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Chicken Enchiladas

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Brimming with smoky, tender chicken and gooey cheddar cheese, all smothered in a tangy tomatillo sauce, chicken enchiladas promise comfort in every bite.

chicken enchiladas in baking dish.

My whole family loves these chicken enchiladas. While they do require some time to prepare, you can make the sauce and filling in advance. This way, you can assemble and bake the enchiladas later for a quick and easy weeknight meal. The sauce is made from tomatillos—those small, green fruits nestled in a papery husk. Contrary to their appearance (and their nickname “Mexican green tomato”), tomatillos are not tomatoes at all. Their bright, tangy, and acidic taste is key to many Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes—they are the star ingredient in salsa verde.

It’s important to note that the chicken is cooked twice in this recipe: initially when preparing the filling and once more upon heating the assembled enchiladas. To ensure the chicken remains succulent through both cookings, I recommend using chicken tenderloins. They’re naturally tender and forgiving, even if slightly overcooked, plus they’re typically available in convenient one-pound packs—the exact amount you’ll need.

“These were amazing. My family wants me to make them again and my college son asked me to make and freeze some that he can take back to college.”


What You’ll Need To Make Chicken Enchiladas

chicken enchiladas ingredients.
  • Onion and Garlic: The foundational aromatics of the dish.
  • Tomatillos: These small, green fruits, encased in a papery husk, are the key ingredients for creating the sauce for the enchiladas. They lend a bright, tangy, and fresh flavor that contrasts beautifully with the richness of the filling.
  • Jalapeño Chiles: Add a spicy kick that complements the tanginess of the tomatillos.
  • Chicken: The protein base for the filling. Tenderloins are ideal for ensuring the filling is juicy and flavorful.
  • Cumin and Smoked Paprika: This spice duo adds depth and a smoky undertone to the enchiladas.
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Adds rich, tangy flavor and a gooey, cheesy texture.
  • Corn Tortillas: The traditional choice for enchiladas, corn tortillas hold up well to the sauce and baking. They contribute a slight sweetness and subtle corn flavor.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the 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.

tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic in pot

Simmer until the tomatillos are soft.

cooked tomatillos and vegetables in pot.

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

blended tomatillo sauce in blender.

Step 2: Make the Filling

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

seasoned chicken tenderloins in bowl.

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

cooking chicken tenderloins in skillet.

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

shredded chicken in bowl.

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

cooked onions for filling.

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

filling mixture in skillet.

Step 3: Assemble the Enchiladas

Spread 3/4 cup of the tomatillo sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

layer of sauce in 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.

brushing tortillas with oil.

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.

rolled chicken enchiladas arranged in baking dish.

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

enchiladas covered with sauce and cheese in baking dish.

Bake until sauce is hot and bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle the enchiladas with smoked paprika—it makes them look pretty but also adds more delicious smoky flavor—and cilantro, if you like.

serving the chicken enchiladas.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make the enchiladas less spicy?

To reduce the spiciness of the enchiladas, there are several adjustments you can make. First, when preparing the tomatillo sauce, remove the seeds and veins from the jalapeño chiles, as this is where most of the heat resides. If you’re particularly sensitive to spice, you can reduce the number of jalapeños used in the recipe or substitute them with a milder green chile, such as poblanos. Additionally, the cooling effects of dairy can help balance spiciness, so serving your enchiladas with a dollop of sour cream can make them more palatable if you’re looking to tone down the heat.

Can I make chicken enchiladas ahead of time?

Yes, the enchiladas can be assembled up to one day ahead of time, tightly covered with foil, and refrigerated until ready to bake. Allow a few extra minutes in the oven if baking from cold.

Can chicken enchiladas be frozen?

Yes, the enchiladas can be frozen after baking for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, defrost them in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat, covered in foil, in a 325°F (165°C) oven until hot.

