Lighter Chicken Enchiladas

by Amy on 3 April 2012

Lighter Chicken Enchiladas | www.FearlessHomemaker.comI love mexican food. Really really reeeeeally love it. We have a Mexican restaurant in walking distance from our home, which is awesome for spontaneous Mexican food cravings, but *not* so good for my waistline or wallet, so i’m always looking for ways to make my favorite dishes at home. I’ve successfully tackled homemade tortillas, chicken tortilla soup, chicken flautasspicy chicken quesadillas, so i figured it was time to try making the number one thing I order at mexican restaurants: enchiladas.

Last week, when my husband + I were wanting Mexican food + planning to go to the restaurant up the street, I asked him if he’d try homemade enchiladas at home instead. He was game, so I got cookin’. And the results? Holy moly, these are AMAZING! My husband said that they fill his craving just as well as dine-out Mexican does – no small feat. They’re so good that we’ve made them twice in 7 days. Although they look like a cheese-heavy, calorie-filled dish, the simple chipotle + spice sauce has just a little oil + flour, no butter, + a relatively small amount of cheese. You definitely won’t guess these are “healithier” – they taste just as decadent + delicious as traditional enchiladas. So, next time you’re looking for healthier, lighter, delicious homemade enchiladas, give these a try!

Lighter Chicken Enchiladas

serves 4, adapted from martha stewart


3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
OR the meat of 1 cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 to 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotles in adobo
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
1/2 cup grated monterey jack cheese (2 ounces)
kosher salt + black pepper to taste


if using uncooked chicken breasts: in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, bring 1 inch salted water to a boil. add chicken. cover; reduce heat to medium-low. simmer 5 minutes; remove skillet from heat. let chicken steam, covered, until opaque throughout, 12 to 14 minutes. transfer chicken to a medium bowl; shred with two forks. set aside.

if using cooked rotisserie chicken: shred both the white meat + the dark meat of the rotisserie chicken, put in a medium-sized bowl + set aside.

while chicken is cooking, make sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. add garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. add flour, cumin, chili powder, + chipotles in adobo; cook, whisking, 1 minute. whisk in broth + 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer, + cook, whisking occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly, 5 to 8 minutes; season with salt + pepper to taste. transfer 1 cup sauce to bowl with chicken; toss to combine.

preheat oven to 400 degrees. pour 1/4 cup sauce into bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside. stack tortillas, + wrap in a double layer of damp paper towels; microwave until hot, about 1 minute. fill each tortilla with chicken mixture; roll up tightly, + arrange, seam side down, in baking dish. cover with remaining sauce, + top with cheese. bake until hot + bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. let cool 5 minutes before serving.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 danielle April 3, 2012 at 9:04 am

Great minds think alike! I like the chipotle in your version – I need to add that to mine next time.

2 Caroline @ chocolate & carrots April 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

I love mexican food too…but would be in trouble if there was one in walking distance from my house. These look great Amy! 😀

3 kristen @ notsodomesticated April 3, 2012 at 9:18 am

LOVE it! We eat a ton of Mexican in our house. Brandon really loves it, and I’m starting to find how much I love it, too! I also love how easy a lot of Mexican dishes can be to make. :) This one looks awesome!

4 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl April 3, 2012 at 10:09 am

YES! This is right up my alley! Annnnnnnnnnd, I love that they are a “lighter” version and that they use chipotles in adobo. I’m going to make these next week, for sure! Yum.

5 julie @ table for two April 3, 2012 at 10:13 am

lighter mexican food is always ALWAYS something I’m down for! these look delicious!! especially with that addition of chipotle. i love some heat every once in a while.

6 elizabeth @ chronic venture April 3, 2012 at 10:19 am

I am OBSESSED with enchiladas; seriously, it’s bad. I always think that I should be making/eating a lighter version, so this is perfect. Thank you my dear!

7 Steph@TheChickpeaChickadee April 3, 2012 at 10:36 am

amy….these look fabulous!! I think you just read my mind because I was thinking about making this dish very soon. I’m definitely interested in trying a lighter version. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

8 Kelly April 3, 2012 at 10:46 am

This is definitely my speed. Going to have to put the tortillas and cheese on the grocery list. I have everything else! Thanks for sharing, it looks fabulous!

9 amy April 3, 2012 at 11:56 am

kelly + steph, make sure you report back – i’d love to hear what you think of ’em!

10 Rachel @ Baked by Rachel April 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I’m almost always in the mood for Mexican! Love this. I’ve only made enchiladas once but definitely need to again.

11 Kathryn April 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Love the idea of some lighter Mexican treats – gives me an excuse to indulge all the more often!

12 cassie April 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm

i am always down for lightened up comfort food. enchiladas are a favorite, too!

