Can-free: Enchilada sauce (and a new enchiladas recipe!)

I do not normally like enchiladas very well. Not "real" ones, anyway.

Joshua's mom makes an enchilada casserole that's really tasty, but it involves flour tortillas and cream of chicken soup. Delicious!

My little sister Amy has her own version of enchiladas that are topped with things like shredded lettuce and tomatoes, filling that includes cream cheese, and "enchilada sauce" that's actually picante sauce. Again, it's delicious! But not really "enchiladas", you know?

Here are two reasons why I hate most "real" enchiladas:

#1. They're too hot. I can't eat them without drowning them in sour cream first!

#2. The corn tortillas taste raw to me. I love corn tortillas and prefer them over flour tortillas for tacos, but I don't like them when they taste raw.

I set out to create real enchiladas that we would all enjoy, with mostly healthy ingredients. Enchiladas that I would want to eat plain, regardless of the toppings like sour cream. Enchiladas that are affordable. Enchiladas that would use some of the corn tortillas in my fridge since Joshua can't really chew tacos very well right now. ;)

And to start, I needed enchilada sauce. I modified a recipe from a Vitamix cookbook. Guys, this enchilada sauce is awesome! I mean, it actually tastes good. And it has a flavor other than "hot". (If you want more "hot", just add some cayenne.)

Chili powder is one of the main ingredients in homemade enchilada sauce. I get my chili powder in a big bag at a bulk food store, so it wasn't a problem to whisk up this sauce.

And then make even more, because it's just so good and I'm craving enchiladas AGAIN. (Thank you, pregnancy!) I had no idea it was so simple to make homemade enchilada sauce or that it would be so good!

Next, I needed to tackle the "raw corn tortillas" issue I have with enchiladas. I'm not into frying and didn't want the bother of frying them in oil like Pioneer Woman's recipe. (Plus, that's a lot of extra calories.)

Instead, I decided to dry-fry them using my cast iron skillet and another saucepan on top. Remember my kitchen tip about my new favorite way to cook corn tortillas? It really is my favorite way to get hot, cooked, SOFT corn tortillas! :)

The resulting enchiladas were perfect. I loved them!

Joshua said "Wow, these are actually good. I'm glad I didn't tell you what I was thinking when you said you were making enchiladas for dinner." (!!!)

The kids all enjoyed them, too. When I made beef enchiladas again for lunch on the weekend, everyone was excited!

I'm positive it was the combination of my homemade enchilada sauce, cooked corn tortillas, and my homemade refried beans inside.

I'm thinking this is one of the cheaper, easier meals I can make, especially since I cook big batches of ground beef and put the extras in the freezer to pull out for quick meals. I'm also going to experiment with freezing the ready-made dish of enchiladas for an easy freezer meal. And, I'm going to experiment with meatless enchiladas (beans and cheese only). That sounds about perfect to me!

Do you like enchiladas? :)


I cannot wait to try this sauce and enchiladas recipe! I'm hungry right now and I think they only thing that'll hit the spot - thanks to this post - is enchiladas!

I'm glad they made you hungry! I wasn't sure just how photogenic I could convince enchiladas to be... Having some fresh cilantro helped! ;)

You said you were craving enchiladas again, "Thank you, pregnancy!" Maybe I missed something before, but I had no idea you were expecting. Congratulations! When are you due?

Heather (married Aug '00, mom to 6, ages 10 and under, baby #7 due in June)

Thanks, Heather! The baby's due the end of March. :) I've been mentioning it but didn't do a separate announcement post (too many naps and not enough blogging, haha!). :)

Have you tried using shredded leftover chicken? I recently starting making enchiladas this way and we LOVE them! I use jarred salsa, can of diced tomatoes, can of green chilis, a few jalapeno slices, chopped (or more to taste), 1/2 brick of cream cheese and shredded chicken breasts (about 2 split or 1 whole). Mix and simmer until well blended. Cheese on top of course, once they are in the pan. I also use whole wheat flour tortillas instead of corn.

I can't wait to try your enchilada sauce! I've been using those packet ones from McCormick.

and I'm sure you could add extra onions, peppers and refried beans! When I make these, there is usually enough to freeze some of the mix for another meal

That does sound good! I want to try something different (from the beef enchiladas) for chicken, when I do. Chicken and black beans sounds like a good combo to me!

