Update 10/2015: After years and years living here on my site, these favorite chicken enchiladas needed a facelift. Hello new pictures! And also, I’ve included a few additional notes in the recipe about variations, substitutions and a few tips to make the recipe easier (and dare I say yummier?).
Growing up, my mom made enchiladas for dinner a lot. A lot, a lot. And it wasn’t until college that I realized chicken enchiladas are sometimes, often, usually made with red sauce. What?!? Creamy white chicken enchiladas were all I knew. My existence revolved around them. (P.S.: It wasn’t until this divine red sauce version came into my life that I finally admitted, just slightly, that red sauce enchiladas should even be players in the enchilada field.)
Over the years I’ve tweaked my mom’s fabulous recipe to use a really simple homemade white sauce and I’ve added tender white beans and a touch of creaminess to the chicken and green chile filling. Despite all the glorious food and millions of recipes that haunt my dreams begging me to make them, these delicious enchiladas still make at least a monthly appearance around here. To be honest, I’m pretty sure my family would revolt if I were to do something questionable like pull them from the menu. They’re good. Really good. That’s what I’m saying.
UPDATE: over the years as I've continued to make this enchilada recipe at least monthly, I've tweaked just a few things. I've added notes to the ingredients below but basically, I always add chopped, fresh cilantro to the filling + a squeeze of fresh lime juice. You can leave either or both out if you don't prefer them. Also, the green enchilada sauce can easily be replaced by salsa verde (Herdez is my favorite brand) or with this simple homemade version.
- 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken (a rotisserie chicken works great here or this simple method for quick, cooked shredded chicken)
- 2 cans (4-ounces each) green chiles, lightly drained
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, light or regular, softened and cubed
- 1 can (15-ounces) white or black beans, rinsed and drained (you can really use any type of bean you prefer here or leave them out)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup (8 ounces) green chile enchilada sauce (or salsa verde)
- 1/2 cup sour cream, light or regular
- 8 ounces (about 2 cups) Monterey jack cheese, shredded
- 8 medium (soft taco size) flour or corn tortillas
- Handful of chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and green chiles. Mix well. Add the chicken, black beans, cilantro and lime juice. Mix to combine. Set aside.
- In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. As you whisk and the mixture cooks, the flour will get less lumpy around the onions and the mixture will become smooth. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the enchilada sauce and sour cream.
- Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish. Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce in a thin layer on the bottom of the dish. Fill each tortilla with about 1/2 cup of the chicken/cream cheese filling. Top with a small handful of shredded cheese, a couple tablespoonfuls for each enchilada. Save at least 1/2 cup cheese for the top of the enchiladas.
- Roll the tortillas up and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Continue filling enchiladas until the dish is full (I get about 8 enchiladas for this recipe).
- Pour the white sauce over the top of the enchiladas and spread evenly. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the enchiladas are bubbling, hot and lightly browned. Sprinkle fresh cilantro over the top and serve.
Make Ahead Instructions: Follow the recipe instructions, letting the sauce cool to warm room temperature before proceeding with filling the enchiladas. Assemble the enchiladas as directed in the recipe with the cooled sauce. Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8-12 hours before baking. Bake according to the recipe, adding an additional 5-10 minutes if needed since the enchiladas were refrigerated. Alternately, after assembling, the baking pan can be covered with a double layer of foil and put in a jumbo-sized resealable bag and frozen for up to two months. Bake from frozen by decreasing the baking temperature to 350 degrees F and baking the enchiladas covered for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour until the dish is hot and bubbly.
Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe