Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas made with shredded chicken, homemade red enchilada sauce, and Mexican cheeses melted until bubbly.
Years ago we were staying in California for a big family reunion. I was in charge of making enchiladas. We take Mexican food very seriously in our home. I am pretty sure that my brothers and I could live on chips and salsa alone (with chocolate chip cookies for dessert, of course)! So I had to BRING IT with the enchiladas. I ran to the store to pick up some canned red enchilada sauce and poured it all over the enchiladas. As they came out of the oven, I decided to sneak a taste of them. Ugh! The canned red chile enchilada sauce tasted terrible. I tried to salvage the enchiladas but they were pretty much a lost cause. I realized that canned enchilada sauce was highly overrated.
The best chicken enchiladas start with making red chile enchilada sauce from scratch. It doesn’t take much time at all to make homemade enchilada sauce and it is a huge difference maker. Homemade enchilada sauce is made with tomato sauce, mexican spices, sauteed onion, chicken broth, and garlic powder. It’s all about the spices!
How do you make homemade red chile enchilada sauce?
- It all starts with sauteeing an onion in oil which softens
- The base of the enchilada sauce is smooth and vibrant tomato sauce.
- Chicken broth adds a depth of flavor to the enchilada sauce.
- Spices such as garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and Mexican oregano give it spice and earthiness. I love to use a mix of two different chili powders — mild chili powder and ancho chili powder. You can also use chipotle powder if you want a smoky flavor.
You can use either corn or flour tortillas to make these Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas. Corn tortillas are more authentic and widely used in Mexico. People who are gluten-free love to use them in enchiladas. You may also use flour enchiladas which tend to have a milder flavor. If you use corn tortillas, soften them before rolling them into enchiladas by wrapping a stack of corn tortillas in a damp paper towel or tea towel and heat in the microwave for 60 seconds.
Bring on the cheese! Ooey gooey melted cheese is heavenly in these Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas. Mexican cheeses, sharp cheddar, or monterey jack work wonders in these enchiladas.
I love to drizzle Mexican crema over the enchiladas once they come out of the oven. A touch of cilantro brings freshness and even jalapenos bring some spice. The perfect red chicken enchiladas for your kitchen table.
- Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons Oil
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1 - 15 ounce can Tomato Sauce (all-natural, no spices added)
- 1¼ cup Chicken Broth
- 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder (may use a mix of different types of chili powders)
- 2 teaspoons Cumin Powder
- ½ teaspoon Mexican Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- Salt to taste
- 4 cups Shredded Chicken, from a rotisserie chicken or 4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- 2 cups Mexican Cheese Blend
- 2 cups Cheddar Cheese
- 10-12 Corn or Flour Tortillas
- Mexican Crema
- In a medium pot, saute onion in oil over medium heat until onion is soft, about 7-8 minutes.
- Stir in tomato sauce, chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, and garlic powder.
- Cook for 20 minutes until it starts to thicken and reduce. Carefully puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.
- If cooking chicken, place chicken in a pot. Generously season with salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover the chicken by 2 inches. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat and cover. Let cook for approximately 10 - 12 minutes or until no longer pink. Set aside to cool and shred.
- To assemble enchiladas:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- If using corn tortillas, heat in microwave for 60 seconds by wrapping stack of tortillas with a damp paper towel or tea towel. This helps to make the tortillas more pliable and easy to roll up.
- Pour ½ cup of enchilada sauce over shredded chicken to season it.
- Pour another ½ cup of enchilada sauce in bottom of baking dish. Place chicken in center of each corn or flour tortilla and top with shredded cheese. Roll up and place seam down in a pan. Repeat. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over enchiladas and remaining 2 cups of shredded cheese.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Top with sour cream or Mexican crema, cilantro, avocado, and jalapenos (if desired)
Happy Cooking, my friends!