Turkey Enchiladas

Usually when our family makes enchiladas we use corn tortillas. But there’s something about turkey that I think just lends itself to a flour tortilla enchilada. Maybe it’s just years of eating leftover turkey, reheated in its own gravy and served with bread. In any case, if you are looking for what to make with your turkey leftovers, consider these enchiladas. You make your own chili sauce and dress it up a bit with cinnamon, cloves, and cumin for more depth than a standard enchilada sauce. The filling uses plenty of leftover turkey, along with onions, jalapeños, garlic, black beans, cheese, lime juice, and cilantro. Flour tortillas are dipped in the sauce, rolled up around the filling, aligned in a casserole pan, slathered with more sauce, sprinkled liberally with melty cheese, and baked until the cheese is melted.

Essential to properly enjoying enchiladas is of course the garnishes—avocado, onions, and cilantro for starters. I also highly recommend sour cream to counteract the heat of the chiles, and thinly sliced iceberg lettuce dressed only with salt and vinegar, to provide a cooling, tangy lift. Several turkey enchiladas recipes I found include sour cream in the sauce itself, which would make the sauce more creamy. This is certainly an option; I could go either way.

Do you have a favorite turkey enchiladas recipe using leftover turkey? If so, please let us know about it in the comments.

Turkey Enchiladas Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6.

Ingredients

Enchilada sauce:

  • 7 Tbsp chili powder (note that chili powders vary in strength, you may want to start with less and add more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt (less if using salted stock)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of turkey or chicken stock

Enchilada filling:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño chili peppers (1 for mild, 2 or more for spicy), seeded, minced
  • 3 cups cooked turkey meat, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (makes 2 cups grated cheese)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (can sub lemon juice)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
  • 8-16 flour tortillas, depending on size and thickness

Garnishes:

  • Chopped red onion
  • Chopped avocado
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream or crema fresca
  • Ice berg lettuce, sliced thin and sprinkled with salt and vinegar

Method

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1 First make the enchilada sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, cinnamon, ground cloves, sugar, salt, and flour. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a cast iron pan (or other thick-bottomed sauté pan). Add the spices and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Slowly whisk in the stock, until smooth. Let come to a simmer, cook for a minute, then remove from heat, cover and set aside.

2 Prepare the filling. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and jalapeños and cook until the onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Remove from heat. Place onion mixture in a medium mixing bowl. Mix in the cooked turkey meat, the beans, 1 cup of the grated cheese, 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, 2 Tbsp lime juice, and 1/2 a cup of the enchilada sauce. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt, or more to taste. Set aside.

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3 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the pan with the enchilada sauce on medium heat. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish (pyrex works well). Working one at a time, dip the flour tortillas in the sauce to coat them on both sides. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little water. Place the tortilla in the casserole dish and place anywhere from 1/4 of a cup to 1/2 cup of the filling in the middle of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the filling and place it in the casserole dish. Continue to roll up the rest of your tortillas until they fill the casserole dish. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese has melted.

4 Sprinkle with a little more lime juice before serving. Serve with chopped red onion, chopped avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream or crema fresca, and thinly sliced ice berg lettuce that has been dressed with vinegar and salt (no oil).

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41 Comments

  1. Ed

    Turkey enchiladas with GREEN sauce and JACK cheese is our favorite. Haven’t tried it with flour tortillas, but that sounds like it might work.

  2. Gillian

    Mmmm those look very yummy. I make enchiladas this way: the filling is a creamy turkey or chicken sauce flavoured with green chiles, green bell peppers, onions etc. Then I make a tomato chili based sauce which I spread over the top,and sprinkle with cheese. I like the look of your sauce that the tortillas are dipped in – I might adjust my recipe now! I dont like beans inside, instead serve rice and beans separate.

  3. Izzie

    This look delicious!
    Would this freeze well?

    I’m guessing that they would freeze well but I haven’t tried it. ~Elise

  4. leahbergy

    Seriously awesome enchilada recipe! I will definitely be making these again. :) I served them with Chipotle-style lime rice and guacamole. Soooo yummy! Thank you for the recipe!

