This easy chicken enchiladas recipe can be made in only about 30 minutes, and only using the stove top! Chicken skillet enchiladas are a great weeknight dinner recipe when you're in a hurry and don't want to heat up the oven!
Note: this post was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021 with new photos and improved instructions. The recipe was also modified slightly to make it even more delicious! This is not an authentic recipe, just my own quick and easy interpretation of enchiladas.
Yes, you can make enchiladas in only about 30 minutes, AND without heating up the oven! This recipe for chicken skillet enchiladas is just what you need for a quick and easy dinner that everyone will love (no dinner complaints from the kids tonight!).
To make these delicious chicken enchiladas, chicken tenders are seasoned well and pan-fried, then chopped and mixed with black beans and lots of cheese. This delicious filling is stuffed inside corn tortillas and placed back in the same pan, with lots of enchilada sauce and even more cheese of course! The enchiladas are then simmered on the stove top until bubbly.
Now all that's left to do is add your favorite toppings and enjoy the satisfying dinner you made in almost no time at all!
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- Enchilada sauce: you will need canned enchilada sauce, feel free to choose your favorite type (red or green will both work great!).
- Chicken tenders: I chose chicken tenders for this recipe because they cook quickly since they are so small. But, you can easily substitute chicken breasts, you just need to cut them into smaller pieces before cooking. I talk more about substituting other types of chicken in the Recipe FAQs section below.
- Shredded cheese: to save time, I used a pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend. If you like, you can shred your own cheese, and pick the type of cheese you prefer. Monterey Jack and/or pepper Jack would be delicious!
- Tortillas: corn tortillas are more traditional for enchiladas, so that's what I used here. But, if you prefer flour tortillas those would also work! You will need tortillas that are about 5 ½ inches in diameter.
Step by step photos
1. Pre-step: if you like, you can remove the tendons from the chicken tenders (try this viral hack to easily remove the tendons from chicken tenders!). Or, you can just trim off any of the excess tendon that is sticking out, which is what I did.
Then, combine the kosher salt, black pepper, cumin and chili powder together. Sprinkle it over the chicken tenders. I found it useful to use my (clean) fingers to rub the spices in so they evenly coat the chicken.
2. Cook the seasoned chicken tenders in a 12 inch skillet until they are nicely browned on the outside and cooked through. Depending on the size of your chicken tenders, this will take about 3 - 4 minutes per side.
3. Then, using tongs to hold the hot chicken, cut the tenders into small pieces.
4. Add the chopped chicken to a bowl with shredded cheese and the rinsed and drained black beans.
5. Next, moisten a paper towel and use it to wrap half the tortillas. Microwave the tortillas for 30 seconds on high to soften them up.
6. Pour about 1 ½ cups of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the same skillet that was used to cook the chicken.
Add about ½ cup of the enchilada filling to each tortilla, roll it up, and place it in the pan seam side down. Be careful when adding them to the pan because it may still be hot from cooking the chicken.
7. Continue making the enchiladas and placing them in the pan in a wreath shape. Once you have used up the first half of the tortillas, heat up the second half in the microwave before making the rest of the enchiladas.
8. Once all the enchiladas are in the pan, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce overtop.
9. If you see any dry spots, use a spoon to scoop some of the enchilada sauce overtop. When you're done, all of the tortillas should be covered with sauce.
10. Sprinkle some additional shredded cheese on top, and cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid.
11. Heat the enchiladas on the stove top again for about 9 - 10 minutes. The enchiladas are done when the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.
Tips and tricks
- The key to getting these chicken skillet enchiladas on the table in 30 minutes is using your downtime to prep the next steps. While you keep an eye on the chicken cooking, you can drain and rinse the beans, add the cheese to the bowl, wrap the tortillas, and open the can of enchilada sauce.
- While the chicken pieces are cooking in the pan, make sure to turn the heat down if you notice the spices are getting a little too dark.
- Thoroughly heat your corn tortillas before trying to roll them up. They should be floppy! If they aren't, they will crack when you try to roll them or when you put them into the pan. This is ok of course (it will still taste amazing!) but it won't look quite as nice.
- Also be sure to keep the tortillas wrapped in the paper towel while you are making the enchiladas to help keep them warm.
- While heating the enchiladas up and waiting for the cheese to melt, resist the urge to keep opening the lid! This will let the steam escape and it will take way longer to melt the cheese.
You will need a pan with a 12 inch diameter, with a tight-fitting lid. Also make sure the pan isn't too shallow, to ensure there is enough room to contain the enchilada sauce. A pan depth of 2 ½ - 3 inches should work fine.
Here I used my favorite Lodge 3.6 Quart Cast Iron Casserole Pan (affiliate link). I absolutely love this pan and have also used it for this Maple Butter Glazed Squash and Apples recipe.
Yes, you can easily substitute boneless skinless chicken breast for the chicken tenders.
