Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce

Main Dish, Mexican, Poultry | 44 comments

I have been on the hunt for Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce for the nearly 9 years that I have been married to Eric. Around the time Eric and I married, my dad moved away from Texas. Birthday dinner’s at Pappasito’s, our family’s favorite Tex-Mex place, became few and far between for all parties involved.

Dad loves what he call’s “the brown sauce” that Pappasito’s uses on their chicken enchiladas and often talks about our old birthday traditions at Pappasito’s with fondness.

chicken enchiladas with homemade chile gravy enchilada sauce

He’s even gone so far as to call me while on a business trip because he has a dilemma, which usually results in him asking me if he should go to Pappasito’s or not or what item on the menu he should order. Funny it may be, it is also infuriating (in a sweet way) that he gets to eat at one of my favorite childhood restaurants while I don’t. On another occasion, I remember receiving a Pappasito’s take-out menu in the mail as a souvenir from one of my dad’s business trips.

In the nearly 9 years that I have been married to Eric I have made a lot of enchilada recipes, and this Homemade Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce is the closest I’ve found to replicating one of our favorite restaurant treats.

My friend Amber says:

“Enchiladas are comfort food to me the way matzo ball soup might be to someone on the East Coast. It’s just one of those satisfying meals that sounds good no matter what time of day it is, where you are, or whether or not you’ve just eaten.”

Amen to that! Chicken Enchiladas (and Tex-Mex food in general) bring back memories of my childhood, birthday dinners at home with mom and dinner dates with dad. I’ve made this recipe two or three times in the last month and every single time I bit into a fork-full it is bliss.

chicken enchiladas with homemade chile gravy enchilada sauce

If you typically purchase canned enchilada sauce rather than making homemade, you’re going to want to stop that right now. This Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce is what makes the dish. So rich with flavor! You could easily make a double or triple batch of the sauce, it’s not hard at all, and freeze it in individual recipe sized portions.

In fact, with this Easy Crock Pot Tex-Mex Chicken recipe stashed away in your freezer along with a batch of the Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce, this enchilada recipe will come together in hardly any time at all. Don’t skimp on frying the tortillas either; remember this is comfort food – not diet food.

What meal brings back fond childhood memories for you?

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Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce

Yield: serves 4-6

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

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For the Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch allspice
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 tbsp ancho chili powder (I used this brand: Spices Inc.)
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste

For the Chicken Enchiladas:
1 recipe Easy Crock Pot Tex-Mex Chicken
1 dozen corn tortillas
Canola Oil
1 cup shredded Oaxaca Cheese*
1 cup shredded Queso Quesadilla Cheese*
Toppings: cilantro, black olives, Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe, sour cream

*alternatively, you can use your favorite Mexican blend cheese.


Prepare the Easy Crock Pot Tex-Mex Chicken as directed in the recipe. Set aside.

For the Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce:
In a medium sauce pan, add the butter and oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted, whisk the two to combine. Add the flour and whisk in to form a roux. Add the remaining spices and whisk to combine. Let cook for a minute or two until fragrant.

Then, slowly add the chicken broth making sure to whisk as you pour so as to eliminate any lumps. Add the tomato paste and whisk in to the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

If the sauce begins to thicken too much, additional broth may be added. It should be the consistency of gravy that you would pour onto a roast or mashed potatoes.

To Fry the Tortillas:

Add approximately 3/4 - 1 inch deep of canola oil in a well-seasoned cast iron pan. Turn the heat to medium-high. Heat the oil until it is ready to fry the tortillas. When the oil is ready, the edge of a tortilla will sizzle when dipped into the oil.

Add the tortillas one at a time and fry for about 15-30 seconds on each side, turning using kitchen tongs. Drain the tortillas on a paper towel lined cooling rack. They should be slightly crispy but malleable enough that they are easy to roll without breaking.

