Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Light and fresh chicken enchiladas filled with tender, smoky chicken and cheddar cheese in a tangy tomatillo sauce.

My whole family loves these chicken enchiladas. They take a bit of time to make, but you can make the sauce and filling ahead of time, then assemble and bake the enchiladas another time for a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Most chicken enchilada recipes call for dark meat because it stays moist. This is important because the chicken is cooked twice: once in preparing the filling and then again in heating the assembled dish. However, I like to use chicken tenderloins; they’re much easier to prep than dark meat and, unlike boneless breasts, they stay tender even if slightly overcooked. Plus, tenderloins are usually sold in convenient one-pound packs, which is exactly how much you’ll need.


The sauce for this dish is made with tomatillos. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they look like small green tomatoes covered by a papery husk. They’re related to tomatoes but have a distinctive tart flavor. (Note that they are not the same as green tomatoes, which are simply unripe tomatoes.) You can find them in most grocery stores.


Finally, this recipe calls for three jalapeño peppers, which I know seems like a lot. Don’t worry, as long as you remove the fiery ribs and seeds, the enchiladas won’t be spicy. When you taste the sauce on its own, it will have a little kick but once you put the dish together it will be mild enough even for young children. If you’d like more heat, throw in some of the seeds. (Always wear gloves and/or wash your hands very well after working with jalapeños, and keep your hands away from your eyes!)

How to make chicken enchiladas

Begin by making the tomatillo sauce. Cook the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft (no need to chop them too finely since it all gets puréed in the end).


Add the tomatillos, jalapeños, sugar, salt, cumin and 1/3 cup water.


Simmer until the tomatillos are soft.


Then, transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until completely smooth. Set the sauce aside and start the filling.


Season the chicken with the cumin, smoked paprika and salt.


Sauté the chicken in olive oil until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, then set aside to cool.


Once cool, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Tenderloins all have a tough tendon running through them; just remove it.


In the same pan that you cooked the chicken in, cook the onions until soft.


Remove the pan from the heat, then add the shredded chicken along with the cilantro and shredded cheese.


That’s your filling.


You can make the dish ahead of time up to this point.

To assemble the enchiladas, begin by smearing 3/4 cup of the tomatillo sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.


Next, brush each tortilla on both sides with oil.


Stack them on a plate and microwave until hot and steamy, about 2 minutes. This makes them pliable; if you skip this step, they’ll shred to pieces when you roll them.


Spoon the filling down the middle of each tortilla.


Then roll tightly with your hands.


Place the enchiladas side by side, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over top.


Spread the sauce evenly over the tortillas, then sprinkle with more grated cheese.


Bake until sauce is hot and bubbling and cheese is melted, 15-20 minutes.


Sprinkle the enchiladas with smoked paprika — it makes them look pretty but also adds more delicious smoky flavor.


Serve immediately with shredded lettuce, sour cream, sliced avocado, and lime wedges. Enjoy!


Note: My starting point for this recipe was a similar version in Cook’s Illustrated. I made a lot of changes, but the tomatillo sauce is very similar to the original recipe.

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Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Light and fresh chicken enchiladas filled with tender, smoky chicken and cheddar cheese in a tangy tomatillo sauce.

Servings: 4
Total Time: 1 Hour


For Tomatillo Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef's knife
  • 3/4 pound tomatillos, husks and stems removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 jalapeño chiles, seeded and roughly chopped (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

For the Filling

  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

For the Tortillas and Toppings

  • 11 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces (3/4 cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 small heart of romaine lettuce (or 5-6 leaves), shredded
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 lime, sliced


For the Tomatillo Sauce

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillos, jalapeños, sugar, salt, cumin and 1/3 cup water; bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until tomatillos are softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until completely smooth. Set aside.

For the Filling

  1. Place the chicken tenderloins in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the cumin, smoked paprika and salt. Toss with tongs until the chicken is evenly coated with the spice blend.
  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick sauté pan until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken and cook until just done, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate to cool. Do not rinse the pan. Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-sized pieces. (All tenderloins have a tough tendon running through them; just remove it.) Add the shredded chicken to the pan with the onions, along with the chopped cilantro and shredded cheese.

To Assemble

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread 3/4 cup of the tomatillo sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  3. Pour the oil into a small bowl or ramekin. Using a pastry brush (or your hands), brush both sides of each tortilla with oil, then stack them on a plate and microwave until hot and steamy, 1-1/2 - 2 minutes. This makes them pliable.
  4. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the filling down the center of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla tightly and place side by side in the baking dish, seam side down.
  5. Pour the remaining chili sauce over the top, and use the back of a spoon to spread evenly over each tortilla. Sprinkle the cheese down the center of the enchiladas. Bake until hot and bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle the smoked paprika down the center of the enchiladas and serve immediately with sour cream, lettuce, avocado and lime wedges. (The nutritional information below does not include the sour cream, romaine lettuce or avocado used to top the enchiladas.)
  6. Note: If you touch the seeds of the jalapeño pepper, just be sure to wash your hands well and avoid touching your eyes.
  7. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cooked enchiladas can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, defrost them in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then reheat, covered in foil, in a 325°F oven until hot.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Serving size: 2 3/4 enchiladas
  • Calories: 991
  • Fat: 66g
  • Saturated fat: 18g
  • Unsaturated fat: 1g
  • Carbohydrates: 61g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Fiber: 9g
  • Protein: 41g
  • Sodium: 2070mg
  • Cholesterol: 126mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • So delicious! This is a favorite. It’s my favorite tomatillo sauce too. If I wanted to make big batches of the stuff and can it, would I need to modify the recipe at all? Perhaps replacing the 1/3c water with vinegar?