If you want to substitute chicken breasts, I would cut each breast in half horizontally (aka butterfly the chicken), to create two thinner pieces. Then I would cut each piece in half again from top to bottom lengthwise, to create 4 strips. Then continue on with the recipe as directed.
Also please keep in mind that you may need to adjust the cook time up or down depending on the size of your chicken pieces.
Yes you can, and this would be a great way to cut down on the prep time even further! Just shred or chop the pre-cooked chicken, then heat it up in the pan in the same way as directed in the recipe, except you will just sprinkle the spices overtop and stir the chicken to mix it in as it cooks. And, you don't need to cook it for nearly as long, just a minute or two to heat up the chicken and warm the spices.
One caveat - if the leftover chicken you are using is already well-seasoned (like store-bought rotisserie chicken tends to be, for example), hold off on adding in the salt called for in the recipe. You can taste the chicken afterwards and sprinkle some more on if you think it needs it.
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Chicken and black bean enchiladas are made on the stove top and are ready in only thirty minutes!
- 1 pound (454 g) chicken tenders (see note 1)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (see note 3)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 15 corn tortillas (5 ½ inch diameter)
- 8 ounces (227 g) shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
- one 15.5 ounce (439 g) can black beans
- one 28 ounce can enchilada sauce (red or green)
- optional toppings: chopped cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, sliced jalapenos
- Heat the oil in a 12 inch deep skillet (that has a tight-fitting lid) on medium high heat.
- Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, kosher salt and pepper on the chicken and use your fingers to massage it into the chicken so the tenders are evenly coated in the seasoning.
- Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook for 3 minutes. While the chicken is cooking on the first side, prep your beans: open the can, drain and rinse them. Shake off most of the moisture and add them to a medium bowl.
- Flip the chicken and continue cooking on the second side for an additional 3 - 4 minutes, or until cooked through. If the spices are starting to get too dark while cooking, turn the heat down.
- While the chicken is cooking on the second side, prep your tortillas: take 8 tortillas, wrap them in a very damp paper or kitchen towel, and place on a plate. Set aside. Open the can of enchilada sauce and set it aside. Add most of the cheese to the bowl with the beans, reserving about 1 ½ cup of cheese for later.
- When the chicken is done cooking, remove the pieces from the pan onto a cutting board. Turn the heat off the stove and remove the skillet from the hot burner.
- Put the plate of wrapped tortillas in the microwave, and heat on high for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, use tongs to hold the hot chicken and cut into small pieces. Add chicken pieces to the bowl of cheese and beans, stir to combine.
- Pour about 1 ½ cups of enchilada sauce into the same skillet used for the chicken. The bottom should be completely covered in sauce.
- Remove tortillas from the microwave. Add about ½ cup of filling to the middle of one tortilla, roll it up and place it seam side down in the pan. (And be careful when placing in the pan, the pan/enchilada sauce may be hot!)
- Continue rolling the enchiladas and placing them in the pan, making a wreath shape. Keep the tortillas wrapped in the damp towel while you are working. You will need to gently "smoosh" the tortillas already in the pan to make them fit snugly.
- When you run out of your first batch of warm tortillas, microwave the second batch in the same manner and keep rolling and adding enchiladas to the pan.
- When all of the enchiladas are in the pan, pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Spoon the enchilada sauce over any dry spots. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top.
- Put the lid on the pan and heat over medium heat until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 9 - 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately with your favorite toppings (optional).
1. To substitute chicken breast:
If you don't have chicken tenders, you can substitute chicken breasts. To substitute chicken breast, butterfly the chicken breasts to create two thinner pieces, and then cut each thinner piece in half again, to create 4 smaller pieces. If you are using chicken breasts instead of tenders, the cooking time may be slightly longer depending on the size of your chicken pieces.
2. To substitute leftover or rotisserie chicken:
You can also substitute leftover or rotisserie chicken. Shred or chop the pre-cooked chicken, then add it to the hot oiled pan as directed in the recipe. But, rather than coating the chicken pieces in the seasoning first, just sprinkle the seasoning over the chicken in the pan and stir to combine.
Heat the chicken for only 1 - 2 minutes, just to warm it up and develop the spices.
If the leftover chicken you are using is already well-seasoned, don't add the salt as called for in the recipe, but taste the chicken after it's been heated up and add more only if needed.
3. Other tips:
Kosher salt is coarse grained; if you want to substitute fine grain salt, reduce the amount from 1 teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon (or, add salt to taste).
While heating the enchiladas up and waiting for the cheese to melt, resist the urge to keep opening the lid! This will let the steam escape and it will take longer for the cheese to melt.
The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: 3 enchiladas
- Calories: 543
- Sugar: 5.6 g
- Sodium: 1951 mg
- Fat: 25.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 11.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 58.3 g
- Fiber: 11.7 g
- Protein: 24 g
- Cholesterol: 58 mg
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