Slow cooker chicken enchiladas are a fun and flavorful addition to your weekly dinner rotation. Tender shredded chicken, onion, chiles, and spices are cooked with enchilada sauce in the slow cooker, then rolled into tortillas and topped with more sauce and melty cheese.
Enchiladas make a great addition to the weekly dinner menu. Preparing them in the slow cooker is a great time saver since there's no need to watch over a pot on the stove top while your chicken cooks.
Chicken thighs, enchilada sauce, onions, chiles, and spices are added to the Crock Pot and cooked until the chicken is juicy and fall-apart tender. The filling is then added to your tortillas, covered in more enchilada sauce, and topped with cheese that's quickly melted under the broiler before serving.
Make slow cooker chicken enchiladas for a weeknight meal or weekend dinner with the family. It's easy to customize with your favorite toppings like sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and fresh cilantro.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken thighs - Bone-in or boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts will work in this recipe. Keep in mind that bone-in chicken can take slightly longer to cook. You'll want to account for the addition of bones in the package by purchasing a slightly heavier package of chicken.
- Enchilada sauce - You'll need two 10-ounce cans of red enchilada sauce for this recipe. Feel free to use mild, medium or hot depending on your spice preferences.
- Green chiles - Adds flavor and a little heat to the shredded chicken. Drain excess liquid from the can before adding to the slow cooker.
- Spices - Cumin, chili powder, oregano, and salt add flavor to the chicken.
- Aromatics - Onion and garlic add flavor to the chicken as it cooks.
- Flour tortillas - I recommend using small flour tortillas for this recipe but any size will work. Keep in mind that using larger tortillas will result in fewer enchiladas.
- Cheese - I used pre-shredded Mexican blend cheese. Shredded monterey jack or cheddar cheese would also work as substitutes.
- Cilantro - Optional, but adds a fresh, bright flavor to the finished enchiladas.
- Optional toppings - Serve enchiladas with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa to allow everyone to customize their plates with their favorite toppings.
Tips and tricks
- Use a meat thermometer - To ensure your chicken doesn't overcook, use an instant-read meat thermometer (like this one from Amazon: Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer). Chicken is done when it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center.
- Shake off excess liquid - While assembling your enchiladas, allow excess liquid to drip off the chicken filling. This ensures your enchiladas don't turn out soggy.
- Watch while broiling - The broiler in your oven can very quickly burn food items if not watched over carefully. Set a time and don't walk away - your cheese will melt in anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes depending on how close your enchiladas are to the broiler.
Frequently asked questions
Allow excess liquid to drip off the chicken filling while assembling your tortillas. Don't spoon extra liquid into the tortillas. Extra liquid = soggy enchiladas. Since we're only broiling the enchiladas quickly in the oven (with no extra baking time), this also helps prevent soggy enchiladas.
I like to serve a small toppings bar along with enchiladas to allow everyone to customize their plate to suit their tastes. Salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, sour cream, shredded lettuce, and fresh diced tomato are all great options. Check out my full list 25 sides for taco night for more ideas.
Flour tortillas tend to hold up better than corn tortillas when filled and rolled, but corn tortillas can work if that's what you have on hand. I'd recommend double layering your corn tortillas to help add structure.
Leftover chicken enchiladas will last for about 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
Yes, this recipe can be frozen with alterations. Prepare the enchiladas as directed but don't add the cheese. Cover tightly with foil and freeze for up to three months. Transfer to the refrigerator to allow to thaw overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, add cheese, and bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly in the center.
Slow Cooker Chicken Enchiladas
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or breasts
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 ounces canned green chiles, drained
- 20 ounces canned red enchilada sauce, divided
- 12 small flour tortillas
- 6 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
- In the bowl of a 3-quart slow cooker, add chicken thighs, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, onion, garlic, and 10 ounces of enchilada sauce (reserve remaining sauce for later). Toss until coated. Cover with a lid and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, or low for 2.5 to 3.5 hours, or until chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit when tested with an instant read thermometer.
- Remove chicken from the slow cooker, shred with a fork, and return to slow cooker, tossing to coat in sauce.
- Lightly grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Pour about 3 ounces of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the dish and spread into an even layer. Scoop about ⅓ cup of chicken mixture into each tortilla, wrap, and place in the prepared casserole dish.
- Pour remaining enchilada sauce over rolled tortillas and top with shredded cheese.
- Place casserole dish in the oven (rack should be positioned in top third of the oven). Turn on the broiler and broil for anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Do not walk away.
- Top with fresh cilantro and plate enchiladas with your favorite toppings like sour cream and guacamole. Serve warm.
- Bone-in or boneless thighs and breasts work in this recipe. If using bone-in chicken, purchase an extra ½ pound of chicken to make up for the weight of the bones that are removed after cooking.
- Leftover enchiladas will keep for about 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
- Enchiladas can be frozen before adding shredded cheese and before broiling. Tightly wrap with foil and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly in the center.