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Tortillas filled with a generous amount of shredded chicken breast, smothered with garlic-infused enchilada sauce, and topped with more cheddar cheese.
These Easy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas come out of the oven with a slight crunch, which I love! So easy to make, this chicken enchilada recipe is pretty-much fool-proof!
Let me tell you, Easy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas is one of my all-time favorite Mexican casserole recipes — they are really something special.
In this recipe, the chicken for the filling simmers in enchilada sauce until cooked through and tender enough to shred with a fork, infusing it with delicious flavor.
If you’re looking for more Mexican dinner ideas, my Chicken Black Bean Enchiladas with a chunky homemade enchilada sauce made with onions, poblano pepper, and smoky chipotle chilies is a delicious option.
Or, check out this one-skillet Easy Beef Enchilada recipe that takes just 30 minutes start to finish.
How to make chicken enchiladas
STEP 1 | Poach and shred the chicken
- Not to be confused with boiling, poaching chicken means cooking it completely submerged in a simmering liquid that is kept just below the boiling point, with aromatics—in this case, garlic and enchilada sauce. Cooking chicken by this technique keeps the meat extremely moist and flavorful.
- To shred chicken using two forks, pierce the chicken with one fork and hold it steady while slowly scraping the other fork, prongs faced backward, away from the other fork.
STEP 2 | Roll the enchiladas
- First, wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and warm them in the microwave on high until soft and pliable 20 to 30 seconds.
- Assemble the enchiladas by spooning a heaping 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture along the center of each tortilla.
- Place the tortilla on a plate and place the filling down the center — do not spread it to cover the entire tortilla. Fold one side over the filling, then fold the other side to overlap.
- I make my enchiladas with flour tortillas, but you can substitute corn tortillas if that’s your preference.
STEP 3 | Bake and serve
- Place the filled tortilla seam side down in the baking dish so that it stays closed and brush the tops lightly with olive oil.
- Bake uncovered for the first 10 minutes, until the tortillas begin to lightly brown — this is part of the secret baking method!
- Then, lower the oven temperature and top the enchiladas with enchilada sauce and cheese. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and finish baking.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve!
Frequently asked questions
For this recipe, the enchiladas bake for the first ten minutes uncovered. This gives the tortillas a nice crunch. Cover the enchiladas with foil and continue baking for the specified time, removing the foil during the last five minutes to allow the cheese to get golden.
A lot of recipes suggest frying the tortillas for a few seconds in hot oil before filling them to keep the enchilada sauce from soaking into the tortillas too much.
I don’t find that step necessary if you bake the enchiladas uncovered at a higher temperature for the first ten minutes.
Side dish suggestions
Traditionally, enchiladas are served with a side of Mexican seasoned rice and beans, either refried beans or charro beans.
Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas: behind the recipe
Want in on a little secret? I thought so! Unlike many enchilada recipes, these chicken enchiladas start in the oven uncovered and without any sauce or cheese on top.
Why? Because this little secret baking method ensures the enchiladas create a slight crunch before adding the sauce and cheese.
That way, they don’t get so soggy. I like this because too many times I’ve tried to serve enchiladas to just have them fall apart before I could transfer them from the pan to the plate!
You’ll need these kitchen tools to make chicken enchiladas
- Garlic press — This one is especially easy to use and can press 2 or 3 small cloves at the same time.
- Deep skillet — Every kitchen needs a good skillet that can be used to pan fry, stir-fry, poach, roast, braise, and sauté.
Hands down, this Easy Chicken and Cheese Enchilada recipe is requested at our house more often than any other Mexican casserole.
I like it because it truly is simple — just chicken and cheese rolled up in tortillas and baked in enchilada sauce — and truly tasty!
Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups enchilada sauce
- ground black pepper
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese
- 8 flour tortillas
- cooking spray
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Pour enchilada sauce into a deep skillet and add the minced garlic; heat to boiling. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides and add to the skillet, nestling into the sauce. Reduce to low heat and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the sauce and let the chicken and the sauce cool slightly. Use two forks to shred the chicken (pierce the chicken with one fork and hold it steady while slowly scraping the other fork, prongs faced backwards, away from the other fork).
- Lightly coat the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Add chicken, 3/4 cup reserved enchilada sauce, and 1 cup cheese to a large bowl. Add cilantro (if desired) and stir gently to combine.
- Warm the tortillas wrapped in a damp cloth or paper towel in the microwave on high for 20-30 seconds. Assemble the enchiladas by spooning a heaping 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture along the center of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling and place into the baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
- Brush the tops of the enchiladas with a small amount of olive oil. Place the dish into the oven and bake uncovered for 8-10 minutes or until the tortillas begin to turn golden.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese over the sauce. Lightly cover with aluminum foil and return to the oven for 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
- Let stand 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Garnish with cilantro and serve with sour cream or salsa, if desired.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.