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Lighter Chicken Enchiladas Recipe

The classic Mexican chicken enchilada recipe gets a healthy reboot while keeping its cheesy goodness. Cook chicken before rolling it up into an enchilada complete with spices and jalapenos. You'll want to permanently switch to the healthy chicken enchilada recipe -- and your family will never know the difference!

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4
Lighter Chicken Enchiladas Recipe

Source: Everyday Food, November 2008


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotles in adobo
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (2 ounces)


  1. In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, bring 1 inch salted water to a boil. Add chicken. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 5 minutes; remove skillet from heat. Let chicken steam, covered, until opaque throughout, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer chicken to a medium bowl; shred with two forks. Set aside.

  2. While chicken is cooking, make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add flour, cumin, and chipotles in adobo; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly, 5 to 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1 cup sauce to bowl with chicken; toss to combine.

  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour 1/4 cup sauce into bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside. Stack tortillas, and wrap in a double layer of damp paper towels; microwave until hot, about 1 minute. Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture; roll up tightly, and arrange, seam side down, in baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce, and top with cheese. Bake until hot and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Cook's Note

Chipotles in adobo (smoked, dried jalapenos in sauce) are spicy -- for less heat, scrape out ribs and seeds. You'll find them in the international aisle.

Reviews (42)

  • rmdatnkx 29 Sep, 2014

    Used rotisserie chicken. Sauted 1/2 red pepper finely diced with 4 cloves of garlic. Added chili powder with the cumin instead of chipotles (we don't like heat). Low fat shredded cheese. Delicious and definitely didn't taste 'light'. Will make again.

  • ossineke 21 May, 2014

    Definitely use 1 chipotle. My sauce was too thick, but I forgot to add the water because it wasn't on the "Ingredient" list (I was talking on the phone while I made the sauce). Seems to need a little something added to the chicken like white beans and maybe a little thinly slice onion.

  • dinnymarie 3 Jan, 2014

    my addition? 2 tablespoons of tomato paste gave the sauce glorious color and added flavor! we enjoyed this dish with dollops of guacamole and sour cream atop!!

  • Quinncy 20 Nov, 2013

    Sauce is bland? hellooo? the base smokey flavor with the pepper bite along with salt and pepper and a little extra cumin if you feel it needs it is perfect. My boys ate the entire thing and asked that I put it on an index card to put in my recipe box. Did you cook the flour enough? Is that why you thought the sauce was bland? You might taste the flour if you don't cook it enough.

  • gadenice 8 Sep, 2013

    Easy to make and my guys liked it a lot. The chipotles in adobo sauce were interesting to work with but blended them into the sauce ... added white pepper to give it some extra after-burn after reading some of the comments. We will be making this again.

  • tfloyd2 14 May, 2013

    Was extremely disappoint this this recipe. I should have read more of the comments before making this. Like other people said, the sauce is bland and the chicken just tastes like spicy chicken. Will not be making this again. Next time I will just stick to allrecipes.,com

  • lglevene 12 Feb, 2013

    For a lighter recipe, this was very good! I had leftover turkey and wanted to make enchiladas but almost every other recipe involved excessive cheese and cream. The chipotles in this recipe give it so much flavor that you really don't miss all the fat.

    I would give an option in this recipe for precooked chicken/turkey. I tried to follow the recipe and use between 18 to 24 oz. but I think even 12 oz. was too much. Also a 8" square baking dish was way too small. I used a 7 x 11 dish instead.

  • pennylaneeee 6 Feb, 2013

    This was very easy to make and it was a huge success! My husband loved it! Fun weeknight dinner!

  • enjoyscooking 12 Dec, 2012

    This was pretty good, but the sauce was somewhat bland. It tasted more like a gravy than enchilada sauce.

  • JPHardee 18 Oct, 2012

    This was pretty easy and it's delicious. I used soy flour, so the sauce didn't thicken and I had to add corn starch but that was my bad.

    I will definitely make this again and I appreciate how the ingredients made 8 perfect enchiladas.

  • cinnamonduck 20 Sep, 2012

    This is divine. I made it last night for my boyfriend (who I am having trouble cooking for as he is picky) and he loved it. I loved it. We loved it so much i have another one in the oven right now. And its pretty easy!

  • Lisa Lyons Maloney 1 Sep, 2012

    *** I made a double batch and used a 7.5 oz can of the chipotle canned salsa. Again, so yummy!***

  • Lisa Lyons Maloney 1 Sep, 2012

    This recipes was sooooo good!!! I used chipotle salsa instead of chiles (a whole small can) and I forgot the salt and pepper. I aldo used reduced fat mexican mix cheese. I ran out of chicken and made a cheese one....mi esposo favorito! I also used 32 ounces of reduced sodium chicken broth and no water. I will do this recipe again and again.

  • hnanzetta 24 May, 2012

    I'm putting this on my "To Try" list. In the's an amazingly easy & quick way to shred the chicken. This works if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer with a flat paddle beater. While the chicken is still warm (important) put in the mixing bowl, turn the mixer on LOW, and let the flat paddle beater do its work. In a minute or two, you'll have shredded chicken!!! Soooo much easier than pulling it apart with two forks.

  • A_Blake32 19 Dec, 2011

    I made this recipe with my mom this evening and we absolutely loved it! We followed the recipe but did not have chipotle peppers so used a couple of jalapeno peppers instead. It was the perfect amount of cheese, spice and chicken!

