Oh, Enchiladas, you are my favorite Mexican food, why do you have to be so difficult to make? I think in my quest for the best authentic enchiladas I got lost somewhere. I usually prefer beef enchiladas, but I also used to love the banquet Mexican style combination TV dinner. That’s probably pretty bad – they don’t even make it anymore. I do recall the declining value, quality and taste over the years. It was probably good to me because we did TV dinners in the 80’s, I was a kid, and they were made with corn tortilla shells. In my opinion, real authentic enchiladas should only be made with the corn or masa.
My “Eat Mexico” authentic recipe book only has two recipes: chicken enchiladas with green sauce or cheese enchiladas with homemade masa tortilla shells. I like ground beef enchiladas with “red sauce”.
As usual, I have four different recipes for ground beef enchiladas, and some are quite complicated, or rather, involved. To make the “red sauce” or “enchilada salsa”, I have one recipe that is oil, flour and chili paste. I have another recipe for enchilada seasoning with salsa, chili powder and mixed pepper. It’s all just me trying too hard. Enchiladas should be simple.
As much as I love enchiladas and believe that they should be made with corn/masa, I do like my Aunt’s American version, which uses flour tortillas. They’re quite delicious. So, in copycat taco bell enchirito-style, I’m going to simplify all of these recipes to make Lazy Enchiladas.
Easy Authentic Beef Enchiladas
First, the beef mixture doesn’t need seasoning – just fresh diced onions.
Secondly, the required corn tortillas will need to be cooked before filling them and baking them.
Thirdly, a good canned enchilada sauce will make these super easy “Lazy Enchiladas”.
- ground beef
- diced onion
- canola oil
- corn tortilla shells
- your favorite enchilada sauce (we use La Victoria)
- any melty cheese (Colby, Monterey jack, queso, Asadero, brick cheese, farmer cheese)
- (optional) any [slightly] sharp cheese (cheddar, Longhorn cheddar)
- cook the ground beef & onion
- shred your cheese(s)
- cook your corn tortilla shells
How to prep the corn tortilla shells:
Heat a small skillet with 1 Tbsp Canola oil. Warm the tortilla for 60 seconds, flip it and cook another 60 seconds. Remove from pan to drain on paper towel. Tortilla should show some browning, and have firm, but not crispy edges.
Cook a few extra, just in case you have some that crumble during assembly. You might need to add a bit more vegetable oil halfway through.
Drizzle 1/2 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of your 9×12 baking dish. (I used a 7×13 Pyrex baking dish.)
For each enchilada, spoon about 2 Tbsp each of beef mix, sauce & cheese. Wrap tightly and place in baking dish, seam-side down.
If you rip a tortilla, you can wrap it in an extra tortilla or cook it as-is.
Tip: I used the back of the spoon to squish the meat so I could roll the full tortilla tightly.
Some filling might spill out the side, that’s okay, you’ll just have a little meaty sauce to serve with your enchilada.
When you’ve filled the pan with all your enchiladas, drizzle about 2 cups of enchilada sauce over your enchiladas. Be sure to get the center, but also drizzle along the sides (don’t drown them – if you have enough sauce, you can stop). You do want some to bake crispy on the edges.
Put your remaining cheese mixture on top and bake at 350, uncovered, for 20 -25 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Note that you will likely have some leftover ground beef; the nutrition facts in the recipe below are for all 10 corn tortillas using all of the ground beef. The recipe instructions are for 4 servings of 2 enchiladas each.
Allow five minutes to cool before serving.
Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves & serve with sour cream.
Serve with Mexican red rice & refried black beans.
Some people like to add beans to their enchiladas, you can use refried beans, black beans or kidney beans.
Garnish with sliced green onion & serve with fresh Pico de Gallo.
Heat it up by adding diced jalapeño to the beef mixture.
A note on Cheeses
Don’t use packaged/pre-shredded cheese. Just try to never buy it. Simply put, you want to eat cheese, not anti-caking agents (Modified Cornstarch, Potato Starch and Powdered Cellulose) or mold prevention products/inhibitors (Natamycin). Sure, shredding can be a pain – here’s a tip: allow the cheese to come to room temperature, especially if it is a hard cheese like cheddar. I find shredding cold cheese takes some strength, but warming it (to room temperature) lets it slide across the grates using its own oiliness as a lubricant. Plus, its softer and easier to cut.
Quesadilla cheese is Chihuahua – its white, softer and super melty. You can also try Cotija and/or a mix with Oaxaca cheese. You can usually find the Quesadilla/Chihuahua cheese at your grocery store, but you might need to go to a Mexican grocery store for the others. Sendik’s carries Cotija cheese, for example, but Pick N Save/Kroger does not. You can also try it with crumbled queso fresco (remember to crumble it yourself).
You can turn the broiler on low for the last 3 minutes to give the top of the cheese a light brown crisp, if that’s how you like your cheese dishes.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 onion
- 2½ c enchilada sauce La Victoria
- 8 oz Monterey jack cheese
- 10 corn tortilla shells Mission, or La Banderita (white corn)
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- Cook the ground beef with diced onion.
- Cook the corn tortilla shells according to package instructions (frying pan instructions preferred).
- Shred the cheese.
- Pour ½ c. enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish.
- Scoop about 2 Tbsp ea. ground beef mix, cheese, enchilada sauce into tortilla shell. Roll tightly and place into baking dish seam-side down. Repeat for remaining tortilla shells until the pan is full.
- Cover enchiladas with remaining enchilada sauce. Top with remaining cheese.
- Bake at 350° F for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted. Allow 5 minutes to cool before serving.