Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
This post has been updated for recipe, content and photos since it’s original publication in 2015.
When you’re craving authentic Mexican enchiladas, skip the local taco joint and make your own chicken and black bean enchiladas from scratch. It’s easy to do… pinky swear. These simple chicken enchiladas with red sauce (preferably homemade) use everyday ingredients, like leftover chicken (from a rotisserie), canned black beans and green chiles… and cheese. Yes, there’s LOTS of cheese in these chicken bean and cheese enchiladas. This recipe will feed 3-4 depending on appetites, but can easily be doubled for a crowd.
Like many of us, Taco Tuesday is definitely a “thing” in our house, but what about authentic Mexican enchiladas? They don’t happen nearly enough for my appetite and that’s too bad. Chicken enchiladas with that spicy red sauce are a thing of beauty. Like tacos and casseroles made a love child… with lots of cheese.
Table of Contents
- 1 Ingredients for chicken and black bean enchilada filling
- 2 What is the red sauce for chicken enchiladas?
- 3 Making chicken enchilada filling
- 4 Corn or flour tortillas for chicken enchiladas?
- 5 What size tortilla should I use?
- 6 Assemble the chicken and black bean enchiladas
- 7 Can I make enchiladas in advance?
- 8 Authentic Mexican enchiladas are pure comfort food
- 9 Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
Ingredients for chicken and black bean enchilada filling
- Olive Oil
- Leftover rotisserie chicken (or other cooked chicken, shredded or chopped)
- Canned Black Beans
- Green Chiles (I used fire roasted Hatch chiles)
- Red Enchilada Sauce
- Shredded Cheese (I recommend cheddar, cheddar jack, or pepper jack)
What is the red sauce for chicken enchiladas?
Enchilada sauce is a spicy, chili forward blend of garlic, herbs, spices and tomato. It helps to flavor the enchiladas as well as prevent them from drying out. You can find canned red sauce in the grocery store, but if you’ve got 10 minutes, I recommend making your own. Mexican red sauce is quick and easy and it can be made in advance. If you’d rather have a green sauce, try this tomatillo version. Either one works well in this recipe.
Making the filling is very straightforward and uncomplicated. You can probably have it ready to go in under 10 minutes.
Making chicken enchilada filling
- Sauté the onions in olive oil until soft and translucent.
- Add the shredded chicken, a little red enchilada sauce and the green chiles.
- Cook, stirring until the chicken is heated through.
That’s it. The rest of this recipe is straight ASSEMBLY and it goes very quickly.
Corn or flour tortillas for chicken enchiladas?
Before we go too far down this road, I’d like to acknowledge that corn tortillas are the more authentic route for these chicken bean and cheese enchiladas. There. I said it. However, there are pros and cons to each style of tortilla.
- In enchiladas, corn tortillas add more flavor and texture to the enchiladas, however, they are less pliable and can be prone to tearing or ripping when you’re assembling.
- Flour tortillas are very flexible and easy to manipulate, but tend to get a little soft and doughy in bean and cheese enchiladas, plus you miss out on that great corn flavor.
That said, I’ve made them BOTH WAYS and let’s be honest… we’d never turn down a good chicken and black bean enchilada…right? Besides, I’m not the food police and it’s your kitchen.
What size tortilla should I use?
It really depends on your casserole dish. For my small-ish baking dish measuring 6″ x 10″, I found that the “street taco” size tortillas were the perfect diameter to fit the interior of the casserole when rolled up. To see which size is best for your dish, measure the short side of the interior of the casserole dish — that’s about how wide you want your tortillas to be. You may have to pull out several different casserole dishes to see which one works best for you.
Assemble the chicken and black bean enchiladas
- Spread a spoonful of enchilada sauce over the tortilla, so that it covers the entire surface.
- Add a few spoonfuls of cheese to the center.
- Top with black beans
- Finish with a few scoops of chicken filling.
- Fold the sides of the tortilla over the enchilada filling.
- Tuck the enchiladas snugly into the casserole dish, seam side down.
This is so simple, you may want to enlist the kids to help. They’ll have fun being your sous-chef and I think teaching kids to cook is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. (Note: if you have small kids, let them add the filling — but you should transfer the filled tortillas to the baking dish.)
Can I make enchiladas in advance?
