Chicken enchiladas are a great, tasty meal for the entire family. However, the cooking process can get a little bit messy and also time-consuming, making a less attractive option for weekday meals or potlucks.
All of these problems can be easily solved by a solid cast iron casserole dish, and this one pot easy chicken enchiladas casserole!
Really, it can (and should) be called a speedy version of chicken enchiladas. All the flavors are there, all the cheesy, spicy notes we know and love are gone absolutely nowhere, and what's even better - everything is done in much less time.
What's even better, the base recipe only requires 4 main ingredients. And it's not a cheap imitation of a good thing - it's pretty amazing on its own. It's like an enchilada lasagna from the outside, but when you taste it - there's no doubt, it's also a real Mexican casserole! Talk about a two-in-one.
Now, let's talk about the components of this enchilada bake:
What sauce to choose? All comes down to your personal preference. You can choose your own enchilada sauce, including your preferred combination of creamy, salty, and sweet - we think we nailed a perfect combination in our Mexican enchilada sauce recipe. However, a store-bought can of sauce works just fine. Your choice will determine the prep and cook time as well. Without the sauce, your chicken enchilada casserole recipe will be done in around 45 mins - if you decide to whip up the sauce yourself, include an extra 15 minutes. And no worries, if you're not fully confident in your skill. It's going to remain a really easy chicken casserole, whichever way you decide to go.
The same goes for chicken - before starting to layer your enchilada casserole, you should already have your chicken cooked and ready. You could get a canned version of shredded chicken, or cook up your own as well.
Since the ingredients are all within your arms reach, the easy part (and this chicken enchilada recipe) starts.
The ingredients leave a lot of freedom for interpretation, too. Healthier (which is always a good idea!) Mexican chicken casserole recipes should definitely include more vegetables, such as bell peppers, corn, and some black beans.
Black beans can also be paired with tofu, especially if you wish to make a vegetarian enchilada casserole and omit the chicken, but still want to have some protein there. And if you want to go vegan, replace the hard cheese with a plant-based alternative.
For the chicken, it's all about soaking up the flavors of the enchilada sauce as much as possible. So there's no doubt what the easiest method can be - we prefer to cook the chicken in enchilada sauce. It's really amazing: nice and moist, soaking up the enchilada sauce flavors perfectly. Funnily enough - tofu does the same thing, so a vegetarian enchilada casserole can be just as good!
In a pot, heat up the oil over medium heat, add the flour and chili powder while stirring. Once the flour flavor is cooked out, add tomato passata, water and the rest of the spices. Continue to stir and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 more mins, mixing occasionally. Adjust with seasoning, if preferred, and that's it!