I’m sure that by now, we’re all familiar with chicken enchiladas— baked tortilla rolls filled with strips of cooked chicken breast, lightly coated with mexican herbs and spices, plus a lot of melted cheese bubbling on top. At least, that’s how most of the chicken enchiladas recipes we encountered during our research look. They may look good, but we didn’t find them healthy enough.
So we made several adjustments.
How We Made Our Chicken Enchiladas Recipe Healthy
Instead of going full cheddar, we used half cheddar, half mozzarella. We were amazed when we learnt that mozzarella has fewer calories and less fat than cheddar. The result is, the fat content is moderated and the color contrasts nicely on top. The cheese can even stretch when you lift the rolls up!
Not just the cheese, we also “messed” with the chicken. We put in a moderate amount of kidney beans, corn, bell peppers, and onions, not only for a texture, but also for the large number of nutrients present in these vegetables. Kidney beans are packed with proteins, fiber, and plenty of minerals. Corn adds a crunchy texture, and also a small amount of vitamin Bs. Bell peppers and onions give, well, more flavor.
While most chicken enchiladas recipes encourage sour cream, ours recommends guacamole. Avocado is a much better source of fat, and since it’s not a processed food, it adds more nutrients to your favorite dish.
What Tortilla to Make Chicken Enchiladas?
Overall, flour tortillas and corn tortillas are the most popular. Either will work well for chicken enchiladas, but we do prefer flour tortillas. There are things that are best kept original.
When it came to choosing flour tortillas, we had problems reducing the sodium content. Common flour tortillas contain a lot of sodium, mostly above 400 milligrams. We had to reduce the salt used in seasoning to keep the sodium per serving under 600 milligrams, which didn’t come out good.
Finally, we chose Tortilla Land’s flour tortillas. Per tortilla, there are 210 milligrams of sodium, which is only about half of the sodium found in popular branded tortillas. Since the tortillas will be coated in sauce later on, they’re still flavorful without the added salt.
The Home-made Enchilada Sauce
Store-bought sauce often contains lots of salt, so we didn’t buy one. Instead, we made our own enchilada sauce. It’s simple: stir together the flour, and seasoning in a heated skillet, then pour in tomato sauce and water/ unsalted chicken broth (recipe down below). Simmer for 8 minutes and leave to cool.
Of course since the seasoning is not store-bought, it has no preservatives that can keep the sauce for months. But if you refrigerate it well (no double dips, covered with plastic wrap), it’ll last roughly one week in the fridge, and three months in the freezer. So, make a super big batch of this sauce in advance. We all need a sauce that’s full of good things all the time, right?
Can you make Chicken Enchiladas ahead of time?
The answer is yes. Simply put the fresh tortilla rolls in a container (or ziplock bag) without the enchilada sauce and cheese, then pop them into the fridge. They can last up to three months if frozen, and about 2 days in the fridge.
When it’s time to serve, place the enchiladas in a baking dish, coat them with sauce and put them in a 400ºF oven for about 30 minutes. Then, add cheese on top and put it on grill for another 4 minutes or until it’s bubbly and golden.
What to Serve with Chicken Enchiladas?
At Healthy Kitchen 101, we plan the menu for you! Here’s what you can have with chicken enchiladas to make a full meal:
Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
- 6 oz skinless boneless chicken breast
- 5.3 oz onion minced
- 5.3 oz green bell pepper minced
- 5.3 oz corn
- 3.5 oz unsalted red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1.5 tsp garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp salt divided
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1/8 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup Hunt’s unsalted tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp parsley chopped
- 2.3 oz Cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 oz Mozzarella cheese shredded
- 4 flour tortillas
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a cast iron skillet, sear chicken on medium high heat with 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes per side. Season each side with half the amount of salt and pepper. When it’s done, take the chicken out and leave to cool.
- In the same skillet, stir in the onion powder, cumin, cornstarch, chili powder, the remaining salt and pepper, and stir for 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and water. Simmer for 8 minutes. Turn off the stove and put aside.
- Shred the chicken.
- In a new skillet, stir-fry onion and garlic with 1 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Add green bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Add corn and cook for 1 minutes. Turn off the stove and mix in shredded chicken, beans, half the amount of sauce and parsley.
- Divide the filling into 4 equal parts. Carefully roll the tortillas and place them onto a baking dish.
- Pour in the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle the cheese. Cover it with foil.
- Bake at 400ºF for 20 minutes. When it’s done, uncover and broil for 4 minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly.