These cheese and chicken enchiladas with red sauce are QUICK and EASY. You’ll love that they’re perfect for a weeknight dinner. Assembled in just a few minutes using rotisserie or leftover chicken. Add your favorite toppings and it’s a meal everyone will love.
When the weekend rolls around, I take a look at what I have leftover in the refrigerator for inspiration as to what to cook. It seems that I almost always have part of a rotisserie chicken that needs to be eaten. Last weekend was no exception so I used my leftovers and made some cheese and chicken enchiladas with red sauce.
It was so quick and easy that it’s now on my weeknight rotation. For once, I found a dish that everyone likes and takes no thought or concentration to put together. I’ve always loved enchiladas regardless of what’s inside. At Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants it’s either an enchilada or a chili relleno for me. The more cheese the better, I hate enchiladas when it’s all meat and no cheese.
No need to worry about cheese with these chicken enchiladas, I included 2 cups of cheese. Since one of my gang is not a fan of cheese, I always make a couple without, it’s easy to accommodate everyone with this recipe. Sick of chicken, then still keep the cheese in these beef and cheese enchiladas or try some cheesy shrimp enchiladas.
I love recipes where you can use leftover chicken or turkey. I had a 20 lb turkey for Thanksgiving this year and there were only 3 of us. I just froze the leftovers and pull out a bag when I’m making these cheese and chicken enchiladas or chicken tamale pie. It’s a huge time saver.
Pro tip: If you have a lot of chicken you want to shred, try using a hand mixer to shred chicken, it’s so easy!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- We love the spices and flavor of Tex-Mex dishes
- Perfect for using up leftover chicken
- Enchiladas can be frozen and reheated for a second meal or for lunches
- You can easily adapt it
- You can throw this together in just a couple of minutes and it only takes about 30 minutes to finish cooking in the oven
For some reason, I have the hardest time coming up with something to put together quickly for weeknight meals. When I’m by myself, I just scrounge, but when Mike and the girls are home, I like to plan a bit more. This week, I was pretty lazy and I think we ended up eating out or ordering pizza most nights. If I would just plan a bit, weeknights would be so much easier!
What you’ll need
- Chicken breasts – use a leftover rotisserie chicken or shred your own chicken breasts
- Onion – a vidalia onion as well as white or yellow go great with Tex-Mex meals
- Enchilada sauce – both red or green taste great and work in this dish
- Colby jack cheese – any cheese that melts will work well, if you want it spicy, use pepper Jack
- Pantry staples – olive oil, salt, cumin, chili powder
- For serving – sour cream, tortillas
How to make cheese and chicken enchiladas with red sauce
Shred chicken and place in bowl. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin and salt and set aside.
Cook some onions and sprinkle with seasonings, add the chicken back to the pan and cook until heated through, then remove to a bowl.
In the same skillet, add enchilada sauce and bring to a boil.
Place about half of the enchilada sauce into a 9 x 9 inch baking dish, leave the remaining sauce in the skillet.
To assemble the enchiladas, first place a tortilla in the skillet and coat it with enchilada sauce on both sides. Add chicken mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and place in a baking dish. (yes, your hands will get sauce all over them) Pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas and top with the remaining cheese. Bake until bubbly.
These are great topped with sour cream, and chopped tomatoes and cilantro. Even better if you want to pour some queso over them.
Pro tip: Stock your pantry to include a couple of cans of red or green enchilada sauce and then all you need will be an onion and tortillas.
- You can add a can of green chilies in the filling for a flavor boost.
- Corn tortillas can be used instead of flour. If using corn tortillas, you will need to warm the tortillas in the microwave in a wet paper towel to make them more pliable.
- You can add chopped cilantro to the chicken mixture or sprinkled on top.
If you’re like me, I pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner at least once a week, so I always have leftover chicken. Just grab your tortillas with the chicken and you’ll be ready to throw this dish together even after a long day at work.
FAQs and tips
Enchiladas are a tortilla filled with a cheesy mixture and protein and then top with a rich and savory sauce, then baked.
The base sauce for enchiladas begins with a roux of oil and flour, then seasoned with spices, peppers and tomato paste. It comes together quickly and offers a lot of depth to a Tex-Mex dish. It can be made with either red or green peppers.
Yes, enchiladas can be vegetarian by removing the chicken and using more cheese and onions or adding another filler such as black beans, spinach and/or bell peppers.
Yes, this is a great meal to prep and then freeze. Prepare the dish and then seal the top tightly and freeze up to 2 months. If you bake it first, let it cool completely and then cover it tightly with saran wrap or a cover before freezing. Be sure to let the dish thaw before baking and heating through.
You Can Enjoy Tex-Mex All Week Long
More Cheesy Dinners
Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce
- 2 cups chicken breasts rotisserie chicken or shred your own breasts
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 20 oz enchilada sauce red or green
- 2 cups colby jack cheese shredded
- 6 inch tortillas for serving
- Preheat oven to 350º
- Shred chicken and place in bowl. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin and salt and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onions. Sprinkle onions with a pinch of chili powder and cumin. Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken to onions and cook until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. Remove chicken and onion mixture to a bowl.
- In the same skillet, add enchilada sauce and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Place about half of the enchilada sauce into a 9 x 9 inch baking dish, leave the remaining sauce in the skillet.
- To assemble the enchiladas, first place a tortilla in the skillet and coat with enchilada sauce. Add chicken mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and place in prepared pan. Continue with remaining tortillas. Pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas and top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. Let sit for a few minutes before serving. Top with sour cream, and chopped tomatoes and cilantro.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- This is even cheesier if you drizzle some queso over the top.
- A can of green chiles in the filling will give a nice boost of flavor. You can buy hot or mild cans.
- Corn tortillas can be substituted for flour.
- Chop up some cilantro and use it in the chicken mixture or on top to serve your enchiladas.
- You can use red or green enchilada sauce.