When brainstorming meals for the week, my husband suggested we make chicken enchiladas. Our kids ask for soft tacos all the time, so we thought this dish would go over pretty well. And as expected, it was a huge hit! We’ve been trying hard to stick with whole wheat and whole grains recently, so we thought we’d make some enchiladas with whole wheat flour tortillas.
Of course my initial concern with this dish was that it would be impossible to make chicken enchiladas in less than 30 minutes. Typically, enchiladas are assembled and then baked for 25-30 minutes. So, the prep and cook time combined can easily add up to 45-60 minutes. Yet, it occurred to us that maybe if we used the broiler, the enchiladas might achieve the same crispy and bubbly effect in a shorter amount of time. And they really did!
Here’s how to make chicken enchiladas in 28 minutes (or less):
1. Cook veggies, chicken & sauce
Total time: 9-12 minutes
Time saver tricks: The veggies, chicken and sauce are the heart of the enchiladas and definitely require the most time. To cut down on time, we used canned, chopped green chilis and our favorite jarred Enchilada Sauce!
2. Assemble the Enchiladas
Total time: 5-8 minutes
Time saver tricks: The assembly of the enchiladas can go pretty quickly, especially if you have a good setup and workflow. For us, it made the most sense to set up our stations on the counter as follows (from left to right): pan of chicken in sauce —> tortillas —> baking dish. Note: a simple pie dish was perfect for resting each tortilla as we filled it with the stuffings.
3. Broil Enchiladas
Total time: 4-8 minutes
Time saver tricks: You’ll definitely want to set your oven to broil ahead of time (at least 5 mins before putting the enchiladas into the oven). Be sure to keep an eye on the enchiladas when they are in the oven. Once your enchiladas are as crisp and bubbly as you desire, take ’em out and serve!
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 4 oz can chopped green chilis
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders (chopped thin, into small pieces or strips)
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes (from can)
- 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (from jar or can)
- cooking spray
- 6 whole wheat tortillas
- 2+ cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 2.25 oz can black olives
- 1+ cup sour cream
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves (torn from stems, for garnish)
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 mins. Stir in green chilis and chicken, and cook for 4-5 mins, turning chicken frequently. Pour the crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of the enchilada sauce over the chicken in the skillet. Turn the heat to low-medium. Cook chicken in sauce 2-4 mins, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through.
Meanwhile, set oven to broil. And spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce into the pan and spread evenly. Set aside.
Time to assemble enchiladas! Place a tortilla in a pie dish next to the chicken/sauce pan. Spoon 1/3 cup of chicken mixture onto the center of the tortilla. Then sprinkle some black olives and a healthy pinch of cheese on top. Roll tortilla and place it seam side down in casserole dish. Repeat 6 times.
Sprinkle rolled tortillas in baking dish with more shredded cheese. Place casserole dish in the oven on top rack for 4-8 mins, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
Serve enchiladas with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro on top.
We recommend that all meals for children be served with milk.
🌈 KIDIFY THE MEAL 🌈
🍅Kids choose the filling! We decided to have the sauce/chicken mix, cheese and black olives in our enchiladas. But you could also choose: corn, black/pinto/refried beans, rice, chopped tomatoes, or avocado.
🍅Kids choose a topping! Obviously, the sour cream and cilantro are optional. You could also do salsa, a pre-made guacamole, hot sauce (if your kiddos are adventurous), melted cheese sauce, chopped avocado, or a squeeze of fresh lime.
🍅Kids choose a side! We didn’t have a side, but you can definitely have one! Let kids choose if they tortilla chips, rice, beans or corn as a side dish. Warning: choosing tortilla chips may turn dinner into more like snack time, and not sure if that’s what you want. Lol.
🍴 MODIFY THE MEAL🍴
🍅Make it Gluten Free! The only ingredient in this dish that contains gluten for sure is the tortillas. There are plenty of gluten-free tortilla options, though, i.e. Mission and La Tortilla Factory. Also, make sure your enchilada sauce doesn’t contain gluten.
🍅Make it Vegetarian! Replace the chicken with pea protein crumbles. I’m a huge fan of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles. I’ve used them for years to make vegetarian chili and they are soooo delicious. I’m definitely a meat eater and I can’t tell the difference. Worth noting is that these crumbles are high in protein and also gluten-free. Another option is to replace the chicken with rice and beans. That would be so delicious!
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