Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

Homemade chipotle chicken enchiladas made easy using a store-bought rotisserie chicken. A simple and zesty homemade red adobo sauce adds just enough spice to this classic Mexican restaurant favorite.

white plate of cut open enchilada and a fork

Enchiladas are like the cannelloni of Mexican cuisine. Or is cannelloni the enchiladas of Italian cuisine? Both dishes feature meat and cheese rolled up in a flat dough covered with a tomato sauce.

In the case of enchiladas, the tube is a corn tortilla and the sauce a red chile adobo sauce. I love how different cultures historically (and I think, coincidentally) created similar dishes using local ingredients.

And these Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas are a perfect example of that. They can be anything from an easy weeknight meal to a Sunday supper celebration. And even a little thing can be worth celebrating.

Let’s get things rolling.

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Mexican tomato sauce

wooden board with a chopped onion, garlic and spices and bowls tomato sauces.
Simple ingredients for enchilada sauce include tomato sauce, spices, herbs and adobo chipotle chiles.

The foundation of enchiladas is the sauce. And in this case, we are making a red chile adobo sauce that starts with – you guessed it – a can of chipotle chiles in red adobo sauce.

Smoky chipotle chiles are tucked in a little bath of adobo sauce (a sweet sauce). The fact that these chiles are ready in a can makes life so much easier.  You’re only going to use about ½ of the can but pour the rest into a ziploc bag, label it and tuck it in the freezer for the next time. Or make a double batch of sauce.  

More on that below.

This easy sauce recipe begins as all good tomato sauces begin. With a pan of sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil. Again with the similarities!

Rock and roux

The base of a homemade enchilada sauce starts with a roux. Here’s how to make it:

roux with onions and a glass measuring cup of chicken broth.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil and butter.
blender with adobo sauce and bowl of flour.
Puree chipotle chiles and broth in blender.
adobo sauce in a sauce pan with a spoon on a small dish.
Add the blender to the roux along with tomato sauce and simmer.

Where things diverge between this tomato sauce and a Classic Italian Red Sauce is the use of a roux.

A roux is equal parts fat and flour (a roux is also the base of béchamel or basic white sauce).

For this chicken enchiladas recipe, onions and garlic are sauteed in olive oil and a little butter which helps round out the flavor. Then the flour is stirred in for about two minutes. The roux helps make a non-creamy sauce creamy and smooth while cooking out the flour flavor. 

Because who wants to taste that?

While the onions and garlic do their thing, blend up the chiles, a little of the adobo sauce they come in and some broth (chicken or vegetable —if a vegetarian enchilada is what you’re after).

Now that the roux has cooked up, add some tomato sauce, the spices and a little bit of sugar and let the whole thing get nice and comfortable for a bit. 

Time to get shredding your chicken and grating your cheese.

Easy chicken enchilada fillings

These red chicken enchiladas have only two ingredients in the filling:

  • Chicken – you have two choices:
    • Easier:: shred a whole store-bought rotisserie chicken or 
    • Easy:  you can use my super easy, always reliable Foolproof Chicken method. 
    • p.s. Make extra chicken so you can add it to this Easy Lemon Garlic Pasta. Two dinners from one dish! (Sorry – that Italian recipe rabbit-hole can be hard to resist.)
  • Cheese – grate a blend of:
    • Chihuahua
    • Sharp cheddar

More filling ideas:

  • Canned green chiles
  • Green onion
  • Black olives
  • Combo of sauteed vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, yellow squash and red onions

What kind of tortillas for enchiladas?

Some, like my husband, prefer flour tortillas in their enchiladas.

Corn tortillas are classic in addition to being healthier. And corn tortillas are gluten-free.

And they have more flavor than their flour cousins. So many benefits!

If you’re like my husband and are wondering, YES!  You can make chicken enchiladas with flour tortillas. Make sure you soften them in the microwave and don’t oversauce them or they will become mushy. 


How to Soften Tortillas

Dampen a clean kitchen towel and place the corn tortillas inside. Microwave for about 1- 1 ½ minute(s) to soften the tortillas.