Let me know what you think of the sauce when you try it! I didn't even know they sold sauce packets for enchilada sauce! I hadn't made enchiladas in years (nor bought any sauce). :)

I hadn't made enchiladas before and chicken was my first try. A friend had used the packets and said they were better than the canned sauce. I would much rather make my own! I usually use the leftovers from roasted chicken and sometimes specially buy bone in breasts for this purpose. 3 breasts makes a TON of filling .. I usually make about 12 and freeze the rest of the filling, so next time all I have to do is fill the tortillas, add sauce and bake! I tried freezing them already made and they got gummy.

Hopefully I will be trying that sauce soon!

really curious to see how frozen enchiladas turn out for you, I made 2 pans prebaby, and we only "ate" one. They were really awful. The tortillas were soggy, and it was a mess. Please post your recipe when or if you create one! I know YOU will master it! (i think the second pan is still buried in the freezer...... ;-D )

Hmm, well, I will just freeze 1 meal's worth to try it then. :) Did you cook your tortillas first? I guess I was thinking we'd like it as a freezer meal since freezer burritos are so good... :)

I'm due in March also (congratulations!), and I'm looking forward to reading about your freezer cooking plans for the months after this baby is born.

Thanks, Becca, and congrats to you too!! :)

Pioneer Woman's tacos ROCK! And they're totally worth every bit of the frying. :-) Just thought you might want to know. :-)

Your photos always make me hungry. :-)

~Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents

Oh, you. :P :)

Thanks, about the photos. That is the goal... to make you want to run to the kitchen and make something not-fried. ;)

Tammy those enchiladas look great! I love enchiladas, but have many of the same problems you do. I can't wait to try your recipe!

Thanks! :) I hope you like it. :)

This sounds wonderful! I don't buy many canned items, but I have still been buying enchilada sauce that way. Now, I won't have too! The best part is that I always have the ingredients needed in the pantry.

And, I have to laugh. : ) I cannot believe how many pregnant ladies I know of (me included). I don't think I've ever heard of so many who are expecting in the coming year! I think there must be a little baby boom going on. : ) Four in these comments alone (3 March mommies -- including myself)! Congrats everyone!

~ Courtney

Thanks, Courtney! Congratulations to you, too! :)

I found a recipe for enchilada sauce that I just LOVE. Here's the link;

Just copy and paste it if it doesn't work. I make this with DARK chili powder, that's the only kind I get anymore. I've found that the lighter red kind is just way too spicy for us, but the dark has a nice mild/sweet flavor. It reminds me of a spicier version of paprika, if you know what I mean.

I make big batches of this sauce and can it in the summer time when tomatoes are plentiful.

Congratulations Tammy! I'm due in mid-March with #4! :)


Thank you, Rachel! Congrats to you, too!! :)

I wonder if my chili powder is dark or light?! I didn't even know there was a difference. Stuff from bulk food stores doesn't always have a lot of info. ;) It looks really dark to me, now that you mentioned that. And it didn't make a very hot enchilada sauce in my opinion... :)

I always heat up our tortillas, corn or flour, in the microwave. Of course, I do love enchiladas of all kinds. I have been craving Mexican food for about 39 or more years. Ever since I was expecting my youngest (38 y o) daughter. That is one thing I have never gotten over. I make my own. I start out making my own chili and make the enchiladas from that. I do love Chicken enchiladas and want to make some of them. These freeze really well, too.

I just put a dish of enchiladas in the freezer this morning... can't wait to see how well we like them after they've been frozen. :)

Thanks Tammy. I made this sauce for my crew tonight. They loved it. I had all the ingredients on hand too. I work full time then get to come home and make dinner for our family of eight so easy fixes are A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Thank you. I am glad I subscribed to your blog a few weeks ago.

A fellow Tammy (svrmomof6)

Thanks, Tammy (and welcome!!). :)

That sounds delicious and so easy. I'm definitely going to try it. If you make the meatless version, I'd love to know how it went.

Aline, I did try a meatless version recently with beans, rice, and cheese inside (so, essentially rice instead of the beef). I did not like it as well that way, though. (I was expecting to like it just as well!) I think if I do meatless enchiladas again, I will just put beans and cheese inside, and skip the rice. :)

This was a very good recipe. so are the Rice and bean burritos. Thank you

Thank you! :)

Was freezing your enchiladas a success???

I tried freezing enchiladas, i froze two batches and it turnout to be a big mushy mess. I think my problem was that i typically don't fry the tortillas when making it, i just warm them in the microwave, and i also drown them in sauce after they are placed in the baking dish. In the future I might freeze the sauce separately, and also fry the tortillas to seal them from moisture. I am interested in how hour frozen enchiladas turned out.

I use a canned enchilada sauce, but I add a can of tomato soup to two cans of mild or medium enchilada sauce. I had some of the same issues and this makes the canned sauce much better.

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