Enchiladas

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When I’m asked, “what’s your favorite recipe on the site?,” my reply without hesitation is this one, my mother’s cheese enchiladas. We had enchiladas at least once a month my entire childhood; it’s still the most requested recipe from any of my siblings when they come home to visit. We’ll often make extra just so my father can have leftover enchiladas for breakfast the next day (it’s his version of chilaquiles).

My mother, a fifth generation hispanic Arizonian, was taught this recipe by 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 easy to make.

Updated, from the recipe archive. First posted in 2005.

Enchiladas Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

A note about the tortillas. Sturdy yellow corn tortillas hold up better in these enchiladas than more delicate white corn 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. Do not use flour tortillas for this recipe.

If you don't have green chiles, you can substitute the chiles with a cup of your favorite prepared salsa (cooked, do not use salsa made with fresh, uncooked tomatoes)

Ingredients

  • Peanut oil, canola oil, or other high smoke point oil
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (or peanut or canola)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 14-ounce can (about 1 3/4 cup) crushed tomatoes (preferably fire roasted)
  • 3/4 cup of chopped cooked green chiles (about a 4-ounce can), or 1/3 cup chopped pickled jalapeños (more or less to taste, depending on the heat of the chiles and how spicy you want your enchiladas)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 lb (4 cups) of jack cheese, mild cheddar , or a mix, grated
  • A handful of cilantro
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • Half a head of iceberg lettuce

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

enchiladas-1 enchiladas-2 enchiladas-3 enchiladas-4

2 In a large frying pan at medium-high heat add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is shimmering and hot (not quite smoking), add a corn tortilla to the pan. Cook it for 2-3 seconds, use a metal spatula to turn it over, and cook it for 2 to 3 seconds more. Lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath. Cook the second tortilla for 2-3 seconds, lift both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath. Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding more oil as needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. It's important to pre-cook the tortillas because not only does cooking them help soften them for rolling, cooking them in a little fat helps develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove them to a plate.

saute onions until translucent add crushed tomatoes and chiles

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5-6 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the crushed tomatoes. Add the green chiles. Add 1/2 cup of water. Add the oregano. Bring to a simmer and taste. If the sauce tastes too vinegary, add half a teaspoon of sugar to the sauce. Remove from heat.

place shredded cheese in center of softened tortilla roll up tortilla place rolled tortillas in casserole fill up casserole dish with rolled tortillas

3 Put a little olive oil on the bottom of a 3-quart 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.

spread sauce evenly over rolled tortillas sprinkle grated cheese over sauce

4 Add sauce to the top of the tortillas in the the casserole pan. Make sure the rolled up tortillas are covered with the sauce. If not, add a little water to thin the sauce to spread it more evenly over the tortillas. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the grated cheese. Put the casserole in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Serve with sliced iceberg lettuce that has been dressed only with vinegar and salt. Garnish enchiladas with cilantro and sour cream.

See Perfect Guacamole for a great guacamole avocado side dish.

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mom making enchiladas

My mom browning and softening the tortillas for the enchiladas

Cheese Enchiladas

original photo of enchiladas on Simply Recipes

Original photo, first posted in 2005

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Showing 4 of 112 Comments

  • Jackie Griffth

    Hello,
    I never comment on web sites BUT you truly deserve one. I make my own red sauce from scratch which I enjoy, but your way of cooking the corn tortilla is GREAT. What a good idea. I use to fry them one at a time and it was so messy. Your way is so much better THANKS!!

  • Teresa

    I used Queso Fresco and Quesadilla cheese to stuff the tortillas. I also used a delicious can of enchilada sauce

    The reason I give this recipe such a high rating is because of the cooking technique for the corn tortillas. One tablespoon of oil can go a VERY long way. The flash fry method brings out the corn flavor of the tortillas. I love this simple, quick recipe. I will be using this recipe often. Thank you!

  • Miriam Unruh

    I grew up with my mom making a similar version, but she put the sour cream in with the cheese; I add cumin to the mix, and if I’m feeling celebratory, shrimp. I often make these along with Bayless’s pork enchiladas (or a version of) and black beans. Absolutely my favorite comfort meal.

  • Linda

    These were AMAZING! I will make them forever. Thank you for sharing your Mom’s recipe with us. ::off to get 2nds::
    :)

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