Red Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
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A staple of the mid-week family dinner is this absolute classic and much-loved dish. Yes, the famed Red Chicken Enchiladas are consumed by the millions in households all around the world every week. For good reason too! They’re tasty, affordable, and easy to make. The trifecta of good home cooking right there! Many households (including ours for years) relied on store bought sauces to whip these up. However, since making this ridiculously tasty homemade Enchilada Sauce, we’re never going back to the store-bought stuff again!

It’s no secret what makes great homemade Enchiladas; the Enchilada Sauce!

The vibrant bold flavors from a great homemade Enchilada Sauce are what makes this dish. The complexity and intensity of flavors is simply unmatched when compared to those store-bought sauces. Trust us, once you’ve tried this homemade Enchilada Sauce you’re never going back to buying the stuff from the grocery store every again

The good news about this sauce is you can batch cook it and freeze it for up to 2 months. Therefore, if you’re fiending for some more Enchiladas in a few weeks’ time, simply whip out a block of this wonderful Sauce and you’re ready to go!

Red Chicken Enchiladas sauce
This beautiful sauce is the key to making perfect Red Chicken Enchiladas at home

Key to a great Enchilada Sauce is oven roasting the Vegetables to produce a big flavor

The absolute best way to prepare Vegetables if you’re after flavor is oven roasting. This cooking technique is so simple, and yields the richest, sweetest natural flavors from the Vegetables. This technique is how you can produce such bold flavors in the sauce simply from the Vegetables alone

Begin by placing your Red Bell Pepper, Tomatoes, and Onion onto a large sheet pan. Generously season the vegetables with Salt and Olive Oil (about 1 ½ tbsp. of Oil will do the trick), and then roast in the oven for about 30 minutes in total at 375F

You will need to remove the Vegetables at different time increments

The kicker with roasting these three Vegetables together is they all cook at different times. So, you’ve got two options. Either add them in at different times (difficult) or remove them at different times (way easier!)

The Tomatoes will be the first to cook, about 10 minutes into the roast they’ll be done. Once their skin has blistered and started to char, it’s time to bring them out of the oven. The second will be the Bell Peppers. Same thing; look for a charring of the skin and blistering. Finally, the Onions will take the longest, about 30 – 35 minutes in total

Once your vegetables are roasted, set them aside to cool as the next step will be to blend them. You want to avoid blending ingredients when they are super-hot, as they tend to ‘explode’ in the blender!

Once the vegetables have cooled enough to touch them, carefully peel away and discard the skin from the Tomatoes and the Red Bell Peppers. The skins have a bitter flavor, and they won’t add much to the texture of the sauce, so simply discard them and place the remaining vegetables straight into the blender

Tasty Red Chicken Enchiladas
This recipe produces the most flavorful Red Chicken Enchiladas you’ll ever taste!

Add everything to the Blender to make the sauce for our Red Chicken Enchiladas

This next part of the recipe is the easiest, and some may say the most fun! Simply add the Garlic and Chicken Broth into the blender along with the veggies and blitz until smooth. You can withhold some of the Chicken Broth from the blender if you like, we mainly need it in there to get the blending process going

Once smooth, transfer into a saucepan and add the remaining ingredients into the sauce and cook for about 20 minutes. This process is vital, as it will cook all those spices and help to infuse all the flavors into the Enchilada Sauce. After 20 minutes taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust if necessary

Also check the consistency of the Sauce. You don’t want it too thick; it needs to be quite smooth and not chunky. Therefore, if required, add the remaining Chicken Broth and cook into the sauce for a few minutes. Once cooked, set aside, covered, so you can prepare your Chicken mixture for the Enchiladas!

Filling for Chicken Enchiladas
The Chicken filling for these Enchiladas is simple, yet produces an immense amount of flavor

A simple Chicken filling is all that’s needed for our Red Sauce Enchiladas

This recipe uses a very easy to prepare, yet super-flavorful Chicken marinade. The marinade will then double as the Sauce that fills these wonderful Enchiladas. To make the marinade, simply combine Chipotle in Adobo Sauce, Cumin, Coriander Powder, Paprika, Onion Powder, Lemon Juice, and Salt into a large Ziploc bag

Give the marinade a good mix to get everything combined, then add your Chicken Thighs which have been cut into bite-sized pieces. Zip the bag up and give the Chicken another good mix around to get it all coated then refrigerate. We recommend at least 2 hours, but preferably 24 hours marinade for the best result

Once the Chicken is marinated, it’s time to cook!