Yes. You can make the enchiladas up to this point and cover and refrigerate them until you’re ready to bake.
- Remove the enchiladas from the refrigerator to come to room temperature before baking (about 30 minutes).
- Brush the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas and cover with the remainder of the cheese.
- When the oven is preheated, bake the casserole for about 30 minutes or until the enchiladas are fragrant and the cheese has melted.
Chicken bean and cheese enchiladas as a bribe
In those final 15 minutes of oven time, the house starts to take on a warm, savory aroma that signals the belly to something GOOD that’s coming. In fact, it smelled so good while these enchiladas were cooking that my husband started hanging out in the kitchen for those last few minutes, in anticipation of the main course. In fact, he was suddenly very helpful with setting the table and getting out the sour cream and cilantro. I’m telling you, just one whiff and you can pretty much bribe your family into doing the laundry (not that I would EVER do that).
This is probably one of my favorite pictures. I mean… look at that puddle of melted cheese. If this doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will.
What goes with chicken and black bean enchiladas?
- Chopped or sliced avocado
- Sliced red and green chiles
- Sour cream
- Fresh cilantro
- Pico de gallo
- Avocado Tomatillo Salsa
- Fresh chopped tomatoes
- Pink Pickled Onions
- Cold Brew Hibiscus Tea
- Cold Mexican Beer (Dos Equis)
Authentic Mexican enchiladas are pure comfort food
This is one of those cozy, homestyle dishes that you can’t help but love. The meaty, savory (slightly spicy) filling combined with the soft, warm tortilla and dam of melted cheese will make your eyes roll back in your head as you groan with happiness. My only complaint is that my belly isn’t big enough to handle MORE. I’ll have to work on that. I hope you love these chicken and black bean enchiladas as much as we do.
More Mexican inspired recipes to try:
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Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 shredded or diced cooked chicken breasts I use leftover rotisserie chicken or 2 roasted chicken breasts without skin
- 2 cups Mexican red enchilada sauce canned or recipe on this site
- 15 ounces canned black beans rinsed and drained
- 4 ½ ounces canned green chiles I use hatch chiles — you can also use fresh fire roasted chiles.
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese (or monterey jack, cheddar jack or pepper jack) shredded, divided
- 1 package tortillas 8-10
- sour cream
- tomato diced
- green onion sliced
- cheddar cheese shredded
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until the onions are softened and slightly translucent. Add the chicken, green chiles and 1/2 cup of red enchilada sauce, stirring occasionally until the chicken is warmed through and the mixture is well coated in sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Spray a casserole dish with vegetable spray and then spoon 2-3 tablespoons of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the casserole and gently spread to cover the bottom.
- Lay a tortilla flat on your work surface and spoon a tablespoon or so of sauce onto it. Spread the sauce evenly over the whole tortilla. Add a small handful of shredded cheese into the center of the tortilla.
- Top with a few spoons of the shredded chicken filling (don't over-stuff). Top with a handful of black beans and carefully fold the two sides of the tortilla over the filling. Transfer the wrapped enchilada to the baking dish, seam side down.
- Continue to assemble the enchiladas and transfer them to the casserole dish. Spread the remaining red enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas and spread so that they are all coated with sauce.
- Garnish with the remainder of the cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and casserole is heated through.
- Serve with your choice of condiments and garnishes.
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I made these using ground chicken. I added the chicken to the pan after the onions softened, and cooked until just “done.”. Had to drain liquid before adding other ingredients. It was delicious and easy to make.
If I wanted to make this vegetarian, should I add one or two extra cans of drained beans to make up for the chicken?
That would work. Or you could add a vegan chicken (chik’n) comes to mind or seitan or tofu.
Loved these enchiladas! They were actually much easier to make than I thought and perfect for a family dinner.
These chicken and black bean enchiladas will be a hit at our house and perfect for Cinco de Mayo.
I am totally craving enchiladas now. Chicken and black bean is such a classic combo.
Oh my goodness, It’s been a while since I’ve had some good enchiladas. These look amazing and I am totally making them ASAP!
Absolutely delicious, and I took your advice re tortilla types, I used flour tortillas and they were much softer and easier to hold for my kids
Enchiladas are one of my favorite meals, and yet for some reason I rarely make them! I definitely need to change that, because this recipe looks AMAZING!