Chicken Enchiladas – Red & White Sauce

Cheesy and colorful chicken enchiladas in a rectangular white dish.

The red and white sauces add such a nice depth and contrast in flavors, and make these the best chicken enchiladas and a favorite in our house. 

Why Two Different Sauces?

This chicken enchilada recipe uses both a red and a white sauce because they are both delicious, and I like the depth of flavor that is achieved by having two very different sauces. 

The white sauce is the delicious creamy filling, which is mainly chicken, onions, garlic, green chilies, sour cream and cheese that is blended together before rolling up in soft tortillas.

The red sauce surrounds these delicious enchiladas like a blanket of love with a layer on the bottom and another on the top. It has a more earthy chili flavor than the white sauce. The contrast in flavors is amazing and a family favorite in my house. 

Red enchilada sauce in a glass jar with a hinged lid and a nutcracker who looks like a chef.

Can you use store-bought enchilada sauce?

Yes, of course, but it’s super easy to make in a sauce pan with just a few ingredients (minus all the preservatives and other nonsense). I like to make several batches at once and then I just preserve it like my Grandma did with a simple boiling canning process in 8 ounce/29.573ml jars. See below for recipe.

Do I need both red & white sauces to make chicken enchiladas?

No. I used to make these with just the white sauce. I assembled them just as I did here – reserving 1 cup for the top layer, without any red sauce. However, after eating enchiladas at our favorite Mexican restaurant many times, I decided to add a red enchilada sauce.

red and tan powdered seasonings in a small sauce pan.

Does the chili powder make a difference in the red sauce?

Yes, I think so. I used a basic chili powder until my aunt (who lives in New Mexico) sent me some Red Hatch Chili Powder from Los Chileros… Oh, the flavor. The color… I love it.

Jump to Recipe

Easy Step-by-Step Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C/Gas Mark 4. 

Heat oil in large skillet on med/high and add onions (if using fresh jalapeños, add them at this time). Cook for a few minutes or until starting to turn translucent and tender. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for one more minute.

Chopped onions in a large skillet.

Stir flour and sour cream together in a bowl until fully blended without lumps, then add this mixture to the skillet. 

Sour cream and flour being stirred in a small white bowl.

Continue to cook and stir this mixture for at least 1-2  minutes to cook the flour that will be used to thicken this white sauce (It’s kinda like making a roux – we want to cook the flour to get the flour taste out).  Pour in the chicken stock, green chilies and all seasonings for the white sauce. Cook until thickened a bit and bubbly.

Seasonings added to the white sauce.

Remove from heat, reserve 1 cup of this sauce and set aside. Stir in the cooked chicken and the cheese until cheese has melted.

Cooked cut up chicken added to a skillet of white sauce. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.
white enchiladas sauce with chicken and green chilies in a large skillet with a wooden spatula.

Warm tortillas in microwave for 15-20 seconds to make them more pliable if needed. 

Divide filling among the 8 tortillas. Spread some of the red enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 12” x 8” x 2”  (or similar size) oven safe dish. This will help prevent the enchiladas from sticking to the bottom of the dish. 

Chicken enchilada filling divided amongst 8 flour tortillas, red sauce spread on the bottom of a white casserole dish.

Roll up the filled tortillas and place them seam side down in the dish and top with the reserved white sauce. No need to cover them edge to edge, just cover at least two thirds of the enchilada. Repeat with 1 cup of the red enchilada sauce. 

Eight rolled up tortillas neatly tucked into a casserole dish
Eight rolled up tortillas neatly tucked into a casserole dish and topped with the white sauce.
Eight rolled up tortillas neatly tucked into a casserole dish and topped with the red sauce.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. 

Casserole dish covered with foil.

Uncover, top with the remaining cup of cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted. 

Eight rolled up tortillas neatly tucked into a casserole dish and topped with the cheese after baking.

Garnish with chopped tomatoes and green onions. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.  

Cheesy and colorful chicken enchiladas in a rectangular white dish. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.
Cheesy and colorful chicken enchiladas in a rectangular white dish. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.

