Chicken Enchiladas with fresh peppers, cilantro, and plain yogurt

We love this chicken enchilada recipe because it’s made with three kinds of fresh peppers, cilantro, plain nonfat yogurt and our homemade red enchilada sauce! It’s taken years to perfect the enchilada sauce, and it was not without the occasional “I almost killed the guests with the heat of the chili powder!” But, we finally got the perfect sauce recipe and we’re sticking with it! The key is New Mexico chili powder, which has a vibrant rich and earthy flavor, but is moderate in the heat category compared to so many other chili powders. And, it is easy to make and stores well in the refrigerator or freezer! All good stuff for busy cooks!

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Chicken enchiladas with fresh peppers, cilantro, yogurt and homemade red enchilada sauce

We love to make this dish for large gatherings and we’ve even served it on wilderness river trips (pre-made before heading into the woods). But we also love to deliver this dish to friends and family when they need a little extra help getting food on the table, whether it’s because they have a lot of family in town, they’re throwing a big potluck party, or they’ve been sick and out of cooking commission. The recipe makes a lot and can be easily doubled, and it stores well in the refrigerator or freezer!

Chicken Enchiladas with Fresh Peppers, Cilantro & Plain Yogurt

Servings 30
Prep Time 40 minutes


  • 16 flour tortillas about 8” diameter
  • 3-4 cups precooked shredded chicken breast
  • 2 poblano peppers seeded and diced
  • 2 Ortega chilis seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves snipped with kitchen scissors to smaller pieces
  • 3 cups grated mixed Mexican cheese split 1 cup for filling and 2 cups for on top of enchies
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt split half for filling and half for garnish
  • 1 batch enchilada sauce recipe below

Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs and lime wedges or slices

    Enchilada Sauce

    • 3 tablespoons oil split
    • 1/2 onion finely diced
    • 1 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder This chili powder is mild, yet flavorful. There is also a New Mexico Hot Chili Powder, which we do not use for this. If you use any other regular chili powder you have to be very careful of the varying heat levels, which is why we like this one.
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon TJ’s Chili Lime Spice or lemon pepper
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1 1/2 to 2 cups broth chicken or veggie
    • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

    Gallo Pinto

    • 3 tablespoons oil
    • 2 tablespoons Salsa Lizano or your favorite hot sauce
    • 1 1 ⁄2 cups black beans cooked (I would just use canned black beans)
    • 2 1 ⁄2 cups rice cooked with 1 teaspoon toasted cumin seed
    • 2 tablespoons red bell peppers chopped
    • 2 tablespoons onions chopped
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

    Southwest Chopped Salad with salsa vinaigrette

    • 1 head romaine chopped
    • 1 orange bell pepper chopped
    • 1 Ortega chili chopped
    • 1/2 jicama julienned or chopped
    • 2 to matillos chopped
    • 2 to matoes chopped
    • 1/2 cup black or green olives chopped or sliced
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    • 1/2 cup grated cheese Mixed Mexican or Monterey Jack or sharp cheddar
    • 1 recipe salsa vinaigrette:
    • 1/2 cup salsa
    • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 2/3 cup olive oil more or less as needed to taste


    • Mix shredded chicken with all three diced peppers, cilantro and cheese. (Can freeze or refrigerate chicken-pepper mixture at this point and thaw when ready to continue.) Stir in yogurt and about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce. Mix well.
    • To assemble: lay tortillas out on a flat surface and spoon about 1/4 cup of filling in the center of the tortilla. Drizzle one spoonful of enchilada sauce and a light sprinkling of cheese and roll tightly. Lay in a greased or sprayed 9×13 baking dish.
    • Note* At this point you can freeze the enchiladas before baking them. If you want to make your enchies ahead and freeze them, the 8-inch aluminum pans are great, because they hold 6-7 enchiladas and the pans fit right inside of a gallon Ziploc baggie.
    • To bake, drizzle remaining enchilada sauce over the tops of the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
    • Bake at 350⁰ for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.
    • Serve hot and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges or slices and a dollop of plain nonfat Greek yogurt!

    Enchilada Sauce

    • In a small bowl, mix flour with all of the spices and salt. Set aside.
    • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large flat skillet or a sauce pot and add finely diced onions. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally.
    • Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the flour-spice mixture. Whisk into onions and cook along with onions for about 5-7 minutes to bloom the spices and slightly toast the flour, stirring often. This mixture might be crumbly or pasty, depending upon the moisture in the oil and the onions, but either way it’s ready to add the liquid.
    • Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of the broth and whisk into the flour-spice mixture until integrated, stirring all the while to prevent lumps. At first this will look like a paste, but as you add the liquid it will thin out and become more saucy. Bring to a low boil. At this point, you may need to add a little more broth to thin out the sauce to desired consistency.
    • If you make your enchilada sauce ahead of time, you may need to thin it out with some water or additional broth before you pour it over your enchiladas for baking.

    Gallo Pinto

    • Sauté onion and bell pepper for about 2 minutes.
    • Add the black beans and salsa and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
    • Then, add the cooked rice and mix in the cilantro.
    • Cooked bacon, pork, chicken or sausage can be added. For breakfast, scrambled eggs can be added.

    Southwest Chopped Salad with salsa vinaigrette

    • Toss all with salsa vinaigrette. Serve with crunchy tortilla strips or just all by itself!
    Author: Suz

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