Cheese Enchiladas

I love Mexican cuisine. And I love cheese enchiladas.  If you know me, and we have been out for Mexican food, then my menu decision is always an easy one.  Cheese enchiladas.  It’s one of the only things that I am completely 100% predictable on.

And why not?  Made with cheese on the inside with melted cheese on top, it’s probably the greatest food there is for someone with a cheese obsession, like me.  Now, for these, I went all out.  I made my own enchilada sauce from scratch.  It was not that hard. I went to an authentic market to get my dried peppers, but, to be honest with you, when I checked my local grocery store, (surprisingly in the produce section next to the shallots…????) there were actually several varieties of dried peppers in stock.  So, if you are not near an authentic market, chances are you will still be able to find the peppers.  I adapted the sauce recipe for a completely vegetarian version, and I tweaked the amounts of water.  If you can throw a bunch of ingredients into a big pot and turn on the burner, then you can make your own enchilada sauce from scratch. As for the enchiladas, I opted against frying the tortillas in oil first-I personally like mine a little soft.

This recipe comes from a cookbook given to my mom from my Aunt Shawn who lives in California.  There is a chain of very well-known and authentic Mexican restaurants out West, called El Cholo.  This is a recipe from that book (which, apparently, is no longer in print).  Every time we visit Aunt Shawn, there is a stop at El Cholo.  I’ve been there only once or twice, but the food is amazing.  I have been waiting to attempt something from this cookbook for a while , and now I’ve got a Cinco de Mayo line-up in store for you in the coming days that you will not want to miss.  These recipes are to die for.


Cheese Enchiladas

Servings: approximately 8 enchiladas

For the sauce:

3 ounces (1 bag) California chiles, dried

3 ounces (1 bag) pasilla chiles, dried

1/2 cup tomato puree

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried

1/2 teaspoon vegetable base

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (an aid for gravy making..100% vegetarian…look for it in your BBQ/Tabasco sauce aisle)

6 cups water

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the enchiladas:

8 8-inch flour tortillas (feel free to use corn…I prefer flour)

12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1/3 cup green onion, chopped

1/3 cup black olives, sliced

Sour cream, for garnish

Cilantro, chopped, for garnish


1. For the sauce: In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, combine all of the sauce ingredients except for the flour and butter over medium-high heat.

2.  Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for 1 and 1/2  hours, stirring occasionally.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.

4.  Add the flour and whisk until the mixture is lightly browned and slightly thickened. ***This is a roux.

5.  Slowly add the roux to the simmering sauce and stir to combine.

6. Increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for another 45 minutes. **If it looks like your sauce is getting too thick for your taste, add small increments of water.

7. After the 45 minutes, carefully strain the sauce, discarding the solid large pieces. Set the sauce aside.

8. For the enchiladas: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

9. Top each tortilla with a generous helping of cheese, roll up tightly, and arrange in a 9 x13-inch baking dish, seam-side down.**I find it helpful to warm the tortillas up in the microwave for about 10 seconds before rolling them.  They soften up this way.

10. When the baking dish is full, pour the enchilada sauce on top, followed by any additional cheese.

11.  Bake the enchiladas until the cheese is thoroughly melted, about 15 minutes or so.

12.  Garnish with onions, black olives, sour cream, and cilantro.


Source: The El Cholo Cookbook.

May 1, 2011 - 7:40 am

Gwenevere - We are having enchiladas tonight and I’m still tweaking the baking time portion of the recipe a bit. This version, gives me something to think about. They look spectacular by the way. Can’t wait to eat me an Enchilada!

May 1, 2011 - 11:28 am

Shawnda - Beautiful enchiladas!

May 1, 2011 - 12:00 pm

Annie - Cheeeeeeeese. Enchiladas. Yuuuuuuuuuuummmmm.

Beautiful photos, too!

May 1, 2011 - 2:37 pm

Yuri - These look so good!

May 1, 2011 - 7:33 pm

Blog is the New Black - Gorgeous pics and great recipe! I might have enchilads for cinco de mayo!

May 1, 2011 - 9:09 pm

AMuseinMyKitchen - I too love cheese enchiladas and love your photos! Thanks for sharing!

May 2, 2011 - 2:56 am

Aunt Shawn - Great job Shannon!!! They look awesome! El Cholos has a a few new things on a special menu I’ve tried recently and they are out of this world! I wish I could get my hands on those recipes!!!

May 2, 2011 - 4:15 am

Jun - I’m not a fan of cheese, but this sure get me excited! Thanks for sharing!

May 2, 2011 - 9:01 am

Valerie - I’ve been looking for a good cheese enchiladas recipe so am looking forward to giving this a try! Thanks!

May 2, 2011 - 9:07 am

Josie - mmm Cheese topped with more cheese – I can get behind that! Great photos too – enchiladas are so hard to photograph!

May 2, 2011 - 7:19 pm

Katy - I love the El Cholo! I want to eat my computer screen.

May 2, 2011 - 9:06 pm

Happy When Not Hungry - Wow these enchiladas look beautiful!! I’ve never tried making these at home, but I’m def trying!

May 3, 2011 - 3:57 am

cheese crackers & chilli - this looks so easy and delicious, cant wait to try it

April 15, 2012 - 10:43 pm

Karen Peek - These look so good. I like you am addicted to Mexican food. I always tell people I should have been born Mexican!!! I also love your photography!! Looks like I have a new recipe to try out!!

May 21, 2012 - 6:30 pm

Robert - Wow is all I can say… These were just amazing! I go to a Mexican restaurant a lot and order cheese enchiladas and these taste as close to them as they could be. Thank you so much for the recipe.

June 17, 2012 - 9:53 pm

Katie - Pretty good recipe- I made these for fathers day for my hubby so I added grilled chicken. (I personally cheese enchiladas better tough(: )
Love your site too

September 17, 2012 - 10:55 am

Sarah - Hello! We have made this recipe many times, and realize we’d like to preserve the sauce. We know we could freeze it, but have you canned it by any chance? We have experience with hot water baths and pressure canners. Thanks for any tips!

September 17, 2012 - 7:10 pm

srlacy - Hi Sarah-

Canning the sauce sounds like a fantastic idea, but I don’t have much experience in that arena. If you end up trying it, please let me know-I am interested in hearing how it goes…

December 22, 2012 - 9:09 pm

Andrea Acosta - I was on pinterest searching for a cheese enchilada recipe when I found yours and clicked onto your blog. I started reading your post about your Aunt Shawn taking you to El Cholos and I was like “that’s funny MY Aunt Shawn and I always go to El Cholos!!” so then I saw that someone named Aunt Carole made a comment on your page! Then I read your bio and saw you have a boxer and I KNEW it was you! I’m Andrea (Gerling) Acosta and my dad Larry is your Uncle Dales brother! Small world! I’m looking forward to trying some of your recipes!

December 25, 2012 - 4:34 pm

srlacy - Hi Andrea!! It IS a small world!!! I remember you!