Creamy Chicken Enchilada Casserole is filled with protein-packed shredded chicken and pinto beans in a creamy, cheesy white sauce flavored with salsa verde. No need to roll the tortillas - just layer all of the ingredients in a dish and bake.
Can a person ever have too many enchilada casserole recipes? Surely not. As often as I make Chicken Enchilada Casserole or Taco Casserole with Ground Beef, there always seems to be room in my dinner rotation for more. And today, I’ve got a new variation to share. It’s creamy and cozy. Filled with tangy salsa verde and a rich white sauce made with sour cream, Monterey Jack cheese, and..this ingredient is key...a bit of cream cheese. The cream cheese is the shortcut to a sauce that is incredibly simple but has all the richness of a more complex white sauce. It also gives the sauce stability so that it stays creamy even if you choose to freeze this meal.
Is this an easy casserole to serve to a crowd? Yes.
Is this a great meal to make ahead and freeze? Totally.
Is this a minimal clean-up meal that you’ll want to cozy up with while you watch Top Chef Portland later this week? YES and YES. (Have I done just that? Ohhhh yes.)
This meal was inspired by my Creamy Chicken Tortilla Casserole recipe deep in the archives (very old photo warning with that link!) that uses condensed canned soup and was one of the first entertaining recipes I ever mastered. That one is still great. This new version has a bit more tart-fresh flavor from the green salsa and skips the condensed soup in favor of a simple white sauce.
- Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, Monterey Jack Cheese - These ingredients make up the creamy base of this casserole.
- Shredded Chicken - Use any cooked, shredded (or finely chopped) chicken as the base. I love to use rotisserie chicken or, even better, leftover chicken breast or thighs that we’ve cooked on the grill.
- Pinto Beans - The creaminess of pinto beans works well here, but black beans would be great too.
- Salsa Verde - I love the tangy fresh flavor of salsa verde / green salsa in this dish, though it would be great with red salsa as well. Be sure to get a spice level that fits your preferences (I usually end up going mild here so that the kids don’t revolt).
- Ground Cumin - Even though the salsa has a lot of flavor on its own, a bit of extra ground cumin really makes those flavors shine.
- Corn or Flour Tortillas – See below for my thoughts on corn vs. flour tortillas in these types of casseroles.
- Diced Green Chilis - Canned diced green chilis not only add a bit of tart flavor to balance the richness of the sauce but they also add nice color on the top. This is an addition I picked up from my sweet friend (and Tex Mex recipe queen) Audra. Thanks Aud!
Corn or Flour Tortillas in Enchilada Casserole
I’ve mentioned this in other casserole recipes shared on this site, but I often get questions about corn vs. flour tortillas. Here’s the thing. In a tortilla casserole, the tortillas are surrounded by melty and creamy ingredients so they change texture as they bake. Corn tortillas get slightly crumbly and flour tortillas have a more chewy (I think, pleasantly gummy) texture. I think both work well, but you may prefer one texture over the other.
If you freeze this casserole, both types of tortillas will soften considerably and almost melt into the dish. The dish will have less-defined layers and an overall softer texture. A frozen and then baked casserole like this is great for serving with tortilla chips to add some crunch.
- Make it gluten-free - Easy! Just use gluten-free corn tortillas. Also double check your salsa verde and diced green chilis to make sure they are gluten-free compliant.
- Make it vegetarian - Skip the chicken and use another type of bean in the dish. I love the combo of pinto + black beans.
- Use red salsa - While I love the brightness of salsa verde, red salsa also works well and is what I used in the recipe that inspired this one.
More Classic Casserole Recipes
- Tuna Noodle Casserole with Crunchy Topping
- Vegetarian Tater Tot Casserole
- Homemade Green Bean Casserole with Bacon
- Creamy Corn Casserole
- Taco Casserole with Ground Beef
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Creamy Butternut Squash and Spinach Casserole
Creamy Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- 9x9 baking dish (or equivalent-sized casserole dish in any shape)
- Mixing Bowl
- 1 tablespoon Cooking Oil
- 1 8 oz container Sour Cream
- 1 cup Salsa Verde / Green Salsa (mild)
- 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 14 oz can Pinto Beans, drained
- 4 cups Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
- 8 8-inch Tortillas, cut into large strips (flour or corn tortillas will work)
- 3 cups Cooked, Shredded Chicken
- 1 4 oz can Diced Green Chilis, drained
- Cilantro, Avocados, Extra Salsa Verde for topping / serving (optional)
- Tortilla Chips for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C.
- Lightly spray a 9x9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or brush it with some oil.
- In a large bowl whisk together sour cream, salsa, cream cheese, and ground cumin. Gently fold in beans.
- Spread about ½ cup of the sour cream mixture out in the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Layer on ⅓ of the tortilla strips, ½ of the chicken, ⅓ of the remaining sour cream mixture, and ⅓ of the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with a layer of tortilla strips, sour cream, and then cheese on top.
- Scatter diced green chilis over the casserole.
- Spray some foil with some nonstick cooking spray (to prevent sticking) and place it over the casserole, closing to seal.
- Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.
- Remove foil and continue baking until the edges are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes more.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Top with cilantro leaves and / or chopped avocados if you'd like. Serve with extra salsa verde and, if you’d like, with tortilla chips for scooping.
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