Looking for something simple that you can make with a handful of pantry staples? This recipe for easy beef enchiladas is it. It’s packed full of flavor and is perfect for an easy dinner to feed the whole family.
Ingredients for Easy Beef Enchiladas
While you could certainly make all of the ingredients from scratch, we use packaged Spanish rice and an envelope of taco seasoning as a shortcut.
For the ground beef, we recommend 90/10 ground beef. It’s ground from lean sirloin, so it won’t exude as much fat and grease as it cooks.
Finally, the most important question of the day: What are the best tortillas to use for enchiladas? Corn tortillas are the traditional standard for enchiladas, but we find them difficult to work with. If they’re not treated correctly, they can fall apart or become soggy in the sauce. We recommend using the more pliable, easier-to-work-with flour tortillas.
Equipment You’ll Need
You don’t need a ton of equipment to make enchiladas. Our go-to cookware for making the filling is a cast-iron skillet ($31). Since it’s oven-safe, you could also clean out the skillet after browning the beef and use it to bake the filled enchiladas, turning this recipe into a one-pan meal.
We also recommend picking up a heavy-duty spatula ($5). These enchiladas have a ton of filling, and they’ll weigh down a plastic spatula.
And investing in a gorgeous ceramic baking dish ($70) creates a stellar tableside presentation.
Tip #1: How to Prevent Tortillas from Getting Soggy
The best way to keep your enchiladas from becoming soggy is to avoid coating tortillas with too much sauce. We like to sauce our enchiladas by coating the bottom of the casserole dish with a layer of enchilada sauce and putting the sauce inside the rolled tortillas. To finish, we pour just enough sauce just over the top of the enchiladas to coat the tortillas.
For corn tortillas, it’s really important to fry the tortillas before filling them. Heat an inch of fryer oil in a large skillet. When it’s hot enough to bubble, add one tortilla at a time. Cook them for 10 seconds on each side before transferring them to a paper towel to drain and cool. The oil will protect the delicate corn from absorbing too much sauce. When they’re all heated, fill and roll as normal.
Tip #2: How to Make the Best Enchilada Sauce
Store-bought sauce makes it easy to put dinner on the table in a flash, but homemade enchilada sauce is surprisingly easy to make. We like to whip up a batch on the weekend and store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
Red enchilada sauce starts with rehydrating dried chilies. Place four stemmed and seeded guajillo chilies in a saucepan with two cups of chicken stock. Water will also work, but chicken stock is more flavorful. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove the pot from the heat. Cover the pot and let it sit for 15 minutes to let the chilies soften. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and set aside.
Then, pull out the blender. Add the softened chilies, a couple of cloves of peeled garlic, a 28-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes and a pinch of ground cumin and kosher salt. Puree the mixture until it’s really smooth, adding some of the soaking liquid if you need to get things going.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan and cook it over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until it’s as thick as tomato paste. Then, add the strained soaking liquid and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. If it needs it, add a pinch of sugar at the end to amp up the sweetness.
Tip #3: How to Make Your Own Taco Seasoning
All you need to make homemade taco seasoning is a tablespoon of chili powder, a teaspoon each of smoked paprika, garlic powder and ground cumin, and a half teaspoon of oregano and onion powder. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, and that’s it.
If you want to amp up the spice, you can also add red chili flakes or ground cayenne. Combine the ingredients, seal them tightly in a jar and you’ll have premade taco seasoning for a year.
How to Make Beef Enchiladas
- 1 (6.8-ounce) package Spanish rice mix (or make your own Spanish rice)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 (1-ounce) envelope taco seasoning
- 2 (10-ounce) cans enchilada sauce, divided
- 10 (8-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
- 1-2/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- Optional garnishes: Sour cream, avocado, chopped green onions, chopped fresh cilantro, pickled jalapenos, salsa and/or sliced black olives
Yield: 10 enchiladas
Editor’s Tip: To make this recipe gluten-free, feel free to swap in corn tortillas.
Step 1: Prepare the filling
Preparing the fillings for enchiladas is a two-step process: Cook the rice, then use it to create the beefy filling. Start by preparing the rice mix according to the package directions.
While the rice is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the beef until it’s no longer pink. Drain any excess grease and add the taco seasoning, 1-1/4 cups of the enchilada sauce and the cooked rice.
Step 2: Fill the tortillas
Preheat the oven to 350° F and spread 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish.
To fill the enchiladas, spoon about 2/3 cup of the beef mixture down the center of each tortilla. Add a tablespoon of cheese and roll the tortillas closed. Place the filled tortillas, seam-side down, on the prepared baking dish. The enchiladas will be nestled right next to each other, and that’s okay.
When all the tortillas are filled and placed in the dish, pour just enough of the remaining sauce on top of the enchiladas. You may not need all the sauce—you just need enough to coat the top without it spilling over on the sides to keep the tortillas from getting soggy. Top the mixture with the remaining sauce and cheese.
Step 3: Bake to perfection
Bake the enchiladas, uncovered, for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Let the enchiladas cool for at least 5 minutes before dishing them out with a spatula. Top each enchilada with the garnishes of choice. You can’t go wrong with sour cream, avocado, chopped green onions, chopped fresh cilantro, pickled jalapenos, salsa or sliced black olives.
Each enchilada contains about 415 calories, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of protein and 17 grams of fat. With some smart substitutions, this recipe can easily be adapted for low-calorie diets. Try using lean ground turkey instead of ground beef. To reduce the carbohydrates, try using cauliflower rice instead of white rice.
What to Serve with Enchiladas
Since these enchiladas are stuffed with beef and rice, they’re perfectly filling as-is. You really don’t need any side dishes, but we usually make one anyway.
Try whipping up some vegetable side dishes, like this one-pan Mexican Street Corn Bake. We also love serving cheesy enchiladas with light salads, like a No-Fuss Avocado Onion Salad. If you find yourself missing the beans in this dish, you can heat up a can of black beans or try making your own with a batch of our Cantina Pinto Beans.
Tips for Storage
The best way to store leftover enchiladas is in the freezer. When the enchiladas are completely cooled, scoop the enchiladas into a freezer-safe or an aluminum foil container. Cover the container with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. To freeze individual enchiladas, freeze the sauce on the side and wrap each enchilada tightly in plastic wrap before wrapping them in aluminum foil. When you’re ready to eat, thaw the enchiladas in the refrigerator overnight and bake them in the oven.
Leftover enchiladas taste great, although they can get a little soggy as the tortillas continue to soak in moisture in the refrigerator. It’s best to reheat them in a 350° F oven or a toaster oven to help crisp up the edges. A microwave will certainly work in a pinch, but the reheated enchiladas will definitely be very soft.