Cheese Enchiladas Recipe

I love cheese enchiladas!



“Enchiladas were a family staple growing up, though thankfully this cheese enchilada recipe has much less fat in it these days.  My mother, a fifth generation hispanic Arizonian, learned this recipe from my grandmother.  Note that there are many kinds of enchiladas – green chile, shrimp, chicken, red chili – to name a few.  This recipe is much more “Tex Mex” than Mexican, and is very easy make.”

Enchiladas Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

A note about the tortillas.  The corn tortillas must be softened before they are rolled and baked in the casserole.  Frying them gently in a little oil greatly enhances the flavor of the tortillas.


  • Grapeseed oil (or another high smoke-point oil such as peanut or canola oil)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of salsa (Mild prepared salsa or make your own using cooked or canned tomatoes, roasted green chiles, onions, cilantro, oil and vinegar.  Do not use salsa made with fresh, uncooked tomatoes for this dish.)
  • 3 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes (preferably fire roasted)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb of jack cheese, mild cheddar or longhorn or any mild yellow cheese, grated
  • A handful of cilantro
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • Half a head of iceberg lettuce


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 In a large fry pan at medium-high heat add 3 Tbsp of grapeseed oil.  Add a tortilla to the pan.  Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath.  Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath.  Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed.  This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat.  You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas.  As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.

2 Sauté up the chopped onion and garlic, then turn off the heat.  Add 1 cup of salsa.  Dissolve 3 Tbsp of tomato paste into 1 cup of water, add to pan.  Add 1 cup of crushed fire roasted canned tomatoes.  Taste.  If the sauce tastes too vinegary, add a teaspoon of sugar.

3 Put some olive oil on the bottom of a large casserole pan.  Take a tortilla, cover 2/3 of it lightly with the shredded cheese, then roll up the tortilla and place it in the casserole pan.  Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled.  Add sauce to the top of the tortillas in the the casserole pan.  Make sure all are covered with the sauce.  If not, add a little water.  Cover the whole thing with the rest of the grated cheese.  Put the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.

4 Garnish with cilantro and sour cream.  Serve with sliced iceberg lettuce that has been dressed only with vinegar and salt.  See Perfect Guacamole for a great guacamole avocado side dish.

Yield: Serves 4.


Chicken Enchilada Recipe

I watched several cooking shows today on cooking Mexican food.  Mexican food is a type of food I enjoy but have no idea how to make.  I think I will learn how to cook Mexican food.


Mom's Chicken Enchiladas

“Ninety-five percent of the time when we have enchiladas, it is my mom’s (amazingly good, incredibly awesome) cheese enchiladas.  Once in a while however, she’ll make chicken enchiladas.  With chicken enchiladas she often uses a red chili sauce which is spicier than the green chiles of the cheese enchiladas.  Sometimes she uses canned enchiladas sauce, sometimes she makes it from scratch.  Sometimes she coats the tortillas in sauce before cooking them, sometimes she doesn’t. Every time she cooks it is an improvisation, so it can be difficult to pin her down on any one method or another.  I’ve presented here her basic methods, with the variations.”

Mom’s Chicken Enchiladas Recipe


  • 1 small onion, chopped (about a cup)
  • Vegetable oil – grapeseed or olive
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5-ounce can tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted if you can get it
  • 2 Tbsp red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup to a cup of water
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Grapeseed oil, peanut oil or canola oil – a high smoke point vegetable oil
  • 2-3 cups of cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 cups grated cheese (about 1/3 lb)


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2 Prepare the sauce.  Coat a large skillet with oil and sauté the onions on medium heat until translucent, a few minutes.  Add the garlic for a minute more. While the onions are cooking, purée the canned tomatoes in a blender.  Add the tomatoes to the onions and garlic.  Bring to a low simmer.  Start adding the chili powder, one teaspoon at a time, tasting after each addition, until you get to the desired level of heat and chili flavor.  For us that’s around 2 Tablespoons.  But it depends on your taste and how strong the chili powder is that you are using.  Note that the tortillas and chicken will absorb some of the heat, so allow for that and let it be a little bit spicier than what you want in the finished dish.  Add a teaspoon of sugar if necessary to cut down on the acid from the tomatoes.  You want more of the taste of the chili and less of the tomatoes for this sauce.  As the sauce simmers, dilute it with water to keep it from getting too thick as it simmers.  Remove from heat.

Alternatively, use a prepared canned enchilada sauce, which can be perfectly fine.

3  Mix in 1/4 cup of the sauce with the cooked chicken, and a 1/4 cup of the cheese.  Sprinkle with a little salt.  Set aside.

4  Prepare the tortillas.  There are 2 basic ways to prepare the tortillas – the traditional way of dipping them in the sauce and heating them individually, and my mom’s way when she is trying to cut down on the fat.

First the traditional way.  Heat a small light skillet on med-high heat.  Add a teaspoon of oil (high smoke point oil as indicated above, we use grapeseed oil) to coat the pan.  Dip a tortilla in the sauce to coat the tortilla with sauce on both sides.  Place the tortilla in the skillet and heat for a few seconds, until the tortilla begin to show some air bubbles.  Use a metal spatula to flip to the other side for a few more seconds.  Set aside on a plate.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Proceed to the step 5.

For my mom’s low-fat method of heating up the tortillas, she places a small amount of oil in the skillet to coat the pan.  Add a tortilla, flip it to its other side.  Then add another tortilla on top of the first to soak up some of the excess oil.  Flip them both together and add yet another tortilla.  Keep adding them wherever there seems to be some excess oil.  The idea is to heat the tortillas and soften them with the minimum amount of oil.  As the tortillas become soft and heated, remove them to a paper towel to soak up even more excess oil.  If you find you need more oil in the pan, add it.  With this method, you do NOT get the chili flavor infused in the tortillas.  It is a matter of preference.  I prefer the first method, excess oil or not, because it has a much richer and spicier flavor.  But as my mom says, “Anything goes.  This is just a guideline; do what you want.”

Note that because we made this batch the low-fat way, the following photos show tortillas not coated in chili sauce, but the method is the same for if you did.

5 Assemble the enchiladas.  Use an 8×12 inch pyrex baking dish. Place a couple spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in the center of a tortilla and roll it up.  Place in the baking dish and repeat until all dozen of your tortillas are neatly placed in rows in the casserole dish.  Cover the tortillas rolls with the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.  Note that I recall often eating these chicken enchiladas with very little cheese on them.  Instead we had probably 2/3 cup of chopped fresh onion that had been soaked in vinegar sprinkled over the top.  (My mom, bless her soul, has no recollection of the chicken enchiladas without the sprinkled cheese.  But she’s in her 70s and sometimes doesn’t remember these things.  Or she remembers later and doesn’t remember that she ever forgot them in the first place.  But heck, I’m in my 40s and my memory isn’t what it used to be either.)

6 Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Use a metal spatula to serve.

Serve with thinly sliced iceberg lettuce that has been seasoned with vinegar and salt (no oil), guacamole or avocado slices, and sour cream. Garnish with cilantro.

Serves 4.