The Easiest, Most Flavorful Shredded Chicken For Enchiladas

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Enchiladas are a Tex-Mex classic, and the key to a great enchilada lies in the filling. This recipe delivers the perfect shredded chicken: flavorful, juicy, and incredibly versatile. You can use it for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, or even salads. It’s easy to make in a single pot and requires minimal prep work, making it a weeknight wonder.


Shredded Chicken Enchiladas
Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (trimmed)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Directions:

    1. Brown the Chicken: Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts or thighs with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

    2. Sauté the Aromatics: Add the diced onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant.

    3. Deglaze and Simmer: Pour in the crushed tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper (if using), and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, then return the chicken to the pot.

    4. Shred the Chicken: Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it using two forks, or with your hands.

    5. Thicken the Sauce (Optional): If you prefer a thicker sauce for your enchiladas, remove the bay leaf and use an immersion blender to partially blend the sauce in the pot. Alternatively, you can remove about 1/2 cup of the sauce, whisk in a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water), then return the mixture to the pot and simmer until thickened.

    6. Assemble and Enjoy: Use the shredded chicken and sauce to fill your favorite enchilada recipe.


    For added flavor, you can sear the chicken breasts or thighs in a hot skillet before adding them to the pot. This creates a nice browned crust.

  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs add extra flavor to the broth. Simply remove the meat from the bones after simmering and discard the skin and bones.
  • Leftover shredded chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

  • Nutrition Facts (per serving, without enchilada filling):

    Calories: 280

  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 80mg
  • Sodium: 450mg (depending on the chicken broth)
  • Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Protein: 35g

  • Conclusion

    This shredded chicken recipe is a versatile base for all your Tex-Mex creations. The simple ingredients and easy preparation make it a perfect choice for busy weeknights, and the flavorful chicken is sure to please your whole family.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs?

    Both work well! Chicken thighs have a slightly richer flavor due to the higher fat content.

    2. How can I adjust the spice level?

    Start with the recipe as written and adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to your taste. You can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes for extra heat.

    3. What other seasonings can I add to the chicken?

    Feel free to experiment with different spices like chipotle powder, adobo seasoning, or even a blend of taco seasoning.

    4. Can I use pre-shredded chicken?

    Pre-shredded chicken can be used in a pinch, but it won’t have the same flavor and texture as chicken cooked from scratch.

    5. How can I use the leftover shredded chicken?