Freezer Chicken Enchiladas

Preparing enchiladas can be a multi-hour, labor-intensive endeavor. There’s the sauce to prep and the filling to cook, and finally, all the rolling. We wanted to find a way to streamline chicken enchiladas and make them freezable so that they could be prepared well ahead of time and stored at the ready. Here’s what we discovered:

Test Kitchen Discoveries

  • Freeze the rolled enchiladas and sauce separately; otherwise they will turn into a mushy mess.
  • Spray the tortillas with vegetable oil cooking spray and briefly heat them in the oven to make them pliant enough to roll easily.
  • Bake the enchiladas while still frozen. We found that defrosting them actually leads to a dried-out texture once baked.
  • Partially bake the enchiladas “naked,” or without sauce. A light coat of vegetable oil spray will keep the tortillas from drying out too much.
  • For authentic flavor, puree and “fry” the sauce until the flavor and color has intensified. Most Mexican sauces are prepared in this fashion.
  • Smoky chipotle chiles add both heat and a rich flavor to the sauce. These chiles, which are smoked jalapeños, come packed in a tomato-based adobo sauce. They are found in the Mexican foods section of most supermarkets.

Use leftover cooked chicken or a store-bought rotisserie chicken in this recipe. Note that you won’t need 1 1/2 cups of the cheese until you bake the enchiladas. Serve with avocado, pickled jalapeños, shredded lettuce, and/or sour cream.

ready in about an hour and 40 minutes; serves 4
You might need to buy:
  • canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • ground cumin
  • coriander
  • table salt
  • low-sodium chicken broth
  • vegetable oil
  • shredded cooked chicken
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • minced canned pickled jalapeños
  • Cooking spray