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All About Enchilada Seasoning

Two pans of enchiladas with a bowl of sauce
If you’ve never tasted enchilada seasoning, get ready to take your tastebuds on a wild ride — in the best way possible, of course. Read more and find out all the details of enchilada sauce, how to make chicken enchiladas, and what goes into the seasoning to make it so tasty.

Enchiladas are a traditional Mexican dish that have been around, in some fashion, since the Mayan era. Variations of enchiladas are popular in both Mexican and Tex-Mex and other American Southwestern cuisines. The dish features a corn tortilla rolled around a filling that usually consists of meat, cheese, vegetables, or potatoes. The tortillas are then covered in a savory chili-based sauce called enchilada sauce, which can be made from enchilada seasoning.

What is Enchilada Seasoning

So, what’s the secret to making the sauce taste so good? It’s all in the spice blend. Like chili powder, curry, and other popular seasonings, the ingredients can differ depending on who you ask. However, most enchilada seasoning blends include a mix of cumin, salt, onion, garlic powder, Mexican oregano, corianderblack pepper, sugar, chili powder, paprika, and other ground chiles

Our Canyon Road Red Enchilada Dry Sauce is our version of enchilada seasoning. The spice blend features a mix of chiles, paprika, salt, ground pumpkin seeds, cumin, bay leaves, Mexican oregano, garlic, and sugar. 

What is in a chicken enchilada?

Fair warning — take one bite into a chicken enchilada, and you’ll immediately want more. A chicken enchilada is made by taking a corn tortilla, stuffing it with shredded chicken and cheese, and smothering it with savory enchilada sauce. The dish is baked in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and the tortillas have soaked up the tasty sauce. 

What are common spin-offs of chicken enchiladas?

Because chicken enchiladas have such a popular flavor profile, the dish lends itself to different adaptations. Many dishes borrow from the same flavor profiles, especially in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Enchilada casserole, enchilada soup, and riffs on tacos, fajitas, and burritos can feature the seasoning mix in unique ways. 

One of our favorite ways to spin off chicken enchiladas into a dish is by making it into chili. Our Chicken Enchilada Chili Spice & Easy makes a flavorful meal in under 30 minutes using the classic enchilada flavor inspiration. 

Stuffed and Smothered Sopapillas drizzled with enchilada sauce and crema

What is Enchilada Seasoning Used For?

Don’t be fooled and assume that enchilada seasoning is only for enchilada sauce. The seasoning mix is a great base for marinades and dry rubs as well as other sauces and salsas. Our Canyon Road blend is a great example, as it has many uses outside of classic enchiladas. The spice mix is great to sprinkle on top of eggs, mixed into sauces, or as a seasoning for vegetables and meats. 

What to do with leftover chicken enchilada filling?

If you find yourself with leftover chicken enchilada filling, you’re in luck! There are so many ways to use the tasty filling and savor the spice mix. Use the leftover chicken in a soup to make a spicy broth, stuff them in puff pastry to make chicken enchilada puffs, or put them in a pot of chili and let the flavors meld in the best possible way. You can even use leftover enchilada fixings for breakfast! Try enchilada chilaquiles.

Extra chicken enchilada filling can also be frozen and saved for a later date. Simply let the filling cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Take it out 12-24 hours before you’re going to use it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. 

What Do Chicken Enchilada Flavors Taste Like?

Because most chicken enchilada flavors have a chili base, the flavors in the blend lean rather spicy. The spice isn’t overly hot though and instead creates a good balance of warm flavors. The dry blend tends to feature flavors that are bittersweet, garlicky, earthy, smoky, and sometimes have the addition of sweet herbs. Each blend can differ depending on what spices are more prominent than others, but the warm, spicy flavors tend to be constant no matter what else goes into the mix. 

What’s the best part of an enchilada? Arguably, the sauce. 

Thus began our quest to make the sauciest enchiladas of all time by turning them into a chili (a very Savory Spice thing to do). Of course it wouldn’t be as simple as chucking our Canyon Road Enchilada Dry Sauce into some chicken broth and calling it a day. We wanted to achieve a saucy, flavorful base from simple ingredients and methods–– and, dare we say, we nailed it. 

The resulting Chicken Enchilada Chili recipe mix is a complex blend of fruity and mild ancho chiles, sweet bell peppers, rich paprika, nutty pepitas, aromatic alliums, and earthy cumin. All you need to do is add your protein, tomatoes, and a splash of lime juice to the rich, red chile sauce and smother with your favorite toppings. This bold, comforting, one-pot chili comes together in under 30 minutes but tastes like it's been simmering all day. 

What spices and seasonings are in chicken enchiladas?

There are plenty of ways to describe enchiladas but the easiest might be to say that chicken enchiladas are basically the opposite of bland. The spice and seasoning of the dish mainly come from the enchilada sauce. While recipes can differ, most enchilada recipes feature smoky warmth from chiles and paprika, earthiness from cumin and oregano, the distinctive flavors of onion and garlic, as well as salt and sugar.

Like salsa, you can often find both red and green versions of enchilada sauce. There are subtle flavor differences but the main distinction is the type of chile that is used to make it. While each recipe plays with a different mix of spices, the main flavors tend to be spicy, earthy, bittersweet, and nutty.

The spices in enchilada seasoning including chili powder, cumin, black pepper, pumpkin seeds, minced garlic and onion

What Can Be Substituted for Enchilada Seasoning?

