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).
Video! Easy Enchiladas
How to Make Enchiladas
My mother, a fifth generation Hispanic Arizonian, was taught this recipe by my grandmother. Here's her step-by-step guide to how to make enchiladas using yellow corn tortillas, a cheesy filling, and a tomato and green chile sauce.
You soften some corn tortillas, put some jack cheese in them, and roll them up. Place the rolled tortillas in a 9x13 casserole dish, cover them with the tomato and green chile sauce, a little more cheese, and bake.
A Tip About Tortilla Prep
Sturdy yellow corn tortillas hold up better in these enchiladas than more delicate white corn tortillas. (Do not use flour tortillas for this recipe; the flavor isn't right.) The corn tortillas must be softened before they are rolled and baked in the casserole.
Frying them gently in a little oil both softens the tortillas and also greatly enhances their flavor. You can do this one at a time, or you can adopt my mother's trick.
She places another tortilla either on top of the tortilla in the pan (and then flips both tortillas), or beneath it. In either case, the tortilla picks up some of the excess fat from the first tortilla.
You can continue "stacking" tortillas, removing the ones that have bubbled, softened and lightly browned, while adding more oil as needed to the pan. This way you can heat and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat.
How to Make This Enchilada Sauce
The sauce for these enchiladas couldn't be easier to make! Start by cooking chopped onions and garlic in a skillet. Then add canned crushed tomatoes, green chiles, some oregano and a little water.
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).
What to Serve with Enchiladas
We like to eat these enchiladas with a simple side of thinly sliced iceberg lettuce sprinkled with a little apple cider vinegar and some salt. Iceberg lettuce is cool and crunchy and has just the right texture and taste to accompany these enchiladas.
You can also serve them with chopped avocado or guacamole, dollops of sour cream, and a some fresh chopped cilantro.
Make-Ahead, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions
You can assemble these enchiladas the day before and refrigerate them until you're ready to bake them. Once cooked, they'll keep for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.
You can also freeze them, and just reheat them in the microwave or oven. To freeze, wrap them first in plastic wrap and then in heavy duty aluminum foil.
More Enchiladas to Love
- Red Chili Chicken Enchiladas
- Green Chile Enchiladas
- Easy Chicken Skillet Enchiladas
- Texas Stacked Enchiladas with Corn and Black Beans
- Creamy Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or other cooking oil
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1/2 onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 (14-ounce can) crushed tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
- 3/4 cup 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 pound (4 cups) jack cheese, mild cheddar , or a mix, grated
- To serve:
- Half a head of iceberg lettuce
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Sprinkle of salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- A handful cilantro
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Lightly fry the tortillas to soften:
In a large frying pan at medium-high heat add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is shimmering and hot, add a corn tortilla to the pan. Cook it for several seconds, use a metal spatula to turn it over, and cook it for few seconds more.
You can soften all of the tortillas this way, one at a time, or you can use my mom's trick of doubling and tripling up the tortillas to absorb excess fat.
My mother places another tortilla either on top of the tortilla in the pan (and then flips both tortillas), or beneath it. In either case, the tortilla picks up some of the excess fat from the first tortilla.
You can continue "stacking" tortillas, removing the ones that have bubbled, softened and lightly browned, while adding more oil as needed to the pan.
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.
Make the enchilada sauce:
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 to 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.
Roll up the tortillas with cheese:
Put a little olive oil on the bottom of a 3-quart (9x13) casserole pan. Cover 2/3 of a tortilla lightly with the shredded cheese, then roll it up and place it in the casserole pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled.
Add sauce and cheese:
Add sauce to the top of the tortillas in 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 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Serve with sliced (1/3-inch to 1/2-inch) iceberg lettuce that has been sprinkled with apple cider vinegar and salt. Garnish enchiladas with cilantro and sour cream.
See Perfect Guacamole for a great guacamole avocado side dish.