  5. scott

    Just made this tonight. I used fresh garlic instead of powder and 1 chipotle in adobo instead of a fresh jalapeno. With the big burrito-sized tortillas, I could fit 7 in my baking dish. I wish I had thinned out the sauce a little bit more, because I ran out towards the end. The lettuce was a nice side, I did not have avocado or sour cream and did not bother with chopping another onion. Long story short, this was awesome. I will definitely make this again. Thanks for another great recipe.

  6. Penny

    Scrumptious, and I would suggest greek yogurt instead of sour cream for the lactose intolerant or those who want something a little less caloric. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. DD

    Thanks for posting this recipe! I tried it tonight and it was a great hit with all of my family. I was even asked to serve it again tomorrow! I made a few minor changes: layered corn tortillas, half the chili powder and green chiles instead of jalapenos (I have young children). I’ll certainly make it again soon.

  8. Jennifer W.

    THESE WERE AWESOME!!! Thank you so much for a fantastic dish. I’d cook a turkey just to make these.

  9. Ann H.

    These were the best enchiladas I have ever eaten. From now on we will be looking forward to the meal after Thanksgiving.

  10. skylax

    Looking at the recipe I couldn’t believe that it required 7 tablespoons of chili powder. I used 7 teaspoons instead and then after tasting it decided it was picante enough. Was that a typo?
    With my reduction to 1/3 the of chili powder I found this to be a winner.

    Not a typo. But perhaps your chili powder is stronger than mine, or perhaps I have a higher tolerance to heat. Everyone’s taste is different, so it’s best to follow one’s instincts with chili. So glad you did and it worked out for you! ~Elise

  11. Micah

    We always make turkey enchiladas the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We eat them that night, and then freeze the rest wrapped two in a bundle for easy reheating.
    I fill them with a mixture of shredded turkey, softened cream cheese, corn, and chiles, all smashed together. We make one pan of red and one of green. Yum!

  12. Judi

    Oh my! These were so delicious! And spicy!
    And I am sooooo glad to have leftovers for tonight’s dinner!
    Thanks, Elise for another terrific recipe!!

  13. heather

    My husband made these last night with our leftover turkey…so easy and delicious. Even our two children gobbled them up. We skipped the cloves, added extra cumin, and used sharp cheddar. Very good!

  14. elizabeth gil

    This recipe sounded and looked so delicious, but when I tried it,(I knew should have heeded that little voice that was telling me that 2 teaspoons of salt in the enchilada sauce seemed too much!)the saltiness was so disappointing, it really spoiled the taste completely. Also it could do with a little less chili powder and oregano. My husband is from Mexico and we cook Mexican food a lot, but the flavors, though really spicy,come from fresh raw ingredients, not necessarily dried spices and are usually better balanced and definitely not as salty! I might try this recipe again sometime(adjusted) when we’ve given our taste buds a rest.

    Hi Elizabeth, what might be throwing this off is that we use homemade stock, which is unsalted. I’ve clarified now in the recipe that you will want to use less salt if you are using salted stock. ~Elise

  15. Lee

    This looks great. Another to add to the “what the %$&* do I do with all this turkey” file. I’ve been making a turkey posole verde after Thanksgiving for years now. Boil some tomatillos and puree them, roast and peel some poblanos, saute some onions and garlic in a little oil, add the tomatillos, poblanos, chicken or turkey stock, a couple of cans of hominy, shredded turkey and lots of cilantro. Yummy!

  16. elizabeth

    Excellent! Several substitutions due to lack, corn tortillas, no flour, allspice, no cinnamon, greek yogurt no sour cream, frisee no iceburg, garbanzo no black. Agree with a prior poster, ran out of sauce, make extra or thin it. Will make it again, well done!

  17. Rosie

    This was fantastic. I made this recipe as written with the exception of omitting the cilantro (was afraid my 3yr old would abandon the entire dish if she saw it in there) and cheddar instead of jack cheese. We used homemade stock so the 2t of salt was just perfect and none of us thought the chili powder and other seasonings overpowered the dish.
    I had no idea how easy homemade enchilada sauce was and will not being buying canned again. Thank you!

  18. srs1972

    We called these Skyline Chili enchiladas. I didn’t know I had only two teaspoons of chili powder (I usually have way too much!) until I began cooking dinner this eve. What the heck I told myself. Make it anyway! The sauce sooooooooo reminds me of Cincinnati’s one and only. A little too salty for me (yep, I used homemade turkey broth- no salt added) but the men in my life loved it. I should have thinned the sauce because I ran out as well. I think I’ll add three cups broth and reduce salt additions to 1 tsps next time- that might do the trick. I can’t wait to try it with the recommended amount of chili powder. Then again, I am so glad to be rid of that honkin’ turkey! Thank you for another glorious recipe! You rock!