    • — Jennifer Gauntt (yes, another Jenn. There are a lot of us) on October 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! I didn’t design this recipe with canning in mind so I’m not sure it would be safe to do that — I’m sorry!

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2020
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      • Thanks for the advice. I’ll steer clear. No point in surviving 2020 just to poison my family in 2021.

        • — Jen Gauntt on October 27, 2020
        • Reply
        • LOL!

          • — Jenn on October 27, 2020
          • Reply
  • It took me a little longer to put this together, but it was a hit! I also thought it would be hard to make, but after reading the ingredients and preparation, I was ready to take it on. Not hard at all! Definitely will do again.

    • — Elean on October 13, 2020
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  • Fantastic!!! A new family staple. Thanks so much!

    • — Rhonda B. on September 17, 2020
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  • I just made and ate the tomatillo sauce with some baked chicken.
    Oh my!
    This salsa sauce is amazing! I could’ve eaten the whole thing with the spoon :))
    Thank you so much for the recipe! <3

    • — Ildiko on September 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Whole family loves these! Do you think I could make a double batch of sauce and freeze it?

    • — Steph Y on August 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you like these! Yes, I do think the sauce would freeze nicely.

      • — Jenn on August 25, 2020
      • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe. Thank you!

    • — Natalie on August 8, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m hoping to serve these to my coworkers and I’ll be baking them in the morning before work. Would a quick minute in the microwave be okay before serving since they will likely cool down to room temperature by lunch time?

    • — Joanna on July 31, 2020
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  • I just made these tonight and they were a big hit! I made my own corn tortillas following Jenn’s terrific recipe and they held together beautifully and tasted fresh and tender. The green sauce was outstanding and cooked beautifully into the tortillas. the chicken remained tender and was seasoned just enough. At first I thought maybe the jalapeños might be too spicy (even though we love spicy) but they added just the right amount of heat, texture and flavor. I can’t wait to make these for company (when we can have company again!) Thanks Jenn for another amazing recipe!

    • — Denise on July 30, 2020
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  • We were not expecting much from this but since i had a lot of tomatillos from the garden, I decided to give it a go and so glad I did! It was SO GOOD!!! The 5 yr old ate all of hers and my husband really enjoyed it too! only diff i made was i used cheddar and mozarella in the filling and mozzarella and queso fresco to top it as i was running out of cheese.

    • — Alma on July 24, 2020
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  • Just tried this recipe. It was excellent. My family throughly enjoyed it.

    • — Laurel on July 14, 2020
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  • Absolutely delicious!! Blew my husband away with my mad cooking skills (thanks to Jenn!) and satisfied my pregnancy craving for Mexican food! Highly recommend!!

    • — Jennifer Sachs on July 8, 2020
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  • Super excited to try this, was wondering if there was a cup measurement for the chopped tomatillos? Or a general quantity, obvi size could play a part there too. Thank you! All of ur recipes so far have been simply wonderful!

    • — Martha Noll on June 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Martha, So glad you like the recipes! You’ll need 3/4 pound of the tomatillos so I’d recommend using a scale at the grocery store to measure. I haven’t measured them in cups but I’d guess it would be 2.5 to 3 cups. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn,
    You’re AMAZING. This recipe is absolutely perfect my husband said it’s better than eating at a Mexican restaurant! (I made this with the Mexican rice YUM) Everyone please support her and buy her book for some more yummy recipes!!!

    • — Lucy on June 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • ❤️ Thanks so much for your support!

      • — Jenn on June 5, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I bought all the ingredients to make these tonight, but am feeling really lazy :). Do you think this would worked as stacked enchiladas with the preparation being similar to your stacked beef enchiladas?

    • — Katy on May 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Katy, I’ve never tried it this way, but I suspect it would work. (I may be weighing in too late to help; if you tried it, I’d love to hear how it turns out!)

      • — Jenn on May 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Unfortunately, the grocery store is out of corn torillas! Will using flour tortillas change the cooking time/temperature at all? Thanks!

    • — Andrea on May 5, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrea, I think flour tortillas would work with no other modifications. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this the other day and no-one could believe it! It turned out sooooo beautifully. I will never have to search for another enchilada recipe again. P.S. I did add some chopped tomato and a little canned chipotle. Just amazing. Thanks for this!

    • — wynn on April 18, 2020
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  • This is one of those recipes that once you try it you are hooked for life, easy to make and loaded with flavor, outstanding! Thank you for sharing.

    • — Sissy on April 4, 2020
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  • I loved this recipe. I make tomatillo sauce in bulk and freeze it in appropriate portions. This and using leftover roast chicken makes this a great weeknight dish. I add a tablespoon of chicken broth to the filling to keep it moist.

    Served with diced red pepper, diced zucchini, corn, chopped cilantro and your heavenly honey cumin dressing.

    • — Sue G on March 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I use canned tomatillos instead of fresh tomatillos?

    • — Kris on March 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Kris, I haven’t tried canned tomatillos myself so I can’t say with for sure, but I think it will work. Just check the can to see if salt is added to the tomatillos. If there is, you’ll need to cut back on the salt in the recipe. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on March 5, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe is delicious- the tomatilla sauce makes the dish – delicious on its own!