13 Ally Garner April 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Oh yum – you use chipotle! I love that idea. We make enchiladas at home at least once every 6 weeks or so, but it’s always so hard to lighten them up. I love that you’ve cut the fat of extra cheese, red meat, & butter in the sauce. I love even more the spice blend you chose in addition to delish chipotles. This recipe is bookmarked. Great idea as usual, Amy – thank you!

14 amy April 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm

you’re so welcome, ally – can’t wait to hear what you think of it when you try it! =)

15 Jackie @ Domestic Fits April 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I make homemade tortillas too! And I love that you added Chipotle in Adobo to this. Beautiful.

16 Choc Chip Uru April 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Though I may have to substitute some black beans and vegetable broth, this is a must make recipe since it looks so cheesy, saucy and delicious 😀

Choc Chip Uru

17 Renee April 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Great recipe amy! i prefer mexican at home too because the restaurants seem way too calorie laden and salty. i will add this to my recipe book…

18 angela@spinachtiger April 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I love chicken enchiladas that are made at home. This is the perfect dish to make when we have half of a chicken left over. I can make just half of the recipe. I can tell already it’s a holy moly as you said.

19 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious April 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I was seriously just craving some cheesy goodness! This will definitely hit the spot, and I am absolutely thrilled that there’s chipotle in here! :)

20 Terry April 3, 2012 at 11:31 pm

These sound super yummy!

21 Katia April 4, 2012 at 2:57 am

I miss so much a proper Mexican meal! In California there are plenty of Mexican restaurants to choose from (but not so popular in UK!)… I should follow your example Amy, I’ll make my own Mexican food at home!
I love this recipe!

22 amy April 4, 2012 at 6:43 am

you definitely should, katia! if you can’t go out for mexican food in the UK, bring the mexican food to you! =)

23 Blond Duck April 4, 2012 at 6:58 am

I’ve been making enchiladas for years but never tried my own sauce…yours looks divine.

24 claire @ the realistic nutritionist April 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm

This looks SO CHEESY and perfect. Oh I would SO eat all of this standing over the stove with a fork.

I’ve never done that…ha ha ha.

25 amy April 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm

i confess, i did the exact same thing before serving it to my husband a few minutes later. it looked too good to wait!

26 Julia April 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I think I could live on mexican food alone. Chips and salsa, check! Now I need me some enchiladas for din din!

27 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking April 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Amy, you come up with the best recipes. This is totally brilliant and it looks so delicious! Definitely worth a try in my kitchen… Thanks, darlin!

28 Megan @ Culinary Chops April 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm

oh my goodness…this recipe looks so yummy! Bookmarked!

29 Rikki April 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Oh gosh, I love these. It sounds so good with the chipotle. I am now going to be craving these all week, so I will definitely have to make them. [:

30 Jen @ Juanita's Cocina April 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm

This is what I like to call “Mexi-CAN” food. Versus the nasty stuff…Mexi-CAN’T.


31 Baking Serendipity April 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I am always game for a new lighter Mexican recipe…it feels like they are few and far between in my kitchen. These look delicious :)

32 Asmita April 4, 2012 at 9:40 pm

These enchiladas look delicious! We love Mexican food and often eat at “Chipotle”. I need to make this at home. Sounds like a very simple and yum recipe!

33 sportsglutton April 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm

A healthier enchilada is not a bad thing at all…especially for someone like me who is a glutton for mexican food. 😉

34 Alison April 4, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Ohhhhh I love enchiladas. I gave up buying cheese and meat for Lent (almost done!!), so these are especially tempting to me tonight. :)

35 emily (a nutritionist eats) April 5, 2012 at 9:06 am

Hi! New to your blog, but had to come visit after we wrote pretty much the exact same comment on Avid Appetite! :)
Your enchiladas look amazing!

36 easyfoodsmith April 5, 2012 at 10:40 am

Its hard to find good Mexican food in India. Your enchiladas look great and lip smacking good. Will try this soon.

37 natalie (the sweets life) April 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

ooooh yes–i prefer Mexican food at home and this sounds PERFECT!

38 Patty April 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm

The only thing better than enchiladas are LIGHT ENCHILADAS. Salvating! Thanks for the recipe, girlie! (And for absolving my guilt!)!

39 Megan @ Culinary Chops April 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

as you know, I’ve already made these (as in the day after you posted), so I wanted to report back (here) for anyone who MAY be on the fence about making these for dinner tonight:

your mouth will thank you later!

40 amy April 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm

woohoo, i love it when people have success with recipes from my blog. so glad you guys liked these as much as we did!

41 Sherri @ The Kitchen Prescription April 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

Big chicken enchilada lover myself. I pinned this recipe onto my healthy eating board and definitely going to try it. Thanks Amy.

42 Tiffany B. April 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Ames…Hubby loved this..said he’d much prefer this over our staple Mexican dish…tacos.

Thanks, as always, for the super yummy and even better, super easy recipe!!

43 amy April 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm

that’s awesome to hear! it’s one of our favorite at-home mexican meals, too – so easy, so delicious!

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