enchilada lasagna

Enchilada Lasagna

Love enchiladas but sick of all the work? This lasagna method keeps all the flavors and ditches the hard parts.


Enchilada Lasagna

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I was really excited when Alton Brown won the poll last week. He happens to be my favorite of all the major celebrity chefs because he’s a) smart b) funny and c) geeky. All things that I aspire to be.

Browsing through Alton Brown’s recipes, I wanted to make sure I picked one that really embodied his philosophy. This philosophy, it seems to me, is finding ways to keep all the flavor while making cooking as accessible and easy as possible.

When I saw enchilada lasagna on the list I knew I had to make it. Actually, my first thought was, “Yea. Why would you need to roll up a corn tortilla? Why can’t you just layer it?”

Turns out you can and it tastes identical to real enchiladas. I’m not sure that I can justify ever making real enchiladas again!

Enchilada Lasagna

9x13 baking dish
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enchilada lasagna
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Love enchiladas but sick of all the work? This lasagna method keeps all the flavors and ditches the hard parts.

Heavily adapted from Alton Brown.


2 16 ounce cans tomato sauce (about 3 cups)
2-3 chipotles in Adobo sauce, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 Teaspoons cumin seeds
2 Cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
1.5 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, diced (you could also use beans for a vegetarian version)
2 poblano peppers, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Other stuff:
12-14 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 pound shredded cheese, I used a combination of Pepper Jack and Queso Oaxaca.


1) In a medium pot, add a swirl of olive oil over medium heat.  Then add diced garlic and chipotle peppers and cook for a minute or two.

2) Add cumin and chili powder and continue to cook for another minute.

3) Add chicken stock and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until needed.

4) For filling, add a swirl of oil to a skillet and add diced chicken.  Once almost cooked, add peppers and onions and continue to cook until they are soft, about 3-4 minutes.

5) In a 9×13 baking dish, rub it down with vegetable oil, then ladle in 1/2 Cup of sauce to the bottom.

6) Dip tortillas in sauce and lay them in the bottom of the dish until they cover it.  You’ll probably need 4 and you might need to cut one in half.

7) Add half of the chicken filling, followed by 1/3 of the grated cheese.

8) Then add another layer of tortillas with sauce, followed by the rest of the filling, followed by another 1/3 of the cheese.

9) Finish with a third layer of tortillas and the last of the cheese.

10) Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

11) Let cool before serving.

Start-to-finish this dish will probably take you 75-90 minutes to make depending on how quick you are in the kitchen. I’d guess this is 25-30 minutes faster than a traditional enchilada recipe.

Making the Sauce

The first step for this recipe is getting the sauce ready. In a pinch, you could use a canned enchilada sauce, but I like customizing my sauces a bit so I always try to make it if I have time.

A really simple sauce.

The only real chopping that you’ll need to do for the sauce is to mince up the garlic and chipotle peppers. I left the seeds in my chipotles to give them extra heat. Just mince up everything pretty finely like so.

sauce stuff
Chopped up.

To make the sauce, add a swirl of olive oil to a medium pot and get it heated over medium heat. Add the garlic and chipotles and cook for a few seconds.

Then add all the spices (cumin, chili powder) and continue to cook. This will smell really good and the dry pan will toast the cumin seeds a bit which enhances their flavor. Be sure to stir it regularly and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

After a minute or two of cooking, add the tomato sauce, chicken stock, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer until you’re ready to make the lasagna.

Making the Filling

The filling for this dish is almost as easy.

You’ll just need these things. I added the poblano peppers to give the filling some color and flavor. Alton’s recipe didn’t have this, but I liked the addition.

The basics for filling

Dice up the chicken and add it to a skillet over medium high heat with a swirl of olive oil. Once the chicken is almost cooked, add the onions and poblano peppers and cook until they are soft, about 3-4 minutes.

My poblano peppers in this photo are WAY too big. Be sure to dice yours finer if you use them.

Peppers should be smaller!

Putting Together the Lasagna!

This is the part where you really save a lot of time. If you’ve ever made enchiladas before, it usually involves quickly soaking tortillas in sauce, then adding some filling, rolling them up, and stacking them in the dish.

