Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas
Corn tortillas are filled with tender, shredded chicken, black beans, and fresh spinach. Then, smothered in two contrasting sauces for one amazing Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchilada recipe.
My sister-in-law, Erin, texted me the a couple weeks ago: “We made your enchiladas!”
I could tell by the photo she sent that she meant this recipe for Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas with Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce. I realized that I haven’t made these for dinner in a few years. Crazy!
I decided to add it to our menu for the week. When I went to the recipe, I realized that the photos on the post were over 8 years old, and in my opinion, a little cringe-worthy. They were taken 2 cameras ago. I had absolutely no photography skills and very little experience.
Madeline just asked me “why do you not like the old pictures.” So, I showed her them and her reply was “wow…” I guess they were pretty bad!
I thought that since I was going to make them again, I might as well take some new photos. That way I could update this very, very old post and share the recipe again.
I’ve never made this recipe for Kevin, Kendall, or Kayden, and I can’t even remember when the last time Logan and Madeline ate it, or if they ever did.
I was pretty excited to resurrect the recipe for one of my favorite enchilada recipes (my other favorite enchilada recipe is this one for Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Chili Gravy, a classic Tex-Mex recipe from my childhood), I just hoped that everyone else would like it as much as I did.
Both the girls, Kendall and Madeline, LOVED the enchiladas. Kendall actually ate 4 of them. They both decided that these Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas with Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce was their favorite enchilada recipe, even ahead of the recipe for Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Chili Gravy.
The boys were another story. They didn’t hate or love this recipe. They prefer the other enchilada recipe, even though they ate a decent sized serving.
For sides I like to serve tortilla chips and guacamole (5 Minute Basic Guacamole) and shredded or chopped lettuce topped with Pico de Gallo. They’re both easy things to make and the kids all love them, so no one ever complains.
I’m glad that I was confident enough that no one would out right hate the recipe, because I made a double batch and froze some for later – that will be so great on a busy day.
If you want to freeze this recipe it is best to assemble the rolled tortillas (unbaked) in parchment paper lined square baking pans (8×8 or 9×9) without any sauce on them. Place the pan in the freezer until the enchiladas are frozen solid, an hour or two.
Then, lift the enchiladas out of the pan and place them in a zip top freezer bag. Zip the bag up, removing as much air as possible. Label, and store in the freezer.
The tomatillo enchilada sauce freezes well in a container or in a zip top freezer bag as well. The sour cream sauce is best made right before baking.
When ready to bake, remove the enchiladas from the bag and place them in a baking pan. Thaw, covered with foil, for 12-24 hours in the refrigerator (thaw the tomatillo enchilada sauce as well). Prepare the sour cream sauce. When thawed, remove the foil and drizzle the sauces on top and proceed with the rest of the baking instructions.
Or if you prefer to assemble everything the day of, the chicken filling and the tomatillo enchilada sauce can both be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until enchilada assembly time. For the chicken, my favorite recipe to use is this Crock Pot Mexican Chicken because it has a ton of flavor.
Thank you, Erin, for reminding me about one of my favorite enchilada recipes. We’ll all be glad that these are back in rotation!
Updated from the archives. Original post (and really bad photos) from January 13, 2010 follows:
Tex-Mex is one of my most longed for foods. You would think living in New Mexico that I would have plenty of Mexican food options to choose from. But that’s just it. They are all too New Mexican for me.
Nothing lives up to Pappasito’s – my favorite place to celebrate just about anything from birthday to graduations to ” just because” dates with my dad.
Thinking about all of those family meals definitely brings back fond memories of growing up in Texas (even though I hated the humidity). I no longer live in Texas, so instead I’ve been left to perfecting the art of Tex-Mex in my own home.
I can’t say that I’ve made it too far on the perfection scale, but I think I’ve finally done it with these Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas with Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce. The filling is full of flavor and texture, plus a little spinach thrown in for good measure. And the two sauces balance each other out in taste and color.
