cooking oil in the bottom of the baking dish instead; use a paper towel to evenly coat the inside of the pan. It keeps the food from sticking, and it washes off easily.
- If at all possible, do try to use fresh cilantro instead of dried. Fresh cilantro has a much nicer flavor, plus it smells wonderful.
- I find it easier to chop scallions with kitchen shears rather than a knife.
- You may need to place a few toothpicks into the casserole prior to covering it with foil. This will keep the top layer of cheese from sticking to the aluminum foil during cooking.
- The last time I made this, I accidentally bought flour tortillas, so that's what I used. The casserole was good, but not great; corn tortillas do make a difference, just in case you were wondering.
Here's a seafood variation of the same recipe. It doesn't require shredding chicken, and it's a nice way to change things up a bit if you make these every week. You may even want to add scallops or lobster, if your budget allows.
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 can (16 oz.) enchilada sauce
- 1 bag (12 oz.) frozen shrimp (defrost them in the refrigerator the night before)
- 1 can (6 oz.) crab meat
- 1 julienned green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Set aside about 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, and pour the rest of the can into a medium sauce pan. Drain any water from the shrimp and crab meat, then add them, along with the bell peppers, to the sauce pan. Stir together, and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. (To avoid overcooking the shrimp, do not bring the mixture to a full boil). Remove from heat.
- Spread about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) into a greased 9X13 inch glass baking dish. Overlap six corn tortillas in bottom of pan. Spread half of the seafood mixture on top of the tortillas. Top with cilantro, scallions, and cheese. Add a second layer of tortillas, seafood mixture, cilantro, scallions, and cheese. Top with any remaining enchilada sauce.
- Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for twenty minutes. Remove foil, and bake for an additional five to seven minutes.
Ground Beef Version
Time Saving Alternative
We wanted enchilada casserole one night, but I didn't have any chicken. So, I decided to brown some ground beef and add spices to make my own taco seasoning. Personally, I like the texture of the chicken better, but this was very good, and my husband enjoyed it.
I browned 2 pounds of ground beef. After draining it, I added about a half a cup of water, chopped scallions, seasoned salt, crushed red pepper, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. (I did not measure out any of the spices). I let the meat simmer in the spices for about 10 minutes until the flavors were well blended, then I assembled the casserole as instructed above (in the chicken recipe).
Did you make too much meat?
If you weren't able to use all of the meat mixture in your enchiladas, why not assemble some nachos out of the leftovers? These are easy to put together, and they are great as an appetizer or a full meal, depending on how much meat you have leftover.
Here's how I created the nachos in the photograph. Feel free to use this as a guide, and make your own substitutions according to taste. The possibilities are limitless.
I started with two pounds of chicken, which I slow cooked with water and a packet of taco seasoning rather than a jar of salsa. The chicken, along with black beans and rice, was layered over tortilla chips spread out on a plate. Next, shredded cheddar was sprinkled over everything. Then came a generous dose of Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Finally, diced tomatoes, jalapenos, sour cream, and guacamole topped off the nachos.
I stated that I created the nachos and, technically, I did all of the cooking and prepping. However, my talented husband actually assembled the nachos to look like a work of art; they don't look nearly as pretty when I put them together. He's a master of presentation.
Chicken Nachos with Sour Cream and Guacamole
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Sara Krentz