Stacked Beef Enchiladas (AKA Mexican Lasagna)

Tested & Perfected Recipes

With layers of corn tortillas, spicy ground beef, salsa and cheese, this stacked beef enchilada casserole is a family-pleaser.

stacked beef enchilada casserole

You know when you make a dish for the first time and your whole family loves it, and you’re elated because you’ve found a new recipe to add to your repertoire forever? That’s how I felt the first time I cooked these hearty stacked beef enchiladas.

With layers of corn tortillas, spicy ground beef, roasted tomato salsa, and cheese, it’s a cross between traditional rolled enchiladas and lasagna — yet easier to make than both. It’s a great make-ahead dish for a potluck or big family dinner. And if you prepare the sauce in advance, it’s doable on a weeknight, too.

What you’ll need to make stacked beef enchiladas

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

how to make stacked beef enchiladas

To begin, combine the ground beef and the baking soda in a large bowl. The baking soda raises the pH of the meat, helping to lock in moisture and make the beef melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Mix with your hands until evenly combined.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Let sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Toss the tomatoes, onions, and garlic with the vegetable oil directly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil until softened and charred, 12 to15 minutes (if the vegetables are browning too quickly, give them a quick stir with a rubber spatula).

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Transfer the vegetables and juices to a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Add the salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper and pulse until just slightly chunky — then toss in the cilantro leaves.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Pulse until the cilantro is chopped. Set the sauce aside.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring frequently and breaking into pieces, until just slightly pink, about 2 minutes.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Add the chili powder, cumin, and salt.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until cooked through.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

To assemble the casserole: Preheat oven to 350°F and move the oven rack to the center position. Lightly oil a 9×13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Set aside 1 cup of the sauce for the top of the casserole. (You want to ensure that you have enough to cover the top layer of tortillas, otherwise they won’t cook through.) Line the bottom of the prepared baking dish with a layer of tortillas, overlapping them slightly.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Spoon half of the beef (and any juices) over the tortillas, followed by half of the sauce.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the sauce.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Repeat with another layer of tortillas, the remaining beef, remaining sauce, and 1/3 of the cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Spread the reserved sauce over the tortillas and cover completely.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over top.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is completely melted.

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

Enjoy!

Stacked Beef Enchilada Casserole

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Stacked Beef Enchiladas (AKA Mexican Lasagna)

With layers of corn tortillas, spicy ground beef, salsa and cheese, this stacked beef enchilada casserole is a family-pleaser.

Servings: 8
Total Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Beef

  • 1-1/2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder (see note)
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

For the Sauce

  • 4 large vine-ripened tomatoes (about 1.3 lb), quartered
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

For Assembling

  • 10 (8-in) yellow corn tortillas, cut into quarters (I use Mission brand)
  • 4 cups (12 oz) shredded Mexican blend cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef and the baking soda. Mix with your hands until evenly combined. Let sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. While the beef sits, prepare the sauce. Set an oven rack about 5 inches beneath the heating element and preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Toss the tomatoes, onions, and garlic with the vegetable oil directly on the prepared baking sheet. Broil until softened and charred, 12 to15 minutes (if the vegetables are browning too quickly, give them a quick stir with a rubber spatula). Transfer the vegetables and juices to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper and pulse until just slightly chunky. Add the cilantro and pulse until the cilantro is chopped. Set the sauce aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring frequently and breaking into pieces, until just slightly pink, about 2 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until cooked through.
  5. To assemble: Preheat oven to 350°F and move the oven rack to the center position. Lightly oil a 9x13-in glass or ceramic baking dish.
  6. Set aside 1 cup of the sauce for the top of the casserole. (You want to ensure that you have enough to cover the top layer of tortillas, otherwise they won't cook through.)
  7. Line the bottom of the prepared baking dish with a layer of tortillas, overlapping them slightly. Spoon half of the beef (and any juices) over the tortillas. Top with half of the sauce and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, the remaining beef, remaining sauce, and 1/3 of the cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas. Spread the reserved sauce over the tortillas and cover completely. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over top. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is completely melted.
  8. Note: Chipotle chili powder is smoky and hot and makes this dish a little spicy. For a milder dish, replace the chipotle chili powder with ancho chili powder, which isn't as hot.
  9. MAKE AHEAD: The casserole can be prepared ahead of time, tightly covered with foil, and refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to 3 months before baking (if frozen, defrost in the refrigerator before cooking). It can also be fully baked, tightly covered with foil, and refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat: defrost if necessary and heat the covered casserole in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until hot. If you'd rather reheat individual servings, small portions can be zapped in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 491
  • Fat: 32 g
  • Saturated fat: 11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Sodium: 608 mg
  • Cholesterol: 96 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.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • My married daughter and husband come in once a month to spend the weekend, and this is always requested for breakfast. Best Mexican casserole I have found. Thank you.