Video Tutorial

You May Also Like

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Brimming with smoky, tender chicken and gooey cheddar cheese, all smothered in a tangy tomatillo sauce, chicken enchiladas promise comfort in every bite.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 40 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes


For The 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
  • ¾ pound tomatillos, husks and stems removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 jalapeño chiles, seeded and roughly chopped (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

For the Filling

  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

For Assembling

  • 10 to 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces (¾ cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Smoked paprika

For Serving (optional)

  • Cilantro leaves, sour cream, shredded lettuce, avocado, lime wedges


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 ⅓ 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 ¾ 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, 1½ - 2 minutes. This makes them pliable.
  4. Spoon about ⅓ 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 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle the smoked paprika down the center of the enchiladas and serve immediately with sour cream, lettuce, avocado and lime wedges.
  6. Note: If you touch the seeds of the jalapeño pepper, avoid touching your eyes and wash your hands well afterward.
  7. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The enchiladas can be assembled up to one day ahead of time, tightly covered with foil, and refrigerated until ready to bake. Allow a few extra minutes in the oven if baking from cold. 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

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 668
  • Fat: 44 g
  • Saturated fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 44 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 27 g
  • Sodium: 707 mg
  • Cholesterol: 82 mg

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, Edamam.com. 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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  • Hi Jen
    I was wondering if I could prepare the chicken enchiladas and freeze them before baking??
    Many thanks!

    • Hi Barb, I haven’t tried it, but I’d actually bake them first and then freeze them. You can defrost and reheat when you’re ready to eat. Please LMK how they turn out!

  • Delicious! Everyone enjoyed dinner tonight. Thank you for another great recipe.

  • This were delicious. My husband commented that they tasted very authentic.

  • Made these tonight and they were a big hit with the family. I did not use any seeds or white parts and served with pickled jalapenos on the side for those who wanted some heat. I prepared the sauce and chicken ahead and assembled right before cooking, as suggested. My only issue is that 2 minutes per side wasn’t enough for a few of the thicker chicken tenders, and they were undercooked when I shredded them. Wouldn’t have been a big deal if they were going straight into the oven, but I didn’t want to leave undercooked meat for a few hours. I tossed the shredded chicken back into the pan with the onions and cooked a few minutes more. Other than that. It was a pretty simple, tasty recipe. Will definitely make again.

  • OMG YUMMY Jenn. Thank You!!!!

  • Made this recipe twice recently. I used chicken rotisserie because that’s what I had that needed to be used up. I also roasted the veggies, not boil, but will try boiling next time. Such a wonderful recipe!!

  • These enchiladas were yummy! It’s worth the extra work of making the sauce and the chicken from scratch (rather than using a rotisserie chicken). I found that stacking too many oiled corn tortillas before microwaving makes the ones on the bottom stick together, so I stacked six at a time, filled and rolled them, then repeated with the rest.

  • I made the sauce and liked it but the tomatillos are tangy and I was bringing it to a family with young kids so I added 1/4 cup of sour cream and blended it in. It’s awesome that way! Also used a rotisserie chicken to make my life easier. Solid recipe!

  • Absolutely delicious! Great Mexican flavor without being heavy or greasy.
    It’s bright & tangy with chicken, corn tortillas & cheese. What’s not to love?

    Family gobbled it down and this will go in the monthly rotation. Made no changes to the recipe, it was perfect as is.

    Thanks, Jenn, for another favorite ❤️

  • I followed the recipe as written and it was delicious. The entire family loved it. Will definitely make again.

  • I’ve moved to a new kitchen, and couldn’t find my copy of the original Cooks Illustrated recipe, so I found this one which looked similar but (as you mention) not quite the same. It came out great. I used shredded/cooked chicken thighs instead of the tenderloins – and I have to say the paprika was an excellent change. Speaking only for myself, I ended up with about 13 enchiladas rather than the 11; the tortillas broke a bit too easily when stuffed too full.

  • Absolutely delicious! I made it exactly as directed, and it turned out perfectly. So good. Will definitely be adding it to my recipe rotation!

  • What are the make ahead suggestions? I’ll be making a batch for myself and one for my sisters family (she just had a baby)—Would you think I can prepare the dish up to a day ahead of time for her to just pop in the oven when ready to cook?

