Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Green Chile Chicken Enchilada casserole is comfort food. This recipe is based on the method I inherited from my grandmother, the best cook I’ve ever known and a green chile connoisseur. It isn’t fancy food. She raised four kids on a teacher’s salary.

Green chile chicken enchiladasChile Legacy in the Southwest

People in the southwest have been growing chiles (Capsicum annuum) for at least four centuries. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, pueblo indians grew chile with seed procurred from Mexican tribes via trade. Each pueblo continues to cultivate their own peppers. Each has a distinct pungency, sweetness, taste, and heat. For example, the Zia Pueblo pepper has a bitter-sweet flavor when it matures. Chimayo’s red chile is legendary, though smaller than other red chile varieties.

New Mexico chile (or New Mexican chile) is a group of cultivars developed by pioneer horticulturist Fabián Garcia at New Mexico State University in 1894, then known as the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Dr. Garcia’s selective breeding began with 14 lineages of ‘Pasilla’, ‘Colorado’, and ‘Negro’ cultivars, from across New Mexico and Southern Colorado’s old Hispano and Puebloan communities. His initial variety became quite popular in California and became known as the Anaheim pepper due to the popularity of the crop in that region. However, the seed was developed in New Mexico. Anaheim chile was the predecessor of many strains developed based on Garcia’s research; some hotter, some more disease tolerant or drought tolerant, some bigger.

Hatch Chile FestivalHatch Chile

For New Mexicans chile is synonymous with good food, home and family, which is appropriate, because that ultimately characterizes Hatch as a community. It’s a small town, with long-standing agricultural roots, where neighbors know one another and farming is a way of life. Chile isn’t the only thing they grow in Hatch, but it is what has put the town on the map. The sandy loam soil along the banks of the Rio Grande, and New Mexico’s hot, arid climate make for a fiery, flavorful fruit.

Hatch green chile is recognized by foodies and culinary aficionados around the world. Often the term is used as if it is a variety of chile. That isn’t accurate. The farmers around Hatch grow numerous varieties of chile, varying in potency from mildly spicy to wildly hot. They take pride in the piquancy of their peppers, declaring themselves the “chile capital of the world.”

Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Servings: 6 – 8, depending on portion size


  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded chicken, roasted for flavor. I often buy a roasted chicken. It takes less than half to make the enchiladas, leaving plenty of leftover chicken to make green chile chicken soup.
  • 12 corn tortillas, white or yellow
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable or olive oil for frying
  • 1 cup roasted and peeled green chile, chopped (available online from Hatch Chile Store)
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup (you can make your own sauce if you have time to go gourmet)
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 12 slices of cheese, sliced long (to roll into each enchilada). Feel free to vary cheese based on personal preference.
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped

Green Chile chicken enchilada casseroleDirections

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Heat the oil in a same skillet until hot. Test with a drop of water. Should sizzle. Briefly fry each corn tortilla to make them more pliable, 3-4 seconds per side. Use paper towels of clean towels to drain extra oil.
  3. Mix the soup, using chicken broth instead of water or milk. If you make your own sauce, skip this step. Add 3/4 of the chopped green onion to the sauce. The rest will be used to garnish.
  4. Assemble. Corn tortilla, shredded chicken, block of cheese, green chile, and a spoonful of the sauce, roll and repeat until the baking dish is full of rolled enchiladas.
  5. Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with the shredded cheese.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden and the smell of the chile is wafting through your kitchen. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, and serve.

Please leave your recipe modifications, or any questions that you may have, in the comments.

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  1. Instead of canned soup, I make a bechemel sauce and add a couple of chicken bullion cubes. I add granulated or powdered garlic to the sauce. There is no need to add black pepper. That is the base, then I add chopped green chile and cook for a little while. I adjust the salt if needed. I also do not roll, I just do it flat enchilada style.

  2. Changed one cream of chicken to cream of mushroom, added 1/2 sweet yellow onion in addition to the green onions (in sauce and as garnish/topping), and approximately doubled the cheddar cheese (because more is never enough). I smoked the chicken and then cooked the casserole in my pellet smoker as well. Amazing! Should have made double because it went fast!

  3. To the few who want to make a casserole without the soup, I have done it using a chile verde like soup I make from pork, but use chicken or ground beef instead. I also most always throw a can of diced tomatoes in as well, for color and flavor. for me texture is everything, and color, so always fry or roast chicken, pork, ground beef, and have even used a firm white fish like cod, pinto, sea bass, grouper or halibut.
    Try something different next time, Can of cream of mushroom soup and a can of golden mushroom soup. Different base taste, and the color is awesome. I always finish with strips of sliced green chilies and black olives, looks great with the melted cheese.
    Been making green chile casserole for 50 years since a family in Las Cruces taught me to make it.

  4. I know after y ears of living in NM that canned or other green chile is sacrilege, but what can I use in an emergency? I have some left over frozen green but it’s not too flavorful. ideas for enhancing the flavor? Please?

    • Depends on where you live. You can bump it up with other, hot chile available in your area. You can order dried green chile (cheaper shipping). You can get some of the hot green chile powders (several local companies sell this). The canned usually doesn’t bump up the heat level or flavor. El Potrero in Chimayo will even ship dried Chimayo red chile.

  5. Am looking for a recipe for the green chile mixture without the can soup… Would like to make a green chile chicken casserole make the chile mixture without the cream of chicken soup or other soups.

