I live in the land of Tex-Mex cuisine, which has given me a great appreciation for dishes like this beef enchilada casserole. It takes some of the labor out of making traditional enchiladas. Instead of rolling individual enchiladas, the corn tortillas are dipped in a homemade enchilada sauce and left flat. Taco seasoning is used to flavor a simple ground beef and black bean filling nestled between layers of Monterey Jack cheese.
If you’re on the hunt for your next weeknight casserole, this one is sure to fit the bill.
Making your enchilada sauce at home may seem like a tall order, but you’d be surprised by how quickly it comes together. Simply toast the dried ancho chiles until they’re fragrant, then blend them with hot beef stock, onions, garlic, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The chipotles add a smoky element to the enchilada sauce, making it taste like it’s been simmering for hours.
Although making your own enchilada sauce at home is fairly simple, you can always use a canned or jarred enchilada sauce for this recipe. Las Palmas or La Victoria are my favorite brands of canned enchilada sauce.
Don’t skip out on toasting the dried chiles. They need to be heated to awaken the oils in the pepper, which gives your enchilada sauce that robust flavor.
I prefer to use ground chuck for this recipe. Instead of adding oil to the pan, I bring the ground meat up to temperature along with the pan. This slowly renders its fat, which eliminates the need for oil. After draining the grease from the beef, I use the same pan—still slick from cooking the beef—to sauté the aromatics.
- Use flour tortillas to make this recipe instead of corn tortillas.
- Instead of making homemade enchilada sauce, use canned sauce.
- Use ground pork or ground poultry instead of beef. For ground turkey or chicken, you’ll need to begin heating the pan with a tablespoon of oil since it’s much leaner than red meat.
- Make this a seafood enchilada casserole by replacing the ground beef with chopped peeled and deveined shrimp. Sauté the shrimp for 3-4 minutes in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil before adding the aromatics to the recipe.
- Choose your favorite type of cheese in place of the Monterey Jack. The gooier the better, so consider cheeses like panela, Oaxaca cheese, or queso asadero.
This recipe is a stand-alone meal that I top with sour cream, chopped cilantro, and jalapeño slices. I’ll sometimes add pico de gallo and guacamole if I have some in the fridge, or a simple garden salad.
If you want to stretch this casserole to serve more people, you can cut smaller servings and serve it with steamed white rice or Spanish rice and stewed beans.
You can assemble this casserole and store it in the fridge for 2 days. Just be sure to store it well-covered and allow the baking dish to come to just about room temperature before putting it into the hot oven (the precaution is to avoid shattering your baking dish).
If you’d like to freeze the casserole:
- Assemble the beef enchilada casserole as instructed and wrap the baking dish in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil.
- Freeze the casserole for up to 2 months.
- Thaw the frozen casserole in the fridge overnight and bake as instructed.
- You can also freeze the baked casserole. Wrap the container well and freeze the casserole for up to 2 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or a 350°F (177°C) oven for 15 minutes or until warmed through.
- 2 pounds (908g) ground chuck
- 1/2 medium white onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 jalapeño, deseeded and minced (about 1 tablespoon), optional
- 2 (1-ounce) packets taco seasoning, or 56 grams (1/2 cup) homemade
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (237