Chicken Enchilada Pasta

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chicken enchilada pasta in a skillet on a grey countertopChicken Enchilada Pasta takes the flavors of classic enchiladas and transforms them into a hearty and cozy one-pan pasta. This family meal uses pantry / freezer staples and can be made in about 30 minutes. 

We’re headed into the second full week of social distancing / having everyone at home, and I’m feeling a bit more prepared. We’ve also got a new line-up of fun at home activities, including having the girls FaceTime their friends. I love everything about 5-year-olds and their phone calls. 

2 young girls in floral dresses sitting at a table talking to a friend on the computer

With lessons learned from last week, I know the key to this time at home is to simplify. I foolishly thought it would be leisurely to have everyone at home, but things feel well….not leisurely. The girls and I are doing lots of baking and cooking together earlier in the day, but when 5pm rolls around, I just want a meal to (almost) magically appear. 

This Chicken Enchilada Pasta uses pantry and freezer staples, making it something I’m going to turn to again and again this month when dinnertime sneaks up on me (along with this Instant Pot Italian Sausage Pasta and Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese). Here’s all you need!

a spoonful of chicken enchilada pasta above a skillet full of casserole

What Makes This Weeknight-Friendly

Do the 5pm-version of yourself a favor – cook the pasta and chicken for this meal ahead of time. Those are the only things that take any significant time or attention. With those two steps out of the way, just measure out some ingredients, simmer in a skillet, and mix everything together. Dinner is done.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta Ingredients

  • Pasta – Any fun shape of pasta will work here, but look for one that will hold the sauce well. I have a strong preference for fusilli here because the twisty shape has plenty of nooks for sauce and cheese.
  • Corn – I think frozen corn has the most fresh, clean flavor, but canned corn would work in a pinch. Just make sure to drain and rinse the corn first.
  • Cooked Chicken – Use any type of chicken, just make sure it’s pre-cooked before using in this recipe. Boneless chicken breast or thighs work well. Rotisserie chicken is great here.
  • Canned Green Chilis – These are common in a lot of enchilada recipes, so they give the dish a tangy flavor and authentic enchilada feel. They come in mild, medium, or hot, so be sure to grab the one that fits with your spice preference. Feel free to skip these if you prefer. Even the mild ones have a bit of a kick, so if you don’t want any spice, skip them. 
  • Red Enchilada Sauce – Use a store-bought enchilada sauce (be sure to grab mild or medium, depending on your spice preference) or use this Homemade Enchilada Sauce
  • Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes – These add so much flavor to the dish! Look for “fire roasted” tomatoes right next to the regular diced tomatoes in your grocery store’s canned goods aisle. The tomatoes have a lightly smoky flavor. Some versions also have things like jalapeños and garlic in them which add to the flavor of the dish. Regular diced tomatoes will certainly work if you already have them. 
  • Garlic, Ground cumin, Paprika – Use these to build flavor in the simple sauce. 
  • Shredded Cheese – Any type works great to add the cheesy layer and topping to this dish. I like shredded Colby Jack or Cheddar. Shredded Mexican blend cheese is great too. 
  • Optional Toppings – Treat these like you would any Tex Mex meal. Serve it on its own or feel free to add sour cream, guacamole, chopped onions, cilantro, salsa, or crumbled tortilla chips for some extra crunch. 

rasted tomatoes, enchilada sauce, canned green chilis, garlic, pasta, chicken, corn and shredded cheese on a grey tabletop

How to Make Chicken Enchilada Pasta

    1. Cook Pasta – Follow the package instructions to boil the pasta until tender. You can do this up to 2 days ahead.
    2. Blacken corn – Heat oil in a large skillet and add frozen corn. Cook the corn until it’s defrosted, but for an extra dimension of flavor, keep going for 4 to 6 minutes. The corn will start to char and blacken slightly in spots. This gives the dish extra flavor!
    3. Add chicken and spices – To the corn, stir in chicken and dried spices, letting everything cook together for 2 to 3 minutes to let the flavors develop. 
    4. Stir in sauce – Add green chilis, enchilada sauce, and canned tomatoes (drain them first)0. Bring to a simmer.
    5. Add cheese and pasta – Stir 1 cup of cheese and pasta into the dish. Top the pasta with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.
    6. Broil – Place the pasta under the oven’s broiler until the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. 
    7. Enjoy!

roasting corn in a cast iron skillet

chicken and corn in a cast iron skillet

Freeze This Meal

This is a great meal to freeze! Make the recipe right up until the broiling step. Transfer the pasta to a 9×13 baking dish or divide the pasta between two 8×8 disposable aluminum baking pans. 

