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Beef Enchiladas

posted April 23, 2024
by Cassandra Morris
This beef enchiladas recipe features a tasty homemade red enchilada sauce that's both delicious and easy to make. Perfect for busy weeknights, serving a crowd or prepping ahead and freezing for later, it's sure to become a family favorite!

Introducing a timeless favorite that’s perfect for a bustling dinner party, a cozy night in, or sharing with friends — my beloved beef enchiladas! Bursting with Tex-Mex flair, these enchiladas are packed with tender ground beef, refried beans, onions, garlic, cheese, and a luscious homemade red enchilada sauce. Baked to golden perfection, then garnished with creamy avocado slices, fresh cilantro, and crumbled cotija cheese, these enchiladas are guaranteed to steal the show, every time.

Ideal for prepping ahead, this recipe is a lifesaver for effortless entertaining or a quick fix after a hectic day. Plus, it easily adapts to a gluten-free diet with corn tortillas and our homemade sauce.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve whipped up these beef enchiladas, and I’m certain they’ll remain a staple in our household for years to come. I hope they can become a staple in your home as well.

Ingredients for Beef Enchiladas

Before diving into the recipe, here’s a rundown of the essentials:

  • Lean ground beef – Opt for organic lean ground beef or repurpose leftover cooked beef for a twist.
  • Refried beans – The secret ingredient that adds depth to the beef mixture, ensuring plump and juicy enchiladas.
  • Onion and garlic – Sautéed to perfection for flavor-packed filling.
  • Tortillas – While corn tortillas are traditional, I find flour tortillas easier to roll and prefer the taste. Choose your favorite variety!
  • Cheese – Sharp cheddar adds a delicious kick, but any cheese you love will work.
  • Seasonings – Cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and oregano elevate the beef filling, complemented by our flavorful easy to make at home enchilada sauce.
  • Toppings – Get creative with toppings like fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, radishes, jalapeños, sour cream, or extra cheese.
  • Homemade enchilada sauce – While store-bought sauce works, my homemade version takes these enchiladas to the next level. It’s quick, easy, and bursting with flavor!

How To Make Beef Enchiladas

Step One: Make Enchilada Sauce. Grab your blender or food processor and toss in those diced fire roasted tomatoes. Blend them up until they’re nice and smooth. Set that aside for now.

Step Two: In a small bowl, mix together all enchilada sauce spices. You want them to be well combined and ready to add some serious flavor.

Step Three: Heat up some oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in your flour and spice mixture until it’s nice and smooth. Once that’s done, gradually pour in your blended tomatoes and chicken broth, whisking as you go. Let it bubble away for about 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, until all those flavors come together. 

Step Four: Saute The Beef Mixture. In a large skillet, brown your beef along with some finely chopped onion and minced garlic. Break up any clumps of beef as it cooks and let that delicious beefy flavor soak into everything. Once your beef is almost browned, add all your taco beef seasonings and keep cooking until it’s perfectly done. If there’s any excess grease, go ahead and drain it off.

Step Five: Now, add in your refried beans and salsa. Stir it all together over medium-low heat until those beans are fully mixed in with the beef. 

Step Six: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grab a 9×13 baking dish and spread enchilada sauce along the bottom of the dish. 

Step Seven: Now, it’s assembly time! Line up your tortillas, enchilada sauce, beef mixture, and cheese. Take a tortilla, spread on two tablespoons of enchilada sauce over the entire tortilla, add a generous helping of the beef mixture, and top it off with cheese. Roll it up tightly and place it seam side down in your baking dish. Keep going until you’ve used up all your tortillas and filling.

Step Eight: Spread any remaining sauce over the top of your enchiladas, followed by a good amount of cheese.

Step Nine: Pop those babies in the oven, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes. You want them to be fully cooked and the cheese to be melted and golden brown.

Step Ten: Serve the Enchiladas. Time to dig in! Serve up these mouthwatering enchiladas while they’re nice and hot. Garnish them with some fresh cilantro and dollops of sour cream. Enjoy every cheesy, beefy bite!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the secret to good enchiladas?

The secret to good enchiladas is using flavorful ingredients and assembling them properly. Make sure to season your filling well and use a homemade enchilada sauce. Additionally, rolling the tortillas tightly and arranging them seam side down in the baking dish helps keep them together and prevents them from falling apart.

How do you make beef enchiladas not soggy?

To prevent beef enchiladas from becoming soggy, you can lightly fry the tortillas before assembling them. This helps create a barrier between the tortilla and the sauce, keeping the enchiladas from absorbing too much moisture during baking. Also ensure you do not use more enchilada sauce than what the recipe instructions list.

Why did my enchiladas fall apart?

Enchiladas may fall apart if they are not rolled tightly enough or if they are overstuffed. To prevent this, make sure to roll the tortillas tightly and avoid overfilling them with the beef mixture. Also, using warm tortillas makes them more pliable and easier to roll without cracking.

Can you put too much sauce on enchiladas?

Yes, you can put too much sauce on enchiladas, which can result in them becoming soggy. It’s best to use just enough sauce to coat the bottom of the baking dish and top the enchiladas with no more than 2 cups of enchilada sauce per 6 – 8 enchiladas. This ensures that the enchiladas stay moist without becoming overly wet.

