Ingredients You Never Thought To Put In Your Enchiladas

Enchiladas are one of the best kinds of comfort food. They've got all the requisite ingredients to satisfy that meat + cheese + sauce craving, and give you the best excuse to eat sour cream and guacamole by the spoonful. In short, the classic beef and cheese enchilada is heaven on a plate. So why mess with perfection?

Sometimes it's fun to give our favorite recipes a little overhaul, be it to sneak some nutritious ingredients in, like quinoa, or simply to incorporate a new flavor, like Buffalo sauce. Although they may not be standard to typical enchiladas, these ingredients put a new twist on a beloved dish.

Buffalo sauce

Buffalo sauce — it's not just for chicken wings anymore.

With all the Buffalo recipes floating around, it was only a matter of time until it made it into your enchiladas. And why not? Buffalo chicken is an incredibly popular dish, and rolling it up in a tortilla certainly isn't a stretch. Go all the way by spicing up your enchilada sauce with a few dashes of the classic Buffalo sauce, and throw in a little blue cheese, too. One definite upside to Buffalo chicken enchiladas? They're a lot less messy than wings.

Mashed potatoes

It's nearly impossible to make the just-right amount of mashed potatoes for dinner — there's always a heaping bowl left over. Thankfully, leftover mashed potatoes are an incredibly versatile ingredient that you can work into tons of dishes, enchiladas included.

Before you write off mashed potato enchiladas, think about this: You frequently see potato chunks in tacos and burritos, so why not the creamier version? If you're concerned about texture, this is a great place to use up those leftover roasted veggies that have been hanging out in the fridge. Add your usual cheese and red sauce and you're digging into a whole new kind of comfort.

Ranch dressing

Ranch dressing has become one of those condiments that seems to go with everything. Ranch and pizza? Yep. Ranch and onion rings? Of course. Ranch and burgers? Duh. So why not ranch and enchiladas?

At their most basic, enchiladas are really just made up of chicken, cheese, tortillas, and sauce. All of these things go with ranch dressing. Maybe it's not the traditional flavors you're accustomed to, but that doesn't mean it's not good.

Just use shredded chicken combined with some of the dry seasoning mix, then stir in some extra dressing for the filling. And don't forget a drizzle on top for a little extra tang.


Not only is swapping out chicken for quinoa an easy way to make your regular enchilada recipe meat-free, it's also a great way to give your vegetarian meal a protein boost. But the good news doesn't stop there — quinoa is actually a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids, giving you all those vital nutrients along with the eight grams of protein per cup.

Next time you make enchiladas verdes (green enchiladas), try substituting quinoa in for the chicken, along with some black beans for extra texture. You might not even miss the meat.

Butternut squash

Like quinoa, roasted butternut squash is another tasty way to sub out some typical ingredients in your enchiladas, plus it adds extra potassium, fiber, and tons of vitamins to your dinner.

Think about how delicious those cubes of squash will be — slightly charred and crisp on the outside, tender and creamy on the inside — all wrapped up in a tortilla with black beans and cilantro, and topped with red sauce. Pair the buttery, nutty flavor of the butternut squash with fresh avocado slices to take these enchiladas up a notch. 


If you're one of those people who doesn't go out of their way to eat spinach, this a good way to get more in your diet (plus it means you get to eat more enchiladas).

Spinach fits in seamlessly with cheese or chicken enchiladas verdes, so just toss a few handfuls into your filling and feel good about all the niacin, zinc, and antioxidants that come with it. In fact, you should probably have an extra helping.


It's time to branch out from lentil soup and add this nutrient-rich superfood to your enchiladas. Lentils, a member of the pulse family, are packed with fiber, folic acid, iron, and protein, and are the ideal ingredient to bulk up vegetarian enchiladas.  

Using lentils also gives you the perfect opportunity to clear out your produce bins. Think zucchini, mushrooms, spinach — grab all those vegetables that will make your filling seriously hearty, and get cooking.


Shrimp and crab enchiladas make regular appearances on menus, but what about salmon? The fish that's chock full of omega-3 fatty acids has every right to be in your enchilada, too.

The key here is not to get too fancy. Let the salmon shine on its own, and skip the beans and other fillers. You'll want to sear the salmon so it gets nice and crisp on the outside, but don't cook it all the way through. Finish it off in the oven once it's nestled in the tortillas under the cover of sauce.  


The good news is that tofu is full of nutrients, high in protein, and a good source of calcium and iron. The bad news is that it can be a little bland. Luckily, that's not a problem when it comes to tofu enchiladas.

Since tofu acts like a sponge, it's easy to give it tons of that classic enchilada flavor by sautéing it with olive oil and spices like chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. (To make things ever easier on yourself, just toss in a packet of taco seasoning.) Then it's just business as usual with the cheese and the red sauce. And just like that, you've added another super simple vegetarian enchilada recipe to your repertoire.


Mole poblano is a traditional Mexican sauce that can contain anywhere from 20-30 ingredients, usually including chilies, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, fresh tomatoes, and chocolate. Most of these ingredients require additional prep, like soaking and roasting chiles, or grinding nuts and spices. To say it's a time-consuming process is an understatement, though truly authentic mole is something we should all experience at least once.

But since we tend to simplify, simplify, simplify these days, it should come as no surprise that recipes for mole-like enchilada sauce containing semi-sweet chocolate or cocoa powder have popped up. Are these even a little bit authentic? Nope. Does that mean they can't be good? Nope.

Think about tossing in a few tablespoons (or more, to taste) of cocoa powder or chopped chocolate next time you're making sauce for your basic chicken or cheese enchiladas. A little chocolate never hurt anyone, right?