If you’re craving enchiladas and don’t have all of the ingredients needed to make the seasoning, don’t fret. Many replacements will recreate the flavor profiles needed to make the seasoning. Look for something to add the distinctive warmth. The subtle heat from chiles and paprika can be a good place to start. 

Two seasonings with similar flavor profiles are our Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning and our El Diente Southwest Seasoning. While the chile lime is slightly tangier, it has a similar warm, bright, and earthy flavor. The southwestern seasoning blend works well in many Tex-Mex recipes, making it a great replacement for enchilada seasoning. 

Enchilada sauce can be a replacement too, depending on how you’re using it. It won’t work as a dry rub but it’s perfect for any saucy application. If you have extra sauce or a frozen batch in the freezer, it will be a great substitute since the seasoning basically makes the sauce. 

Where and How to Buy Chicken Enchilada Seasoning Mix?

Enchilada sauce is available in most local supermarkets. If you can’t find a pre-made sauce or blend, hit the spice section to make your own. Try our classic Canyon Road Red Enchilada Sauce or Lindsey’s Spicy Enchilada Sauce if you prefer a little more heat.

Our Canyon Road Red Enchilada Dry Sauce blend will cover all your enchilada seasoning needs. Our store locator feature will guide you to a store near you to see all the details about the seasoning in person. 

Recipes Using Chicken Enchilada Seasoning

You don’t have to make enchiladas to use chicken enchilada seasoning. Here are some of our favorite ways to use the spiced seasoning mix. 

  • Stuffed & Smothered Sopapillas - If you've only ever had sopapillas dusted with cinnamon and slathered in honey, you have to try this savory spin. Cheesy and delicious, we bet you can't have just one.
  • Grillable Black Bean Veggie Burgers - This veggie burger is seasoned with the bold taste of enchilada seasoning. Top with pickled onions for even more flavor.
  • Southwestern BBQ Beans - Share the love of the Canyon Road seasoning with this hearty bean side dish. It will complement your main enchilada dish excellently. 
  • Fire Roasted Salsa - Ditch the store-bought salsa and try your hand in the kitchen with this homemade salsa instead. The rich flavor of the enchilada seasoning will carry thought on every bite. 

How to make chicken enchilada casserole

Chicken Enchilada Casserole - Is there an occasion chicken enchilada casserole isn’t great for? Serve this casserole dish for a weeknight dinner, a Sunday family dinner, or a special dinner party. You might as well double this recipe while you are at it and place one in the freezer for a future meal. 

How to make chicken enchilada soup

Chicken enchilada soup will instantly warm you up on a cold day. The spice mixture plus the flavorful chicken will hit the spot. Now, don’t confuse this recipe with tortilla soup. While similar in origin, the two soups are not as similar as you would think. Tortilla soup is thinner and isn’t as heavy on the spice blend. Strips of tortillas are also found throughout, while enchilada soup doesn't have the crunchy tortilla signature bite. 

This enchilada soup recipe sautés the vegetables and chicken in one pot. To finish off the soup, small blocks of cream cheese are added to make a super smooth and creamy bowl of goodness. 

Easy Chicken Enchilada Chili

The next time you are craving a big bowl of comfort, we recommend making our Chicken Enchilada Chili. Believe it or not, the recipe only takes about 30 minutes to make, thanks to our Spice ‘n Easy line. The one-pot dish takes everyone's favorite part of enchiladas (the sauce, of course!) and transfixes it into a big pot of chili. 

The recipe couldn’t be easier to make. Cook your chicken directly in the pot until lightly browned, and add the Chicken Enchilada Chili mix and water to the pot to simmer. Add in tomatoes, beans, and a splash of lime juice, and let the heat do the rest. It’s really that simple. Top the chile with your favorite condiments like sour cream, shredded cheese, jalapeños, or crushed tortilla chips. 

A pot of chicken enchilada chili with all of the toppings and a bowl of chili in front

What to Serve with Chicken Enchilada Chili, Soup, and Casserole

Need some ideas for what to serve alongside your chicken enchilada soup, chili, or casserole? We’ve got you covered with these apps, side dishes, and desserts that will go perfectly with your enchilada seasoning mix. 

  • Warm & Cheesy Elote Dip - With the flavors of elote, this dip gets a warm & cheesy makeover. Serve with tortilla chips or crispy bread alongside or as a starter for enchiladas.
  • Fiesta Guacamole - Guac is a no-brainer. Whether you're using it to top your enchilada soup or to snack on with chips, it's an obvious choice to round out your enchilada-inspired meal.
  • Instant Pot Refried Beans - Using an instant pot means you don't have to pre-soak the beans to get a finished dish that is creamy and delicious.
  • Southwestern Veggie Fajitas - You’ve heard about soup and a sandwich, but how about soup and fajitas? These veggie fajitas are an excellent savory dish that works well alongside a hearty bowl of enchilada soup. 
  • Whiskey Sugar Churros - Don't forget dessert! These sweet, fried treats are great dusted with flavorful sugar or dunked into a small pot of melted chocolate.
  • Beachside Fruit Cup - If you want something a little lighter, try this customizable fruit cup. Choose your favorite fruits and seasoning to make it your own.

Two beachside fruit cups with chile powder and mango fan

 Learn more about Flavors of the American Southwest. Go Behind the Seasoning to learn about Taco Seasoning or Chili Powder. For more spice inspiration, browse our Mexican & Latin American Flavors.

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