The BEST cheese enchiladas aren’t rolled – they’re layered. Easy cheesy enchilada casserole requires just three ingredients: corn tortillas, lots (and lots!) of cheese, and a kick-ass red chili enchilada sauce. Layer it up with (or without) chicken for super easy cheese enchiladas with very little fuss.
For the red enchilada sauce:
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar (plus more to taste)
- 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 6 tbs butter
- 6 tbsp unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 48 oz red chili puree (I use one 24 oz bag mild and one 24 oz bag hot)
- 3 cups chicken broth or water
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
To assemble the chicken enchilada bake:
- 16–18 corn tortillas
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups red chili enchilada sauce
- 22 oz grated Colby Jack, or Sharp or Medium Cheddar cheese
- 1 – 2 cups shredded roast chicken (optional)
- Sour Cream
Make the red chili enchilada sauce:
- Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, onion powder, sugar, and salt to a small bowl and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the flour is beginning to brown slightly.
- Add the minced garlic and spice mix and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute longer.
- Add the red chili paste and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until the paste has darkened and thickened a bit.
- Stir in the water or broth and Worcestershire sauce and let simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more sugar and salt if desired.
Assemble the Chicken Enchilada Bake:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Spread about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Add a layer of 5 or 6 corn tortillas over the sauce, their edges overlapping. I usually tear a few in half so that I can place the straight edges along the straight edges of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese and 1/3 of the chicken (if using). Pour about 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese.
- Repeat layering so that you have three layers of tortillas, cheese and chicken, and sauce. Over the top layer, add the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.
- Set the pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese on top is completely melted and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges of the pan. Check on the enchilada casserole a couple of times while baking and if the cheese is starting to brown, spray a sheet of aluminum foil lightly with non-stick spray and lay it loosely over the top of the bake.
- Let sit about 10 minutes before serving.
- If making this as a part of Weekly Winter Meal Plan #1, reserve 1 1/4 cups of the enchilada sauce in two portions: 1 cup for tortilla soup and ¼ cup for stuffed poblanos peppers.
- Enchilada sauce freezes well. I suggest freezing it in small portions so that you have the option of using a small amount to flavor something like tacos or soup.
Keywords: enchiladas, cheese, dinner recipe, casserole, Mexican food, enchilada sauce, red chili