Easy Cheesy Enchilada Casserole will spice up your life

I’m a fan of recipes whose results have family and friends think you’ve spent hours slaving away to create the delicious dinner they are so eagerly eating, but which in reality was a snap to make.

One such example are enchiladas, a Mexican dish that you can think of as burritos smothered in spicy sauce and then baked until soft and hot – a bubbly bit of cheese heaven. Like their tortilla-clothed brethren, enchiladas can be filled with any manner of goodies, from just cheese at their simplest to lobster at the other end of the spectrum.

But even making traditional enchiladas has its downsides, namely getting the tortillas pliable enough to roll in the first place, not to mention the messiness involved when it comes to rolling the things.

Enter the enchilada casserole. You get all the delicious benefits of a regular enchilada, but in an easier-to-make, easier-to-serve format. The dish is made by simply layering tortillas with cheese, sauce and your favorite ingredients (a perfect way to use leftover meat, chicken, veggies, etc.).

In addition to being affordable, the enchilada casserole is very quick to make: You can have this done in 20 minutes or less.

This dish is also a star in my book because it reheats well in a microwave, so extras equal a perfect lunch the next day.

It doesn’t take special equipment to make an enchilada casserole. All you need are a baking dish like the one you make brownies in and an oven — even a toaster oven will suffice as long as your baking dish fits in it. So whether you have a top-of-the line Viking or a dorm-room Black & Decker, you can make this recipe.

Try this version filled with cheese, onions, mild peppers and olives, and after you’re comfortable making it, try other fillings like pre-cooked chicken, mushrooms, pre-cooked ground meat (like the turkey we made for tacos) or even shrimp.

Ready to get the fiesta started? Let’s make an enchilada casserole.

Easy Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

(Makes about 4 servings)

  • 10-ounce can enchilada sauce (red or green, which can be spicier)
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 8-ounce bag finely shredded Mexican cheese mix
  • 1/2 cup diced white onions
  • 4-ounce can diced green chilies
  • 2 1/4-ounce can sliced black olives
  • Garnish: Sour cream, avocado, cilantro
  • Music to make it by: Bob Dylan’s Modern Times. What does Dylan have to do with enchiladas? No idea. But it sounds good.

Step 1: Open the can of enchilada sauce and pour some on the bottom of an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 baking dish. Now grab a tortilla and lightly coat both sides with sauce. Do this with three more tortillas, so there are a total of four on the base.

Step 2: Sprinkle about a fourth of the cheese, chilies, olives and onions on top of the tortillas. That’s the first layer.

Step 3: Top the first layer with four more tortillas, coating each one lightly with sauce on both sides. Again sprinkle with a quarter of the cheese, chilies, olives and onions. Boom, that’s the second layer.

Step 4: Now simply repeat this process for the remaining tortillas and ingredients. When finished there will be a stack of four tortilla layers in all. If you want more or less of any ingredient, by all means, add or subtract to suit your taste. And remember to have fun, ’cause that makes everything taste better.

Step 5: On top of the very last layer of tortillas, pour on the rest of the sauce, then sprinkle with cheese, olives and onions. Put the dish in a 400-degree oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the sauce starts to bubble. Remove with oven mitts, slice, and serve.

Congratulations! You’ve just made a wicked-good, ultra-fast meal that is sure to spice up your life. Garnish with cilantro, sour cream and avocado, and enjoy the results in good company.

Did you try this recipe? Write about your experience, ask questions or share advice in the comments area below.

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  1. Lila Caggiano said,

    June 28, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    This was a great dish !! EASY and delicious. Even my picky husband liked it. It was over the top though when we added the sour cream and avocado. Thanks and I look forward to more of your recipes !!

  2. Lila Caggiano said,

    June 28, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    Just read my previous comment and what I meant to say about being “over the top” was that it was even better with the avo and sour cream garnish rather than being too much of a good thing. Sorry for any confusion but if you like those two garnishes you’ll love the casserole even more !!

  3. Matt Degen said,

    June 28, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

    So glad to hear it turned out well, Lila! And for those who like things SPICY, try adding chipotle peppers on the side — they add a tremendous amount of heat.

  4. Curt Norris said,

    September 20, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

    Oooo, nice! All the flavor none of the fuss. If you’re a little obsessive and somewhat disturbed, como soy, you can cut the tortillas in half, so the flat side lines up with the flat side of the dish and get super even coverage. Hmm, come to think of it, someone should just make a tortilla sized casserole dish!

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