  19. Julie

    At the risk of repeating myself on my favorite food blog, my turkey enchilada recipe of choice is the WASP/New Mexican version which uses cream of mushroom soup:

    2 cans c of m (I use organic Annie’s but original calls for Campbell’s. Also works well with the boxed creamy portabello soup).
    1-2 tsp each of mexican oregano, cumin, coriander
    chopped yellow onion (can omit if feeling lazy – me? I’m lazy)
    chopped leftover turkey
    Approx 3×3 inch hunk of frozen Hatch green chile – or 2 4oz cans which Trader Joe’s carries.

    Combine these ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes or so.

    In a rectangular pyrex, layer enchilada mixture with corn tortillas and about 1 lb of grated cheese of choice: cheddar, pepper jack, cojita, etc. Some recipes call for warming the tortillas before layering. My husband – who taught me this recipe – just dips them in the soup and lays them down. Tortillas, mixture, cheese – 2-3 layers ending with lots of cheese on top.

    Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with yogurt or sour cream if desired.

    Photo posted here: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/cHBXOkG3btuQKrJ-Yl3IEOlo45Qtb8yoZ_H4w9m8Qio?feat=directlink

    This is the best way to celebrate the passing of Thanksgiving!

    By the way – I tried your cranberry relish this year and it was a huge hit!

  20. Christine

    Elise, what kind of chili powder do you use in the sauce?? I have some chili powder from Penzeys, but it is a blend of ground chili pepper, cumin, etc.

    We used up the last of our chili powder with this recipe. I have a new unopened jar of McCormick’s in the spice drawer, so I don’t remember which one I used. Could have been McCormick’s or Morton and Basset from Whole Foods. ~Elise

  21. Alison

    Oh. My. Lord. These are INCREDIBLE! It took me no more than 30 minutes to whip up, start to finish. I am so pumped that we have leftovers because we’ll be having them again tomorrow! I used whole wheat tortillas and they were quite tasty.

  22. Mike

    I, too, thought that 7tbsp of chili powder was a typo. I used about 3 1/2 tbsp and only one jalapeno (although very fresh) and still ended up with a VERY spicy dish (my scalp was sweating, and I like spicy food – a lot). I’m sure that the brand or age or storage conditions of the chili powder will make a big difference in different kitchens. We squeezed lime juice over them and went through an inordinate amount of sour cream to cope with that.

    Don’t be discouraged however. This is a fantastic recipe and perfect for breaking the monotony of 3 solid days of turkey and gravy and turkey and cranberry sandwiches. My advice would be to add a little chili powder at a time and taste the sauce repeatedly until you are happy with it.

    Also, after I dipped the second tortilla in the sauce I realized that I might run out. From there going forward, I dipped the tortillas and then squeegeed the extra sauce off with my fingers before stuffing and rolling them up. I ended up with 8 enchiladas and just the right amount of sauce to pour over top of them.

    P.S.: I have just enough filling left over to add a little mayonnaise and maybe some celery or dried fruit to and make a very unique turkey salad sandwich….

  23. Sarah

    This was my first time making enchiladas. They were very good, and yes, very spicy. My sauce came out to be more of a paste than a sauce though, not sure what happened there. I’ll definitely need to make more sauce next time too, cause I ended up with a lot less than it appears in the pictures. Maybe I should have added water to it. Anyway, this was a great recipe and I’ll definatley be making it again.

  24. lippy

    I made this last night. Absolutely fantastic!

    7TB Chili Powder…Guess what? I ran out. I made it to 5 and added 1TB of chipotle chili powder
    Absolutely perfect.

    Future changes: I probably wouldn’t add the salt (I had regular chicken broth).

    Thanks!

  25. Melanie

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I love, love, love enchiladas but only ever eat them out thinking the sauce would be too daunting to try myself (and never happy with canned versions). This was so simple but so delicious, I will reuse this sauce over and over. Only change I made was I had corn tortillas on hand, so used them.
    Yum! Thanks again.

