Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

  • 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)


  • 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


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

Showing 4 of 112 Comments

  • Paula

    Hi Elise…love this site and it is a “go-to” for me anytime I need help or inspiration! Just curious…I printed this recipe back in 2009 and noticed today the recipe is slightly different. I dissolved 3T tomato paste in 1cup water, used 1C salsa and 1C fire roasted tomatoes….did not call for oregano. I am quite sure either recipe is fine but just wondering if there is another recipe or if this just got altered over the years?

  • Sarah

    And! the lettuce salad was the perfect side dish. I used rice vinegar & added some sliced avocado.

  • Sarah

    I love that this is a family recipe. I followed the recipe & techniques carefully except for some tweaks to make it suit my own family (extra oregano, triple garlic, some cumin, and some spicy cooked ground lamb, onion, and herbs mixed in with the filling). Oh, and since we prefer cheese that is not too much cooked, I put the topping cheese on in the last few minutes of baking.

    My only mistake was not making a double batch! I won’t make that mistake again. Everyone was hoping for leftovers, but there are none!

    I did use white corn tortillas since that’s all I had access to today, but they were good quality I think and worked okay. Maybe a little falling apart-ness, but not bad.

    Thank you for this well-written and well-photographed recipe.

  • gigi

    do you cover with foil before putting in the oven? Thanks.

  • Jessica

    The first time I made these they were excellent! I’ve tried to make them 3 more times since and I always end up with a mushy mess. Any tips on how to keep the corn tortillas from turning to mush? I don’t know what I’m doing different!

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