If you know my blog well, then you know about Benchiladas – the creamy, cheesy chicken enchiladas that my husband loves more than just about any other food in the world.  And if you know how he feels about the Benchiladas, then you probably understand how difficult it might be to make another chicken enchilada recipe and have it be well received.  I wasn’t even sure how to tell Ben that I was making chicken enchiladas, but that they were a new kind with red sauce.  But he is so wonderful and supportive of all my cooking endeavors, he said, “Great!  Can’t wait to try them.”  And we are both SO glad we tried them.  I don’t even bother comparing them to the Benchiladas because they are different enough it’s like apples and oranges.  What I do know is we absolutely loved them, and I think it is a great thing to have two phenomenal versions of chicken enchiladas in my repertoire.

These are what I think of as restaurant-style enchiladas, because they are so similar to the versions I’ve had when dining out.  The homemade red sauce is easy to make, and it adds a ton of flavor to this meal.  By cooking the chicken in the sauce, it becomes very tender and moist, absorbing the flavor of the sauce.  They may seem a little time intensive, and may dirty quite a few dishes, but I think it is completely worthwhile for a dinner that tastes this good.  In fact, we’ve had them twice in a month which is a very rare occurrence around here.  Give them a try, you will not be disappointed!

  • Yield 12 enchiladas


  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
  • ½ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 12 8-inch corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray


  • 01

    Combine the onion, jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.

  • 02

    Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the onion mixture. Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, and the cilantro. Stir to combine.

  • 03

    Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.  Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

  • 04

    Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.