    • Hi Holly, Congrats to your sis! While I think you could fully assemble them ahead, I 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 and that both you and your sister enjoy!

  • Hi Jenn,

    I’ve made both the chicken and beef enchiladas and I now love Mexican food. My DIL is a vegetarian and I wonder if you can suggest how I could make cheese enchiladas with either one of the recipes. I love the green sauce and the red sauce so whichever one you think would compliment, I would be grateful for your suggestions.

    • Glad you like them! I haven’t tried it with either this recipe or the beef enchiladas, but you may be able to replace the beef with black or pinto beans or sliced and sauteed portobello mushrooms (as they would have a nice meaty texture). Please LMK how they turn out if you try it!

    • I make mine with shredded zucchini and black beans- my family loves it.

      • — Lynda Stallings
      • Reply
  • Like almost every other reviewer, I was a total novice to tomatillos and making Mexican dishes. I followed the recipe exactly, the chicken tenders cooked in exactly 4 minutes, the green sauce was a wonderful discovery that I’d never tried before. I only had 1 1/2 jalapeño peppers but they were a good size and I added half of a poblano and when I tasted the sauce it was plenty hot but on the enchiladas it was a perfect compliment. I had both white and yellow corn tortillas to use and I think yellow corn tortillas are tastier but that’s just a preference since the dish was outstanding. Great that the dish can be frozen but its so easy to prepare fresh that I will be making this again and again. As my Nana would say “this shaina maidel can cook” – the highest compliment for Jenn!

  • I made this recipe for Super Bowl LV. My husband normally does all the cooking, but I was ok with preparing this recipe! I have never picked up a tomatillo before let alone a jalapeno – ha! It was fun to work with new ingredients and the end result was delicious! So glad I found your website and can’t wait to make this for friends and family after all of this is under control. Thanks and be safe everyone – Pura Vida! Denise

  • I love love this recipe. The tomatillo salsa is to die for. This has been my family’s favorite Mexican dish ever.

  • This was my first time venturing out and making enchiladas and using tomatillos. The directions were really clear and easy to understand. The dish turned out so delicious and I just used rotisserie chicken because that’s what I had on hand. Thank you for another wonderful recipe and something different to add to the repertoire!

  • I love this recipe and have made it several times – and we’re always amazed at how much flavour it has. I have not yet been able to find tomatillos so I have only tried it with red tomatoes. And I have made it with both raw chicken (as written) and leftover cooked chicken that I needed to use up – works great. I also just use a few chopped up pickled jalapenos from a bottle in place of fresh – one less thing to buy! Definitely recommend this one but it does take a little time and there are a few steps involved. Very much worth the effort though!

  • These were amazing. My family wants me to make them again and my college son asked me to make and freeze some that he can take back to college. Jenn’s step-by-step instructions with lots of pictures made it easy too!

  • I have made these many times ! everyone loves them. I use many of your recipes, and they never fail! thanks

    • Reply
  • We love enchiladas suizas from our local cantina, and with current restaurant restrictions, I decided to try this recipe at home. This was my first time with tomatillos and the sauce is amazing with the lime spritz at the end! I simply “nuked” my package of tortillas for 60 seconds vented; they were pliable and easy to manage. The flavors work well together and this recipe has been added to our cooking rotation! I am thinking about trying this recipe with a store-bought roasted chicken that I season at home for when I want to cut down on time.

  • This is such a great recipe. The tomatillo sauce is fantastic on its own anywhere you might use salsa. If I have leftover chicken I sub that in the filling with good success. A family favorite.

  • An entire family favorite! I could drink the tomatillo sauce and the tip on heating the tortillas in the microwave is brilliant!!

    • — Amanda Kingsbury
    • Reply
  • This looks like a lighter version of chicken enchiladas I have made over the years, and I can’t wait to do it your way!

  • I made these Monday night and they were a hit! We aren’t big on corn tortillas, so we used flour tortillas instead. This was the first time we’ve ever purchased tomatillos so the kids were intrigued! The only complaint my family has is that I never want to make the same thing twice because I want to try EVERYTHING you post! Next up….beef enchiladas!

