Lighter Chicken Enchiladas

Lighter Chicken Enchiladas use grilled chicken, whole wheat tortillas, and a broth-y chipotle sauce that is to die for! Move over red sauce!

I’ve made A LOT of enchiladas in my days. Enchiladas filled with beef and beans or chicken and rice… but it all boils down to one thing.

The red sauce.

I wouldn’t say I hate it, I’m just not a big fan of it. I could take it but I’d rather leave it, if-you-know-what-I-mean.

So today I’m sharing with you my favorite enchiladas just minus that red enchilada sauce. Cool?

Now can these still be called enchiladas if they’re without the red sauce you ask? I think so! In fact I like to think I’ve lightened and livened up the traditional ones!

I make mine with whole wheat flour tortillas and fill’em with saucy shredded grilled chicken, and then I top them with a brothy-chipotle sauce that is TO.DIE.FOR and a good sprinkle of one of my favorite ooey-gooey cheeses. Muenster.

I hope you’re ready for 39 pictures of enchilada bliss. Yes? Good. Now let’s do this.

It looks like a lot… but really these are simple. Remember the star of the show is the sauce… and the chicken… and the cheese.

Start by spraying (or lightly rub with some olive oil) a 13×9 baking dish and then set it out of the way.

Finely dice up a cup of yellow onion.

And do the same to half of a bell pepper. Red, orange, green… it really doesn’t matter.

Then smash, peel and mince up three cloves of fresh garlic.

Open a can of chipotles in adobo and fish out 1 or 2 and give them a good mincing.

Before all this prep work happened, I grilled two chicken breasts. No salt, no pepper… nada. Just chicken meets grill grates. There’s so much flavor in the sauce you really don’t need to marinate, but I like season them with a pinches of salt and pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic and onion powder- no measuring, I just use my fingers and sprinkle away. Then simply grill’em (or sear in a hot pan with a teaspoon of oil and then bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes) annnnd place them into a good sized bowl.

I started to shred the chicken and realized I have a perfectly strong husband who could get this done in half the time (duh!) so I worked on the “enchilada sauce”…

Just so we’re clear, those manly fingers are not mine… but those man-hands sure knows how to shred some chicken!

Just set the bowl of to the side when you’re done. Ps… I did hear of how you can shred chicken in nanoseconds by using your Kitchen Aid mixer. But really I was just feeling a little bit on the lazy side and wasn’t up for lugging out the beast. But feel free to do it that way too!

In a large skillet over medium heat; add 2 teaspoons olive oil and drop in the peppers and onions.

Cook until the peppers soft and the onions are translucent.

Add the minced garlic to that and cook for one minute.

Add in a 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until melted, then stir in the 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.

The teaspoon of cumin.

Stir until the flour is absorbed and then add in the minced chipotles.

Whisk in 1-3/4 cup of chicken broth…

If you’re in the mood for more heat, as if this isn’t spicy already, add in a tablespoon of the adobo from the can. We in our house like to walk on the spicy side.

Whisk and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until it has thickened.

Season with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a few turns of black pepper, about 1/8 teaspoon give or take.

Add a cup of the thickened sauce to the shredded chicken…

…And toss.

Spread a quarter cup or so of the sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

I use room temperature tortillas, but if yours are cold, just wrap them in some damp paper towel and pop them into the microwave for a minute.

Spoon some of the chicken mixture down the center of the warm tortilla…


…roll and repeat.

Line them up, seam side down, in the baking dish.

Pour all of the remaining sauce over top.

Spread it around.

Lastly, grate about a 1/2 to 1 cup (you decide) of Muenster cheese.

And sprinkle it over top.

Bake these lighter chicken enchiladas in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.

Now just wait a few minutes before serving these up.

To me, these lighter chicken enchiladas have the perfect level of heat, but you could dial it down by adding half the chipotle and nix the adobo.

I like mine with a little dollop of sour cream, a few dashes of Cholula some torn cilantro leaves and thinly sliced green onions. But you could so do black olives, salsa or even pickled jalapenos.

These lighter chicken enchiladas are definitely a family favorite in our house and I hope they are in yours too!

Enjoy! And if you give this Lighter Chicken Enchiladas recipe a try, let me know by snapping a photo and tagging me on twitter or instagram!

Lighter Chicken Enchiladas l

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance! 


Lighter Chicken Enchiladas

These chicken enchiladas are lightened up by using grilled chicken, whole wheat tortillas, and a broth-y chipotle sauce that is to die for!