    • — Julie Lopresti on February 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this wonderful dish of goodness last night. The recipe is spot on. The spices are perfect.
    My wife said they were better than any she’s had at restaurants. The tomatillo sauce was sooo…good! She likes mild flavors and the sauce was not spicy hot at all. For me, I just put some pickled jalapeno slices on top and some bottled hot sauce to crank it up with the heat i like. And as always, Jenns explaining of how to put the recipe together is right there. All else I can say, if you enjoy chicken enchiladas, you need to make these, they are wonderful!

    • — Michael Martin on February 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • These were very good and I love your site! However, after browsing thru some of the comments, I picked up a tip from a reader’s comment. The tomatillo sauce was a bit spicy. I added 1/2 an avocado some lime juice and sugar which helped.

    • — Connie on February 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • This recipe is a WOW! Made it on Super Bowl Sunday. My husband and daughter absolutely loved, and I did too. So tasty. The sauce is creamy and delicious -and subtle- does not overpower the enchilada filling. I made couple minor changes to suit our tastes. After blending the sauce I added juice of one lime and a little chipotle chili powder. Instead of smoked paprika I used a blend of regular paprika and chipotle powder on the chicken. Was conservative with the chipotle, so next time I will use more. It adds a great spicy smoky flavor. Also used Monterey Jack in place of cheddar. Topped with fresh diced avocado and dollop of sour cream. Thank you Jenn for another superb recipe!

    • — Melanie on February 4, 2020
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe so much! It’s become a staple in our household and living in Texas, enchiladas can be found at every restaurant, but we prefer these because they’re THAT good! I follow the recipe pretty closely, but have made a few minor adjustments as needed. I’ve used shredded rotisserie chicken before and it came out fine. I’ve also just boiled plain chicken breasts, shredded them and then added it to the end of the onions cooking process along with the seasonings called for and it still came out perfect. If you like a lot of heat like I do, try serrano peppers in place of jalepenos. I also prepare the tortillas by quickly spraying one side with non-stick cooking spray and stacking them one on top of the other to heat in the microwave. It’s a lot faster and saves a few calories.

    • — Ying on January 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can you make these using a rotisserie chicken for the chicken in the recipe?

    • — Heather on January 1, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Heather, I haven’t made this with a rotisserie chicken, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it this way!

      • — Jenn on January 2, 2020
      • Reply
  • Excellent! I made half with chicken and half with ground beef and everyone loved them. Took longer than planned but it was worth it. Thank you

    • — mikermeals on November 10, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Could I just use meat from the chicken I use to make chicken matzo ball soup? Thanks so much! Love your recipes!

    • — Sarah on September 21, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Sarah – that will work well. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 22, 2019
      • Reply
  • Looking forward to making these enchiladas. I do not have a blender – can I use a food processor instead?

    • — Whitney on July 20, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Whitney. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 20, 2019
      • Reply
  • I’ve been looking for a crab enchilada recipe. Do you think your sauce would work with crab? I make so many of your recipes and they are always so good.

    • — Lynn on June 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lynn, I’ve never made these with crab. While crab is a bit more delicate, I think it should work. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on June 9, 2019
      • Reply
  • Great recipe! I bought a store roasted chicken, cut it into half bite size pieces and then sprinkled it with the herbs, cheese, cilantro and chopped green onion for the filling. I roasted the 2 corn, onion (cut in 8 pieces), garlic, a whole pasilla instead of the jalapeños, and the tomatillos in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes, turning the pasilla chili once (sprinkled all of that with kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil first). I omitted the sugar in the tomatillo sauce. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, try their corn tortillas; they are the best!

    • — Clare on June 7, 2019
    • Reply
  • These enchiladas were fantastic!!! This was the first time to make this dish and they turned out beautifully!!! A little time consuming, but so worth it!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!

    • — Debbie Pritko on June 3, 2019
    • Reply
  • Love all of your recipes! I would like to make a pan of beef enchiladas along with your chicken enchiladas. Do you have a recipe for preparing beef to sub for chicken in this recipe?

    • — Rose on May 25, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Rose, So glad you like the recipes! You could use the ground beef portion of the recipe from these stacked beef enchiladas I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on May 26, 2019
      • Reply
  • Another hit. This was my first time trying to make enchiladas but like every other recipe you make it so easy. Found this on your Sunday suggestions. These were delicious. My husband was so impressed. He added hot sauce when he ate it but I enjoyed it as is. Apparently I have to make these for my father in law because he loves “good Mexican food.” I loved the sauce. Your recipes are wonderful, I would love to visit your home for dinner. Your cookbook was my favorite Christmas gift. I make at least 2 of your recipes a week here. Everyone thinks I’m the best cook, and I owe it to you. Thank you so much!!!!

    • — Nishka on April 12, 2019
    • Reply
    • 💕

      • — Jenn on April 12, 2019
      • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe! I am a huge fan of enchiladas verdes and this will be in rotation from now on.

    I will admit I tweaked the recipe a bit to make it more calorie friendy, I decreased the cheese to 6oz in the filling and 2oz on top. I used super sharp aged white cheddar for the most bang for the buck.

    To warm the tortillas, I bought fresh on tortillas and warmed them in foil packets of 7 each with about 1/2 tsp of water to keep them moist. I just threw them in the oven while it was preheating, maybe 10 minutes or so…. I had no problems with tearing

    These 2 simple changes cut the calories down to about 210 per enchilada!

    • — Amanda T on March 10, 2019
    • Reply
  • Jenn, is it okay to fully prepare this dish the night before serving and then reheat in the oven before serving to guests? Or is it really best to only make sauce and filling ahead and then roll/assemble before guests arrive? I’d much prefer the first option but will not pursue if you think it will lead to compromised results. Thanks!

