The Best Authentic Beef Enchiladas

These beef enchiladas are Mexican comfort food at its finest. Shredded beef simmers in a homemade red enchilada sauce for ultimate flavor, then is mixed with jalapenos, cheese, and cilantro. Rolled up in tortillas and topped with more sauce and cheese, these enchiladas are sheer perfection. It’s a classic recipe that deserves a spot in everyone’s dinner rotation.

Two beef enchiladas on a plate, with a fork cut into one.

Who else becomes crippled with indecision when trying to choose a restaurant for dinner out? Do you head to an old favorite, try something new that you’ve heard nothing but raves about, or do you take a shot in the dark at a place that intrigues you but you know nothing about?

When I can’t decide, my default decision is either a place where I can get a fantastic burger or… Mexican! I find it hard to go wrong with a meal when it starts with a huge complimentary basket of fresh tortilla chips and salsa, guac or queso to dip them in. I don’t have a consistent go-to order, but I have never, ever been disappointed with authentic enchiladas – they’re always a home run.

While honest-to-goodness shredded beef enchiladas aren’t super quick to make at home, but they ARE easy, and 100% worth your time once you taste them.

Step by step photos of browning meat and onions, and simmering meat in sauce.

A long, long, long time ago, I was on a fajita/enchilada kick, where I would basically make the filling for chicken fajitas (chicken, onions, peppers, sometimes mushrooms), then roll it up in tortillas and bake it in a very bland, sorry-tasting enchilada sauce. (What was I thinking?!)

My tastes have definitely evolved over the years, so that wasn’t going to cut it for me anymore. Once I read this enchilada recipe, I knew it was beyond promising. While the cooking time is lengthy, it doesn’t take much effort and it has a fantastic, authentic flavor. The sauce totally makes it!

Strained enchilada sauce and a bowl of enchilada filling.

How to Make Authentic Beef Enchiladas

Here’s a quick review of how we’re going to make these amazing enchiladas:

  1. Sear chuck steaks until well browned on each side.
  2. Saute onions with a seasoning mixture that includes garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, sugar, and salt.
  3. Add tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil, return the meat to the pan and simmer until the beef is fall-apart tender.
  4. Strain the sauce, then shred the beef and mix with shredded cheese, jalapenos, and cilantro for the filling.
  5. Assemble the enchiladas, pour over more sauce and top with more shredded cheese.
  6. Bake until the cheese is golden brown, then dig in!

So to recap – not quick, but absolutely worth it, and you can make the components ahead of time (see recipe notes!).

Assembly of beef enchiladas, with assembled pan prior to baking.

My husband and I polished off half of this pan between the two of us during a Sunday afternoon of football-watching, and I think we were both secretly jockeying for leftovers the next day. This recipe has definitely earned itself a spot in my list of favorite go-to recipes and is absolutely one that I will be making again and again.

If you love Mexican food, you need to have these enchiladas in your rotation!

A pan of baked beef enchiladas.

Five years ago: Creamy Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Dip
Six years ago: Cinnamon Babka
Seven years ago: Homemade No-Bake Clif Bars
Twelve years ago: Beef Mushroom Barley Soup

Watch How to Make Beef Enchiladas:

The Best Authentic Beef Enchiladas

Servings 4 to 6 servings
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 2 hours
Total 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Author: Michelle
Wonderfully cheesy, saucy, and mildly spicy beef enchiladas.

Ingredients:

  • 3
    cloves
    garlic
    (minced)
  • 3
    tablespoons
    chili powder
  • 2
    teaspoons
    ground cumin
  • 2
    teaspoons
    ground coriander
  • 1
    teaspoon
    granulated sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon
    salt
  • pounds
    boneless chuck steaks
    (trimmed of fat)
  • 1
    tablespoon
    vegetable oil
  • 2
    yellow onions
    (finely chopped)
  • 15
    ounce
    can tomato sauce
  • ½
    cup
    water
  • 4
    ounces
    Monterey Jack cheese
    (shredded, divided)
  • 4
    ounces
    sharp cheddar cheese
    (shredded, divided)
  • cup
    chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼
    cup
    chopped canned pickled jalapeños
  • 12
    6-inch corn tortillas

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, sugar and salt.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sprinkle the meat with salt and cook until browned on both sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions to the pot and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the meat is tender and can be broken apart easily, about 1½ hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Strain the beef mixture over a medium bowl. Transfer the meat and any other solids to a separate medium bowl and break the beef into small pieces. Mix together with half of the shredded cheeses, the cilantro and the jalapeños.
  6. Spread ¾ cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Microwave the tortillas according to package directions to soften. Spread about ⅓ cup of the beef mixture down the center of each tortilla, roll up tightly, and place in the baking dish seam-side down. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the enchiladas and spread to ensure that all of the ends are covered in sauce.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top of the enchiladas, cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes:

Make-Ahead: The beef filling and sauce can be prepared through step #5 and refrigerated in separate containers for up to 2 days. Prepare the rest of the recipe as directed, increasing the covered baking time by 5 minutes.
Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition:

Calories: 708kcal
Fat: 51g
Saturated fat: 25g
Cholesterol: 151mg
Sodium: 1427mg
Potassium: 1278mg
Carbohydrates: 63g
Fiber: 7g
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 51g
Vitamin A: 3010%
Vitamin C: 13.6%
Calcium: 598%
Iron: 9.6%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in September 2014; updated in September 2019 with new photos, a video, and extra recipe tips.

[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]