an easy & healthy chicken enchilada recipe perfect for weeknight cooking! these weeknight chicken enchiladas have a filling of pulled chicken, bell pepper sweet onion, black beans, & cheese, and get covered in the easiest blender enchilada sauce made from ancho chiles. the only thing missing is a couple of margaritas!
for the weeknight chicken enchiladas:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
- 2 cups pulled chicken (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed & drained
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (e.g. sharp cheddar, pepper jack)
- 2 1/4 cups blender ancho chile enchilada sauce (below)
- 8 6-inch whole wheat tortillas
- 2 tablespoons cotija cheese
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: sliced avocado, perfect guacamole, toasted pepitas, chopped cilantro, etc.
for the blender ancho chile enchilada sauce:
- 4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed & deseeded
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped sweet onion
- 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- Make the blender ancho chile enchilada sauce: Measure 2 cups of hot water in a high-powered blender (you can use the tick marks on the side of the blender container to measure). Add the chiles and submerge, allowing them to soak & reconstitute for 10 minutes. Once reconstituted add the remaining listed ingredients. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. This yields 4 cups. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- Cook the peppers and onions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Preheat a 10-inch cast iron skillet, or another heavy-bottomed skillet of choice, over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Once hot, add the oil, peppers, and onions, stirring to combine. Season with a few pinches of salt and ground black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, until softened and charred.
- Make the weeknight chicken enchilada filling: Add the cooked peppers and onions to a large bowl with the pulled chicken, black beans, cheese, and 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. Stir to combine.
- Assemble the weeknight chicken enchiladas: Add 1 cup of the enchilada sauce to a 10×12 baking dish, spreading it into a thin layer to coat the bottom of the pan. Fill each tortilla with 1/2 cup of the filling, then roll into an enchilada and place snuggly on the bottom of the pan, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas. Pour 1 cup of the sauce down the center of the enchiladas, spreading it over the surface of the enchiladas.
- Bake the enchiladas, tented with foil, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil, and top the enchiladas with the cotija cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted, and the enchiladas are bubbly.
- Serve the enchiladas, topped with sliced avocado, guacamole, chopped cilantro, and pepita seeds, or any other toppings of choice. Enjoy!!!
- This recipe is reprinted with permission from The Minimalist Kitchen: The Practical Art of Making More With Less by Melissa Coleman.
- Meal prep! These enchiladas are totally meal prep-friendly. As noted, you can make the sauce up to 1 month in advance. You could also slice up the veggies and assemble the filling (Steps 2-3) to make these enchiladas very easy to throw together during the week. You could also assemble the enchiladas in full (Steps 2-4), noting that the enchiladas should be baked within 1 day of being assembled (otherwise they may get a little soggy).
- Melissa suggests doubling this recipe to freeze a second batch for later – love this idea! Assemble as described in Steps 2-4, then wrap tightly with foil. Thaw in the fridge the day you wish to serve the enchiladas.
- Faux-tisserie chicken: You could use shredded rotisserie chicken for this recipe, or Melissa also has a great Dutch-oven chicken recipe in the book. I make my “faux-tisserie” chicken regularaly for dishes like this, & it’s a great option to keep on hand! Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place chicken breasts or thighs on a baking sheet and season liberally with salt and ground black pepper. Roast for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Cool, shred, and use in dishes like these throughout the week, or freeze to keep shredded chicken on hand at all times.