    • — Diane on January 10, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Diane, While I think you could fully assemble them ahead, I do think it’s best to prepare both the sauce and filling ahead, then assemble them right before baking. If you feel strongly about fully assembling them, I’d add the sauce to the top of the enchiladas before refrigerating them (because they can dry out, and tend to tear and fall apart). Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2019
      • Reply
      • So very helpful! Thanks so much for your honest reply, Jenn.

        • — Diane on January 12, 2019
        • Reply
  • Followed the recipe to a T (with the exception of using more chicken and making 18 instead of 11) and the result was a table full of happy diners. Everyone had seconds, and luckily there were even enough for leftovers. My husband is typically not a fan of tomatillo salsa so I was curious what his take would be. He loved them! We will definitely make them again.

  • I love this recipe and plan to make two batches, can I just double the sauce recipe?

  • We have made this recipe at least 10 times, but cheating w/ good store bought tomatillo sauce (sorry – busy working parent here)! It’s so perfect! We have made and frozen it a couple times for trips to the beach. Huge winner w/ the whole family.

  • Hi! I love your recipes and cookbook! I want to make these enchiladas but can’t find tomatillos. Can I use green tomatoes and some lime instead? Julie

    • Sure, Julie, I think that should work nicely. (And glad you like the recipes!) 🙂

  • This is a pretty great recipe, but when I first sampled my tomatillo sauce I panicked. It was way too hot, even though I was super careful with the seeds. I did some online research, and most comments said to start over. Not an option. No more ingredients, and dinner is imminent. I added an entire avocado, 1 tsp of water and a pinch of sugar to the puree. Perfect! Maybe my jalapenos were abnormally large, who knows. This was a tasty solution that did not drastically alter the flavor of the sauce.

  • Wonderful! Except I roasted the tomatillos, it really brings out their flavor.

    • — Anne Marie Peeters Weem
    • Reply
  • How much black beans would be needed to replace the chicken?

    • I’d estimate that about 20 ounces of beans would work well here. Hope you enjoy!

  • Loved this chicken enchilada recipe! The filling is delicious. I’ve always heated my tortillas in a pan with oil, but I tried it your way in the microwave – what a great hack! So much faster, uses much less oil, and keeps the tortillas pliable while assembling, though I did think they softened up a bit more during the bake this way. My only critique would be that the sauce was a tad sweet for my personal preference, so I would leave the sugar out next time. I think the tomatillos usually provide enough sweetness on their own when they cook down, unless you get a really sour bunch. Overall, another winner – thanks Jenn!

  • I made these last night for dinner. It was ok, I really liked making my own enchilada sauce, the canned ones aren’t very good for you, but these weren’t my favorite especially for all the work involved. I’m going to make these again but make the chicken and sauce ahead of time like you suggested!

  • I’ve never been a huge enchilada fan, but these are delicious. The tomatillo salsa/sauce is fantastic! I love garlic, so I added a few extra cloves. I also omitted the cilantro from the filling and added it to the sauce instead due to some anti-cilantro people in my house. 🙂

  • We loved these chicken enchiladas! Next time, I will add an additional jalapeno because we like things spicy, but other than that, these were perfect. We paired this with a simple romaine salad with your copycat chipotle honey vinaigrette. My son declared this to be the best dressing he had ever tasted. Spot on with both recipes. We had some leftover filling and I used it the next evening to make burrito bowls. Everyone loved it. Thanks again for another wonderful recipe!!

  • My daughter loved these so much she brought her friends home from school in the middle of the day to eat the leftovers!

    • — laura tanglertpaibul
    • Reply
  • Another amazing recipe. My entire family loved it. My first time making a tomatillo sauce and it was so delicious. This will be a staple in our house for sure! I have never had a recipe here that we did not love.

  • Hi Jen, I don’t have a microwave, can you suggest a modification for the tortillas so they don’t shred? Looking forward to trying these!

    • Hi Sara, It’s not as speedy as a microwave, but you can use the oven; wrap a stack of five or fewer tortillas in a packet of aluminum foil (so you’ll need to make a few packets) and put them in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes. Hope you enjoy the enchiladas!

      • Hi, ok I did this. They had a great flavor and overall a big hit but the tortillas were a little soggy. Not sure if this is just effect of using oven over microwave or because I skimped on time slightly when rushing! 🙂

        • Hmmmm… heating them in the oven shouldn’t make them sorry. Glad you enjoyed it anyway!

  • WOW! One of my boys’ fave’s and SO easy to make. Packed with flavor and yumminess!!!! Always an ask for comfort food nites. Thanks Jen! Always my go-to blog to look up recipes for dinner. XOXO

  • Hi Jenn,

    Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken tenderloins?


    • Sure, Lynda – they may take a bit longer to cook. Enjoy!

  • Hi Jenn! How do you remove the tendon from the chicken? I have been trying to cut it out, but not doing a very good job with it. Any tips?? LOVE this recipe!!

    • Hi Julie – Check out this video (starting at 50 seconds) – that’s how I do it. And you really only need to remove the tendons if they are large. Hope that helps!

      • Thanks for the video link Jenn, it helps a lot to see the tendon removal done properly. 🙂

        • — Erika M on January 30, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hi. Can you assemble entire dish in the am and bake for dinner?

    • Hi Rose, While I think you could fully assemble them ahead, I think the best route is to prepare both the sauce and filling in advance, then assemble them right before baking. If you do want to fully assemble them, I’d add the sauce to the top of the enchiladas before refrigerating them because as they dry out, and then tend to tear and fall apart.
      Hope you enjoy!