To Assemble the Enchiladas:

Place a small amount of shredded chicken in the center of each fried tortilla, careful not to overstuff. Roll the tortilla up and place it seam side down in a greased baking pan.

You can use a 9x9 baking pan and assemble 2 rows of 6 enchiladas or a 9x13 inch pan and assemble one row of 12 running down the middle of the pan.

Once you have rolled all of the tortillas, pour the sauce on top. Top the sauce with shredded cheese. If desired you may add cilantro leaves before or after baking.

Cover the pan with foil (see: How to Make Non-Stick Foil at Home) and bake at 425 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubble and the enchiladas are heated through.

Serve with your choice toppings, such as: cilantro, black olives, Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe, and/or sour cream

sauce recipe adapted from The Tex-Mex Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos, by Robb Walsh (via Amber)

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Blog is the New BLack - September 08, 2011 @ 7:51 am

    Is it wrong that I want a plate of this for breakfast?!?


  • 2
    Amanda - September 08, 2011 @ 8:38 am

    Mmmm… that looks fabulous! Two questions: 1) do you think the sauce would freeze well? 2) if you can’t find Mexican oregano, would regular work?

    I totally can’t wait to try this!


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — September 8th, 2011 @ 9:14 AM

      I can’t think of a reason why the sauce wouldn’t freeze well, but I haven’t tried it yet. I’m going to ask Amber what she thinks as she’s the one who introduced me to this sauce recipe.

      I have used regular oregano and it’s been fine. If your grocery store has an “international” section that is usually where you can find the Mexican variety, or order online.

  • 3
    Kristen - September 08, 2011 @ 8:57 am

    I am a huge fan of enchiladas, but they have to be my sister-in-laws homemade enchiladas. Love those! I’ve never tried this kind of sauce but you can bet I will. They look delicious!


  • 4
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies - September 08, 2011 @ 8:58 am

    Katie, thank you so much for the link love and quote! I’m so glad our friendship brought one of your childhood favorites back into your life. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make enchiladas ;)


  • 5
    Deborah - September 08, 2011 @ 9:11 am

    I have been on the search for a good enchilada sauce recipe FOREVER. I have to try this one asap!!


  • 6
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts - September 08, 2011 @ 9:32 am

    These look amazing! I love enchiladas! I have not yet made my own enchilada sauce. My mom made it once, and it wasn’t good, so I was scared away! I am going to save this and try it soon!


  • 7
    Liz @ Southern Charm - September 08, 2011 @ 9:39 am

    “remember this is comfort food – not diet food” love it! This recipe looks so good. Granted I swoon every time over Mexican … but really, this looks delicious!


  • 8
    Amanda - September 08, 2011 @ 11:52 am

    This looks really fabulous and delicious Katie!! Great job!


  • 9
    Tracy - September 08, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

    Sounds like a fabulous recipe! I’ll definitely be trying it; I love Tex-Mex!


  • 10
    mybakingaddiction - September 08, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

    I love these! I have made them 3 times since Amber clued me into their utter amazingness! I will NEVER buy Enchilada Sauce again!


  • 11
    Tres Delicious - September 08, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

    Oh great! that’s one sumptuous chicken recipe. The chili sauce will definitely give a thumbs up gestures.


  • 12
    Elle Marie - September 08, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

    Pure bliss, sounds really delicious. Can’t wait to try this out.


  • 13
    myFudo - September 08, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

    Yummy!! love the photo… so scrumptious.
    Feel free to visit my blog for a free giveaway


  • 14
    Lynda - September 09, 2011 @ 5:21 am

    Bless you for posting this, even if you are teasing us with this delicious restaurant. We used to live in Texas for a long time and anything “Pappas” was wonderful. We miss it so much.


  • 15
    TidyMom - September 09, 2011 @ 6:03 am

    I’ve only made enchiladas a few times, and they were “ok”…….I think I’m going to have to try this soon!!