Yield: 4 servings (2 each)

Prep Time: 35-45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes



3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

kosher salt

black pepper

a pinch of: oregano, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic and onion powder

2 teaspoons olive oil


1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup finely diced yellow onion

2/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper (green may also be used)

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 to 2 chipotle peppers, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1-3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 whole wheat tortillas (at room temperature)

1/2 to 1 cup grated muenster cheese

sour cream, for serving

hot sauce, for serving

sliced green onions, for serving

chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for serving


For the chicken:
Season both sides of the chicken breast and grill on medium to medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until fully cooked. Alternatively, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Sear the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes per side, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before shredding it with two forks, set a side.

Lightly spray the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish and set aside and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large, 10 to 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the finely diced onion and peppers, season with a pinch of salt and then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft, about 5 minutes.

Next, add in the garlic, chipotle peppers and cumin; stir and cook for one minute. Add butter and stir until melted. Whisk or stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.

Whisk while slowing pouring in the broth. Increase the heat to medium high and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste.

Toss the shredded chicken in a cup of the sauce.

Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan.

Spoon a little of the chicken mixture down the center of tortilla, tuck and roll, placing it seem side down into the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling

Pour and spread the remaining sauce over top of the enchiladas and then sprinkle with the grated Muenster cheese.

Bake, uncovered, in your preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and bubbly.

Serve two with a dollop of sour cream, hot sauce, sliced green onions and torn cilantro.


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45 Responses to “Lighter Chicken Enchiladas”

  1. #
    Heather — August 27, 2012 at 5:30 am

    I love enchi’s any way I can get ’em! I love the sauce in this version…I kinda want to just drink it!

  2. #
    Blog is the New Black — August 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Even though I DO like the red sauce…. your version looks terrific!

    • simplyscratch replied: — August 28th, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

      Thanks Liz! 🙂

  3. #
    Aimee @ ShugarySweets — August 27, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Mmmm these look delicious. I love the red sauce, but my hips could use this lighter version! Pinning…

  4. #
    Julia {The Roasted Root} — August 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    LOL, we just made chicken enchiladas this weekend…using a can of that red sauce you’re not such a big fan of. Honestly, I’m not huge on the red sauce either but everything else in enchiladas is so delicious that I guess my brain phases it out 😉 I’m psyched about the sauce you make for your enchiladas! It looks fresh and delicious and I WAY prefer it over the canned stuff!

    • simplyscratch replied: — August 28th, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

      I know whatcha mean. I’d use the red sauce totally thinking they couldn’t be full-on enchiladas without it… but after I stopped using the can, I never went back!

  5. #
    Courtney — August 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    YUM!!! I can’t wait to make these- we don’t care for the red sauce either. My family will LOVE these.

  6. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — August 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I honestly have NEVER seen a more perfect enchilada. Your chicken breasts look mouthwatering as-is too! I’ve got to try this recipe one day because my boyfriend LOVES enchiladas. But in an effort to keep things healthy around the kitchen, I would definitely come back to these. Also, I always love looking at your step-by-step photography too Laurie! It’s a big help.

  7. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — August 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I am DYING right now for 39 billion of these.

    • simplyscratch replied: — August 28th, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

      That’s so funny… because I happen to have 39 billion left over from the weekend! Wierd!? Pick up some wine on your way over!

  8. #
    Denise — August 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I prefer a green enchilada sauce over the red sauce but, honestly, I can think of probably 1000 things this sauce would be good with….yummy! I know I will be making this soon!!

  9. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — August 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I’m so picky about the red sauce. There are some restaurants whose sauce I just love, but most store bought sauces stink! I’m fine without because these look fantastic!

  10. #
    Amber Genise — August 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I am a red sauce girl, but your recipe looks delish! I love all the pictures as well, nice attention to detail.

    I haven’t made echiladas at home in quite along time, but I think this may be the week due to your post.

    Good work!

    Amber Genise

    • simplyscratch replied: — August 28th, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

      Thanks Amber! 🙂

  11. #
    Jessie {Life As A Strawberry} — August 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    What a relief to find someone else who isn’t an oodles-of-red-enchilada sauce fan! I’d rather leave it than take it on most occasions. These look awesome!

  12. #
    JulieD — August 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    This looks amazing!!! I love it!

  13. #
    Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama — August 27, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I am not overly excited over the red sauce on enchiladas. But this…. THIS I could eat tons of! These look great.

  14. #
    Jessica — August 28, 2012 at 12:33 am

    ahhhh! love these so much!

  15. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — August 28, 2012 at 2:07 am

    oh dear god, i’m dying over these right now. i’m a HUGE mexican food girl and these have just kick started my taste buds!

  16. #
    Rachel Cooks — August 28, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I love enchiladas! These look so fantastic!

  17. #
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — August 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I want these SO much!

  18. #
    Jessica@AKitchenAddiction — August 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Enchiladas are the best! I love the chipotle sauce!