In short, it’s a messy process that takes some time.

If we’re doing it lasagna style though, all you need to do is lightly oil your baking dish, add about 1/2 Cup of sauce to the bottom of the dish, then start dipping your tortillas in the sauce and layering them in the pan.

You’re just going for an even layer of tortillas here so feel free to rip them up to get that. This was my optimal layout.

bottom layer
Easiest enchiladas ever.

Then just add about half of your chicken filling. This is easy people.

Layer of filling.

Next add a layer of cheese. Use about 1/3 of your cheese.

Then another layer of tortillas in sauce, then the final 1/2 of your filling, followed by 1/3 of your cheese.

Then more tortillas and finally the last 1/3 of your cheese.

This will all take you maybe 10 minutes and be a lot less messy than the traditional rolling method. You’ll end up with this awesome casserole dish full of delicious filling, cheese and sauce.

finished deal
Lots of cheese is important as always.

Bake this at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the cheese is really melted and the sauce is bubbling.

Let it cool for a minute or two before slicing into it.

Nice and bubbly.

The awesome thing about this dish is that I promise if you did a side-by-side taste test between this and traditional enchiladas with the same sauce and filling, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

It tastes the exact same, which is to say that it tastes amazing.

Man these were good.

I forgot to photograph it but I served mine with some Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and it was really taste.

You’ll most likely have lots of leftovers here which is just fine because they re-heat beautifully.

I can’t exactly think of a reason right now why I’ll ever make traditional enchiladas again. This was just too easy and too good.

As always, thanks Alton.

14 Responses to “Enchilada Lasagna” Leave a comment

    1. Meh… it wasn't too spicy actually. It's a lot of sauce and enchiladas. I could've handled more but I do like my food really spicy normally.

  1. mm chipotles in adobo are really popular in my house. we're thinking hard about making this one this weekend!

  2. This would be a good freezer meal right? I'm giving birth in 2 weeks and need some good dishes to freeze.

    1. Me too, but I’ve always called it Mexican Lasagna, and used flour tortillas. I started making it because I didn’t want to boil lasagna noodles. I also add cottage cheese to my filling between the layers of tortillas.

  3. Well, I just don't know what to say about this dish Nick! I can see a cool Italian twist on it, almost as if Nona came to Mexico and wanted to make lasagna and could only do it with the ingredients on hand.

    I prob would not be able to serve this to my kid, but given how it looks, he would eat it anyway! LOL

    BTW: Love your kitchen! Is it your own house? IS it actually granite or is it just look that way?

  4. Oh I've totally made something like this before – it's delicious! I'm totally impressed you made your own enchilada sauce (I'm bad – I use the stuff from a can). Although instead of sauteing the chicken I roast chicken legs and/or thighs in the oven with a little oil and salt and pepper, shred the meat after it cools, and then add it to the filling. I'm really a fan of dark meat, so I love the flavor and texture it adds to the filling.
    My recent post Baking Math- Common Baking Ingredient Weights

  5. Hey Nick! I make one at home that's similar, but instead of using corn tortillas, I go for the WAY less healthy (but much saltier and an interesting departure) tortilla chips. It creates a nice texture balance since they retain some of their the chewiness, and it's SO yummy. Even easier too, since you don't have to dip them. Can't wait to come up for a ski weekend to see you guys!

  6. Nick, I'm making this for a work party in a few days. Both of my trial runs were delicious but had the same complaint: lack of textural variety. I had the same idea as Rachel, i.e. switching one of the layers for tortilla chips. I'm trying to think of other ways to change it up.

    Any ideas?

    1. Yea… the tortilla chip layer is a pretty awesome idea. I can't think of much else that would be better for texture.

    2. This recipe looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it out. Especially the sauce, since it will be nice to break away from the canned sauce (my store used to carry a really excellent small Mexican brand sauce, but it disappeared from the shelves a few years ago).
      As for ways to change it up, try adding black beans and/or sweet corn to the filling (either cook them with the chicken or separately). They are a regular addition to any tacos, burritos, or enchiladas I make.

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