    • How about a variation of a bechamel sauce?

      From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham

      2 tablespoons butter
      2 tablespoons flour
      1 1/4 cups milk, heated
      Freshly ground pepper

      Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

      Cheese Sauce.

      Stir in 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with a pinch of cayenne pepper.

      How hot should the milk be?

      Warm the milk on low heat just until little bubbles begin to form at the edges. Then remove from heat.

      • Great variation!
        I use 3Tbl. Flour and 3Tbls. Butter and cook the roux over med-low heat.
        Then I add one can 14.5 oz. of chicken broth, slowly incorporating.
        Season with low sodium chicken granules 1 teas. ( Knorr).
        Then add 1 cup each Monterey shredded cheese and hatch green chilies diced, then turn on low and add 1cup of sour cream. I cover my chicken enchiladas with the sauce just right before baking so they are crisp when done. I use some cheddar and Monterey sprinkled on top in the last 15’ of baking.

  6. Similar to mine, but you need to make a Green Chile sauce to use as well. I don’t fry the torts. Simply place on a plate and layer damp paper towels between. Microwave about 45 seconds to make them pliable . I spread a couple of large spoons of sauce in the bottom of the glass dish and then the heated tortillas. Chicken mix, then green sauce, then cheese, then repeat. The best ever!!!

  7. Need to try out this recipe and like the idea of freezing it unbaked to have ready as needed. Do you bake it from frozen and if so, how long? Or if brought to room temperature, how long does that take? Expecting company and need to be on point with the food – thanks so much!

    • I don’t thaw it prior to baking. I bake it about 40-45…long enough to be hot all the way through and brown the top a bit. I leave it covered until the last 15-20 minutes so the cheese on top doesn’t burn. It is great in terms of prepping ahead of time, pulling it out and baking it as needed.

  8. I microwave my corn tortillas with a splash of water in a ziplock. 5 at a time. I also use cream of mushroom too & use Velveeta as my cheese. I love green Chile chicken enchiladas!!! I’m fortunate to live where I can buy fresh green Chile, roast, peel & have a years supply

  9. I microwave my corn tortillas with a splash of water in a ziplock. 5 at a time. I also use cream of mushroom too & use Velveeta as my cheese. I love green Chile chicken enchiladas!!! I’m fortunate to live where I can buy fresh green Chile, roast, peel & have a years supply

  10. I actually don’t fry my corn tortillas. If you spread a very very thin layer of the chicken mixture on the bottom, the tortillas won’t stick. Also, I use 1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken with Herbs and one of Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic. I sometimes use red Chile sauce instead of green Chile. My enchiladas are always a hit.

  11. That is similar to what I make. I do not use the chicken broth, I use milk. I also add sour cream to the soup mixture along with the remaining ingredients and use the Walmart Fiesta cheese between layers and on top.

    I have also made a Corn Soup by using the same mixture, minus the chicken and add fresh corn cut off the cob.

  12. I just made this tonight. I received my shipment of Hatch chilis last week and was raring to go! First of all, I had to settle for packaged Chi Chi’s white corn tortillas. And I didn’t roast my chicken. I only had skinless/boneless breasts. I stewed two medium sized breasts in water with 1 tsp chili powder & 1 tsp McCormick’s perfect Pinch Mexican seasoning and 1 heaping tsp Better than Bouillon roasted chicken paste. Once done, I shredded the meat for a little bit over 2 cups of chicken. I also added 1/4 cup of the broth to the filling mix.
    I also went over the 1 1/2 cups of cheese… but when you are talking cheese, who’s counting? Right?
    My wife requested that this dish be added to our favorite recipes.

  13. I inherited a recipe similar from my Arizona mother in law. This makes much more sense. I lived in NM for 1 glorious year and learned to make green chile stew there. I buy 50 pounds of Hatch every year, and roast them in my chile roaster like those on the street corners. I totally agree on using roast chicken! makes a difference. I’m back home now in Columbus Ohio. Teaching these buckeyes a thing or two.

  14. Have you ever made it a day ahead and baked the next day? Or made it and frozen it? Just wondering. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

    • Yes. I put a few smaller square casseroles together, freeze it, tap it out of the pan, shrink wrap, and put it back in the pan when I am ready to heat it up. Works perfectly. Also uses up the entire roasted chicken if I make more than one batch at a time.

  15. I learned a recipe like this when I lived in NM. We also add another layer…sour cream with shredded cheese and some finely chopped onions all mixed together. (Tortilla on bottom, chicken mixture on top, sour cream mixture on top, layer it up several times). Loose grated cheese on tithe very top and an over easy fried egg. I often make this as a casserole when there are lots of people, but mostly I make individual plates (use pasta plates for more juice). Flat enchiladas are the only way to go! Garnish with fresh pintos, salad and guacamole, YUMMY!!! (Sharp cheddar cheese only for our family!) one more note: for a quick cheat, use left over Turkey from thanksgiving or buy a rotisery checken if in a hurry!

  16. I sauté the onions, peppers,in large skillet then add chicken for 4-5 minutes then add cream of chicken soup simmer then pour over tortilla in 9×12 baking dish in two layers and top with cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 300 for 30 minutes, remove foil and allow cheese to brown

  17. I presume the sautéd onion and garlic are thrown in the mixture too? No mention of them after setting them aside. This reminds me of growing up in SE AZ. Great flavors.

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