Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole & Chimichurri Rice FoodFind

I was short on time last night so I pulled out this old tried and true enchilada casserole recipe. Instead of taking the time to roll individual enchiladas everything is layered, lasagna style. If the prospect of rolling enchiladas intimidates you this is the perfect substitute. It tastes like restaurant enchiladas with out all the work! I have tweaked this recipe over time and added a few things to spice it up. You can control the heat by the type of enchilada sauce you choose, red, green, mild, medium or hot! It doesn’t look as pretty as rolled enchiladas but the taste more than makes up for it.

Last night I made just half a recipe but with regret. I should have made the whole thing or two separate pans and froze half. Since I have a new freezer I now have room to freeze some meals ahead of time, I just need to remember that. 🙂 We will be fighting over the one left over serving today! This is a hearty casserole packed with protein so they guys in my house find it very satisfying. There is nothing “light” about the taste so it would be a company worthy dish as well.

I was in a hurry to take a photo while I still had some natural light left (it gets dark so early right now) so I forgot to sprinkle the green onions on top. For side dishes last night I mixed a can or drained corn with a can of drained, rinsed black beans and added about 1/3 cup salsa and 1/2 teaspoon cumin before heating them up.

You could add beans or corn to the casserole layers too if you desire.

The rice is a frozen item from Trader Joe’s called Chimichuri Rice. It has tons of flavor using South American flavors and heats up in just minutes in the microwave. I usually keep two bags of it in the freezer.

Did I mention I was short on time last night? With a few simple items I keep on hand, like canned corn, beans, frozen rice, tortillas, enchilada sauce, chicken breast and pre – shredded cheese. I was still able to put together a filling, flavorful meal in a short amount of time. When you have a little more time on your hands you should try my recipe for rolled Chicken Enchiladas as those are a family favorite around here! Use the categories on the side bar to check out my other Mexican dishes.

Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole

  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chiles, divided
  • 1 3/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced*
  • 1 cup evaporated skim milk (This comes in a can in the baking aisle at the grocery store)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese ( I use Trader Joe’s Mexican Blend)
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) tub-style light cream cheese
  • 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce, mild, medium, green or red
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons ground cumin*
  • 1- 2 teaspoons chili powder*
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese (Mexican Blend)
  • 1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed (about 6 chips)

Optional Garnishes; low fat sour cream, cilantro, green onions, black olives, shredded lettuce*

* My additions to the original recipe

  1. Combine broth and 1 can of chiles in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Add chicken; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning chicken once. Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving cooking liquid; cool chicken. Dice chicken or shred meat with two forks, and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 can of chiles, garlic and onion; sauté 3 minutes or until soft. Add reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterey Jack, cream cheese, cumin, chili powder and enchilada sauce; stir well. Stir in shredded chicken; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Place 4 tortillas in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers twice, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with garnishes if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional Information

(not including optional garnishes)

CALORIES 369 (28% from fat); FAT 11.4g (sat 5g,mono 3.8g,poly 1.4g); IRON 2.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 79mg; CALCIUM 360mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.3g; SODIUM 479mg; PROTEIN 35.6g; FIBER 3g

Old WWP 8 / WWPP 9

Adapted from Cooking Light, DECEMBER 1998

Nutmeg Notes

The Mexican food cravings have struck again! I seem to go in cycles with that. I find spicy food to be very filling and satisfying. More Mexican food is on the menu for tonight! I found a new recipe I want to try on the guys that uses beef for a change. Since I have limes, fresh cilantro and tortillas in stock I want to make good use of them. I hate for food to go to waste! If the new recipe is a success I will post about it!


Leave a comment and join the fun!

What kind of food do you crave?

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  1. Karen says:

    My teen would never eat this. He pretty much avoids anything that is mixed, casserole-like. And that has cheese. Except for pizza. Sigh. But hubby would love it. I don’t know what I’m craving. The first thing that popped into my head was… carbs!! (The bread, cereal, cracker kind.)

    1. Tami says:

      My son use to be a super picky eater and I often times made two different entrées to accommodate him! Now he eats pretty good and life is so much easier on the cook!

  2. Helen says:

    I do the same thing… go through phases where I can’t get enough of the Mexican/Southwestern flavors and spices. This recipe is very similar to the casserole I made from Cooking Light a while back. It was the first time I’d made layered enchiladas and I agree – faster and easier than rolling them up!

    1. Tami says:

      Helen this is a Cooking Light recipe from 1998! Maybe the one you made is the same one! Great minds think alike they say!

  3. Sharon says:

    Do you think most of the recipes you post would work if you made half? With only two of us, one of whom is really picky about leftovers and the other who will eat ALL the leftovers in one sitting (LOL!), I just don’t need to be making things that serve 8. I know I can freeze, but right now don’t feel in control of the leftovers. I can easily make one serving out of what should be three!! I’d rather it just be gone at the end of the meal.

    1. Tami says:

      Yes, Sharon making half works out fine. I only made half of this recipe last night! I should have made all of it to freeze but that is how things go.

      Most of the recipes can be halved with great success. You might have to make some adjustments. For instance if there is only one egg listed, I would beat the egg and then use half of it. If I can be of any help in figuring out how to cut a recipe in half let me know.

  4. JANINE says:

    for sure my hubby would love this one. I could probably do Mexican all the time and he’d love it. I’m more a fan of Chinese–which, of course, he isn’t. So—we alternate!

    1. Tami says:

      Marriage is all about compromise! I like Mexican and Chinese is a close second!

  5. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    I am so not a cook.. the ingredient list has to be SHORT!!!! I cook but just a lazy cook. I need to get rich & hire you! 🙂

    1. Tami says:

      This recipe is pretty easy Jody. You could use a roasted chicken from the grocery store and just cut off the white meat and proceed from there with the recipe.

  6. erica says:

    Your food looks amazing as always!


    1. Tami says:

      Thanks Erica!

  7. LAF says:

    I would love to try this sometime as Mexican is my favorite cuisine. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Tami says:

      Hi LAF how are you doing?

  8. Daughter Katy says:

    I didn’t know you got a new freezer! In the garage? What happened to the old one? That’s what happens when you leave, things change!

    1. Tami says:

      Hi Katy! We got a new freezer in the garage. The old one wasn’t working properly, and it was over 20 years old! The new one is bigger, taller and wider, has a light inside which makes it so much easier to see what you have! Now I have more room, so I can make things ahead and I have room to store them!

  9. Carol says:

    Another winner Tami!!! Keep them coming!! 🙂 🙂

    1. Tami says:

      I will try Carol!

  10. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    I call this Mexican lasagna, only I don’t use cream cheese. I may add that, though, because it sounds deelish!

    I have Mexican-type foods probably 5 days out of 7 for precisely the reasons you list. It’s tasty and one serving keeps me feeling full for hours.

    1. Tami says:

      I just don’t seem to tire of Mexican food as soon as I do other types of cuisine. Love all the flavor it has!

  11. Laura Beth says:

    I will be trying this one tonight with my quick black bean soup! I will keep you posted on how it goes!

    1. Tami says:

      Looking forward to hearing back from you!

      1. Laura Beth says:

        The recipe came out fantastic! We will be eating the leftovers all week! I also made a black bean soup that went very well with the dish. Thanks for another great (low -fat) recipe. O, and my husband loved it, he said I could make it once a week.

  1. Easy chicken enchilada casserole says:

    […] Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole & Chimichurri Rice Review | Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole & Chimichurri Rice Review. Posted on 02 November 2010. I was short on time last night so I pulled out this old tried and Easy Chicken Enchilada Casserole & Chimichurri Rice Review | […]

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