Is it better to cook enchiladas covered or uncovered?

It is typically better to cook enchiladas uncovered. This allows the cheese to melt and the top to become golden brown.

Optional Variations

Customize your enchiladas to your heart’s content!

  • Corn Tortillas – For authentic Mexican-style enchiladas, swap flour tortillas with corn. Fry briefly or dip in warm sauce for extra flavor.
  • Vegetarian or Vegan – Substitute beef with plant-based alternatives or load up on veggies for a meatless delight. Don’t forget vegan cheese for a dairy-free option!
  • Gluten-Free –  Use gluten-free tortillas and flour blend in the sauce for a celiac-friendly option.

Make-Ahead, Freezing & Reheating

Streamline meal prep with these tips –

To make-ahead: Roll up enchiladas, cover, and refrigerate for up to 48 hours before baking.

To freeze: Freeze before or after cooking for convenient meals anytime. Cover the pan very tightly with foil or transfer the enchiladas to a freezer bag and squeeze out any extra air. Freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Freezing uncooked enchiladas: To freeze uncooked enchiladas, assemble them in a freezer-safe pan, such as a foil pan. Cover the dish tightly with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. If you don’t have an extra pan, you can line a basic baking dish with parchment paper, freeze the enchiladas until firm, then transfer them to a large freezer bag, removing any excess air before sealing.
  • Freezing cooked enchiladas: After baking, allow the enchiladas to cool, then tightly cover the pan with foil or transfer them to a freezer bag, squeezing out any extra air. Freeze for up to 3 months.

To reheat: If the uncooked enchiladas are frozen, bake covered at 350°F for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10-20 minutes until cooked through. If thawed, follow the recipe’s baking instructions. Frozen cooked enchiladas can be baked uncovered at 350°F for 20-30 minutes until warmed through. While you can microwave frozen cooked enchiladas, be aware that the tortillas may dry out and become rubbery.

What To Serve With This Recipe

Ready to sink your teeth into these scrumptious beef enchiladas? Grab these additions to enjoy with it:

enchiladas on plate

Beef Enchiladas Recipe

This beef enchiladas recipe features a tasty homemade red enchilada sauce that's both delicious and easy to make. Perfect for busy weeknights, serving a crowd or prepping ahead and freezing for later, it's sure to become a family favorite!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Taco Beef

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 (16 oz can) refried beans
  • ½ cup salsa

Enchilada Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (14 oz can) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 ¼ cup chicken broth

Enchilada Sauce Spices

  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Assemble The Enchiladas

  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • 5 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated

Toppings

  • cilantro leaves stems removed and chopped
  • sour cream

Instructions

Make Enchilada Sauce

  • Place the diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth then set aside.
  • In a small bowl mix all enchilada sauce spices together.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the flour and enchilada spice mixture until the mixture is smooth and no lumps are present.
  • Keep whisking as you slowly pour in the blended tomatoes and chicken broth. Once the mixture starts to bubble slightly, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the flavors meld together.
  • Incorporate this sauce into the recipe, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It also freezes nicely.

Saute The Beef Mixture

  • In a large skillet, brown the beef along with finely chopped onion and minced garlic. Break up any clumps of beef as it cooks and allow time for the beef grease to reabsorb into the mixture. Once the beef is almost browned, add all the taco beef seasonings and continue cooking until the beef is completely cooked through. If there's any excess grease, drain it off.
  • Add refried beans and salsa. Stir over medium-low heat until the beans are completely incorporated into the beef mixture.

Assemble The Enchiladas and Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Use a 9x13 baking dish and spread enchilada sauce along the bottom of the dish.
  • To assemble the enchiladas, create an assembly line with tortillas, enchilada sauce, beef mixture, and cheese. Lay out a tortilla, spread two tablespoons of enchilada sauce over it, then add 1/2 to 2/3 cup of the beef mixture then sprinkle with a 1/3 cup of cheese.
  • Roll up the tortilla tightly and place it seam side down in the prepared 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Continue assembling the remaining enchiladas to fill the baking dish. Then, spread any remaining sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas (approximately 1 ¾ cups of enchilada sauce will remain), followed by 1 ½ - 2 cups of cheese evenly spread on top.
  • Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the enchiladas are fully cooked and the cheese is melted and golden brown.
  • Serve the enchiladas immediately while they’re nice hot and melty, garnished with cilantro and dollops of sour cream.

Hi, I’m Cassandra!

I’m a proud wife, dog mom, food lovin’ Canadian girl, former TV reality show personality, wine lover and on a mission to make living a healthy + balanced lifestyle easy for everyone.

More about me

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Hi, I'm Cassandra!

I'm a proud wife, dog mom, food lovin' Canadian girl, former TV reality show personality, wine lover and on a mission to make living a healthy + balanced lifestyle easy for everyone.

More about me

Never miss a recipe!

Sign up for free recipes straight to your inbox:

Free E-Cookbook!

Cooking dinner doesn’t have to take all night. Subscribe & receive my favourite 10 Quick & Easy Dinner Recipes in an easy e-cookbook format!

Jujeh kabab - Eating | cookingwithcassandra.com

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