Frozen Chicken Enchiladas: Clean and delicious chicken enchiladas with my favorite homemade enchilada sauce. Plus, instructions on how to freeze these guys perfectly!
Project Delicious

Pepper Chicken Enchiladas

This is the fifth post in a five part series called Expecting Nugget! I took the liberty to insanely stock our freezer with lots of good eats in preparation for our first baby. I figured I would share them all because everybody needs good freezer meals!

Well, I saved the hardest freezer meal for the last one! The idea of having frozen enchiladas at the ready was really appealing to us, but I was worried about how enchiladas would hold up in the freezer. I’ve never had a great (and possibly not even a good) batch of frozen chicken enchiladas.

The problem is that you have a lot going on including filling, soft tortillas, sauce, and cheese. All of these things work together beautifully, but can wreak havoc on a frozen dish, especially the tortillas. If you don’t take the time to freeze them right, they will end up as a soggy mess on the reheated end.

But, as the great(?) Montell Jordan once said, “This is how we do it.”

Frozen Chicken Enchiladas: Clean and delicious chicken enchiladas with my favorite homemade enchilada sauce. Plus, instructions on how to freeze these guys perfectly!

Pepper Chicken Enchiladas

Just a moment please...

Yield
24 enchiladas (Serves 8)
Prep Time
Total Time

My favorite frozen chicken enchiladas. They have clean, fresh flavors and reheat perfectly plus I use a great homemade enchilada sauce recipe!

Ingredients

2 pounds chicken, shredded
2 large peppers, diced
4 Fresno (red) jalapeno peppers
1 white onion, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 ounces tomatillo salsa
Salt and pepper
24 6-8 inch corn or flour tortillas
Vegetable oil, for tortillas
1 pound shredded cheese
Cilantro, garnish
4 8x8 freezer casserole dishes (or 2 9x13 dishes)
Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
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Directions

For filling:
1) Poach chicken in barely simmering water until just cooked through, 12-15 minutes. Once cooked, drain and let cool slightly. Then shred the chicken.

2) In a large skillet, add a drizzle of oil over medium heat. Add diced onions and peppers and cook until they start to soften, 3-4 minutes. Stir in cumin and season with salt and pepper. Finally stir in shredded chicken and tomatillo salsa. Stir to combine, then remove from heat and set aside.

For sauce:

1) In a medium pot, whisk together butter and flour over medium heat. Keep whisking until the mixture turns a light, tan color, about 5 minutes.

3) Whisk in all the spices and cook for another 30 seconds. Then start whisking in chicken stock in a thin stream. Once stock is whisked in, bring gravy to a slight simmer and cook until it thickens nicely, about 2-3 minutes, whisking occasionally.

TO make Enchiladas:

1) Add 1/4 cup oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Working with one tortilla at a time, let it heat in the oil for 5-10 seconds per side. Then remove tortilla and let drain on a paper towel.

2) Once a tortilla is warmed and flexible, work with one at a time. Fill it with some of the filling and a small handful of cheese. Roll it tightly.

3) Spoon some of the sauce into the bottom of each dish, then start laying in enchiladas. You should get 6 in each dish. Once all enchiladas are in the dishes, divide sauce between the dishes and top each with cheese.

TO Freeze: Let the enchiladas cool completely and then transfer to the freezer on baking sheets (still uncovered). Let the enchiladas freeze uncovered. Then remove them and wrap them tightly in a plastic wrap and a layer of heavy duty foil. Return the dishes to the freezer where they will store great for 4-6 months.

To reheat: Let the dishes thaw in the fridge slowly. Then reheat in a 350 degree F. oven for 25-30 minutes until the enchiladas are hot and the cheese is bubbly in the center. Serve with cilantro, sour cream, etc.

Frozen Chicken Enchiladas

Really any enchilada could be frozen if you take the time to do it right, but I wanted a lighter enchilada with really clean, fresh flavors. So I chopped up a lot of peppers and onions!

Veg for enchiladas.

Peppers and onions

I sauteed my veggies in a little oil over medium heat until they were just starting to soften. You don’t want to overcook them at this point or they will turn mushy. Some texture is good.

Season the peppers with some cumin, salt and pepper.

cooked peppers.

Cook ’em down.

You could keep these vegetarian by adding beans, but I wanted to add some chicken so I just blanched about two pounds of chicken in lightly simmering water for 12-15 minutes until it was just cooked through. Then I let it cool and shredded it up!

Shredded chicken for enchiladas.

Get shredded.

Stir the chicken into the veggies with a good amount of tomatillo salsa. The salsa works as a sauce for the filling and ties everything together.

This makes a lot of enchiladas!

Filling for frozen chicken enchiladas.

Good fillings.

Enchilada Sauce Time

While the filling cooks, you can make the sauce. This is a riff on my chili gravy enchilada sauce which is my hands-down favorite situation.

Start by melting some butter and then whisking in flour to form a roux. Let that cook for a few minutes over medium heat and then whisk in all the spices. This kind of spice addition can only be described as a boat load.

Enchilada sauce.

Sauce time.

Once the spices are whisked in, slowly add the chicken stock until it form a light gravy.

This is all you need for a great sauce!

Homemade enchilada sauce.

Yum.

Making and Freezing

Making enchiladas is kind of a pain if you want to do it right. I like to use corn tortillas, but you could just as well use flour tortillas.

Specifically if you’re using corn, you want to heat them gently in some oil so they get nice and flexible. Then add a spoonful of filling to each one and a pocket of cheese. Don’t over-do it on the cheese here.

Making frozen enchiladas.

Makin’ it happen.

For each casserole dish, spoon some sauce into the dish and then layer in about six enchiladas (or as many as you can fit). I was able to fit six in each 8×8 casserole pan I had.

I got four of these pans out of this recipe.

Once all your pans are made, spoon the sauce over each to make sure it’s divided evenly and then sprinkle on a little extra cheese.

Ready to freeze chicken enchiladas.

Layered and ready.

The trick to freezing these guys is simple. You need to freeze them uncovered until they are frozen solid. Let them cool at room temperature and then stick them in the freezer on a baking sheet. Let them freeze solid and then remove them, wrap each one in plastic wrap and foil, and store them in the freezer for 4-5 months.

Letting them freeze uncovered allows all the extra moisture to pull away from the enchiladas which will mean less soggy mess when you reheat them!

Reheating is simple! I like to let them thaw in the fridge slowly and then pop them in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the center is bubbly and hot (remember to remove the plastic wrap before reheating them!)

Betsy and I actually ate a reheated batch of this a few nights ago and they reheated really nicely. They weren’t quite as good as fresh, but still quite good and a huge time saver!

Frozen Chicken Enchiladas: Clean and delicious chicken enchiladas with my favorite homemade enchilada sauce. Plus, instructions on how to freeze these guys perfectly!

 

6 comments on “Pepper Chicken Enchiladas

  1. How did the corn tortillas hold up with freezing and then baking? I tried it once and they disintegrated…may have been operator error though. Enchiladas are one of our standard “freezer foods,” I’ll have to try your method of freezing then wrapping.

    We’d had some health issues when our son was born last year and I’m embarrassed to say that our friends supplied us with meals for six weeks after he was born. Saved the older kids from lots of sandwiches.

    1. The corn tortillas hold up pretty okay. They break down a bit, but it’s still possible to scoop out a single enchilada. Hope you are all doing well now!

  2. N ick, I would like to subscribe to your website, but cannot find it. Please email me as to how I can subscribe to your site. Just stumbled on it by accident and the recipies are awesome.
    I want to make the Hot & sour Soup and the Chili Gravy Enchilads. Please respond. Thanks!

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