    • — Lo on January 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!

    My girlfriends and I get together every Christmas to feast and gift each other our favorite things, but since we can’t celebrate together we decided that we’d deliver a dish and eat together over zoom. Your meals are my favorites and I’ll be making this stacked lasagna, but don’t have 5 glass baking dishes to bake this in and distribute. Would I be able to use aluminum pans? Would I have to adjust my bake time?
    Thanks,
    Tswb Tsab

    • — Tswb Tsab on December 31, 2020
    • Reply
    • What a nice way to maintain your tradition in this scary time! ❤️
      I haven’t made this in aluminum pans, but I think it should work. Just be sure to support the bottom when transporting to and from the oven. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on December 31, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn,
        The aluminum pans (sturdy ones from Costco) worked just fine! I made 6 trays of stacked ground turkey enchiladas and followed your recipe. I also made my favorite black bean corn salad with chipotle lime vinaigrette! So happy to share these favorites with my girlfriends! Thank you again for your amazing recipes!

        • — Tswb Tsab on January 2, 2021
        • Reply
        • So glad it worked out – thanks for the follow up!

          • — Jenn on January 3, 2021
          • Reply
  • Always love your recipes, and I want to make this but have two questions…I HATE cilantro what can I sub? Hubby not fond of corn tortillas, can flour be used?

    • — Doreen on December 3, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Doreen, It’s fine to just leave the cilantro out, and flour tortillas will work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 3, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hello,
    I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while and this week I finally made it. My only regret is waiting so long to make this dish. I followed the recipe as written and it came out awesome! It’s difficult to only eat a single serving, a second serving is almost required for this recipe. Can’t wait to make it again next month. Thank you!
    Wil

    • — Wil on December 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • Loved it. So easy to make. I increased the spices a bit and will increase a bit more next time as we like our enchiladas spicy. Made a lime creama (sour cream, lime juice, a pinch of sugar & some chopped cilantro) to serve with it. A great comfort food dinner.

    • — Kathie Briggs on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is delicious!
    I love enchiladas but they take a lot of work to assemble and can get really messy. This is the perfect solution: all the same awesome flavors but assembled much faster and with way less enchilada sauce dripping everywhere!
    Regarding the concerns about the texture of the tortillas: the enchiladas I’ve had (in restaurants and made at home) always have a very soft tortilla from all the sauciness of the dish. To me, the tortillas were the perfect texture in this casserole!
    I couldn’t find 8 inch corn tortillas at my local store so I used about 15 5-inch ones which seemed like the right amount.

    • — Adriana L on November 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • My grandson enjoyed this recipe so much that he even telephoned me to say that he had two helpings. Very savoury and great tasting. A winner for sure.
    Every recipe has a story and I always enjoy your introductions. I’m patiently waiting for your next cookbook.

    • — Jean-Louis Levasseur on October 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on October 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • The dish was tasty- it was reminiscent of Mexican picadillo. Perfect meal to take to work the next day.

    I changed things up a bit because I read reviews about the tortillas getting too soggy. I ended up lightly oiling each tortilla and heated them until warm on a comal (cast iron griddle). Then followed the rest of the recipe as stated. The tortillas held up well.

    • — Jen Lawson on October 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • Question..wondered if I can roll the filling in the tortilla and place the sauce over top instead of layering?

    • — sv on September 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi SV, I haven’t tried it but I think it would work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • Another fabulous recipe! My sister made earlier in the week and said she’d use a smaller pan because she’d like a little thicker; so I used an 11 x 7 x 2 pan. I made 1 1/2 recipe of sauce (3 cups) and increased beef to 1 3/4 1b. My pan was full, but worked. So if following recipe exactly, no worries on using smaller dish.

    Thanks for another stellar recipe!

    • — Sue on August 29, 2020
    • Reply
  • Anxious to try this! Can I use ground turkey instead?

    • — Wanda B. on August 13, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Wanda, that should work. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 14, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    This was absolutely delicious but the tortillas were a bit soggy. I baked it for 35 min. Should I try not baking as long next time?

    • — Mary on August 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, The tortillas definitely do get soft because of the moisture from the beef/sauce, so it doesn’t sound like you did anything wrong. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Maybe I missed something, but we found it to be too salty. Normally we love your recipes, but this took me over 90 minutes to make and was just not worth it 😔

    • — Tara on August 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Another hit with the entire family. I made exactly as directed, and it was fabulous. I doubled the sauce–and everything else except the ground beef–and made a second pan with meat from two shredded rotisserie chickens–I tossed in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil and the same seasonings to give it the same profile. Both were delicious.

    • — Jill T on July 22, 2020
    • Reply

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