Who doesn’t love a good enchilada? Make those enchiladas a skillet recipe that uses up leftover chicken, only dirties a single pan, and is ready in about 30 minutes, and you have a weeknight meal with Friday night appeal!
Start With Leftover Chicken
In the winter, it’s often chicken noodle soup, but as the weather warms, I want less time at the stove and something I can eat with a fork! This easy skillet enchilada recipe hits the mark every time.
You may not have leftover chicken laying around. No worries! Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket or quickly poach those chicken breasts hanging out in the fridge.
A Word About Cheese
This recipe calls for cotija cheese, a dry, crumbly, salty Mexican cheese, but feel free to use what you enjoy and what you can find. I'm partial to both cotija and queso fresco, which is similar to cotija in that it likes to crumble, but it's a younger cheese and has more moisture in it. Both are salty and I love them.
If you can't find either cheese, or if for you an enchilada isn't an enchilada unless it's dripping in ooey, gooey, melty cheddar cheese, who am I to judge? Feel free to substitute shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese for the cotija. If you do sub the cheeses out, you might want to add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt to your sauce.
What’s in Enchilada Sauce
Traditional sauces are usually made with pureed rehydrated chilis and tomatoes, but for mine, I wanted to forego the blender and use what I have readily available in my spice drawer and pantry.
The ingredients are simple: onion and garlic, mild green chilis, tomato sauce, and a trio of spices. That’s it!
How to Roll Enchiladas
It’s common to dip tortillas in the enchilada sauce, fry them, then fill them. For this recipe, I simplified the steps.
Flour tortillas are more pliable than corn, which gives me the flexibility to skip the dip-and-fry method. I like this because I save on dishes, time, and calories from oil. (Although, I typically just consume the calories via this simple margarita recipe. It’s all about balance, right?)
To assemble each enchilada, just put the chicken, cheese, and a little sauce down the center of the tortilla, fold in the sides, roll it up and place it seam side down in the pan!
If you’re partial to corn tortillas and want to use them for this recipe, wrap them in damp paper towels and heat them briefly in the microwave just long enough to make them pliable (30 to 45 seconds). Work with one at a time, keeping the rest covered in the paper towels. Don’t fold in the sides before you roll them.
What Is the Best Pan to Use?
You want a 12-inch skillet with high sides to make this dish.
Not into chicken? Feel free to add a little chili powder to leftover ground beef, steak, or beans. Have loads of leftover roasted vegetables? Add them to the chicken, or make the meal vegetarian and replace all the meat.
What to Serve With Enchiladas
Oh, you wanted food recommendations. No problem! I’m here to help! Enchiladas go great with refried black beans or these spicy citrus beans! If you love cilantro, try this flavorful and fragrant cilantro lime rice.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
These enchiladas will keep in the fridge for up to four days, or you can portion them out and freeze them for up to three months. Take an enchilada to work and just zap it in the microwave.
If you’re looking for a freezer meal, this is a great one to double, cook, freeze, and reheat. Just let the whole pan cool to room temp. Transfer them to a freezer-safe container. When ready to eat, reheat them in a microwave or transfer them to a baking dish, covered in aluminum foil, and bake at 350°F for an hour.
Enchiladas All Day Every Day!
- Red Chili Chicken Enchiladas are baked to perfection!
- The humble, but spectacular, tomatillo makes these Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas a weeknight show stopper!
- Swap out chicken and make these Turkey Black Bean Enchiladas!
- Looking for a vegetarian enchilada? Look no further and enjoy this Tex-Mex Cheese version!
Easy Chicken Skillet Enchiladas
If you don't have leftover chicken on hand for this recipe, you can quickly poach a few chicken breasts following this method.
- 8 ounces cooked chicken (about 2 cups shredded)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1/4 yellow onion, minced (about 1/3 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 4-ounce can mild green diced chilis
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 8 taco-sized flour tortillas
- 8 ounces cotija cheese
- To serve:
- Radishes, thinly sliced
- Sour cream
Shred the leftover chicken so it’s ready when you need it. You should have about 2 cups.
Make the sauce:
In a large, high-sided skillet set over medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil shimmers, add onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute, just until softened.
Add tomato sauce, water, diced green chilis, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on medium to medium-low while you assemble the enchiladas.
Assemble the enchiladas:
Put about 2 tablespoons of shredded chicken down the center of each tortilla. (You don’t really have to measure the meat. Just divide it evenly among the tortillas!) Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon cotija cheese (just eyeball it) across the chicken, and spoon 1-2 teaspoons sauce over the cheese.
Fold in the sides of the tortilla, roll it up, and put it seam side down in the sauce. Nestle them in the pan. Repeat this until the pan is full. Spoon sauce over the top of the enchiladas.
Top with cheese and cover:
Sprinkle additional cotija cheese over the top of the enchiladas. Cover with a lid and let them simmer until the cheese is melted and the tortillas look puffy, like they soaked up some sauce. This should take about 5 minutes.
Garnish and serve:
Lift the lid and sprinkle cilantro and thinly sliced radishes over the top. Serve alongside sliced avocado, jalapeño, and sour cream.