  19. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — August 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I’m a huge enchilada fan so I am over the moon for these! They look amazing, and they’re lighter! What more could I ask for? 🙂

  20. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — August 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I love Mexican anything, and enchiladas are a favorite. I love this brothy chipolte sauce, these are a must make!

  21. #
    @dressesau — August 29, 2012 at 12:43 am

    I love enchiladas! These look so fantastic!

  22. #
    Jackie — August 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Laurie

    I do not like cumin, is there another spice I could use in place of the cumin.

    • simplyscratch replied: — September 4th, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

      That’s a toughy… You could try ancho chili powder, maybe start with a 1/2 teaspoon, taste and adjust. 🙂

  23. #
    Morgan — September 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    PLEASE correct the step-by-step directions to reflect the correct amount of flour. I just nearly RUINED our dinner because the directions say to add a cup of flour instead of 1/4 cup!

    • simplyscratch replied: — September 4th, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

      Gah! Thanks and done!

  24. #
    Lynn — September 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I made the enchiladas this past weekend. Oh my! So DELICIOUS!!!!! Love the kick to the receipe! Thanks for sharing.

  25. #
    Catia Capiga — October 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I LOVE mexican food!!! Thanks for sharing… on a scale from 1 – 10 how spicy is this recipe as is? Also, any chance you have the nutritional value? I will be trying this soon…

  26. #
    Lauren @ Part Time House Wife — October 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I LOVE the simmer picture. The bubbles are perfect!

  27. #
    Nicole — October 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I made these last night and I just want you to know – they were FANTASTIC. Surpassed my already-high expectations. Could’ve eaten the entire pan myself. I will absolutely be making these again.
    I love spicy and the level of heat was perfect for me, but my boyfriend had to eat them with a large glass of milk – it was almost too much for him! Can you recommend a way to dial back the heat without sacrificing flavor?
    Also, this is the first I’ve used chipotles in adobo. Should I freeze the leftovers, or do they keep well in the fridge? (Or do you have another wonderful recipe I should try them in?) 🙂

  28. #
    Gail — November 9, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Made these for dinner tonight, they were AWESOME! I would have never thought of using muenster with Mexican food. Life changing. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  29. #
    julia-collegechefwannabe — December 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I live in a crappy apartment in my college town and don’t have access to a grill, what would suggest instead of grilling the chicken breasts? Btw, I love your blog, I make your broccoli and cheddar cheese soup all the time, and the homestyle chicken.

  30. #
    kita — May 1, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Just repinned these on Pinterest and dont care that Im almost a year late to the party – need them. ;D

    • simplyscratch replied: — May 1st, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

      You’re never late my friend! 😉

  31. #
    Hope — May 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I’m also late but I had to say I loved this! I have been searching forever for an alternative sauce for enchiladas. Red sauce, tomato sauce, chile sauce…they all upset my stomach. With your recipe I just left the chiles out-perfect. Love your site btw.

    • simplyscratch replied: — May 12th, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

      Thanks Hope! So glad 🙂

  32. #
    Deanne — March 1, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    I was so excited to make these for dinner tonight AND THEY WERE AMAZING!!! Thanks for sharing such a great recipe! I look forward to trying more of your recipes!

  33. #
    Heather — November 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I have a bone to pick with this recipe. For the record, I have tried and am a fan of your other recipes. However, the amount of chicken in this recipe simply did not fill 8 tortillas for us. May I suggest that you list a range of 2-4 grilled chicken breasts instead?

    The sauce, however, is heavenly. I will think twice about using the pre-made store-bought red stuff in the future.

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 22nd, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

      Hi Heather! I guess it depends on how big (or small) the chicken breasts are but I will definitely make a note in the recipe. Thanks for leaving your review! 🙂

  34. #
    Kim — August 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    My family LOVES this recipe! Thank you for sharing! Just wondering if you’ve ever made it ahead of time and frozen it? Do you have any tips for successfully freezing the unbaked casserole?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — August 6th, 2015 @ 11:52 am

      Hi Kim! I have yet to freeze these… but I’d imagine they would freeze beautifully. If you give it a go and would be willing to write back and keep me posted… that would be awesome! 🙂

  35. #
    Sunshine — May 7, 2016 at 10:45 am

    An enchilada without enchilada sauce is simply a burrito with sauce. The very term “enchilada” means red, spicy sauce. It’s fine to go this route of course — who am I? — but to call it an enchilada is like calling a rabbit a kitty. Not the same thing. Store bought tortillas have so little similarity to the real deal and making tortillas is a snap. Store bought tortillas are like stretchy things that clump inside your mouth. ugh. Once you discover how to make a simple tortilla, you won’t go back. It’s like discovering what a tomato really tastes like — when you grow your own. Try it once or twice …and you’ll understand what I mean! 🙂

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