  26. Lori on Little Traverse Bay

    I pulled some turkey out of the freezer (leftover from Christmas, not Thanksgiving!) and made these last night. They were amazing! And easy! I’ve made turkey enchiladas before, with canned sauce, to disappointing results. Never again! Thanks for sharing this recipe. Now I won’t mind the turkey leftovers at all!

  27. Jennifer W.

    Just got done grilling turkey cutlets for some late May enchiladas :)

  28. Regina

    Best recipe for this dish ever. The sauce is nirvana. The filling is bright. My family said they don’t want any other version of this dish.

  29. Catherine

    We had these last night! Really, really good – thank you!

  30. Karen

    Great recipe!! Rather than using this as a “leftovers” meal… It was THE Thanksgiving meal. And may I add, we have none left! I did sub the black beans with Trader Joe’s Cuban style black beans and I paired it with a Cranberry Mango salsa…delicious. I know it’s not traditional fare, but it was fun to do something different. I have everyone wanting this recipe. Hat tip to you sister.

  31. jimmer

    Very, very good sauce. I used 5 tablespoons of Penzy’s Hot Chili powder along with two tablespoons ground Ancho Chili powder and it was perfect.

    The sauce reminded me of almost a Mole, without the chocolate. I am curious if anyone has ever added cocoa or ground chocolate to this sauce?

    I think next time I will add about two teaspoons cocoa to the sauce and try that out.

  32. Mary Morris

    I used to use Las Palmas enchilada sauce. This sauce is a great one is great to the max. There is no way I will use Las Palmas again, – Mary

  33. Shandy

    I made these tonight and the whole family thought they were great! Thanks for the inspiration and recipe!

  34. Robert Morrow

    I have made similar receipe, but I found that dipping the tortillas in the sauce is messy. I steam the tortillas, corn or flour a few seconds to soften and then proceed with the recipe. Somewhat dried out tortillas or hot dog buns can be brought back to life with steam. Note do not oversteam, just enough to soften enough to roll.

  35. PennyT

    One of the greatest recipes I’ve found for turkey leftovers. Tried it and the family loved it! Also, the enchilada sauce is easy and as the availability of such products prepared in our area is very limited and quite expensive this will definitely go in my recipe collection as my family loves Mexican cuisine. Thank you!

  36. Annemarie

    Made this tonight. My audience is very sensitive to spice, so I used 5 teaspoons mexican-style chili powder (which is spicier than regular chili powder), and 2 teaspoons smoked paprika.

    I was running out of the enchilada sauce and had almost none to top the enchiladas at the end, though there was a lot in the dish already. So I heated up some extra stock (maybe a few tablespoons?) in the skillet that I cooked the sauce and stirred it around to get the remnants of the sauce. Poured it over the top, and covered with cheese.

    Speaking of cheese, I doubled the amount to 16 oz. and used half Monterrey jack and half cheddar.

    Amazingly delicious, thanks!

  37. Jennifer L

    I made these ahead, so I didn’t dip in the sauce,I instead added some to the chicken filling and then I poured it over the top. The tortillas could soak it up without getting too soggy overnight.

    I also added extra cilantro (love cilantro), omitted the jalapenos (I’m the only one who likes the extra spice). I used 5 tablespoons chili powder and a little paprika (again I’m the only one who likes spice :-( boo).

    They turned out amazing!!! I did have to roll the enchiladas in the sauce before baking, but that was easy enough to get a full coating.

    The great part about this recipe? I had EVERYTHING on hand (I freeze my own stock into cubes and then add water as needed) except the cilantro which was only 99 cents, even taking into account the cost of the stuff I had on hand, this was less than $7 to make. Cheapest meal of the week and very tasty!

  38. Ashley Johnson

    Tried these! They are FABULOUS! My favorite Mexican Dish yet! :)

  39. Heather

    The only problem we’ve had when making these is the sauce doesn’t spread far enough for the bottom of the dish, covering the tortillas, and drizzling on top. I end up diluting it quite a bit, or leaving out a bit of the flour, and also diluting with water. The taste is still fantastic! I make nearly 2 dozen sometimes just so there are some leftover!

  40. Gabriele Streuer

    I have made Turkey Mole Enchiladas with my left over turkey from a Thanksgiving turkey one year and it was delicious! I made the sauce from scratch on Monday before Thanksgiving and then just assembled the left overs the day after… soo good!

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