  • 16
    Sukaina - September 09, 2011 @ 7:13 am

    I’m a bit lazy and buy canned enchilada sauce as well but since you’re praising this sauce so much, I might have to give it a go.


  • 17
    Natalie - September 09, 2011 @ 7:44 am

    YUM!! I’ve made enchiladas once before but they didnt turn out that great. I will be trying out this recipe asap!



  • 18
    Bev Weidner - September 09, 2011 @ 10:41 am

    That is so pretty I can barely see it through my TEARS.


  • 19
    Shelly - September 09, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

    Loved your story about the enchiladas and trying to replicate the “brown sauce”. There was a restaurant near me that used to have a turkey enchilada with pineapple salsa on their menu (with a brown enchilada sauce). I have been trying to duplicate it. Next time I will try your sauce. Thanks.


  • 20
    Jen at The Three Little Piglets - September 09, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    I feel the same way about the little ice cream stand back home. My dad goes all summer long and always posts it on Facebook, telling us all what kind of ice cream he had. While I’ll certainly eat other ice creams, none quite compare to that one. So glad that you finally found a recipe that brings you close to that special memory!


  • 21
    Nicole Feliciano - September 09, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

    Found you from the Tidy Mom linky. Your colorful photos drew me in–and we do love Mexican food around here. I just got back from Italy and did a post all about the food there. I think you’ll like it, and I’d love for you to link up this delish recipe on Momtrends’ Friday Food. Ciao!


  • 22
    Sailu - September 10, 2011 @ 8:45 am

    Our family is a huge fan of enchiladas and I keep trying different variation of sauces. Yours looks and sounds absolutely delicious. Bookmarking it!

    Btw, you have a beautiful space. :)


  • 23
    Beth in OH - September 10, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    Can this sauce be labeled MILD? I love enchiladas, but cannot handle anything more than MILD (i.e. jarred salsa in mild, medium & hot).


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — September 11th, 2011 @ 1:03 PM

      This sauce is more of a smokey flavor to me than a burn your mouth hot. I do not like super hot foods either. The chile powder variety you use could make a difference in that. I used Ancho Chile Powder from Spices Inc. They have info about the heat index on their site for all of their chile powders so I would recommend checking that out. They gave it a 3-4/10 on their heat scale.

  • 24
    TidyMom - September 11, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

    Thanks for linking up Katie! I featured your post in my wrap up

    Have a great rest of the weekend.


  • 25
    Beth in OH - September 12, 2011 @ 8:26 am

    Thanks Katie, I will check Spices Inc. out!


  • 26
    Beth in OH - September 12, 2011 @ 8:27 am

    Oh hey, I’m going to post your recipe (well, the link to your recipe) on CafeMom in a sec. I love sharing your recipes, because they always sound so delicious! : )


  • 27
    Stacey - September 12, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

    I made these for my husband Friday night. He loved them so much, he kept saying over that he couldn’t believe that I made them. I finally asked if he thought that everything else I make isn’t good, LOL. Anyways, they where a huge hit, cant wait to make it again


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — September 13th, 2011 @ 12:49 PM

      Hi Stacey – So glad they were a hit with you guys. :)

  • 28
    an ordinary mom - September 16, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

    Yum! I make my own enchilada sauce too, but have never used smoked paprika… sounds delish!


  • 29
    Erin M. - September 18, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    I made these tonight, and they were wonderful. I don’t care for the white sauce that typically comes on chicken enchilada’s. These were great with the gravy, just what I was looking for. And the tex-mex chicken added so much flavor. Thanks for the great recipe!


  • 30
    Nancy - October 24, 2011 @ 10:49 am

    I am so thrilled that I came across this recipe! My husband and I currently live in the Mississippi Delta, having moved from Houston 2 years ago. We desperately miss Pappasito’s enchiladas (actually, anything on their menu)! My husband especially loves the chili gravy! His birthday is tomorrow and I would love to surprise him with these enchiladas! Going to make them tonight because all Texans know that enchiladas are always better the next day! Gracias!


