I’m pretty sure you’ll love this Chicken Chilaquiles recipe with corn, spinach and baked (not fried) corn tortillas as much as I do. It is healthy Mexican comfort food for the whole family!
After a bit of confused blundering around in my archives and getting distracted, I settled on using leftover chicken. I mean who hasn’t had leftover chicken in their fridge at one time or another? What did I do with said leftover chicken, you ask? I made Chilaquiles.
What is Chilaquiles?
Essentially, chilaquiles is a layered Mexican casserole made with cheese, chili pepper sauce and fried tortillas. It’s typically eaten for breakfast or brunch, but I prefer eating it around dinnertime as a heartier meal. This casserole is a great way to use up old tortillas and leftover chicken, plus whatever else you’ve got lying in the back of your fridge.
Have you ever had chilaquiles? Even though I grew up eating Mexican food, I wasn’t introduced to chilaquiles until about ten years ago when I was working in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. One of the other recipe developers made a version of it, and I fell in love. I make it pretty regularly now because I just can’t get enough of that half crispy/half soggy corn tortilla in spicy sauce and cheese thing that gets goin’ on. Gahh! It is total comfort food.
Creating a Healthy Chicken Chilaquiles Recipe
To healthify this chilaquiles recipe, I skipped the frying of the corn tortillas step and instead cut them into wedges and baked them to make them crispy before layering them in the baking dish. And I made it veggie heavy, a term I love and am stealing from Genevieve, by bulking up the chicken filling by adding in extra vegetables like sweet corn, onion and spinach.
I am not really a fan of any of the enchilada sauces on the market, as it is hard to find one without MSG. I opted for crushed tomatoes for the sauce instead, and I just punched it up with a splash of cider vinegar and salt.
To give the chicken chilaquiles casserole even more flavor, I added in some delicious Mexican spice from my pals at the Teeny Tiny Spice Company of Vermont. I opted for the Organic Yucatecan Recado Rojo, since I just went to the Yucatan for vacation a few weeks ago. This blend has a really nice flavor profile with a touch of cinnamon and a bit of cumin. LOVE! If you can’t find it, feel free to use whatever Mexican spice, fajita seasoning (or even Taco seasoning) you like. I will not judge. ☺ Or make your own with chili powder, chipotle, cumin and ground coriander.
As for the chicken, don’t feel like you have to use leftover chicken for this recipe. Really you can, A) Just poach some plain chicken, or B) buy a rotisserie chicken to make this too. As I said, no judging here.
How to Make Chilaquiles
This chicken chilaquiles recipe comes together in about an hour. The basic steps for whipping up this casserole are as follows:
Bake the tortillas — To get that classic crunchy tortilla flavor in your chilaquiles, you first need to bake the corn tortillas. You want to bake them until they’re just starting to harden and brown (this will take 12+ minutes).
Sauté the vegetables — While the tortillas are baking, heat some oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until it softens slightly. Then, add in the cooked chicken, corn and spinach and continually stir until heated through.
Make the sauce — Open the can of tomatoes and stir in a splash of cider vinegar.
Assemble and bake the chicken chilaquiles — Now comes the fun part: assembling the chilaquiles! Essentially, you’re making a Mexican lasagna here. Spread a little of the tomato mixture onto the bottom of the pan to prevent the tortillas from sticking. Then, begin the layering process (a layer of tortillas, then chicken filling, then tomato sauce, then cheese, and repeat). Bake 30-40 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese on top is bubbly.
Have you ever tried Chilaquiles?
If so when/where/how did you first hear about it?
What is your favorite way to use leftover chicken?
More Healthy Chicken Recipes:
This chicken chilaquiles recipe is made with corn, spinach, and baked (not fried) tortillas. It’s a healthy version of the Mexican comfort food casserole.
- 6 6-inch soft corn tortillas, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or organic canola oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons Mexican spice blend, such as Yucatecan Recado Rojo Spice blend
- 2 cups finely chopped baby spinach
- 1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 6 ounces
- Freshly chopped scallions and cilantro for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray
- Lay tortillas out on two baking sheet. Bake until just starting to harden and brown in spots, 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often until softened and starting to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Stir in Mexican spice blend and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in spinach, corn and chicken and cook, stirring until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Open can of tomatoes, and stir in vinegar and salt. Spread about ½ cup of the tomato in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer a third of the tortillas over the sauce. Top with half of the chicken and corn mixture. Pour ¾ cup of the tomato mixture over the chicken and sprinkle with ½ cup cheese. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, the remaining chicen and corn mixture, ¾ cup sauce and ½ cup cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas and sauce.
- Cover with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake the casserole until heated through, steaming and bubbling around the edges, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and top with the remaining ½ cup cheese and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Serving Size: 1/6 casserole
- Calories: 399
- Sugar: 9 g
- Sodium: 710 g
- Fat: 16 g
- Saturated Fat: 6 g
- Carbohydrates: 29 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 35 g
Keywords: chicken chilaquiles, how to make chicken chilaquiles