Stacked Beef Enchiladas (AKA Mexican Lasagna)

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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/FREEZER-FRIENDLY INSTRUCTIONS: 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

  • We love your recipes and you (perhaps along with Ina Garten) are our go to source of inspiration. There are only two of us now so we often make half of the recipe (and still have leftovers) which works well. In this case, we used a pan slightly larger than 8×8 so the layers were fine but probably not quite enough sauce/salsa. Next time I think I’d make 1 1/2 the amount of salsa to avoid a slight dryness at the edges. Otherwise, no complaints, ever. Many thanks.

    • — Charlie on January 31, 2021
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  • Really tasty — I only had flour tortillas available to use so fit them into a springform pan instead (layered using only 5 tortillas). Although I thought the meat and sauce combinations would be too lean for my “lasagna”, the consistency was perfect.

    • — Kathy on January 31, 2021
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  • So I made these and this recipe exceeded my expectations! I substituted olive for vegetable oil, my sauce was a little skimpy but I think that was me and the bottom level of tortillas was a little hard again maybe that was me too. I did put a light coating of oil on the bottom as per the recipe. I calculated 13.3 quartered tortillas per level so I hope that was correct. Still, I will definitely make them again. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I’m thrilled to have found you. On to another one!!!

    • — Tammy on January 30, 2021
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  • I think Louise said it well, there is comfort in your food Jen. And Louise thatnk you for what you’re doing now.
    Now to this delicious stacked enchiladas. I love them! They are easy to prepare and are just filled with flavor. Just the right amount of spice and cheesy goodness. Have made these several times and we have always enjoyed them.

    • — Debbie Chiet on January 30, 2021
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  • My family loved this and it was easy to prepare. I especially liked the sauce- it was fresh and delicious! The leftovers packed nicely for work, too. ( Yes, I’m an essential worker and have been going to my workplace thru out this Pandemic, with my packed lunches) Thank-you, Jenn-there is comfort in your site, your food and recipes during this crummy Pandemic.

    • — Louise on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of my favorite recipes. My son had four servings the first time i made it. The enchilada sauce with the roasted tomatoes and onions is amazing and can be used in other recipes.

    • — Joy Nawrocki on January 29, 2021
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  • This was a great solution for a group instead of dealing with all the ingredients for tacos with dishes everywhere. All the flavor to satisfy those warm flavor cravings !! I would make it again.

    • — Chris Campbell on January 29, 2021
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    • You were right on the money south this recipe. Everyone loved it. The baking soda made such a difference in the tenderness of the ground meat. All the flavors of tacos in a delicious casserole.

      • — Sue Scuro on January 30, 2021
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  • Excellent! Always make an extra dish for freezer! Delicious, easy and a family favorite.

    • — Joan on January 29, 2021
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  • Make this at least every couple weeks, easy to throw together after work and the kids wolf it down.

    • — N. Day on January 29, 2021
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  • Hubby and I absolutely love enchiladas. The 1st time I had enchiladas was in New Mexico when I was about 7 years old and they were stacked, so I couldn’t wait to try this recipe.
    This recipe has become a favorite at my home . Fast, easy and delicious. I love the flavor that roasting the veggies adds to it and I can change the veggies up a bit depending on what’s on hand. Hubby loves it, too and he is always happy to have leftovers. Ground beef, ground turkey and even left over shredded beef or chicken have made their way into these enchiladas and it’s always a hit. This will always be a keeper at my house.

    • — Karyn Harding on January 28, 2021
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  • Jenn,
    I made this dish for a winter camping trip with friends. I was looking for an easy recipe that I could make ahead of time, then heat up and serve to my friends. Well, this was a winner. Everyone loved it. I will definitely take this on future camping trips.
    You are my go to when I need to make a delicious meal or dessert. Thank you!!
    (PS I always print the recipe, date it when I made it, and comments from my quests. It is always fun to go back and read my notes)

    • — Pat on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • We get together at a friend’s house on Sundays and everyone brings a dish to share. I use the opportunity to try a new recipe, and Jenn’s recipes are always a hit! This was delicious, and was devoured in no time. So much easier than rolling individual enchiladas.

    • — Carol on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made this recipe several times now – it’s one of our favorite quick meals that results in great leftovers. We easily made it vegetarian by substituting Impossible meat for the ground beef. I did find that I needed more tortillas than suggested to completely cover the mixture.

    • — Danielle on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This has become part of our meal rotation! So easy and yummy! I make something similar with flour tortillas but I have to say that I like this recipe with the corn tortillas better. They add so much flavor!

    • — Beth M on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of my husband’s favorite recipes on your blog! Lots of flavor with a nice kick. We had left over tortillas from taco night the other day and some ground beef in the freezer. Thanks again for another great recipe!