We follow a very classic approach to preparing the Chicken filling for our Enchiladas. Begin by adding the Onions and Mushrooms into a large frying pan or Dutch oven over medium heat along with some neutral frying oil. Cook them down for about 7 – 8 minutes until tender, and the juice from the Mushrooms has almost completely evaporated

Drop in the Garlic and Bell Peppers and give them a light fry, only about 1 minutes will be fine, then add your Chicken, along with all that wonderful marinade it’s been swimming in

Cook this all down for about 15 – 20 minutes until the marinade sauce has thickened and the Chicken is cooked. It’s best to completely cook the Chicken at this stage, even though we will be putting it into the Oven. The oven baking process won’t take long and is mainly about getting a lovely melty cheese and browned tortillas. Also, Chicken Thighs can always handle a lot of cooking, so we recommend cooking them all the way through at this stage

Chicken Enchiladas being prepared
Fill the Tortilla with a generous amount of Chicken mixture then fold over itself to create the Enchiladas in the baking pan

Assembling your Red Sauce Enchiladas so they are ready for baking

We’ve mastered this technique to assemble Enchiladas without the filling spilling out everywhere. Trust us, this has taken thousands of attempts over decades of preparing Enchiladas. Many a Chicken piece has been dropped on the floor along the way, but we’ve finally mastered the technique!

First, grease the bottom and sides of your tall-sided baking pan with some Butter or Neutral Oil. Not a lot, but just enough to prevent the Enchiladas from sticking. Trust us, this is a life-saving step

Then, place a Tortilla in the middle of the plate and spoon on a generous portion of the Chicken and Vegetable mixture. You can experiment with quantity, but we like to load them up large so about three quarters of the Tortilla is covered

Then, roll one side of the Tortilla over the top of the mixture, and tuck it underneath itself, encapsulating the filling. Tuck the Tortilla to one side of the baking tray and repeat the process until the entire pan is filled. You want to tightly tuck them all in, and this process helps get as much into the pan as possible

Red Chicken Enchiladas on plate
Take your time preparing this wonderful Red Chicken Enchiladas dish. The Sauce is the key component and brings all of the flavor

Add the Enchilada Sauce and Cheese, and then it’s time to bake!

Pour over a generous amount of the Enchilada Sauce on the top of the Tortillas. Don’t be shy on this stage, you want those Tortillas really swimming in the sauce. Remember, this is where all those wonderful flavors for our Red Chicken Enchiladas live, so really pile it on!

Then, sprinkle generously with Cheese and bake in the Oven at 375F until the Cheese has turned a beautiful golden-brown color and those tortillas are just starting to crisp up around the edges

Enchiladas on plate cut open
Either Flour or Corn Tortillas will produce a great result. Use whichever you prefer

Flour or Corn Tortillas both work well when making homemade Red Chicken Enchiladas

This truly comes down to availability and personal preference. We’re not here to preach to you that the only ‘truly’ authentic Mexican food uses Corn Tortillas. Honestly, use whatever you like and what’s readily available to you. Personally, we’re big fans of Flour Tortillas, so that’s what we’ve used for this recipe

Both types of Tortillas bring unique flavors and textures to the Red Chicken Enchiladas, so whichever you prefer is the right Tortilla for the job!