  • mmmille 5 Oct, 2011

    I followed this as is and it was excellent. I loved the heat from the chipotles but if you don't like spice cut it down considerably.

  • Kb2121 4 Oct, 2011

    Get help with the shredding! It took a long time!

  • Kb2121 4 Oct, 2011

    Great recipe. My daughter did not like the sauce, but my son ate leftovers the next day! (wishing for a set up so I can see my notes on each recipe)

  • rtg2000 15 Sep, 2011

    This dish is one of our regulars now, we all love it! We found that 2 chicken breasts was plenty, and we halve the chipotles (it was too spicy the first time). I like to chop up scallions and put them into the chicken mixture, also adding some monterey jack in there. Lately we have been doubling the recipe and making a 13 x 9 tray for leftovers. Topped with black olives and sour cream - mmmmmm.

  • Nimloth 9 Aug, 2011

    I'm not a big fan of cumin so I just used 1/2 teaspoon. Turned out realy delicious!

  • Susie84 28 Jun, 2011

    Just made this recipe. I followed this recipe closely except I more or less pan-fried the chicken in the beginning. The result was really delicious. I didn't really feel that it was a light dish at all taste-wise. I'll definitely keep this one for the future.

  • Blondie45 10 Mar, 2011

    I LOVED this recipe!! The first time I made them, I felt the adobe sauce and cumin were a bit too much, so the next time I reduced each by almost half. They turned out fabulous! This is my daughter's all time favorite recipe. You've got to try this recipe. It's different and SO delicious!

  • Lindseydiana333 15 Feb, 2011

    this was tasty, but next time I will double the sauce. I tend to like my enchiladas on the saucy side.

  • jlb3284 12 Feb, 2011

    This was so spicy! Don't use too much chile or you will regret it!

  • Jillia 14 Jan, 2011

    I decreased oil by 1 T., added 4 garlic cloves and 4 chipotles with five tsp. of the adobe sauce. I used exactly 18 oz. cooked chicken and it was too much. The tortillas were stuffed, not skinny like the photo. I pan-steamed the 3 chicken breasts for the maximum 14 min. in the recipe and they weren't quite done. Also, prep time was longer than 20 minutes for me. Overall I thought the flavor was lacking. I only tasted hot/spicy chicken. Maybe fat-free sour cream and tomatoes would help.

  • DrJas 15 Nov, 2010

    really good. my picky boyfriend (likes everything plain) really liked it as well. following other suggestions, I started the sauce with grated onion for depth of flavor and used the chipotle w/o the seeds. it does take a little bit of time, but not too much. served with left over brown rice corn (mixed together) with tomato and scallion. easy clean up too!

  • cellochick 23 Aug, 2010

    So so so tasty! If you are cooking this alone give yourself some extra took me 30 minutes to get it in the oven. Also, I added cilantro, corn and white onion to the chicken mix and it was really good. I also stacked some (thickly) sliced pepper jack sandwich cheese, cut them in to rectangles, and put a few pieces in each tortilla. It really helps enhance all the flavors on the plate. Serve with some Cuban black beans you have an AMAZING meal. It doesn't taste light at all!

  • LauraClaire 17 Aug, 2010

    The chicken was tender and juicy, but the sauce was quite bland (aside from the heat from the chipotle peppers). It tasted like something was missing---next time I will try a more traditional enchilada sauce recipe.

  • Ifancythetrio 2 Aug, 2010

    These were SO good. They did not taste "light" at all. I will make these again for sure.

  • Blondie45 30 Apr, 2010

    VERY NOT--with the 2 T. of Adobe sauce--but ABSOLUTELY delicious!! I'll make them again, but with less Adobe sauce. I agree with sofax2. These don't taste light at all. Love it!

  • soxfan2 19 Apr, 2010

    REALLY, REALLY GOOD!!!!!!! very hot, though. Next time I will use less chipolte. These don't taste light AT ALL. Also added corn for a little sweetness. It was great with the corn. I just steamed a bag of frozen and added it to the sauce when it was time to assemble.

  • juliepmb 7 Apr, 2010

    This recipe is FAST, easy, and delicious! It is my boyfriends favorite enchilada recipe and he's Mexican :)

  • hdelphine 6 Apr, 2010

    this is yummy. I added refried beans, might add black beans this time. The sauce is really good.

  • presgirl 19 Feb, 2010

    Delicious and easy to make! My husband and I have found a new favorite dish!

  • pedlimwen 25 Nov, 2009

    I have to agree with Britt! These taste as delicious as what you might order in a Mexican restaurant. I also substituted whole wheat tortillas and did not regret it.

  • iamamyhall 12 Nov, 2009

    Delightful. The flour makes the sauce seem creamy with no addition of anything dairy. Great!

  • BrittK002 6 May, 2009

    This recipe is an absolute keeper and doesn't taste "light" at all!

  • drkristen 27 Apr, 2009

    The best enchiladas I've ever made! I love anything with chipotle peppers, but this is a new favorite!

  • detroiterchick 16 Dec, 2008

    Great recipe and very yummy. A little more time consuming than indicated in the recipe, but worth it!

  • tifscatku 3 Dec, 2008

    This is a really great recipe. I've used the poached chicken recipe with other recipes when it calls for shredded chicken, it's so easy to do.

  • AndreaSeattle 7 Nov, 2008

    Delicious and easy!

  • carolc902 6 Nov, 2008

    Great recipe! My family loved it. I used a rotisserie chicken to save time. Next time I might add refried beans to the chicken mixture and I think that will double the amount of tortillas I can stuff.

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