Chicken Enchilada Bake
If you’re a fan of Mexican, then this chicken enchilada bake is going to become a staple in your house. It was rated a 10-plus in my house, and is totally going on the monthly dinner rotation. YAY! I’m so happy that I found something new to make my kids for dinner instead of the same old same old. Things were getting pretty dull cooking wise in the Grandy household, as I was repeating the same dinner menu week after week, so as you can imagine my kids were super excited that I finally made something new, and something that they loved!
What I love about this chicken enchilada bake is that it’s extremely flexible in ingredients and prep time. I mean you can do so much with this dish. You can make the enchilada sauce up ahead of time, or just use a canned sauce. You can bake and shred chicken up ahead of time, or just use a rotisserie chicken. You can use flour, or corn tortillas. Really, make this your own and play around with it, as this is really just a base recipe. This enchilada bake is also awesome, as it super easy to assemble. There’s no rolling of tortillas, and then worrying about them breaking the process. You are basically layering ingredients like a lasagna, and you’re in control of the cheese, chicken and sauce here.
I like to make this enchilada bake ahead on a Sunday. I bake it up, let it cool, put it in the fridge, and then reheat it for Monday or Tuesday night dinner. How’s that for a quick and easy weeknight meal. This enchilada bake makes for amazing leftovers. I even think the leftovers are better, as all of the flavors meld together. If you’re just serving one or two people for leftovers, then just carve out a slice, put it on parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake it in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until warmed through.
The enchilada sauce makes for 2 batches, which is awesome. You can refrigerate it, or freeze it for next time, as it freezes well.
Chicken Enchilada Bake
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum
chicken enchilada bake:
- 2 cups shredded chicken – I always roast up 1 large (about 1 lb) bone-in, skin-on chicken breast ahead of time, or you can shred chicken from a rotisserie chicken
- 2 to 2.5 cup cups homemade enchilada sauce (see recipe below), or 19-ounces store-bought sauce
- 8-10 corn or flour tortillas (depends on your pan size, I used 8 torts for an 8×8 pan) – I love these yellow corn tortillas from La Tortilla Factory
- 1 can refried beans – I love these traditional refried beans from Amy’s
- 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
- fresh cilantro for topping
Makes approx 7 cups – enough for 2 batches of sauce
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole-peeled, diced or crushed tomatoes, or 1 (24-ounce) BPA free box of San Marzano tomatoes, refilled once with water – I used the 24-ounce BPA-free box of San Marzao tomatoes, and it’s the same as using a 28-ounce can
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 3 tablespoons taco, or southwest seasoning
- ½ yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
To make the sauce, put all of the above ingredients into a high-powered blender.
Puree until smooth. Yep, easy peasy.
You can use or refrigerate the sauce as is, or pour the sauce into a medium-sized pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes to meld the flavors and thicken the sauce, adding more salt to taste. I always simmer the sauce and add about 1/2 teaspoon more of salt. Simmering the sauce really melds the flavors together, so it’s worth doing if you have time.
I always roast and shred up my chicken earlier in the week, so I can just grab it and go. Here’s my go to method for roasting bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Roasting up chicken breasts is a great Sunday meal prep thing to do because you can use shredded chicken in so many recipes, as well as sandwiches.
Now, it’s time to assemble the chicken enchilada bake.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place a few spoonfuls of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 8×8 or 9×9 glass square baking dish to prevent sticking.
Place 2-3 tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping to cover the entire surface. As you can see, my tortillas were small so I used 3, and then tore one in half to fit.
Spread half the can of refried beans over the tortillas. I used a spatula to smooth out the beans.
Next, layer 1 cup of the shredded chicken over the beans, then add 1/2 cup cheese and then 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce.
Repeat with the 2nd layer of tortillas. As you can see I used 2 tortillas here and tore one to make it fit.
Layer on the rest of the refried beans, 1 cup chicken, 1/2 cup cheese and 3/4 cup enchilada sauce.
Add one more layer of tortillas, then cover the tortillas with the remaining enchilada sauce (about 1/2 cup) and 1 cup cheese.
Cover the baking dish with parchment paper and aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove parchment/foil and bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes until sauce is bubbly. Turn on the broiler and broil until the cheese browns to your liking.
Remove enchilada bake from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Letting the enchilada bake rest helps it to slice up easier. If you slice it too soon, it will be soupy.
Top the enchilada bake with some chopped cilantro.