      • When I made this recipe the second time, I did make both the sauce and filling ahead of time. It made getting dinner on the table so much quicker and easier! It also made it less stressful getting the side dishes finished at the same time as the entree (spanish rice and black bean/corn salad). It also made for fewer dishes/small appliance clean up. Great tip!

  • Hello Jenn –
    Would this work with shrimp or are the spices/cheese too aggressive?

    • Hi Michelle, I think it’d work. I’d love to know how it turns out!

  • The chicken filling in these is to die for. Next time I’ll double the filling to make more enchiladas. Even my 1 year old ate these up.
    I’m not a big fan of corn tortillas but I wanted to trust the recipe so I used them and I’m glad I did! Using the oil and heating them made the texture much nicer.

  • The seasoning on the chicken is so delicious, I am going to make that again. It was an easy recipe to follow, although, I do think one could substitute store bought green sauce in a pinch.

  • This is so good! Just like all your recipes. Easy and fun to make. A family favorite

    • — Jennifer Williams
    • Reply
  • After receiving a bumper crop of tomatillos in my CSA box, I checked your website and found this recipe. I’m never going to buy pre made enchilada sauce again! This was amazing and a cinch to make – a testament to the reasons that everyone should be cooking at home! Thanks for your recipes, experience and I can’t wait for your cookbook!

  • Hi Jenn, I found your recipe for fresh Tomatillo Sauce just about the same time the tomatillos in my garden got ripe! Lucky me!!! I’ve enjoyed the sauce all summer and my freezer is well-stocked for winter. I can’t imagine using the canned sauce from the store ever again.
    Tonight I’m serving a pan of chicken enchiladas, And a pan of vegetarian enchiladas to a group of friends. I use chopped Portobello mushrooms, onion, garlic, pinto beans and cheese to fill the vegetarian enchiladas.
    Thanks for another amazing recipe.

  • I am so thankful and grateful to have found “Once Upon a Chef”. I am a mother of seven young children and I am blessed to be able to create beautiful and healthy meals for my family by following your easy to understand and creative masterpieces.

    Thank you!

  • This is the best enchilada recipe ever! My husband is Mexican and he thinks your enchiladas are better than his mom’s recipe, and better than any restaurant he has been to! I don’t change anything with the recipe, it is fantastic as is! However I do agree with one of the other reader’s comments, make the sauce the day ahead to save some time. Because we like these enchiladas so much, I make enough for my family to enjoy for leftovers all week, so I always make a double batch of both the filling and the tomatillo sauce. Because I make a double batch of the sauce I save about 1.5 – 2 cups of sauce for leftovers. For the tortillas I use the Mission Super-Size 8” corn tortillas. For cooking I line a 9×13 pan with non-stick tinfoil and cook the enchiladas outside on the grill on low heat for 15-20min instead baking them in the oven (it’s nice not to heat up the house during the summer). For the leftovers during the week I find that I need the extra sauce. As leftovers, the enchiladas in the fridge soak up all the tomatillo sauce. To reheat leftovers, put a few enchiladas on a plate and cover with the extra sauce, heat it up in the microwave and….wow, as good as the day you made them! Ps I made these for my super picky mother in-law and she couldn’t get enough! I usually pair this with simple toppings like guacamole, sour cream, black olives, and a simple salad. Thank you Jen for making me look like a pro!

  • I have tried so many enchiladas recipes – and this recipe was declared by my husband as the best one ever. I completely agree as well.
    We loved it exactly as the recipe calls. But I also exchanged the tomatillo salsa for cans of mild hatch green chilies when pulling together on a weeknight.

  • Hi Jenn,
    I am making this for Labor Day / birthdaypalooza family party next Monday. I have a sister who is a vegetarian. Can you point me to a good vegetarian filling? I would like to make a separate dish for her, but i think all i need to do is replace the filling; the rest should work! Much appreciated!

    • Hi Mary, sliced and sauteed portobello mushrooms would have a similar meaty texture here and could work nicely. Black or pinto beans would also be a good option. LMK how they turn out!

    • Did you try to make a vegetarian option? If yes, how did it turn out?

      • I made the vegetarian version with 3 portobello caps and 1/2 can of black beans. I cooked the portobellos alone for a few minutes, then added the onions and cooked them until the mixture wasn’t watery anymore. Then I added the beans with the cilantro at the end. The amount of filling was a little short of what the original recipe seems to make. Next time I will use the whole can of beans. It turned out great. Incredibly tasty recipe!

        • — Chanda on May 13, 2019
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I’ve had my eye on this recipe, so this Spring I planted tomatillos in my garden. They’re exploding now, so I made the dish! Ten stars!!! I live in an area where excellent Mexican food abounds. My dinner guests wanted to know who taught me to make sauce like that!! One question: Have you ever made it with enchiladas made with ground beef?

    • So glad you all enjoyed them! I haven’t tried them with ground beef but I bet it’d be good :).

  • Wow! I have made a lot of enchiladas in my time, this was hands-down the best enchilada I have ever had. You can tell all of her recipes have been tested and perfected. Thank you for paying attention to all of the details. I have enjoyed many recipes from you website. I am anxiously awaiting your cookbook.

  • I made the filling and sauce for Cinco de Mayo tomorrow and–like all your recipes–the sauce tastes amazing! However it is quite thin (definitely pouring consistency, and thinner than yours looks) which worries me. Is this normal? Will it thicken as it cools?? Thank you!

    • Hi Rebecca, I wouldn’t worry about it — could just be your vegetables were a little watery. It should thicken up in the fridge a little but if you’re really concerned, you could always simmer it on the stove for a bit. That should thicken it up. Hope you enjoy it!