Prepare an enchilada rolling workstation

bowls of shredded chicken, enchilada sauce and a tortilla with sauce and chicken.
Station: plates for rolling enchiladas, chicken, and cheese.
steps for rolling enchiladas topping with cheese
Top sauce-dipped tortilla with shredded chicken and cheese.
chicken enchiladas in a pan with sauce before baking
Roll and line up in a sauce-lined baking dish.
  • Ladle 1 cup of sauce into a pie plate and another cup into a baking pan. Have another pie plate or shallow bowl filled with shredded cheese and a third with your shredded chicken.
  • Dip each tortilla into the sauce and using tongs, turn over gently. Lay on a clean work surface and place a small amount of chicken, cheese and whatever else you choose across the tortilla.
  • Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the tortilla encasing the filling. Place into one end of the prepared baking pan. Keep going until you’ve used up all the tortillas and filling.

Chipotle chicken enchiladas pairings

white dish of enchilada and cilantro rice and some green onions

Cilantro LIme Rice: This 3 minute recipe is one of my all-time favorite things to serve with Mexican dishes. Go grab the recipe where it’s shared in my Crispy Beef Burrito recipe.

Homemade Guacamole: Always easy and super fresh!

Storage, make ahead and freezing

Freezing: you can freeze chicken enchiladas. One tip is to soften each tortilla for about 10 seconds in heated oil. Drain on paper towels before saucing and rolling. The oil acts as a barrier and keeps the sauce from over-saturating the tortillas.

Make Ahead: To make ahead of time, assemble the enchiladas and put a light layer of sauce on top. Right before baking, add more sauce and then top with shredded cheese.


Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


white plate of cut open enchilada and a fork.
5 from 4 votes

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Adobo Sauce

Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:30 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cup rotisserie chicken, from one chicken,deboned and shredded
  • 8 oz sharp white cheddar, grated
  • 4 oz chihuahua cheese, grated
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 corn tortillas, can use flour

For the Sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.

For the Sauce

  • Pour 1/2 cup of chicken broth into a blender.
  • Add the two adobo chiles along with the sauce. Blend until smooth and incorporated for 1 minute. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned for three minutes.
  • Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the butter to the pan along with the flour. Reduce the heat to low and stir for two minutes until the flour is cooked out and the onion/roux is lightly browned.
  • Pour the contents of the blender, the remaining broth and the tomato sauce into the saucepan. Add the spices. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Assemble the Enchiladas

  • Ladle 1 cup of sauce into the bottom a 9 x 13 baking pan. Set aside.
  • Pour 1 cup of sauce into a low shallow pie plate or bowl.
  • Using tongs, dip a tortilla into the sauce to coat one side. Flip over and coat the other side. Allow the excess to drip off. Place on a work surface or plate.
  • Layer 1/4 cup of chicken into the tortilla. Top with cheese and some green onions. Roll to close and place in baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • If making ahead of time, spoon a little more sauce over the enchiladas and cover the whole pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until before baking time.
  • When ready to bake, add extra sauce if they enchildas look like they need it. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
  • See notes below for serving suggestions.

Notes

To soften tortillas before dipping:
Dampen a clean kitchen towel and place the corn tortillas inside. Microwave for about 1- 1 ½ minute(s) to soften the tortillas
Other Filling Ideas:
  • Canned green chiles
  • Green onion
  • Black olives
  • Combo of sauteed vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, yellow squash and red onions
Serve with:
Make ahead and Freezing Tips:
Freezing: Soften each tortilla for about 10 seconds in a pan of heated vegetable or avocado oil. Drain on paper towels before saucing and rolling. The oil acts as a barrier and keeps the sauce from over-saturating the tortillas.
Make Ahead: The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it. The enchiladas are best made earlier in the day you plan to serve them. Assemble the enchiladas and put a light layer of sauce on top. Right before baking, add more sauce and then top with shredded cheese. 
Course: Chicken, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, Southwest; Tex-Mex
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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8 Comments

    1. Hi Monica! Yes absolutely. I sometimes will make a double batch and freeze it as well for another day. Works just great. Thanks for the question and please let me know what you think if you give them a try 😊

    1. Hey Kathy! I am so sorry!! The recipe is corrected…it is added in to the sauce pan with the roux, onions, spices etc. Good catch and thank you!! Sending you a FB message in case you were making this right now!