Chicken Enchiladas – Red & White Sauce

Stacey Mincoff
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 Enchiladas
Calories 345 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

White Sauce (filling):

  • 2 Cups Cooked Chicken (or turkey, shredded or chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (or canola, avocado or other high heat oil)
  • 1 Cup Yellow Onion (medium onion chopped)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (large cloves, minced)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Chipotle Powder (or smoky paprika)
  • 2 Teaspoons Cumin (ground)
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano (dried)
  • 1 Teaspoon Coriander (ground)
  • 2 Fresh Jalapeños (finely chopped or 8 oz./226g canned chopped green chilies)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons AP Flour
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1/2 Mexican Cheese Blend (or pepper jack cheese)
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Red Enchilada Sauce (homemade – recipe below – or store-bought)
  • 8 6 inch Soft Tortillas (flour or corn) ( or six 8 inch tortillas)
  • 1 Cup Mexican Cheese Blend (or pepper jack cheese, or cotija cheese)

Garnish:

  • 1 Medium Tomato (chopped)
  • 2 Green Onions (chopped – white and green parts)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C/Gas Mark 4.
  • Heat oil in large skillet on med/high and add onions (if using fresh jalapeños, add them at this time). Cook for a few minutes or until starting to turn translucent and tender. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for one more minute.
  • Stir flour and sour cream together in a bowl until fully blended without lumps, then add this mixture to the skillet.
  • Continue to cook and stir this mixture for at least 1-2 minutes to cook the flour that will be used to thicken this white sauce (It’s kinda like making a roux – we want to cook the flour to get the flour taste out).
  • Pour in the chicken stock, green chilies and all seasonings for the white sauce. Cook until thickened a bit and bubbly.
  • Remove from heat, reserve 1 cup of this sauce and set aside. Stir in the cooked chicken and the cheese until cheese has melted. Warm tortillas in microwave for 15-20 seconds to make them more pliable if needed.
  • Divide filling among the 8 tortillas. Place some of the red enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 12” x 8” x 2” (or similar size) oven safe dish and spread around a bit. This will help prevent the enchiladas from sticking to the bottom of the dish.
  • Roll up the filled tortillas and place them seam side down in the dish and top with the reserved white sauce. No need to cover them edge to edge, just cover at least two thirds of the enchiladas, then repeat with 1 cup of the red enchilada sauce.
  • Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Uncover, top with the remaining cup of cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  • Garnish with chopped tomatoes and green onions. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 345kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 18gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 1891mgPotassium: 310mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 676IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 196mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Casserole, Chicken, chilies, Cinco de Mayo, Turkey
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Red enchilada sauce with spoon and a nutcracker who looks like a chef.

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Stacey Mincoff
Servings 2 Cups
Calories 70 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 Tablespoons Mild Chili Powder (such as hatch red chili powder)
  • 3 Teaspoons Ancho Chili Powder (or smoky paprika)
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoons Cumin (ground)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 Cups Water

Instructions
 

  • Mix Chili powders, garlic powder, cumin, salt and 2 cups of water in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Stir to fully combine, then pour into boiling enchilada sauce. Lower heat and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  • It will thicken a bit more as it cools. Pour over enchiladas, tamales, etc.

Nutrition

Calories: 70kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 780mgPotassium: 251mgFiber: 4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 3274IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Whether you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo or just love Mexican food as much as we do… Here are some other great recipes you might like.

Bitter Salty Perro

For starters, this Fresh and Chunky Guacamole is the best I’ve ever eaten. Then there’s everyone’s favorite tacos: Quick & Easy King Crab Tacos with Chipotle Sauce, Smoky Pulled Pork Street Tacos, and Spicy Grilled Fish Tacos. Then we have some other main dishes like these Delicious Chicken Quesadillas, or maybe soup is what you crave… if so, this Warm and Tasty Chicken Posolé, really hits the spot.

Here are some side dishes to go along with those main dishes: Light Mexican Corn Salad, and a colorful Jicama Mango Slaw.

For dessert these Mexican Fudge Brownies & Raspberry Sauce have just a touch of heat with just the right amount of sweetness. And last but not least, how about my take on a Salty Dog to wash it all down?



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