  • I looove this recipe and have made it a number of times. With corn tortillas that are gluten-free, this can also be a gluten-free dish!
    I often make the tomatillo sauce a day ahead to break down the process. I am also all for cutting corners to save time (and dish washing) so I use Mission tortillas that are supple/soft enough and don’t crumble even without warming in the microwave with oil, and use a hand immersion blender for the tomatillo sauce.
    This is a recipe definitely worth trying!

  • It’s worth the trouble to make this tomatillo sauce. I made it once and loved it, then went back to canned sauce the next time I made enchiladas and found it just awful. I won’t make that mistake again. This recipe is a keeper. My only tip is to be careful about the jalapeno seeds. They do add quite a bit of heat even if you include just a few.

  • This was a big hit. I tried to find a recipe that I was able to prepare and hold as our company was to arrive for dinner. It was perfect as I prepared it all the way until needing to bake. I made a few omissions as I felt like pork vs. chicken and one guest dislikes cilantro, so I made the protein switch and held off on adding cilantro in the filling and added as a side. Oh, I almost forgot…I couldn’t find fresh tomatillos in the produce dept. so had to improvise and use an already prepared version. It was just fine but I cannot wait to make it like the original recipe–Ill keep my eyes open for the little guys. Thanks for consistently creating and sharing delicious recipes!

    • So I just found tomatillos! I’m going to make the sauce while I have the fresh little guys…is this sauce freezable?

      • Freezes beautifully!

  • LOVE these and its now my go to dish to bring to friends whom have just had a new baby. Delish.

  • Delicious! I can’t wait to get home tonight so I can eat the leftovers! Although I was skeptical, the tomatillo sauce was so, so good. And I loved how fresh the filling tasted, nothing like other enchilada recipes I’ve tried. The only thing I might change in the future is the amount/type of onion–the two whole yellow onions had my eyes stinging for hours afterward, so maybe a more mild, sweet onion would serve me better. I’ll definitely be adding this to my regular recipe list. Thank you for a great recipe!

  • I typically make a sour cream chicken enchilada which uses a canned green sauce. I used this recipe tonight and can honestly say I will never use a canned green sauce again. The tomatillo sauce is so fresh and tangy and not at all salty like from a can. Had I known how easy it was to make such a lovely sauce I would have done this years ago. I especially likely the very simple yet very flavorful chicken filling. This dish was a hit.

  • I made the enchiladas and thought they were delicious; however, I would have liked a bit more spice. Next time, I am going to add some jalapeno seeds and ribs to the recipe. Can you advise how many I should add: say, from one, two, or all three jalapenos? Thanks for another great recipe!

    • — Hannah E Sullivan
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked them Hannah! Hard to say how many of the seeds/ribs you should add because everyone’s tolerance for the heat is different, but maybe I’d start out with the seeds from one. If you find you still want more of a kick, you could add a little hot sauce to the blended dressing. Hope that helps!

  • These were amazing. I made them today. I’m surprised I was able to make something complicated, and fancy looking… looked like it came from a great restaurant.

  • This looks delicious! I’m so excited to make it. I see that it says this recipe makes 4 servings. How many enchiladas per person is that?

  • Is nutritional information available for this recipe? Perhaps it’s there but just hiding from me. Thanks.

    • Hi, I’ve just added the nutritional info. Keep in mind that the numbers do not include the optional toppings (sour cream, lettuce and avocado). Hope you enjoy!

  • Better then a Mexican restaraunt!!

  • This tomatillo sauce was a great hit! Delicious recipe. Thanks!

  • This was a HUGE hit with my family. My husband wanted me to make them again the next day. This receipe was easy to follow and I will definitely be making again. Don’t skimp out on the garnishes at the end for they add an extra dimension to an already delicious receipe.

  • This was deicious! I will definitely be making this and the corn -bean salad regularly. So full of flavor! Thanks for sharing.

  • I can’t wait to try this! I’m sure it delish as all your recipes have been. I’d like to try freezing this recipe. Any suggestion? I was thinking of freezing the sauce and filling separately and assembling the enchiladas the day of baking.

    • Hi Kerrie, I think I would actually cook them to completion, then freeze them. Good luck, and please lmk how they turn out 🙂

  • This is THE best chicken enchilada recipe I have ever made, and it is soo simple and quick. Thank you!!!!!

  • Jennifer, I planted tomatillo plants last summer and made a few batches of this sauce to freeze for winter meals. It turned out great. It freezes very well in quart size ziploc bags that I lay flat to freeze. It was nice to have on hand. I also tried roasting the onion and tomatillo on the grill, prior to cooking them for a couple of batches of the sauce and it add a great flavor. Thanks for my go to green sauce recipe 🙂

  • My husband and I loved this recipe. Next time I’ll need to double it so that we have more leftovers. Your directions and photos made the recipe a pleasure to follow. Thank you!

  • This recipe is a family favorite! Quick question — when I have less time, I like to use shredded breast meat from a supermarket roast chicken. If I did that for the filling, would I just add the spices to the shredded chicken and mix until well seasoned? Or should I add the spices to the cooked onion and then stir in the chicken to warm it?

    • Hi Amy, Either way is fine but I’d probably add the spices to the chicken. Glad your family enjoys it!

  • Would canned tomatillos be ok? Stocking up on Mexican supplies from an online retailer and wondered about this recipe.

    Your enchiladas went down a storm in our house so thought I’d try this.