To bake from frozen: Defrost completely in the refrigerator for about 48 hours. Bake, covered, at 350°F / 177°C until warmed through, 25 to 30 minutes. Then, if you’d like the top to be slightly crisp and golden, turn on the oven’s broiler and broil the dish for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the pasta is lightly  golden brown in some spots. 

Check out the recipe below for a printable label to attach to the top of the meal.

chicken enchilada pasta in a cast iron skillet

More Weeknight-Friendly Pastas

  • Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake – If you like chicken parmesan, you’ll love this simplified baked version that comes together in an 8×8 pan. Full of melty mozzarella, tender chicken, classic marinara sauce, and topped with crunchy garlic-herb breadcrumbs, this is a weeknight pasta bake the whole family will love.
  • Skillet Chicken Pasta with Sweet Potato and Crispy Sage – Skillet Chicken Pasta is one of those dishes that looks like it could be served at a restaurant but is totally the best friend of any home cook. The dish creates its own light, savory sauce while everything comes together in one pan.
  • Simple Beef Ragu {Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, Stovetop} – Few things beat the heartiness and versatility of a classic Italian meat and tomato sauce like this Simple Beef Ragu. This version includes instructions for the slow cooker, Instant Pot, or stovetop. Take the basic recipe and make it your own – add extra vegetables, fresh herbs, or some spice.
  • One-Pan Italian Turkey Meatballs with Marinara – One-Pan Italian Turkey Meatballs with Easy Marinara Sauce are seasoned with a blend of dried herbs and, using a few tips provided, come out tender and full of flavor. Once the meatballs have been formed, the dish comes together in a flash.

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chicken enchilada pasta in cast iron skillet
4.13 from 16 votes

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

Chicken Enchilada Pasta takes all the flavors of enchiladas and transforms them into a hearty and cozy one-pan pasta. This weeknight family meal can be made in under 30 minutes. 
This recipe can be made entirely in a large oven-safe skillet or can be transferred to a baking dish and finished like a casserole.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • oven-safe skillet

Ingredients 

  • 8 oz Pasta, fusilli (sub any pasta shape - penne, rigatoni, or shells would be good here)
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Frozen Corn, defrosted
  • 2 cups Shredded Cooked Chicken (use chicken breast, thigh, or rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 4oz can Mild Green Chiles, drained (see note)
  • 1 10-oz can Red Enchilada Sauce (use mild or medium store-bought or use this homemade version)
  • 1 15-oz can Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 cup Shredded Colby Jack or Cheddar Cheese, divided
  • Optional toppings - sour cream, guacamole, chopped red onions, cilantro, salsa, tortilla chips

Instructions 

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. (You can do this up to 2 days ahead of time. Toss the pasta with some oil to help minimize sticking and refrigerate it if making ahead.)
  • Turn on the oven’s broiler (this will be used to melt the cheese).
  • Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat.
  • Add corn and oil and saute until defrosted. (Note: For extra flavor, keep cooking the corn until it starts to blacken in spots, 4 to 6 minutes.)
  • Add chicken, garlic, cumin, and paprika. Saute until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir in green chiles, enchilada sauce, and diced tomatoes.
  • Cook until the sauce starts to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Remove skillet from heat and stir in chicken, 1 cup cheese, and pasta. (Note: If your skillet is not oven safe or is not large enough to hold all of the ingredients, you can transfer the pasta to a 9x13 baking dish.)
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese over top of the pasta. Heat under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and melted, 3 to 4 minutes (keep a close eye on it to prevent burning).
  • Serve pasta immediately with any toppings you’d like.

Notes

Mild Green Chilis - These come in small 4-ounce cans and are mild, medium, or hot. Be sure to grab the one that fits with your spice preference. Even the mild ones have a bit of a kick, so if you don’t want any spice, definitely skip them. 
Enchilada Sauce - Be sure to taste the enchilada sauce you use in the dish (whether homemade or store-bought). Most of the flavor and seasoning in the dish comes from the enchilada sauce, so be sure that the sauce has a sufficient amount of salt. If not, you can stir a bit of salt into the enchilada sauce or lightly salt the dish before you top it with cheese. 
To Freeze - Make the recipe right up until the broiling step. Transfer the pasta to a 9x13 baking dish or divide the pasta between two 8x8 disposable aluminum baking pans. Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
chicken enchilada pasta
 

Nutrition

Calories: 582kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 362mg | Potassium: 476mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 796IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 362mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $11.50
Calories: 582
Keyword: chicken enchilada, Chicken Recipe, one skillet meal, skillet pasta, tex mex
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.13 from 16 votes (16 ratings without comment)

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