These Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas Verdes have changed the way I make enchiladas. Oh goodness, these are GOOD. They’re packed with healthy spinach. The chicken is marinated in a delicious jalapeño garlic sauce then seared until brown.
A store-bought roasted tomatillo salsa is used for the sauce as a delicious shortcut. AND, they can be prepped ahead of time and/or frozen. ANDDDDD, they’re “Texan husband approved,” which says a lot about their authentic flavor.
Yup, you’re definitely going to want to try these.
How to prepare and marinate the chicken
The best part about this recipe, by far, is the chicken. If you’re in a rush, you can certainly make this recipe with any cooked chicken you have on hand, but I HIGHLY recommend marinating and cooking it like in the recipe below.
To make the marinade, a mixture of jalapeño pepper, garlic, onion, and lime is blended together into a pulp in the food processor. I recommend leaving the seeds in the jalapeño- after marinating and cooking, it’s not that spicy.
The chicken marinates for two hours, or preferably overnight, soaking in all the deliciousness.
And the best part- the pieces are seared in a cast iron (or other heavy) skillet then shredded with two forks, resulting in a delicious crispy, blackened crust.
Can you make ahead and freeze these?
Yes! Once you’re done marinating and cooking, the chicken is then simply mixed with cheese and spinach for the enchilada filling, then rolled in flour tortillas and smothered in sauce and more cheese.
To save time, you can make the chicken/spinach/cheese mixture ahead of time and assemble the enchiladas later (or, you can assemble them completely and refrigerate or freeze- see recipe notes below).
Thank goodness I have some of these chicken and spinach enchiladas verdes stashed away in my freezer right now. Otherwise, I’d probably be crying (or running to the grocery store so I could make them again!).
Corn or flour tortillas?
Sometimes, I use corn tortillas when I make enchiladas (like with these Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas). I love the toasty corn flavor of corn tortillas, but if you aren’t careful, they tend to break apart when rolling and/or disintegrate into everything, causing a mushy mess.
I used flour tortillas this time and was NOT disappointed, just like I did with these turkey enchiladas. They were easy to roll, especially after warming them up a bit, and held up beautifully.
After baking, the centers, covered in sauce and melty cheese, were soft and pliable, and the uncovered ends were slightly browned and toasted, which added a nice crunch.
This recipe makes a LOT of enchiladas. Don’t be fooled by the photos in this post- I got an adorable mint green baking dish from Home Goods that I really wanted to use, so I divided this recipe between this, a freezer batch for us, and a freezer batch for my sister- and brother-in-law, who are expecting their second child in just a few weeks.
It makes about 10-12 STUFFED enchiladas total- two is more than enough for a serving (but you will want to keep going, just because they are so delicious).
Finally, the salsa. Jarred, salsa verde can be found in your local grocery store and makes this recipe nice and simple. You can also make it yourself if you prefer (this Love and Lemons recipe looks delicious!).
Looking for a vegetarian option? Try these vegetarian enchiladas verdes.
Recipe for Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas Verdes below!
Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas Verdes
- 1 jalapeño stem removed and halved
- 2 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 small onion or 1/2 large, quartered
- juice and zest of one lime
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1.5-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or a mixture of both, cut into roughly 2-inch pieces
- 16 oz. frozen spinach
- 16 oz. Monterey jack cheese shredded
- 12 flour tortillas
- 2 cups jarred roasted tomatillo salsa or other green salsa
- fresh chopped cilantro and red onions for garnish (optional)
- Put the halved jalapeño, 2 cloves of smashed garlic, quartered onion, lime juice and zest, olive oil (2 tablespoons), water (2 tablespoons, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor and blend until pureed.
- Marinate the cut up chicken pieces in the jalapeño garlic mixture in a plastic bag or airtight container for at least 2 hours or as long as 2 days (or freeze for up to 6 months).
- Cook the chicken on high heat in a cast iron (or other thick) skillet for 5-7 minutes on each side, until darkly seared and cooked through completely.
- Allow chicken to cool for approximately 10 minutes. Shred with two forks.
- Meanwhile, thaw frozen spinach and squeeze out as much water as possible using a wooden spoon in a colander or with a clean kitchen towel.
- Mix chicken with thawed spinach and 1/2 of the cheese, with more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Warm the 12 tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds, until they are more pliable (to prevent breaking).
- Place 1/2 cup salsa in the bottom of a large baking dish (or two small baking dishes).
- Fill the tortillas with 1/2-3/4 cup of the mixture and roll up, placing seam side down in the baking dish, until you've filled up the dish or used up all the tortillas/mixture.
- Top the tortillas evenly with the remaining salsa.
- Top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Take off the foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes, or until cheese is browned on top.
- Serve with chopped fresh cilantro and red onion, if desired.
- Make ahead tips: Make the chicken, spinach, and cheese mixture ahead of time to make the assembly quick and easy on a weeknight. Or, assemble enchiladas completely and refrigerate for up to two days or freeze in a baking dish with a lid or covered tightly with foil for up to 6 months. When you are ready to cook, make sure the enchiladas are defrosted completely and bake according to directions.
- For a gluten free version: use corn tortillas instead of flour.
- Don't like spicy? Seed the jalapeño.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.