Enchiladas, a traditional Mexican dish, offer a rich tapestry of flavors, textures, and colors.

Today’s recipe includes 10 enchilada variations on the traditional recipe offering a delicious meal that can be adapted to any taste, from meaty fillings to vegetarian delights.

10 Enchilada Variations

While the recipe I have provided captures the spirit of enchiladas, traditional Mexican enchiladas have a rich regional diversity and authenticity that is often adapted or simplified in international versions. (Read more about Traditional Enchiladas.)

Enchilada Variations on the Traditional Recipe

Remember! There are 10 more variations in this post (below).

Prep/Cooking Time:

  • Total: Approximately 60 minutes (Preparation: 30 minutes, Cooking: 30 minutes)


  • 12 flour or corn tortillas (6 inches)
  • 2 cups shredded chicken or beef (300 grams) – optional
  • 2 cups grated cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack) (225 grams)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (150 grams)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (19 oz or 540 grams)
  • 1 cup sour cream (240 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent.
  3. Add the shredded meat to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Warm tortillas in the microwave or on a skillet to make them pliable.
  5. Dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce, then fill with meat mixture and a sprinkle of cheese.
  6. Roll up tortillas and place seam side down in a baking dish.
  7. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.
  9. Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

Best Tips for Perfection:

  • For a saucier dish, add more enchilada sauce.
  • Use freshly grated cheese for better melting.
  • For crispier enchiladas, briefly fry tortillas in oil before filling.

Optional Ingredients:

  • Black beans, corn, diced bell peppers for added flavor.
  • Jalapeños or green chilies for a spicy kick.

Enchilada Variations

Enchiladas are incredibly versatile, and there are numerous variations beyond the basic meat and vegetarian options.

These adaptations can sometimes stray from what would be considered traditional Mexican cuisine.

For example, the use of flour tortillas and certain types of cheeses or sauces might be more characteristic of Americanized Mexican food rather than authentic Mexican dishes.

However, the term “enchilada” simply means “to season with chili”.

10 popular enchilada variations…

  1. Seafood Enchiladas: Filled with shrimp, crab, or a mix of seafood, often in a creamy sauce. They can be topped with a white or green sauce instead of the traditional red.
  2. Cheese Enchiladas: Focused mainly on cheese, these are often filled with a blend of cheeses like queso fresco, cotija, and Monterey Jack, and are popular for their simplicity and rich flavor.
  3. Green Enchiladas (Enchiladas Verdes): These use a green tomatillo-based sauce instead of the traditional red chili sauce and can be filled with chicken, pork, or just cheese.
  4. Mole Enchiladas: Utilize the rich and complex flavors of mole sauce, a traditional Mexican sauce that includes ingredients like chili peppers, chocolate, spices, and fruit.
  5. Enchiladas Suizas: A variation that includes a creamy, milk-based sauce, often with a green salsa, and is topped with a generous amount of melted cheese.
  6. Breakfast Enchiladas: Filled with breakfast staples like scrambled eggs, bacon, or chorizo, and topped with a lighter sauce. They are perfect for a hearty start to the day.
  7. Beef and Bean Enchiladas: Combining ground beef and beans for a filling that is both rich in protein and fiber.
  8. Enchiladas Potosinas: Originating from San Luis Potosi, these are made with masa mixed with chili sauce, creating a red-colored tortilla, and are typically filled with cheese, cactus, and salsa.
  9. Enchiladas Mineras: From the state of Guanajuato, these are traditionally made with potatoes and carrots and topped with a carrot-infused guajillo chili sauce.
  10. Barbecue Enchiladas: A fusion variation, using barbecue sauce and fillings like pulled pork or brisket, combining Tex-Mex with American barbecue flavors.

Each of these variations represents a different region or creative twist on the classic enchilada, demonstrating the dish’s adaptability to different tastes and ingredients.

Give them a try!

Vegetarian Suggestions:

  • Replace meat with a mixture of beans, corn, and zucchini.
  • Make cheese enchiladas or one of the other variations above.

Serving Suggestions/Side Dishes:

  • Serve with rice, refried beans, or a fresh salad.
  • Guacamole and tortilla chips are great sides.

Nutrient Information Per Serving (Varies by Ingredients):

  • Calories: Approximately 350-450 kcal
  • Protein: 20-30 g
  • Fat: 15-25 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30-40 g

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers:

  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through.

Origin and Folklore

Enchiladas are a tasty part of Mexican cuisine with a history that stretches back to the Aztec times.

They are emblematic of the rich and diverse culinary traditions of Mexico, characterized by the use of corn tortillas, a variety of fillings (including meats, cheese, beans, or vegetables), and typically topped with a chili sauce, which is an essential element in Mexican cooking.

Enchilada variations, commonly found in countries outside of Mexico, especially in the United States (sometimes referred to as Tex-Mex cuisine), might include modifications in ingredients and preparation methods.

In Mexico, enchiladas vary greatly by region, reflecting the country’s diverse geography and cultural influences. Each region has its own unique variations of enchiladas, using local ingredients and cooking techniques. This regional diversity is a hallmark of Mexican cuisine.

Actually, enchiladas date back to Aztec times in Mexico, where people in the Valley of Mexico would eat corn tortillas wrapped around small fish.

Today, they are a staple in Mexican cuisine, adapted in numerous ways to suit different tastes and occasions.

How Enchilada Variations Differ from the “Traditional”

This recipe is a more generalized version that has been adapted to suit a variety of tastes and might be more familiar in an international context, especially in the United States.

What are the key differences?

  1. Tortillas: Traditional Mexican enchiladas often use corn tortillas, which are more authentic and provide a distinct flavor and texture. The recipe I provided offers the option of using flour tortillas, which is more common in Americanized versions.
  2. Cheese: The types of cheese used can vary significantly. Traditional Mexican recipes often use fresher, local cheeses like queso fresco or queso blanco. The recipe I provided suggests cheddar or Monterey Jack, which are more readily available in U.S. supermarkets and have a different flavor and melting quality.
  3. Sauce: Authentic enchilada sauce is typically made from scratch using dried chilies, tomatoes, and spices. The pre-made canned enchilada sauce mentioned in the recipe is a convenient substitute but may lack the depth of flavor found in homemade sauces.
  4. Fillings: Traditional enchiladas might feature a wider variety of fillings, including more regional or indigenous ingredients like certain kinds of chilies, meats (like shredded beef, chicken, or pork), or even vegetarian fillings like potatoes and carrots. The recipe I provided is fairly basic, focusing on commonly used shredded chicken or beef.
  5. Cooking Techniques: Authentic Mexican enchiladas might include different preparation methods, like lightly frying the tortillas before filling them, which adds flavor and prevents the tortillas from breaking apart.
  6. Serving and Side Dishes: Traditional sides might include Mexican rice, refried beans, or specific regional sides, whereas the recipe I provided suggests a broader range of generic sides.


Check out other Mexican inspired recipes here.
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