Unbelievably delicious Beef Enchiladas are made with a few simple ingredients. You can easily make it right in time for dinner or prepare it ahead of time. These enchiladas are made with ground beef and vegetable mixture rolled in flour tortillas and baked with homemade enchilada sauce and cheese.
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Enchiladas is such an amazing and comforting dish that makes an appearance at our dinner menu SO often. There is nothing not to love in enchiladas like soft flour tortillas stuffed with flavorful meat and slathered with homemade sauce and extra cheese. This dish is all about comfort and taste and it’s just as perfect any other day as it would be served on Cinco de Mayo.
Traditionally, enchiladas are made with corn tortillas that are rolled with different meats and vegetables and slathered in chili pepper sauce. Through the years, I’ve take a lot of liberties to variate the filling of enchiladas as well as the sauce. Some of the best variations include Shrimp Enchiladas and Steak Enchiladas, which I made with cream sauces.
No matter how many variations I try, I often go back to the classic enchiladas with tomato based red chili pepper sauce. This sauce is great for chicken enchiladas and for beef enchiladas alike.
Ground beef – use 90/10 meat to fat ratio ground beef. This ratio will still be juicy but not greasy.
Bell Peppers – choose any color of bell peppers.
Garlic – using fresh garlic provides the best flavor and aroma, so use fresh rather than packaged minced or pressed garlic..
Enchilada Sauce – for the best results, use homemade enchilada sauce, it makes a big difference! It only takes about 20 minutes to make and you can make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Tortillas – we like to use soft flour taco tortillas but you can use corn instead if you’d like. You can use homemade corn tortillas or store-bought. Corn tortillas have a very different flavor and texture so it is a personal preference.
PRO TIP: if you want to increase the spice level of beef enchiladas, feel free to add some chili peppers like jalapenos, serrano, or habanero. Remember most of the chili pepper’s spice is in the seeds so choose to leave the seeds in for more spice or discard for less.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Corn Tortillas vs Flour Tortillas
Looking at my enchilada recipes, you may notice that I prefer to use flour tortillas. I get that question often, asking why I don’t use corn tortillas but it really all comes down to personal preference.
The reason why I prefer to use flour tortillas over corn is durability, taste, and texture. Flour tortillas are much more durable while rolling them and after baking. Corn tortillas have a crumbly texture, where flour tortillas have a smooth texture. And lastly, it comes down to the flavor.
Start with making the Enchilada Sauce or you can use your favorite brand of store-bough sauce.
Make the filling: Slice and sauté the vegetables (1) with some seasoning and once cooked (2), take them out of the pan and set aside. Sauté ground beef (3) in the same pan as the vegetables, breaking up all the clumps until beef is done. Mix cooked vegetables into the beef (4).
Preheat the oven to 375° and spread about a cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 greased casserole dish. Spread some beef filling in the tortilla, in one line (5). Add some shredded cheese over the top (6) and roll it up. Place rolled tortilla in the casserole dish, seam down. Repeat filling the rest of tortillas and rolling them.
Once all tortillas are in the casserole dish, evenly spread the sauce over each tortilla (7) and generously top it all off with shredded cheese (8). Bake enchiladas for 15-20 minutes.
Yes, it can! I prefer to freeze enchiladas without sauce so that is my recommendation. The reason why I like to freeze enchiladas without sauce is that less exposure to sauce makes enchiladas less soggy. You can freeze the sauce separately.
If you plan on freezing all or half of the enchiladas, you can prepare the ones you plan to freeze in an aluminum pan. Follow the recipe as directed up to the part where you add the sauce and cheese. Don’t add any sauce to the bottom of the aluminum pan either.
Stack rolled enchiladas side by side in the aluminum foil pan, seam down. Place a sheet of plastic wrap right over the enchiladas, tucking it under on the sides. Wrap the whole pan with a sheet of aluminum foil as airtight as possibly. Label with the date and content and freeze for 2-3 months.
To thaw enchiladas before baking, pull it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator to let it slow-thaw for up to 18 hours.
