This is my go-to recipe for red sauce enchiladas. Fast, incredible flavor, and stress free to make. Sound too good to be true?
Don't let the simple ingredient list deceive you. The combo of roasted tomatoes, cumin, and chipotles in adobo creates a where-have-you-been-all-my-life flavor that is far superior to anything you can get at your local Mexican joints.
Red Sauce Enchiladas Recipe
First things first. If you have enchilada sauce in a can somewhere in your pantry, start by placing that can at the very bottom of the nearest trash receptacle.
Then get three tomatoes roasting in the oven at 400F.
And saute 1/2 an onion and 3 garlic cloves in a dollop of oil. You can chop roughly as all of this is going in the blender eventually.
You've got options for the chicken. Rotisserie chicken will work if you want to streamline this recipe even further, or you can poach a chicken breast for 15-20 minutes in simmering water. That's what I did for this batch.
Okay, in about 10-15 minutes the tomatoes will be roasted 'enough'.
Add them to the onions along with 3 chipotles in adobo, 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1 cup stock, and some freshly ground pepper.
If you're new to chipotles in adobo you can find them in the Latin goods section of most grocery stores.
1-2 Tablespoons of chili powder would be a viable substitute for the chipotles in adobo, but I think it's worth it to keep a few cans of the chipotles in adobo on hand for recipes like this one. They create a rich, complex flavor that is hard to duplicate.
After the mixture comes to a uniform temp (2-3 minutes), add it to a blender and combine well. Return to saucepan and simmer on mediumish heat.
Take a taste for seasoning. For this batch I added another pinch of salt and another pinch of oregano.
Also note that using 3 chipotles in adobo creates some real heat. If you want a less spicy dish you can dial back and use only 1 or 2 chipotles.
After warming up the tortillas (I used the oven for a couple minutes), add a dollop of the enchilada sauce to a plate. Dredge a tortilla in it and flip. This ensures you have some of the delish sauce inside each enchilada. Fill with chicken, cheese, and a few bits of raw onion.
Roll tight and place on a baking dish. You can line the bottom of the baking dish with some enchilada sauce to prevent sticking if you want.
Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce and give 'em a jiggle so the sauce seeps in between them.
Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes, or until you can't wait anymore.
You've got lots of choices for garnish. Of course, it's tough to beat some Mexican Crema and a sprinking of Cotija cheese. (What is Cotija Cheese?)
Mexican Rice and a basic Guacamole also work really well with the flavor of this dish.
Please oh please give these Red Sauce Enchiladas a try if you've never made your own enchilada sauce before. By keeping just a few ingredients on hand you'll always have the option of eating the best Mexican food in town in less than 30 minutes.
Easy Red Sauce Enchiladas
- 3 tomatoes
- 1/2 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 3 chipotles in adobo
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1 cup stock (or water)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 chicken breast
- 8-10 corn tortillas
- Monterey Jack cheese
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- Crema (optional)
- Cotija cheese (optional)
- Basic Guacamole (optional)
- Start by roasting 3 tomatoes in the oven at 400F.
- If you are poaching the chicken, cover the chicken breast with cold water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until the chicken is no longer pink inside, approx. 20 minutes. You can also add salt, onion, and cilantro to the simmering water for a hint of additional flavor. Once cooked, set aside to cool and then shred using two forks.
- Saute a roughly chopped 1/2 onion and 3 whole, peeled garlic cloves in a dollop of oil over medium heat.
- Add the roasted tomatoes to the onions and garlic, along with 3 chipotles in adobo, 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1 cup stock (or water), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
- Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes and then add it to a blender. Blend well and return to the saucepan. Taste for seasoning. ( I added additional pinches of salt and oregano to this batch). Let simmer for 5-10 minutes on mediumish heat.
- Meanwhile, heat up 8-10 corn tortillas. I covered them with damp paper towels and nuked them for 60 seconds.
- Add a dollop of the enchilada sauce to a plate. Dredge a tortilla in the sauce and flip. Fill with shredded chicken, chunks of cheese, and some bits of finely chopped raw onion. Roll tight and place on a baking dish seam side down. You can line the baking dish with enchilada sauce to prevent sticking.
- Continue rolling the enchiladas until all the chicken is gone. A single chicken breast will make 7-9 enchiladas. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce and give them a jiggle.
- Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes
- Serve immediately with your choice of Crema, Cotija cheese, Arroz Rojo, and Guacamole.
P.S. Once you are comfortable making enchiladas in this style you can swap out some ingredients to make our Colorado Enchiladas and Enchiladas Suizas.
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Really flavoursome, fairly easy to make and very adaptable. My chipotles were surprisingly hot peppers so it was a pretty spicy sauce, which is fine by me but could be too hot for some. For a milder sauce (when I have guests who can’t handle hot peppers) I’ve sometimes substituted the chipotles for soaked, dried ancho peppers and it still came out really good but more suitable for sensitive palates.
Thanks for this great recipe, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made it!
Thanks Marty, so glad this one is a keeper for you. Cheers.
Love this sauce. I learned the first time not to use three peppers, tad too hot for us. Also, fresh garden grown tomatoes are much better than the store bought ones I have to use this time of year. This is my go to source for trying new Mx recipes! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Anne, glad you've added this one to your kitchen arsenal. Cheers.
This is so great! Love how quick this is. Like a simple version of a tinga sauce! Only problem is that people expect you to share
Ha yes I have the same problem 🙂
This is my go to recipe for a delicious enchilada red sauce! So happy to find the Chipotles in Adodo are now available in a jar too. Thanks for the great recipes! I've loved every one I've tried so far.
Thanks much Norma, so glad you are finding some keepers on my site! Cheers.
This is real "bang for the effort". Easy to make and the richness and layering of flavors makes me look like a good cook. lol
Hey thanks Joe, that's the idea 🙂
Really good and tasty. I'll be making this one again and again.
Was so easy to make except I heated the tortilla and put the red sauce on them and then the filling but when I went to roll them the tortillas broke. Ended up using a couple flour tortilla instead.
Thanks much for your note Aimee! That cracking when you roll them is usually a good litmus test for store-bought corn tortillas -- seems like some brands are just less flexible and more prone to cracking. If you're in a pinch and find you have to use that brand again, try covering them with a damp paper towel and nuking them for a minute or so -- this adds some moisture back to the tortillas and will sometimes save them. Cheers.
simply put the tortillas (after cooking them in a non-stick pan [no oils]) in a tortilla warmer or wrapped in paper towels for 10 min. this will steam them and make them more flexible.
Hi there - about to try this recipe, but I have a question . . . my first time at roasting tomatoes - do I peel them after roasting (before adding to sauteed onion)? Any other tips with tomatoes?
Hey S! After roasting the tomatoes you can use them as is, no need to peel them. I also usually de-stem the tomatoes before roasting, knowing that I'll be using any juices leftover in the roasting pan by dumping them into the sauce 🙂 Cheers.
Beyond excellent and super easy and restaurant quality. I did use the chipotles in adobo but added a 1/4 tsp chili powder as well. I actually had to double the recipes for a full casserole size dish but that's only because we love left overs. One other thing is that I had chicken breasts on hand and poached them in chicken broth for extra flavor.
Hey thanks much for mentioning your adjustments Bobbi, glad this one was a hit for you! Cheers.
Wow! The family devoured a double recipe in one day (teenagers). Have been told to add this to the list of favourites.
Hey Tim thanks for letting me know, so glad this one was a hit with the fam! Cheers.