Ground Beef Enchiladas are a delicious dinner that you can make ahead or freeze for later. Our homemade enchilada sauce really puts this recipe over the top.
Enchiladas and enchilada-inspired recipes are some of my favorites to make! This is probably because I am obsessed with my Homemade Enchilada Sauce. The flavor is perfection. I use it on my Beef Enchilada Casserole and it always gets rave reviews.
It is so important to me that you note that the enchilada sauce I use in that recipe and in this one is not a traditional enchilada sauce. Traditional enchilada sauce starts with chiles, not tomatoes. My sauce is quick to make, delicious, and is like the ten times better version of the canned sauces you get in U.S. grocery stores.
These incredible beef enchiladas are the best combination of flavors made with easy-to-find ingredients. You will love it. Even better, you can make it 24 hours in advance or freeze it to have a great comfort food dinner on hand.
How to Make Beef Enchiladas
This is quick overview of what you are going to do and when. This is a recipe where you are going to multitask. We are making the enchilada sauce and the enchilada filling at the same time. It reads as complicated, but once you do it one time you will see it’s a pretty simple recipe.
For the full list of ingredients and printable recipe, head to the bottom of the post.
- Gather all of your ingredients. Prepare everything by measuring spices, chopping the onions, and grating the cheese before starting. This is a multi-tasking recipe so it will be good to have everything prepped.
- Make the enchilada sauce. Sauté the first onion. Then add in the seasonings and create a roux. (Read more on this below.) Finally, allow it to simmer.
- Make the enchilada filling. While the first onion is sautéing (for the sauce), start cooking the beef for the filling. Then sauté an onion. When the onion and beef are done, drain the grease and add in green chiles.
- Blend the finished enchilada sauce. This is technically optional but will make it easier to make the enchiladas. Do not clean the pan you made the sauce in. We will use that pan to dip the tortillas.
- Add some enchilada sauce to the filling. You will want to use 1/2 cup of the finished enchilada sauce in the filling.
- Assemble the enchiladas. Dip the corn tortillas in the warm sauce, pulling off any excess by running it through two fingers. See my note below about the sauce and why it should be warm. Add filling to the tortilla, roll it, and place it seam side down in a greased baking dish.
- Finish off the enchiladas. Pour any leftover sauce over the enchiladas. Top with shredded cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes and enjoy.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
My enchilada sauce is what really puts this recipe over the top. (Please read my first few paragraphs about this post as to what the difference is between this sauce and authentic enchilada sauces.)
That said, I do not judge people based on their cooking. If you don’t have time to make enchilada sauce, use two cups of store-bought sauce.
Another great option is to make my enchilada sauce ahead of time. This will save time when you are putting the enchiladas together, making this a faster dinner. If you do make the sauce ahead of time, you will want to make sure that you warm it up before dipping in the corn tortillas. This is what makes them easy to roll.
Shredded Cheese for Beef Enchilada Recipe
Like in all recipes where cheese is a main player, I recommend that you shred your own cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in preservatives. It is what keeps it in nice individual pieces in the bag in the store. However, those same preservatives keep it from melting well. As mentioned in the notes of this recipe, I highly recommend that you take the time to shred your own cheese.
Corn Tortillas vs. Flour Tortillas
Traditionally, enchiladas are made with corn tortillas. There is something about the combination of the corn in the tortillas and the enchilada sauce that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
The step of dipping the tortillas in the enchilada sauce slows this recipe down for sure. But I would argue that it is 100% worth it. A way to make it all quicker is to make my Beef Enchilada Casserole instead, there is no rolling with that one.
If your family prefers flour tortillas and that is the only way that you will make this recipe, go for it! It will still be delicious. Flour tortillas become a little gummy, but it is still delicious. Here is what you will want to do:
- Use eight flour tortillas that are approximately eight to nine inches in diameter (instead of 10 six-inch corn tortillas).