To bake frozen enchiladas, you can bake frozen enchiladas straight from the freezer or thawed. Frozen enchiladas will take longer to bake. Before baking, make sure to take off the aluminum foil and plastic wrap first. Spread enchilada sauce over the enchiladas evenly but add the shredded cheese about half way through baking. Bake frozen enchiladas at 350° for 30-40 minutes and thawed enchiladas for 20-25 minutes.
For more freezing tips make sure to read this post.
If you want to use corn tortillas for enchiladas, it is important to soften them! Trying to roll cold tortillas will be frustrating because they will be breaking.
To soften corn tortillas, lightly brush or spray them with some oil and place them on a sheet tray. Bake at 325° for 3-5 minutes. After they’re warmed, stack them and cover with a damp warmed clean towel to keep them soft while rolling enchiladas.
The most classic side dishes for enchiladas are rice and beans. You can serve refried beans or black beans, depends on your personal preference. Spanish rice is a wonderful option.
You can also serve some corn sides like Mexican Street Corn Salad, Corn Salsa, or Black Bean and Corn Salad.
Storing and Reheating Instructions
You can easily store leftover enchiladas in the same casserole dish it was baked in. Make sure to cover the dish either with plastic wrap or with a lid that fits the dish to make it air-tight. Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
To reheat enchiladas, you can either reheat it individually in a microwave or you can reheat several in the same casserole dish in the oven. To reheat it in the oven, take plastic wrap or a lid off the dish and cover the top of the casserole dish with foil. Place a cold casserole dish with enchiladas into the cold oven and turn it on, so that the cold dish gradually heat up as the oven heats up.
Reheat enchiladas at 350° just until hot in the middle, for about 15-20 minutes.
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Beef Enchiladas Recipe
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced or pressed
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
- 1 tbsp adobo sauce from the peppers
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp white granulated sugar
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt more or less to taste
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 red bell peppers
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 2 tomatoes on a vine
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1.5 lbs ground beef
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 6 medium soft taco flour tortillas
- 8 oz shredded Mexican cheese mix
- Note: you can prepare Homemade Enchilada Sauce a day ahead and keep it in an air-tight jar, in the refrigerator. (You can also use store-bought enchilada sauce instead of homemade.)
- Preheat a medium sauce pot over medium heat, add oil, and saute onion until softened. Add garlic and saute until fragrant.
- Sprinkle flour over the onion and stir until onions are evenly coated.
- Slowly pour in stock while stirring. Add can of tomatoes and all remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring the mixture to simmer. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
- Transfer the content of the pot into a food processor and blend well until smooth. The sauce is ready for making enchiladas!
- Slice onion and peppers. Preheat a large cooking pan over medium heat and add some oil to the pan.
- Add onions and peppers and cook until it starts to soften.
- Dice tomatoes, press garlic and add both to the pan. Add salt and 1 tsp of chili powder. Stir well and let veggies cook until all soft. Take veggies out of the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, saute ground beef. (You may need to add a little more oil to the pan.) Make sure to break up all the clumps while beef is cooking. Season the beef with chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, salt as it cooks.
- Once beef is all done, mix cooked vegetables into the beef. Take off heat.
- Preheat the oven to 375° and spread about a cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 greased casserole dish.
- Spread some beef filling and shredded cheese in the tortilla, in one line, and roll it up.
- Place rolled tortilla into the casserole dish, seam down. Repeat filling the rest of tortillas and rolling them.
- Spread the remaining sauce over each rolled tortilla and generously top it all off with shredded cheese. Bake enchiladas for 17-20 minutes.
- Make Ahead Suggestions: To save some time, make the sauce ahead and keep it in the fridge, in an air-tight glass jar. You can also cook the beef filling ahead or time and keep it in an air-tight food storage container, in the refrigerator. Once you have the sauce and the filling, enchiladas will only take 30 minutes to make. (Reheat the sauce and the filling before rolling, just until warm.)
You can also follow the recipe all the way up to the baking step but instead of baking, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. When ready to bake, take the dish out of the fridge and discard plastic wrap. Let the dish sit on the counter while the oven is pre-heating or start preheating the oven with the dish in it. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.
- If you want to increase the spice level of beef enchiladas, feel free to add some chili peppers like jalapenos, serrano, or habanero. Remember most of the chili pepper’s spice is in the seeds so choose to leave the seeds in for more spice or discard for less.