    • Hi Fiona, I haven’t tried it myself so can’t say with 100% certainty but I do think that it’s probably fine. Please let me know how it turns out.

      • The canned tomatillos – Le preferida brand – already had salt added. Didn’t realise this until I tasted it.

        The recipe was tasty apart from the salty sauce which I managed to counteract with some lime juice.

        I’ll make it again for definate, just without the salt. More mexican recipes please Jen!

      • OK, Having got hold of some fresh Tomatillos I can definitely say it was 1000 times better. I think the recipe needs tweaking for the canned ones.

        Sooooo yummy now I’ve had them as they were intended!

  • I’m very keen to try these tonight for a Mexican dinner party I have an having. However, I am in Tasmania Australia and we have don’t have jalepenos available. What can I use as a substitute?

    • Hi Misha, You could try serrano peppers.

  • Just so you know, tomatillo’s are NOT related to the tomato at all. They are in the same family with the gooseberry.

  • Delicious and a winner at the family table. I made this dish tonight, along with Mexican Rice Pilaf and Black Bean and Corn Salad with Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette. All recipes are easy to make and directions are clear.

  • This recipe was a bit involved, but worth the extra effort. I don’t usually have tomatillos on hand (roasted green chilies make a decent stand in). As a lover of all Latin cuisine, these enchiladas really measured up to my expectations. Take the time to make these…you will not be disappointed!

  • Hi Jenn,
    Wanted to post an update: I went ahead and made the enchiladas without having recieved your response in time (I needed to get them started). But am happy to report that when I went to my spice drawer to seek an alternative to the smoked paprika, I came out with chipotle chili powder! Glad to see you were thinking along the same lines when I checked back! The enchiladas turned out great. We had dear friends over for dinner and we all voted it a keeper!

  • Hi Jenn,
    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your attention to detail! Your Caesar dressing is our favorite! As well as your pancakes and most everything we’ve tried so far from your site.
    I’d love to make these enchiladas today. I don’t have smoked paprika. Any suggestions as to a substitution? I hate the idea of losing the smoky flavor but I haven’t been able to find the smoked paprika in the stores I shop. Thanks!

    • Hi Lilly, So glad to hear you are enjoying my recipes! The only good substitute for smoked paprika is chipotle chili powder. If you don’t have any, you can still make the enchiladas and just substitute regular paprika or chili powder; you won’t have the smoky flavor, which does elevate the dish, but they will still be very good. Or, if you have a can of Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce in your pantry, you could add a tablespoon (or more, to taste) of the sauce to the filling and that will add a nice smoky flavor. You might try ordering the smoked paprika online for next time — it’s a great spice to have in your cabinet 🙂

  • I’m wondering about how much salsa this recipe makes? It looks really tasty so I’d like to make some…

    • Hi Rita, I’d say it makes a few cups. Hope you enjoy it.

  • I made them, and my family loved them.
    Easy and tasty recipe, brought leftover to school for lunch and ended up email your recipe to about 5 people.

    • Thank you, Susan!

  • I made these for dinner and they were very easy. The wonderful pictures on your website makes it easy to follow. I paired this dish with your Mexican rice and it was delicious. By the way if you don’t have gloves use sandwich bags to remove seeds from jalapeños.

  • Dear Jenn,

    Thank you so much for the fabulous work you do! I am a huge fan of yours! I was absolutely excited to cook these Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce, but to my huge disappointment I have found out that they don’t seem to sell tomatillos in Finland. (I live in Helsinki, Finland), so I am wondering if it is possble to use some other sauce and what would you recommend?

    Thank you very much!

    • Hi Kira, Bummer! I’d probably recommend another enchilada recipe entirely, like Cook’s Illustrated’s Enchiladas with Red Chili Sauce. Their website requires a subscription but I found the recipe on another cooking blog. Here’s the link:

      Hope that helps!

      • Dear Jenn,

        Thank you so much for your help and your attention!

        All the best to you and I will be following every receipe that you publish!


  • Tried this out last night. It was the first time I’ve really made Mexican food, and the first time I’ve ate enchiladas. I thought they were delicious, will definitely add this to the fav list. We had company over (whom has had variations of enchilada recipies) and they thought it was one of the better dishes. I did do a couple thing different but stuck to the recipe and procedure quite close.

    like Kim said I was worried about the heat (for the kids) so I also only used 2 jalapeño and found even with the sauce as it was, wasn’t spicy. Perhaps my jalapeño weren’t in their prime. As a whole dish I think I might even toss in a habenaro next time. Also I did use WW flour tortillas instead of corn, in general family’s not a fan of corn tortillas. They were on the soggy side but no one complained. As well I used a different cheese, marble, the sharp cheddar would have been much tastier. I didn’t serve the lettuce and avacodo.

    Anyways it was a great dish and I wish I had made it when I seen it this past summer.

  • Jenn, this was SOOO good!!! My whole family loved it and the sauce was amazing!!! I was a little afraid of the heat, so I only used 2 jalapenos. It turned out mild, so I’ll definitely use all 3 next time. Thank you so much for another wonderful recipe!!!

  • Made these for dinner tonight as written and it was fantastic!! My daughter even told me it was her new favorite thing that I make!! Husband is at late meetings tonight so have not gotten his comments yet, but I’m sure he is going to love these as well!! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  • I am looking forward to trying this recipe. I have never handled a tomatillo before, but I like trying new things. I have to ask- the side dish in the background looks delicious. Is it something you have on the website?

    • Hi Dee, I don’t have that recipe on my site but I believe it is fresh corn and red bell peppers sautéed in olive oil. Hope that helps!