- Pour about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
- Fill the tortillas with the filling, and place seam side down in the baking dish.
- Top the enchiladas with sauce and then cheese.
Making Enchiladas Ahead
The ultimate way to make this recipe for beef enchiladas a fast weeknight dinner is to make them the day before. When making in advance, instead of putting them in the oven, wrap them in aluminum foil and bake within 24 hours.
You can also freeze this enchilada beef recipe. Make in a disposable baking tray, wrap it three times with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place in the freezer for up to three months. The beauty of a disposable baking tray is that you don’t have to worry about it cracking when you take a frozen dish from the freezer and put it right into your hot oven.
When baking, transfer from the freezer to the preheated oven. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. If you are making this in advance, I highly suggest doubling all of the ingredients and just making two trays. You can do this in the recipe card below by hovering over the serving sizes, and with the sliding scale shows up, moving it until it reads “20 enchiladas.”
Storing Leftovers and Reheating
Leftovers of this beef enchilada recipe can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days. Reheat in a covered baking dish for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, you can cover them in a microwave-safe dish and cook for three to five minutes at half power. Always use your best discretion when it comes to leftovers.
What to Serve with Beef Enchiladas
The sky is the limit as to what would be good with these enchiladas. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Cilantro Lime Rice: Super simple to make and so delicious. A bite of enchilada paired with a bite of this rice is heaven.
- Crockpot Pinto Beans: This is a great, healthy side for this main dish.
- Corn Salsa: This would be fantastic with a bowl of chips on the table, but would also work as a side salad!
- Margaritas: You simply will not find a better margarita recipe. It is fantastic.
If you make this ground beef enchilada recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think! I love hearing from you!
Enchilada Sauce (see note)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (14.79 ml)
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (0.5 grams)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder (5.4 grams)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin (1.5 grams)
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (7.5 grams)
- 1 cup chicken stock (236.59 ml)
- 15 ounces tomato sauce (425 grams)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground beef (453.59 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (0.5 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (0.58 grams)
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 4.5 ounces diced green chiles undrained (125 grams)
- 10 six inch corn tortillas (read about flour vs corn tortillas for enchiladas here)
- 2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese (224 grams) see note
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Prepare and measure all of the ingredients before starting. This is a multi-tasking recipe, we are making the enchilada sauce and filling at the same time. Having everything measured and ready to go will make things easier.
- In a large skillet for the enchilada sauce, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. (While you are waiting for the onion to cook, start the beef for the filling – step 1 under "Enchilada Filling" below.)1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 small yellow onion, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Stir chili powder and cumin into the onion for the enchilada sauce and cook for about 30 seconds.2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- Stir in 1 tablespoon all purpose flour. Slowly whisk in chicken stock. Then stir in the tomato sauce and minced garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.1 tablespoon all purpose flour, 15 ounces tomato sauce, 1 cup chicken stock, 2 cloves garlic
- Transfer the enchilada sauce to a blender and blend to make smooth (optional). Then put it back in the skillet you made it in to make dipping the tortillas easy.
- While the onion is sautéing for the enchilada sauce, add the ground beef to a separate skillet to make the enchilada filling, breaking it up and seasoning it with salt and pepper. Once broken up, add the second diced onion and cook until the beef is cooked through, about 5 minutes.1 pound ground beef, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 small yellow onion, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Once the beef is cooked through, remove from the heat, drain the fat and stir in the green chiles. Add 1/2 cup of the finished and blended enchilada sauce to the ground beef.4.5 ounces diced green chiles
Constructing the Enchiladas
- Dip the corn tortillas in the warm enchilada sauce one at a time. Run the coated tortilla between 2 fingers to pull off excess sauce.10 six inch corn tortillas
- Add a scant 1/4 cup of the beef filling and about a tablespoon of the shredded cheese to the coated tortilla. Roll and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Continue with all 10 tortillas.2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
- Pour any remaining enchilada sauce over the top, and then top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.