In these Lighter Chicken Enchiladas cooked shredded chicken is mixed with a light chipotle sauce, stuffed into tortillas, topped with muenster cheese and baked until melty and delicious! Yields 8 enchiladas or 4 servings (2 each).
I’ve never met an enchilada I didn’t like.
Stuffed and baked tortillas topped with sauce and cheese? What’s not to love?
I’m a little particular about my enchiladas, preferring homemade enchilada red sauce (shocker right?) over store-bought. If you haven’t made your own enchilada sauce YOU MUST! I have a quick version and a more from scratch version. But what I love about this particular enchilada recipe is that it doesn’t have a red sauce at all! Yes, enchiladas without a red sauce! Instead the sauce is made by sautéing onions, peepers, garlic, cumin and chipotles. You make a quick and simple roux stir in some broth which makes for a lighter creamy and broth-like sauce.
Who’s not a sucker for those crispy tortilla edges, I aim for a crispy end piece every. single. time.
To Make These Lighter Chicken Enchiladas You Will Need:
- shredded cooked chicken – Use either leftover roasted chicken or rotisserie.
- extra light olive oil – Or use avocado oil.
- red bell pepper – Adds a pop of color and touch of sweet flavor.
- yellow onion – Lends delicious onion flavor.
- garlic – Lends distinct punchy flavor.
- butter – Use unsalted butter to control the saltiness of the dish.
- unbleached all-purpose flour – Needed to thicken the sauce.
- chipotles in adobo sauce – Lends smoky and spicy flavor.
- low-sodium chicken broth – This is used for making the sauce.
- kosher salt – Enhances the flavors of the dish.
- freshly ground black pepper – Lends distinct bite and flavor.
- soft flour tortillas – Use regular, low-carb or whole wheat.
- Muenster cheese – A delicious mild melty cheese that’s perfect for enchiladas or nachos.
Make the Sauce:
Start by spraying a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil spray, then set it off to the side. Heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add in 1 cup finely dice onion and 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper. Cook until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Once the peppers and onions are soft and translucent, add in the teaspoon of cumin and 3 cloves minced garlic.
Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Next add in a 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until melted, then stir in the 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.
Stir until a wet paste forms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add in the minced chipotles and 1 to 2 teaspoons adobo sauce, more or less to taste.
Stir in 1-3/4 cups of chicken broth. Increase the heat to medium-high, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
Taste and season with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste) and a few turns of black pepper, about 1/8 teaspoon give or take.
Make The Enchiladas:
Take 3/4 cup of the sauce and it to the shredded chicken, tossing to combine.
Spread a 1/2 cup or so of the sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Spoon some of the chicken mixture down one side of a tortilla.
Tuck, roll and repeat.
Line them up, seam side down, in the baking dish.
Pour all of the remaining sauce over top of the rolled enchiladas.
Use a spoon to smooth it out over top.
Lastly, grate about 1 cup or more (you decide!) of Muenster cheese and then sprinkle it over top.
Finally slide the pan of lighter chicken enchiladas onto the middle rack of your preheated 400° oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden in spots.
With enchiladas, sometimes I cover with foil and sometimes I don’t. For some reason, with this recipe, I never cover it. The cheese melts and turns golden brown and where the cheese touches the pan, it gets super crispy.
Allow these lighter chicken enchiladas to cool for a minute while you finish prepping some easy toppings.
Optional Toppings For Enchiladas:
- sour cream
- hot sauce
- green onions
- chopped tomatoes
- raw onion
- sliced fresh jalapeños.
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! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!
Lighter Chicken Enchiladas
FOR THE SAUCE:
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 small chipotle peppers, in adobo, minced
- 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
- 1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE ENCHILADAS:
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken, leftover roasted or rotisserie
- 8 tortillas, enchilada or soft taco size tortillas
- 1 cup muenster cheese
- Spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking dish with olive oil and set aside. Preheat your oven to 400°.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large, 10-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 and cumin. Cook 1 minute before adding in adding in the butter. Once melted, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.
- Then add in the chipotle peppers and 1 to 2 teaspoons adobo sauce. Stir while slowing pouring in the broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer while stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened, about 4 to 6 minutes. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- In a bowl, combine all of the shredded chicken with 3/4 cup of the sauce. Then spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Spoon a little of the chicken mixture down one side of tortilla, tuck and roll, placing it seem side down into the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling
- Pour the remaining sauce over top of the enchiladas and spread using a spatula before sprinkling with the grated Muenster cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, in your preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted and is golden brown in spots.
- Allow to cool slightly, before serving with desired toppings.
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I love enchi’s any way I can get ’em! I love the sauce in this version…I kinda want to just drink it!
Even though I DO like the red sauce…. your version looks terrific!
Thanks Liz! 🙂
Mmmm these look delicious. I love the red sauce, but my hips could use this lighter version! Pinning…
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!
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!
YUM!!! I can’t wait to make these- we don’t care for the red sauce either. My family will LOVE these.
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.
I am DYING right now for 39 billion of these.
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!
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!!
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!
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.
Thanks Amber! 🙂
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!
This looks amazing!!! I love it!
I am not overly excited over the red sauce on enchiladas. But this…. THIS I could eat tons of! These look great.
ahhhh! love these so much!
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!
I love enchiladas! These look so fantastic!
I want these SO much!
Enchiladas are the best! I love the chipotle sauce!
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? 🙂
I love Mexican anything, and enchiladas are a favorite. I love this brothy chipolte sauce, these are a must make!
I love enchiladas! These look so fantastic!
I do not like cumin, is there another spice I could use in place of the cumin.
That’s a toughy… You could try ancho chili powder, maybe start with a 1/2 teaspoon, taste and adjust. 🙂
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!
Gah! Thanks and done!
I made the enchiladas this past weekend. Oh my! So DELICIOUS!!!!! Love the kick to the receipe! Thanks for sharing.
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…
I LOVE the simmer picture. The bubbles are perfect!
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?) 🙂
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!
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.
Just repinned these on Pinterest and dont care that Im almost a year late to the party – need them. ;D
You’re never late my friend! 😉
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.
Thanks Hope! So glad 🙂
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!
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.
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! 🙂
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?
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! 🙂
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! 🙂
So glad I found this recipe! Made it tonight and My husband said it was his most favorite yet. I took the liberty of adding a little rice in with the chicken mixture …Probably could delete the “lighter” out of mine. Either way, Thank you!!
Elizabeth that is brilliant! I actually serve it with cilantro lime rice. SO GOOD! Thanks for taking the time to make this recipe and leave a review!
My family loves the lighter chicken enchiladas! Can they be frozen?
What is the best way to freeze them?
I would think so! However I haven’t tested it, so I can’t guarantee results. But I would prepare as written, allowing the sauce to cool completely assembling. I would cover with foil, and bake as directed. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 12 to brown. If you try it, please let me know how this works for you!