“Chicken Enchiladas without CHHEESE??” – you’re thinking it’s unlikely these are moist, rich, and flavorful. And you’d be wrong! If cheese isn’t an option, these chicken enchiladas are moist and gooey, saucy and satisfying. They taste like the comfort food you remember, without the gut bomb.
When I think of chicken enchiladas I think of the neighborhood Mexican restaurant, Jalisco’s, on Capital Hill in Seattle we went to growing up – RIP Jalisco’s you had a long, mediocre run. I would get cheese enchiladas and my sister would get the HAMBURGER. Completely serious. How old do you think those burgers were? They bought one pack in January and kept it in the freezer for when the Pepins came once a month.
Anyhoo – The important thing about Jalisco’s is that I was TERRIFIED of eating dinner there because there was a waiter who was obsessed with pinching my cheeks. He would reach into the booth, across my parents, to pinch my face. He was probably a really nice guy but I was shy AF and would intentionally “drop” things on the floor when he came to take our order and root around under the table until he left.
Nowadays, I can make chicken enchiladas for myself, and I only sometimes have Derek pinch my cheeks for old times sake 😉 For these enchiladas, I make my own sauce using whole dried chilies and coconut milk. I added bacon to the filling to give the familiar salty-fatty flavor that you’d get from the cheese. Add plenty of avocado, green onions, and cilantro topping and this dish is a circus of Mexican flavors.
Note on Heat: they’re a bit spicy! If you love spice like I do, leave the recipe as is. If you don’t, use one Arbol pepper only, or maybe none at all.
Shredded chicken breast, chicken, and green chilies fill corn tortillas smothered in creamy dairy-free enchilada sauce.
- 1 lb chicken breast, about 2 small chicken breast
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 can diced green chilies
- 4 strips bacon (or more!)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 5 corn tortillas
- 2 dried chipotle peppers
- 2 dried arbor chilies
- 1 can coconut milk, full fat
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 lime
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Place all 4 dried chili peppers into a bowl. Fill bowl halfway with room temp water and the rest with almost boiling water. Let soak for ~15 minutes.
Cook your chicken breast and then shred them.
Instant pot Method:
I use the instant pot and kitchen aid. Appliances aren't necessary but they sure are helpful! (Seriously, the instant pot is a game changer). Place 1/2c water in the bottom of the instant pot, pot in the breasts, sprinkle seasonings on chicken, close lid, and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Quick release the pressure, transfer cooked chicken to your kitchen stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low and watch the chicken magically shred itself. My hands have never felt so rested. Return shredded chicken to instant pot and close lid to keep it warm and moist.
Open soaked chilis removing and discarding any hard stems and seeds.
Combine coconut milk (cream and liquid), soaked chilies, tomato paste, garlic cloves, lime juice, acv, and spices in a high speed blender. Blend until well combined - 1 or 2 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375
Cook bacon until crispy, transfer to a paper towel.
Add diced onion and green chilis to hot bacon grease and sauté for until onion begins to soften but does not brown or caramelize
Add in your shredded chicken, salt, cumin and bacon (chopped into 1/2 slices) and mix to combine.
Warm tortillas briefly in preheating oven to soften them for rolling
Scoop 1/5 of mix into each tortilla, one at a time rolling gently and placing seam side down in an 8x8 glass dish as you go.
Pour all enchilada sauce over top of rolled tortillas. Bake for 20 minutes
Top with sliced avocado, cilantro, and green onions. (these really do make the dish, don't skip if you can help it!)