  • 31
    Jenn Papale - November 28, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

    I am a HUGE enchilada fan. I’ve tried numerous recipes from food blogs, cookbooks and restaurants and I can say that I LOVE THESE THE MOST! Seriously, this is the only enchilada recipe I will use going forward. I love the layers of flavor with the slow cooker chicken. I’m planning to make it in big batches ( just the chicken) and freeze it for future enchiladas/tacos…sure it would make fabulous tacos as well! And the gravy is unbelieveable! I used Cacique Enchilado cheese because it was what my local international market had (and it said “Enchilado”, so…) and it was delicious!
    Thanks for a fantastic recipe! What else can I try on your blog?…hmm…..


  • 32
    Barabara - December 01, 2011 @ 8:11 am

    Author Robb Walsh found the authentic first recipe for the quintessential chile gravy. It is in his book, “The Tex-Mex Cookbook”, but you can also find it at a site called Homesick Texan. Your recipe is similar, but your readers might also like to try “the real enchilada”(the real thing, in Texas lingo.) I keep a pint jar of it ready-made in the refrigerator at all times; now that I’ve found it, I never want to let it go. I have Tex-Mex withdrawal attacks if I don’t, LOL!You can leave out the salt if like us, you’re on a salt-restricted diet, or just cutting back. I buy small containers (10/$1) at the dollar store, make the mix minus the flour and oil, and give them away to family and friends. They are thrilled to find the authentic flavor they’ve searched a lifetime for, just like I was.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — December 1st, 2011 @ 10:22 AM

      The recipe is credited in the post as: sauce recipe adapted from The Tex-Mex Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos, by Robb Walsh (via Amber of Bluebonnets and Brownies). I just made a couple of minor tweaks to his recipe.

  • 33
    Scott Mayes - May 08, 2012 @ 4:20 am

    Going to try this recipe this weekend when my kids come home.oldest graduates college and I’m looking for new things to make since he’ll be home for summer. My wife is on this HUGE! Guac kick also.Thanks for the good stuff! One question though,is that enchilada sauce same thing as mole?


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — May 8th, 2012 @ 8:39 AM

      Enjoy! I believe mole has chocolate in it.

    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — May 8th, 2012 @ 8:39 AM

      Enjoy! I believe mole has chocolate in it.

  • 34
    Margie - August 22, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

    Katie – Thank you for this recipe!! I am Tex-Mex and live in Houston! My family makes their sauce “fresh” from the chile pads. This is way too time consuming for me! I rarely make enchiladas because I hated to buy the can sauces. My daughter recently asked me for enchiladas and I began the hunt for enchiladas and found your website. Your enchilada sauce is AUTHENTIC and very, very easy to make!!! Also, the shredded chicken – super moist and delicious and VERY easy to make!!! Thank you, thank you!! Buen Provecho!


  • 35
    Maria - September 15, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

    Just wanted to stop by and say that I made the Chile Gravy Enchilada Sauce tonight to go into my pork enchiladas and WOW! The flavors are warm, earthy and slightly spicy & I love it!!! This will now be my “go to” enchilada sauce.
    Thank you & happy cooking.


  • 36
    Lorraine - April 17, 2015 @ 9:22 am

    When you make your roux, how dark do you get it? I was wondering if this is what gives gravy the dark color. Thanks. I love Pappasitos chili gravy sauce too.


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie Goodman replied: — April 20th, 2015 @ 8:56 AM

      I don’t make it dark at all. It gets the color from the chili powder. I use ancho chili powder which is a darker brownish red.

  • 37
    Dianne Ellis - July 19, 2015 @ 7:01 am

    We miss Pappasito’s!! It was a regular spot for our family, but we moved to E. Tn. ten yrs ago. They had the best seafood enchiladas. :)


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