All in all, I thought it was a delicious meal and something that could easily grace the pages of a Pappasito’s menu.
For the chicken, I like to make Crock Pot Mexican Chicken because it has a ton of flavor. The chicken becomes so tender and moist that it is incredibly easy to shred.
Alternatively, you can bake the chicken or used leftover rotisserie chicken, but I recommend seasoning it with the above listed spices and flavors.
Though these Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas with Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce might look time intensive, the great thing about them is that the individual elements can all be made ahead. The chicken can be made ahead and combined with the beans and spinach and refrigerated for up to 2 days until use.
The tomatillo salsa can be made ahead as well and stored for up to 2 days, or even frozen for up to a month. And the sour cream sauce easily reheats in the microwave and returns to proper consistency with a few whisks with a fork.
See? There is absolutely no excuse why you wouldn’t have time to make these Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas! Serve it with a side of 5 Minute Basic Guacamole, because we’d order a side of table side guac if we were at our favorite Tex Mex place.
Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas with Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce
Yield: 24 enchiladas
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Corn tortillas are filled with tender, shredded chicken, black beans, and fresh spinach. Then, smothered in two contrasting sauces for one amazing Chicken Enchilada recipe.
Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas
- 4 large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded (I like to use Crock Pot Mexican Chicken)
- 1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
- 5 ounces Baby Spinach, chopped
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces Monterrey Jack Cheese, grated
- 24 Corn Tortillas
- Canola or Vegetable Oil for frying (if you fry instead of steam the tortillas)
- Tomatillo Salsa, recipe follows
- Sour Cream Sauce, recipe follows
- 6 large Tomatillos (about 1 1/4 pounds), husks removed and cut in half
- 1 - 2 Jalapenos, cut in half with stems and seeds discarded
- 1 Yellow Onion, quartered
- 1/4 cup Cilantro Leaves, packed
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
Sour Cream Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 cup Chicken Broth
- 3/4 cup Sour Cream
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Place tomatillos in a medium sized sauce pan. Cover with hot water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos from water and place in a food processor with remaining ingredients, starting with only one of the jalapenos. Process until smooth. Test for heat and add the remaining half of the jalapeno if desired. Set aside.
Update: Now I prefer to toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, and yellow onion with a small amount of olive oil and spread out on a cookie sheet. Roast at 425 degrees F for 10 - 15 minutes (until everything is soft). Combine the roasted ingredients with the cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and puree. Set aside.
Sour Cream Sauce
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 clove of minced garlic. Add the flour, whisking until golden and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk the broth into the flour mixture. Stir in the sour cream, whisking if necessary to remove any lumps. Simmer until sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Prep the Tortillas
Update: Now I like to fry the torillas as I think they stay together better. 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 (around 375 degrees F if you are able to check with a thermometer). 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 5-7 seconds on each side, turning using kitchen tongs. They should be soft enough that they are easy to roll without breaking. Drain the tortillas on a paper towel lined cooling rack.
Spread 1/4 cup of the Tomatillo Sauce on the bottom of an oven safe pan or two, depending on the size of the pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the chicken, spinach, salt, pepper and shredded cheese in a medium to large bowl. Stir until ingredients are evenly distributed. Add the beans and carefully stir in so as not to mash up the beans.
One by one, fill a tortilla with a small handful of filling, about 1/4 - 1/3 cup. Roll the tortilla, placing the seam side down in the previously prepared pan(s). Repeat until all tortillas have been filled. Drizzle sour cream sauce on top, followed by the tomatillo salsa. Top with additional shredded cheese, if desired.
Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until tortillas are heated through. Makes 2 dozen enchiladas.
This recipe for Chicken, Black Bean, and Spinach Enchiladas with Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce was originally published January 13, 2010. It has been updated with new photos and the instructions have been improved for clarity with a few notes on some of the methods that I like to use now.