If you can’t get your hands on Queso Asadero, any flavorful melting cheese will work well

The truly authentic Enchilada experience isn’t complete without a seriously generous layer of melting cheese on the top. When you break into the piping hot baked Enchiladas that gooey cheese will just ooze into the filling, making for the perfect bite of food

For a truly authentic Mexican Enchilada experience we recommend using Queso Asadero. It is a Mexican cheese that is renowned for both its flavor and melting qualities. Use a generous amount of cheese when applying it to the Enchiladas right before they go into the oven for baking. About 1 – 1 ½ cups will suffice, depending on how large your baking pan is

Cheese sprinkled over Enchiladas
Use any tasty type of Melting Cheese on your Enchiladas to produce that wonderful, cheesy taste

If you cannot get your hands on Queso Asadero, that’s no problem at all. You can substitute it for many other good quality melting cheeses. Perhaps the most widely used cheese for Red Sauce Enchiladas is good old White or Yellow Cheddar Cheese. It has a great, sharp flavor and great melting qualities

Monterey Jack would be another good choice. Really, as long as you’ve got a cheese that melts great and has a strong flavor, your Enchiladas will turn out perfect

Recipe Details


4 people

Prep time

15 minutes (allow 2+ hours for Chicken to marinade

Cooking time

1 hour

Total time

1 hour, 15 minutes

Red Chicken Enchiladas Recipe


  • 2 ½ lbs. Chicken Thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 10 – 12 medium sized Tortillas (Flour or Corn)
  • ½ Yellow or White Onion, finely diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
  • ½ Bell Pepper, diced
  • 200g / 7 oz. sliced Button or Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp. Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 cup of Melting Cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Queso Asadero)
  • 2 tsp. Neutral Oil (eg: Vegetable or Canola Oil)
  • Salt

Ingredients for Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • 1 cup of Chicken Broth (recipe here)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, deseeded and cut in half
  • 3 large Tomatoes
  • 1 Onion, Quartered
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp. of Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. of Tomato Paste
  • 400g / 14 oz. Tomato Puree
  • 1 tsp. of Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. of Cumin
  • 1 tsp. of Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp. of Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. Salt

Equipment needed: Blender


  1. Begin by creating the marinade for the Chicken by combining Cumin, Corinader Powder, Onion Powder, Smoked Paprika, 2 tsp. of Salt, Chipotles in Adobo, and Lemon Juice into a large Ziploc bag. Mix well to combine
  2. Place your Chicken Pieces into the Ziploc bag and seal. Mix well to coat the Chicken the marinade for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight

Making the Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  1. Place the Red Bell Pepper, Tomatoes, and Onion on a large sheet pan. Season with Olive Oil and 1 tsp. of Salt then place in the Oven pre-heated to 375F. Remove the Tomatoes after 10 minutes, Bell Peppers after 20 minutes, and Onions after 30 minutes. Set aside to cool
  2. Once cooled, peel and discard the skin from the Tomatoes and Bell Pepper then place in a Blender along with ½ the Chicken Broth and Garlic. Blitz on medium for 1 minute until smooth then place contents into a saucepan
  3. Add the remaining Ingredients to the Saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes then check for seasoning and consistency (which should be light, and smooth, not chunky). Cover and set aside

Cooking the Chicken mixture

  1. Heat the Neutral Oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the Mushrooms and Onions and sauté for 7 – 8 minutes until the Mushroom liquid has almost completely evaporated
  2. Add the Bell Peppers and Garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the Chicken along with the Marinade
  3. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until the Chicken has cooked (internal temp of 160F) and the Sauce has thickened. Turn off heat and allow to cool

Preparing the Red Chicken Enchiladas

  1. Lightly grease a large roasting pan with tall sides with Butter or Neutral Oil. Place a Tortilla in the center of the pan and fill generously with Chicken filling (covering about three quarters of the Tortilla)
  2. Roll one side of the Tortilla over the top of the filling, then tuck it under itself on the other side to enclose the filling. Move to the side of the pan and repeat this process until the pan is completely filled
  3. Spoon over a generous amount of the Enchilada Sauce to completely cover the Tortillas. Top with grated Cheese and then place in the Oven to roast for 10 – 15 minutes at 375F until the cheese has turned golden-brown
  4. Remove from the Onion and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving

Recipe Notes

You can enjoy these wonderful Red Chicken Enchiladas by themselves, or with a side serving of fresh Pico de Gallo and Sour Cream. We’d recommend this combination of flavors to get some fresh, light flavors onto the plate to contrast with the richness of the Enchiladas

We hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe as much as we did making (and eating) it! We love Mexican food here at Dinnertime Somewhere, so here are a few of our other favorite dishes from the region that we’d recommend you check out:

Happy Cooking!

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