  • I’ve made this recipe now a couple of times and love it! The combination of the green tomatillo sauce with chicken and corn tortilla enchiladas are very reminiscent of the green enchiladas I grew up loving in El Paso, TX. All the recipe ingredients are available at my grocery here in CT, the preparation steps are easy to follow and also easy to improvise if neededwith different prepared salsas from the pantry. I especially liked Jen’s directions for brushing the corn tortillas with a bit of oil prior to warming up in the microwave to keep them pliable for rolling. Works every time!

  • Until last year, I had never tasted anything made with tomatillos. One day, I picked up some takeout from a local Mexican restaurant. When I got home and opened the container, I realized a mistake had been made because my enchiladas were covered in a green sauce instead of my usual red sauce. Not wanting to go back to the restaurant I decided to keep what I had. It was a wonderful mistake because that green sauce was delicious!

    When I decided to look for a recipe, this was my first and only stop. The only thing I changed was to roast the tomatillos and the Jalapeños before adding them to the pan. This recipe made more than enough for two people so after chilling in the refrigerator I wrapped half in plastic wrap then aluminum foil. A month later, when I defrosted and reheated it was just as good.

    Thanks Jenn!

  • I’ve made this many times. I try other recipes but always come back to this one. I do change it up a bit for our personal tastes but otherwise a true winner.

  • Been looking for recipes to make my own enchiladas and this hits the mark. Reviews have me running to the store to make tonight. Thanks

  • OK so I’ve made this recipe before when I was in the States but I wanted it sooooo bad here in Barcelona. I hunted everywhere for tomatillos. Alas, no fresh ones are grown here. So I bit the bullet and used canned. While the color is not as vibrant and not as good as the fresh, it still was one of the best recipes every. My husband kept saying, “these are really good.” He never says that. So thanks for helping to sate this craving. We’ll be making it again.

  • Soooo delicious! This dish will become a staple at my table!

    • — Marguerite Ford
    • Reply
  • So glad I found this recipe! It was so delicious and flavorful. I was looking for a enchilada recipe which had a green sauce and it didn’t disappoint ! I highly recommend it if you are looking for a different version of enchiladas.

  • I’ve made this several times and have now put it into my recipe rotation. The only thing I change is to substitute flour tortillas cuz hubby doesn’t like corn. But the sauce is great and it’s my favorite enchilada recipe!

  • Excellent! We did not have access to tomatillos so had to be a little creative with that part of the sauce. We agree that the chicken tender option is preferable; so easy to shred. This is a keeper! We just saw the beef enchiladas recipe posted today so will give this a try as well.

  • Absolutely wonderful!
    Thank you!

  • Hi jen- I am really excited to try some recipes from your website. I made the enchiladas today and I did not care for the tomatillo sauce. I should have realized that as I’m not a fan of them I probably would not like the sauce. In the past I have enjoyed some salsa verde’s and other green sauces. I would follow this recipe though but use tomatoes instead of tomatillo’s.

    • I have substituted Anaheim peppers before with good results since I do not care for the tart taste of tomatillos. Or you probably could combine a mixture of the two peppers.

  • I loved the filling recipe…..maybe a little more salt. I have made tomatillo (Salsa Verde) sauce in the past and although this recipe does call for cooking it on the stove top….my other recipe had you roasting the garlic, tomatillos and peppers. I think roasting them in the oven just gives them a little more depth. Will definitely make it again.

    • — Cindy Rotermund
    • Reply
  • 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)
    • 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!

      • Thanks for the advice. I’ll steer clear. No point in surviving 2020 just to poison my family in 2021.

  • 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.

  • Fantastic!!! A new family staple. Thanks so much!

  • 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

  • Whole family loves these! Do you think I could make a double batch of sauce and freeze it?

    • Glad you like these! Yes, I do think the sauce would freeze nicely.

  • Wonderful recipe. Thank you!

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Just tried this recipe. It was excellent. My family throughly enjoyed it.

  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • 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! 🙂

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