chipotle chicken enchiladas

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chipotle chicken enchiladas

I’ve wanted to make chicken enchiladas since I started this blog, and I’m shocked that I haven’t done them yet. I’m obsessed with Mexican cuisine and have been since I was 22 and fell in love with it on my first trip to the USA. My sister and I bought a car and drove across North America via the Southern route. We encountered much amazing Mexican food along the way but sadly as South African passport holders, we were not able to go to Mexico at that time. It’s very high on my food bucket list to go, so watch this space. I had also wanted to keep the recipe quite authentic, but after much research, it’s fairly complicated to make an authentic enchilada sauce, as you need specifically dried chillies. In South Africa, this is near impossible to come by. The last time I made a proper Mexican sauce – Chipotles in adobo, I used chipotles, which I bought in New York. I also wanted to make a recipe that anyone can do and that was super delicious and easy. I think this might be the best recipe.

If you are Mexican, or a purist, please accept that I’m not trying to disparage the cuisine in any way here. I wanted to capture the essence of what enchiladas are as I know them, more Tex / Mex style.

chipotle chicken enchiladas

Most recipes seem to add cheese with the filling, and of course you can do that, but in the interest of calorie conservation, I have left it out. I find the cheesy top layer more than enough to deal with, and this dish has so much flavour going, you really don’t need it. The other weird thing in South Africa is you can’t just walk into any supermarket and buy chilli powder. It simply doesn’t no exist. We have loads of peri peri (ground up African Birds Eye chillies) that could take the roof of your mouth off in on spoonful, but finding bog standard chilli powder is just not easy. So I opted to use my own homemade chipotles in adobo sauce because they are so damned delicious and I can control the heat levels. If you live in South Africa and can’t get hold of them I’m going to give you a cheat’s conversion below. See also a list of places that I know sell it. If you live anywhere else in the First World, you should have no problem tracking this ingredient down. You could also sub it with a good quality chilli powder.

If you are vegetarian or vegan – make up a quantity of vegetables and beans of your preference to yield roughly 4 cups of cooked product.

chipotle chicken enchiladas

chipotle chicken enchiladas

People like to add black beans to the chicken enchilada filling and this is a fantastic way to extend the meal by adding healthy affordable protein, but because, well you guessed it, we don’t get black beans here I didn’t include. Anyway, I’m always trying to cram as many vegetables into my meat dishes as possible so I added sautéed red pepper and red onion. They add a lovely sweet element and break the richness a little.

As with most Mexican dishes, all the side dishes make things very festive. Serve these enchiladas with sour cream, guacamole, fresh cilantro and lime wedges on the side.

chipotle chicken enchiladas

Recipe – serves 4

I used 8 soft corn tortillas but flour tortillas would work equally as well

chipotle chicken enchiladas

A chipotle chicken enchiladas recipe smothered in cheese.
Print Recipe
chipotle chicken enchiladas


  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 red onion sliced to a medium thickness
  • 1 red pepper deseeded and stem removed, sliced into strips
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 Tbsp finely chopped chipotle in adobo sauce or 3 Tbs chilli powder
  • 250 ml / 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups tomato puree or Italian passata
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 500 gms free-range chicken breast meat about 1 pound
  • 8 soft corn or flour tortillas+- 20cm or 8 inches in diameter
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella


