Red chicken enchiladas are perfectly spicy, lusciously cheesy and so flavorful! I loved making my own red sauce too and it’s totally worth the extra steps.
It seems like it’s more common these days to see chicken enchiladas made with green sauce, but you’re going to want to try them with red sauce! It is so delicious!
Usually when I make enchiladas, I make the Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas, but I’ve been wanting to try the Cook’s Illustrated version and it did not disappoint.
What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Red Chicken Enchiladas?
If you are going to make our red enchilada sauce, head to that post to make sure you get all the ingredients for that. The ingredients list for these enchiladas is super short and sweet:
- Chicken Breasts
- Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
- Monterey Jack Cheese
- Corn Tortillas
- Toppings – whatever toppings you enjoy most. We like some sliced red onion and jalapenos!
How to Make Red Chicken Enchiladas
Once you have made the enchilada sauce (or purchased your favorite brand at the store, see notes in recipe card if you’re doing store bought), the steps for making these enchiladas are quite simple. The full details for making the enchiladas can be found in the recipe card below.
- Simmer the chicken in the red sauce until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the chicken and set aside to cool saving the enchilada sauce.
- When the chicken has cooled, shred it into bite size pieces and place in a bowl.
- Add enchilada sauce, cheese and cilantro and stir to combine.
Why Do My Tortillas Keep Breaking?
Wait, before I give more instructions, many of you have expressed that your tortillas break when you’re rolling them for enchiladas. Here are a few tips for soft tortillas.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat, throw in the tortillas and keep under a thick towel or wrap in foil.
- Wrap tortillas in plastic wrap and microwave then use immediately.
- Wrap tortillas in a towel and microwave, then use immediately.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Warm up the tortillas in the microwave covered in plastic wrap so they are warm and pliable.
- Place some of the chicken mixture in one tortilla and roll up the tortilla around the filling.
- Place the rolled tortillas in the baking dish with the seam-side down.
- Repeat the process with all the remaining filling and tortillas.
- Spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray.
- Bake in the oven until the tortillas start to brown.
- Reduce oven temperature.
- Pull the enchiladas out of the oven and pour the enchilada sauce over the top.
- Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top.
- Cover with foil and bake.
- Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes.
- Remove enchiladas from the oven and let them sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Top with your favorite enchilada toppings.
What Is The Difference Between Enchilada and Burrito?
There are really two differences between enchiladas and burritos.
Enchiladas are small corn tortillas wrapped around a filling. They’re usually served in a bed of sauce with a sprinkling of cheese on top.
Burritos usually are made with flour tortillas, and the sauce is served on the side.
Can Enchiladas Be Made Ahead?
You can assemble enchiladas ahead of time, and bake when you are ready to serve.Wrap the assembled enchiladas in plastic wrap and foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Can Enchiladas Be Frozen?
You can keep enchiladas in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
To freeze, wrap the entire pan of enchiladas in foil, crimping the edges for a tight seal.
Freeze enchiladas for up to 3 months.
Corn Tortillas vs. Flour Tortillas
We prefer the flavor of corn tortillas with the red enchilada sauce and this chicken filling. There are strong feelings about corn tortillas out there, so you can definitely use flour tortillas if you want. You may offend enchilada purists who insist enchiladas can only be made with corn tortillas.
Using corn tortillas also keep these enchiladas gluten free.
What to Eat with Red Chicken Enchiladas?
What goes better with enchiladas than some classic Spanish rice and refried beans?! That’s how we like to eat this dish. Other great options would be elote grilled Mexican corn salad, cilantro lime rice, or the best Mexican black beans you’ve ever had!
If you looking for some great toppings, try our restaurant style salsa or authentic guacamole!
Life just calls for enchiladas sometimes, and these red chicken enchiladas are a hit every time! It’s easy to double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd, and they make a great make-ahead or freezer meal. Overall, it’s a dinner winner!
More MEXICAN MAIN DISHES You Have to Try:
- Pork Carnitas
- Refried Beans
- 3 Ingredient Spanish Rice
- Verde Enchiladas
- Steak Fajitas (or Chicken Fajitas)
- Smothered Bean and Cheese Enchiladas
- Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
- Mexican Street Corn – Elote
- Chorizo Potatoes
- All our MEXICAN RECIPES here!
Red Chicken Enchiladas
- 1 batch Red Enchilada Sauce, or canned sauce from store *see note
- 1 lb. Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded sharp white, divided
- 1 cup Cheese, shredded monterey jack, divided
- ½ cup Cilantro, minced fresh
- 12 Tortillas, 6-inch soft corn
- Cooking spray
- 1 Medium White Onion, *see note
- 1 Tomato, seeded, *see note
- Make batch of Red Enchilada Sauce (see link above). Reserve the tomato and onion chunks from step 6 in this recipe.
- Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.
- Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the tomato/onion mixture.
- Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, and the cilantro.
- Stir to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Oil a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable.
- Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down.
- Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.
- Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly
- Reduce the oven temperature to 400 F. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top.
- Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned.
- Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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Can’t really be called gluten free if your red sauce recipe calls for flour
You can just swap that out for your favorite gluten free red sauce!
Could I possibly add some baby spinach (from a bag) to this? I wouldn’t have to cook it first would I. Recipe sounds amazing without the spinach, I just love spinach and thought it would be a good addition.
Hi Janet! I love spinach too! It would be great in this. No need to cook it ahead of time.
This was delicious! I added some smoked paprika and adobo chili sauce to the enchilada sauce. I did not add the sugar and I don’t think anything was lacking in the finished product.
Carrian, I made these enchiladas last weekend.. They were so good! I have loved your blog way before I started my own! I love all your recipes : )
I love enchiladas!Yours look wonderful!
You know I'm a sucker for anything Cooks Illustrated. I've been wanting to try these for a while. I can't wait until I'm off this diet and can give it a go.
This enchiladas you have so flavor fully prepared here makes me want to hop on a plane & go to Mexico.Your beautiful pictures and step by step instructions are so thoughtfully written!