How can I Make Enchiladas?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Enchiladas, filled corn tortillas topped with red sauce or green sauce (rojas or verde), and grated cheese like Jack are a little time consuming to make, but well worth the end result. Making them is a matter of a little work, deciding on the ingredients you want, assembling the dish and baking. They are a great casserole dish and will always be welcomed as an entrée at potluck dinners.

Enchiladas verdes served with Mexican rice.
Enchiladas verdes served with Mexican rice.

When making enchiladas you want to start with a glass baking dish, a better choice than aluminum particularly if you are topping with a red sauce. Some recipes suggest placing a small amount of red sauce or green at the bottom of the dish to keep the enchiladas moist. You can also use a little non-stick cooking spray to keep the tortillas from sticking.

Enchiladas can be made with Monterey Jack or another mild creamy cheese.
Enchiladas can be made with Monterey Jack or another mild creamy cheese.

You have to make each enchilada by hand, filling small corn tortillas with whatever filling you’d like. Typical fillings include cheese, cooked shredded chicken, pork or beef, or delicate fish choices like sole. Each enchilada should be filled with a couple of tablespoons of filling. You don’t have to measure this perfectly, but try to keep each tortilla filled with approximately the same amount. As you fill each tortilla, roll it and place it seam-side down in the baking dish.

It helps to keep the enchiladas all going in the same direction, but occasionally the dish will have space for one or two more going in a perpendicular direction. That’s fine, and you should definitely fill up the dish. Try not to overstuff the baking dish. Each enchilada should touch others but not overlap them.

Once you’ve placed all the stuffed tortillas in the dish, you want to give them a generous coating of sauce. You can make your own red or green sauce, or you can shortcut this process by purchasing canned ready made sauce. Either method is fine to choose, and canned sauce can cut way down on preparation time. After coating the tortillas in sauce, add plenty of grated cheese on top to cover the dish. Don’t be stingy with the cheese here, since part of the taste value of the enchilada is its delicious cheesy coating.

Bake according to your recipe’s instructions, usually about an hour for an oblong cake pan. You may want to bake the dish covered for the first 45 minutes and then remove the cover (usually tin foil) the last 10-15 minutes to brown the cheese on top. It can also help to let the dish sit for about 20 minutes after removing it from the oven. You can choose garnishes of your liking, or serve an enchilada or two with a nice green salad.

If you really don’t have time to make enchiladas from scratch, you can purchase family size premade ones that require oven baking for about an hour. These can be a good alternative, though they may have a higher salt content. You’ll be more likely to find enchiladas rojas than enchiladas verde in prepackaged form, and the sauce may be milder than you’d like. Keep a little hot sauce on hand to spice up enchiladas that taste too mild.

Enchiladas may be served at a Mexican style potluck.
Enchiladas may be served at a Mexican style potluck.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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