  • Heat a splash of olive oil in a large skillet/pot (preferably with a lid) and add the sliced red onion and red pepper. Fry for about 3 minutes until just starting to soften. Set aside.
  • In the same pan (I do this to avoid having to wash another pan, but if you don’t mind, then you could have fried the above in a non-stick frying pan), heat another splash of olive oil and fry the chopped onion until soft over low heat. About 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano and chipotles and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the stock and deglaze the pan. Then add the tomato sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Allow this to simmer for about 5 minutes and until it thickens slightly.
  • Place the chicken breasts in the sauce. You could cut them in half sideways if you wanted to reduce the cooking time, put the lid on the pan, and simmer until cooked for about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Take the sauce off the heat.
  • When the sauce has cooled, strain it through a fine sieve pressing to get all the sauce out. Scrape the leftover onions and other bits from the sieve back into the pan. Cut the chicken into small pieces (bite-size) and place them in the pan with the onion mix. Add ½ cup of the strained enchilada sauce and mix.
  • Spray an appropriately sized oven dish with cooking spray. And preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
  • Lay the 8 tortillas out and divide the red pepper and onion mix, plus the chicken mixture evenly between them. If you want to sprinkle a smattering of the grated Cheddar you can do this too. Roll them up and lay them snugly in the oven dish.
  • Top with the remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle over the mozzarella and the Cheddar and then cover with foil * I find spraying the inside of the foil that touches the cheese with cooking spray helps prevent the cheese from sticking*.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes and until the cheese is bubbling and turning golden brown. Serve right away with all the side dishes mentioned above.
Author: Sam Linsell

A nice Paloma on the side wouldn’t go amiss.

*cheats chipotle – finely chop up pickled jalapenos and add smoked paprika and dried chilli flakes (smoked if you can find or regular). For this recipe you will need 4 Tbs chopped pickled jalapeno + 1 tsp chilli flakes + 1 tsp smoked paprika)

Where to buy Chipotles in adobo sauce in SA: 

Chipotle is the most delicious spice adding so much flavour to a plethora of dishes. I am never without it. If you can get hold of Chipotles (dried jalapeños) then make this recipe. They last for ages in the fridge

Giovanni’s Deliworld in Greenpoint (also my favourite food shop in South Africa)


Woolworths does a chipotle seasoning – so add about 2 -3 Tbs of this (you will probably not need to add salt).

Cape Herb and spices make a delicious chipotle seasoning.

Nomu does smoked chipotle flakes – so you will need about 2 – 3 Tbs for this recipe. Adjust heat levels to taste preference

For more Mexican recipes:

Easy Air Fryer chicken fajitas

Pomegranate Guacamole

lettuce tacos with chipotle chicken and grilled pineapple salsa

Crockpot Mexican short rib tacos

Coffee spice rub salmon tacos

Beer-battered fish tacos with spicy slaw


chipotle chicken enchiladas


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  1. Lizet Hartley says:

    Show me melted cheese and I am your willing slave! Positively drool-worthy Sam.

  2. Thanks LIzet, Im on th same page x

  3. Ideal supper idea for a rainy day in the Cape ….. looks delicious, thanks Sam!

  4. Thanks Robyn x

  5. Looks divine! Where do you buy the corn tortillas? I never see them

  6. Hi Jojo, I bought them as part of the Old El Paso Enchilada kit. I used the spice mix and sauce fora another shoot last week. Sadly They dont sell them separately (really delicious though). Flour tortillas will also work well.

  7. Such a personal favourite of mine, and these look so delicious!!! SA’s ready for a good local widely accessible corn tortilla…someone needs to pick this up and run with it! At Pick n Pay Constantia, you can buy the small taco size corn torillas, which are not bad (although not big enough for enchiladas) – can’t remember who makes them. Also, sometimes the Alphen Spar in Constantia carries chopotles in adobo. Thanks for this recipe…

  8. Thanks Ilana and awesome to know re the tacos. Yes a few Spars stock the Chipotle too, but Im not sure exactly whcih ones and its seems hit and miss. Sea Point Spar and vredehoek have had it in the past. I agree, wish we could get corn tortillas, I used to be the brand manager of Old El Paso in SA and we didnt import the tortillas on their own because of a lack of demand. Im gogint o send a request through through to me former company anyway.

  9. I totally agree about the need for corn tortillas! They’ll appeal to the gluten-free market too if they need more motivation to get them in 😉 I don’t like buying the packs because I prefer making spice mixes and sauces from scratch when I can. The El Burro Chipotle in Adobo (I order from Yuppiechef) is great and makes for an authentic taste.

  10. sandy harrod says:

    Accidentally stumbled upon your site. your meals are truly impressive! well done keep it up!!

  11. Thanks so much Sandy and thanks for stopping by

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