    • — Lena on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of my go-to recipes when I need to make a meal for a family with a new child. It is easy to make two batches at once and bake one for dinner for my family and send the other one along to the family. The tomato sauce is so good! Would highly recommend!

    • — Brenna on January 28, 2021
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  • This was really good. Even the picky eaters enjoyed it. Perfect for fall weather.

    • — ryguy on January 28, 2021
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  • This casserole was really good, but a little sweet for my taste and I don’t know why. I need to try them again. Other than that we really enjoyed them.

    • — RS on January 28, 2021
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  • I made this for Christmas Day and make it frequently to share with friends. It’s SOOOOO GOOOOD!!! With Jenn’s rice and her salsa recipe…perfect combination! Always impressed with every recipe I try!

    • — Linda on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is a regular in our house. There are only two of us, so I usually split the recipe into two 8×8 pans, either freezing one for later (I’ve had great luck freezing this, just as the make ahead instructions state!), or sharing with family nearby. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing!

    Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Elise J on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This looks so good! I have made a version of this over the years, but I never thought to roast the vegetables for the sauce first. I will definitely do this next time.

    • — Ellen Shook on January 28, 2021
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  • This recipe is definitely a keeper! I’ve made this several times, so easy to layer the sauce, torn tortillas, meat sauce, cheese. It’s also great with shredded chicken or pork, and I always look for recipes that use corn tortillas rather than flour for more authentic Mexican cuisine. I like Jen’s method to broil the tomatoes, garlic and onions for the home-prepped sauce. This makes a delicious dinner with additions of sliced avocado and a dollop of low-fat sour cream on the side.

    • — Celeste on January 28, 2021
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  • I’ve made this a few times and it’s a family favorite. Have to admit I sometimes use Frontera tomatillo sauce instead of making it fresh. We top it with cilantro, red onion and sour cream.
    This is recipe is easy to put together, is substantial and delicious!

    • — A Rosenthal on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • So good! Your recipes are so easy to follow. I love the weekly emails that inspire me to make something new.

    • — Kathleen on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • The flavors are fresh and vibrant. Dividing into individual servings made it easier for leftovers and not drying out the casserole.

    • — Ginny C on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Yummy! And such a bonus to be able to double the recipe and save one for a quick meal in the future!!

    • — Nancy Cassell on January 28, 2021
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  • Love love love. My family is a bit picky, but this meal was a home run. I love how the salsa thickens with the tortillas and brings the whole dish together. Such a great addition to our comfort food lists of dinners. Thanks for such a great twist on enchiladas that the whole family loves.

    • — Deanna Sheehan on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I live in Texas and we’re particular about our Mexican food. Your recipe is a perfect addition to our table! I add some fresh jalapenos or ancho chilis to the tomatoes and onions when roasting because we like a little heat. But I don’t change anything else.

    Another recipe that gets 5 stars from me!

    • — Virginia Tate on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of my husband’s favorites! It’s very decadent, so we don’t make it regularly, but I have not made any adjustments to the original recipe because everyone loves it that way.

    • — Danielle Atkinson on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Easy to prepare, did it with my grandson( 14) and the complete family loved it. Gripping the vegetables adds flavor and the baking soda does make a difference. Good comfort food on a budget!

    • — lucie on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love this recipe. I live in South Texas and the taste is authentic. I have your book and have followed you for years. I have never had a failure with your recipes. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • — Gaye on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of my family’s favorite Mexican dishes! Super easy to make, and layering the ingredients is so much easier than rolling. I serve with yellow rice and a big salad. Delicious!

    • — Sheri on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can I substitute canned tomatoes or Roma tomatoes for the vine-ripened tomatoes?

    • — Veronica on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Veronica, Though fresh tomatoes would definitely be better than canned here, you could probably get away with canned. (I know that fresh tomatoes are out of season, but think that if your grocery store has them, even out of season fresh tomatoes would be better than canned.) If you use canned, you won’t need to roast them with the onions and garlic; just add them to the food processor after the onions and garlic are out of the oven. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • My challenge is I cook for my 92 year old dad that does not eat red meat, so I substituted ground chicken in this recipe. My husband is a bit fussy about chicken but he loved this dish so this is a keeper! The spices didn’t make the dish bland because I used chicken so it was really delicious. My dad loved it, too.

    • — Darlene Paras on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Excellent recipe: I’m a huge fan of Mexican food and this recipe is great, and we usually make one to freeze. We had a debate about corn vs flour tortillas–I prefer the corn as it melts into the recipe like tortilla soup/polenta. Reliable and excellent.

    • — Ron on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Wonderful Recipe. I made it tonight for the family and everyone loved it. Even my picky 10 year old – he cleared his plate.

    I served it with Spanish rice and cilantro, avocado and sour cream on the side.

    • — Gina on January 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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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