  • I cannot say enough good things about these enchiladas!!! Soooo delicious and definitely worth the time and effort. I love that I never have to make adjustments to your recipes, Jenn! You’ve earned my trust…I just dive right in and have yet to be disappointed! 🙂

    • That is so nice to hear, Kelly. Thank you!

  • This dish was amazingly delicious and better than anything I have had in a Mexican restaurant. I found it very easy to make and honestly not that time consuming! My family and I will be having these enchiladas quite frequently. I have loved all your recipes that I have tried… Which is quite a few

  • I, too, am a follower of Cook’s Illustrated and also compared your recipe to theirs, as did Red. Though I haven’t tried their version (very similar) I can say the your addition of cumin to the sauce and smoked paprika in the filling was a great idea!! My husband and I loved the dish. The filling and sauce were very flavorful and I wouldn’t change a thing. I also thought it was easy to put together. I am more a fan of flour tortillas, however, and will probably use them next time. I believe that will technically change the dish to burritos, but I know it will still be delicious! I love your site and have have enjoyed every recipe of yours I have tried.

  • I made these over the weekend and they turned out excellent thank you. I’d never so much as held a tomatillo before, let alone made a salsa verde from scratch, so I appreciated your taking the time out to explain more about tomatillos and also to provide a before & after photo for how to prep them for this recipe.

    I would 2nd your comment about wearing gloves while handling jalapenos. The first time I didn’t, and I was fine (the jalapenos were from a local big chain supermarket)… I had enough filling & tacos remaining to make leftovers the following day, but used up all of the original sauce, so I made a fresh sauce from scratch and bought more jalapenos – this time organic ones from Whole Foods… just two… but even with dutiful washing after handling, my fingers are still buzzing from the chile heat even 2.5 hours after handling the jalapenos (and as I type this). I don’t think organic / non-organic and Whole Foods / other markets had anything to do with it, but just wanted to comment that one should be cautious about their heat if you are sensitive to capsaicin (chile heat).

    As a subscriber to Cooks Illustrated, I was able to compare your recipe to their original one. I very much enjoy your insights when you decide to depart from the original recipe – esp. in this case with your approach to softening the tortillas with a brush of oil instead of using a fuel propelled veg. spray: your decisions seem far more practical and, for lack of a better word… professional-chef-like. The only thing I didn’t do was add the garlic in with the onions right away as you suggested, as I was afraid of burning the garlic if I left them in there for 5 min (the CI recipe calls for the adding of the garlic later, with the jalapenos, etc., and that’s what I did). Am I being overly cautious?

    Thanks again – I’ve also made your Cashew Chicken recipe and it, too, was delicious.


    • Hi Red, So glad you enjoyed the enchiladas. I too have had problems with jalapeños so I can empathize! Your instincts are right about the garlic — but if you compare the two recipes, I believe the Cooks Illustrated recipe calls for the garlic to be minced while mine calls for the garlic to be left whole (or smashed). Minced garlic will most definitely burn if added at the same time as the onions, however large pieces of garlic will be just fine (and that saves you the trouble of having to chop the garlic). Hope that helps and thanks so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment.

  • Followed the recipe to a T! Absolutely wonderful. Also made homemade peanut butter ice cream with chocolate peanuts in it. It’s a good night 🙂

    • That does sound like a good night! Please send me the peanut butter ice cream recipe!

  • OK, these definitely took me more than an hour to make – but they were totally worth it! Such wonderful flavors! Hopefully I’ll be quicker next time I make them 🙂 I made a corn salad with avocados and red peppers to serve on the side. Thanks for a delicious recipe!

  • The tomatillo sauce is delicious! Just happened to have all of the ingredients. Since we had enchilidas for lunch, I made chicken cutlets and smothered them with the sauce and topped with melted Monteray Jack cheese. I’ll make the enchilidas next time, but for now this was excellent! The sauce was so good I couldn’t stop dipping tortilla chips in it! Thank you for another wonderful recipe!

  • I have been making a chicken and swiss enchilada with tomatillo sauce for years. I am looking forward to trying your recipe. I found a very easy and yummy tomatillo sauce by Sunny Anderson from food network and she makes it by roasting the tomatillos, garlic, shallots, and jalepenos. I actually cheat and use my immersion blender to blend the mixture once it is roasted. I love how delicious your recipe looks and will definitely try it next week!

  • Why not fill the tortillas and refrigerate ahead of time? Such that when company comes all you have to do is add the sauce/cheese and pop in the oven. Will it break down the tortillas?

    • Hi Amy, Good question. I haven’t tried that, but think it would probably be fine. The only thing is that I would add the sauce to the top of the enchiladas before refrigerating them because as they dry out, then tend to tear and fall apart.

    • I did this a few hours ahead of time and a lot of the sauce was absorbed into the tortillas which made them a bit soggy. I also didn’t have extra sauce to add on top before putting them in the oven which might have helped. It tasted ok, but I have made this recipe a few times and prefer assembly right before baking. You can have everything ready ahead of time. (my 2c)

  • Thanks – looks great!

  • Yum! I can’t wait to make this recipe. Love your recipes

  • Oh, I am so making these! Your meal looks wonderful. Pinning 🙂

  • Should all of the ingredients be available at Whole Foods?

    Fantastic, as always!

    • Yes…hope you enjoy it!

    • Can I make this dish in the morning, refrigerate, then cook in the evening? Thanks

      • Sure, Karen – that’ll work fine.

        • We had these last night. Delicious, fresh taste.
          I made the sauce two days ahead, and it all went together smoothly this morning

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