What is an Enchilada? + Enchilada Recipes

What is an Enchilada? + Enchilada Recipes

Last Updated on March 31, 2023

An Enchilada: A tasty and Spicy Delight

Enchiladas are a Mexican dish that has been enjoyed by many people worldwide. They are made from tortillas that are filled with ingredients like meat, cheese and vegetables. They are then smothered with a spicy sauce. Whether you prefer them with a rich mole sauce, a tangy salsa verde, or a red chili sauce, there are plenty of variations available to satisfy anyone. The fillings typically include cheese, chicken, beef, or vegetables, with various spices and toppings added for flavor. The word “enchilada” actually comes from the Spanish verb “enchilar,” which means to add chili peppers or spice to something. In this article, we will explore the history of enchiladas, some fun facts, and provide you with simple but delicious recipes that you can make at home.

A Brief History of Enchiladas

The origin of enchiladas is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in Mexico. However, the dish’s evolution can be attributed to the Mayans and Aztecs, who would wrap meat in tortillas as an easy-to-carry food while on the go.

In the early 1980s, the first Tex-Mex restaurant in the United States, Ninfa’s in Houston, made enchiladas popular in America, introducing the sour cream and cheese toppings that are now considered a standard addition.

Unique Regional Twists

Enchiladas are prepared differently in various regions of Mexico. For instance, some areas use thicker, firm corn tortillas while other regions use soft wheat flour tortillas. The types of fillings can vary from region to region as well, depending on local preferences and ingredients available. Additionally, the sauces used to top the enchiladas can range from mild to spicy, with some regions using green, red, or yellow chili-based sauces.

When it comes to preparing enchiladas at home, there are several methods to choose from. The most common is to fry the filled tortillas in oil until they’re golden and crispy. Another option is to bake them in an oven instead of frying. Another way to make enchiladas is to simmer them in chili sauce on the stovetop. This method is great for preparing larger batches at once.

Enchiladas are typically served with a variety of toppings, such as sour cream, diced onions, cilantro, guacamole, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, and salsa. These toppings help to balance out the heat of the chili sauce and create a delicious combination of flavors.

Uncommon Ingredients to Elevate Your Enchiladas

One of the reasons why enchiladas are so delicious is because of the unique ingredients used to make them. While some may opt for classic ingredients like chicken or beef, there are some less common ingredients that can elevate the taste of your enchiladas.

For example, using jackfruit instead of meat can be an excellent vegan option that still delivers a satisfying texture and flavor. Additionally, adding roasted pumpkin or sweet potatoes to your filling can add depth and sweetness to the savory dish. It’s also worth trying different types of cheese, such as queso fresco or cotija, to add a unique tang and flavor to the dish.

The Sauce is the Star

Although the filling is important, the sauce is the star of the show when it comes to enchiladas. Many enchilada sauces are made with chili peppers, tomatoes, and other ingredients, such as onions, garlic, and cumin. The sauce is then poured over the rolled tortillas, giving them a spicy, flavorful kick that just can’t be beat.

Fun Facts About Enchiladas

The word enchilada comes from the Spanish word “enchilar”, meaning “to decorate with chili pepper.”

In Mexico, enchiladas are usually served as a breakfast food, often alongside eggs.

The world’s most massive enchilada ever made weighed over 3000 lbs and was created in Mexico in 2010.

There is a town in New Mexico called “Las Cruces” that claims to have invented the flat enchilada, known as “enchiladas Montadas.”

The original tortillas used to make enchiladas were not made from corn, but from blue maize, a type of corn that is rarely used today.

How to Make Enchiladas

Now, here are two delicious and simple enchilada recipes that you can make at home.

Classic Beef Enchiladas recipe


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 (14 oz) can enchilada sauce
  • 6-8 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups grated cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and onion, and cook until the beef is browned and the onion is soft.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to the skillet, and stir to combine.
  4. Pour in the enchilada sauce and stir until heated through.
  5. Take a tortilla and add a large spoonful of beef filling in the center. Sprinkle a generous amount of grated cheese on top.
  6. Roll up the tortilla tightly, and place it seam-down in a baking dish.
  7. Continue with the remaining tortillas and beef mixture.
  8. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Vegetarian Enchiladas recipe


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 6-8 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers and stir for 5 minutes.
  3. Add spinach and spices and cook until the spinach has wilted.
  4. Pour in the vegetable broth and chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Take a tortilla and place a few spoonfuls of the vegetable mixture in the center. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheese on top.
  6. Roll up the tortilla tightly, and place it seam-down in a baking dish.
  7. Continue with the remaining tortillas and vegetable mixture.
  8. Pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Enchiladas are a simple yet flavorful dish that can easily be adapted to suit various tastes. While they’re traditionally prepared with a spicy chili sauce, there are many regional versions that feature different types of fillings and sauces. From baking to frying, there are also several different methods for cooking enchiladas. Whatever way you choose to prepare them, be sure to add plenty of toppings for a truly memorable meal! They can be enjoyed anytime. With a little knowledge and some practice, anyone can easily make this delicious meal at home. Try experimenting with different fillings and sauces, and discover your perfect enchilada recipe!

Enchiladas are a perfect combination of flavors, textures, and ingredients, they are a true treat for the taste buds. So why not give this amazing dish a try today? Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to Mexican cuisine, enchiladas are sure to satisfy.

Once you’ve tried enchiladas, make sure to try other delicious dishes in the Mexican cuisine. Worldfoodwiki is a growing resource on the best dishes around the world.

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About Maria Kennedy

Maria Kennedy is the managing editor at Travel for Food Hub. Maria is on a full-tilt mission to share local food and travel inspiration. When she is not writing about food and travel, startups or social media, she is enjoying her time with her boys in sunny Spain.

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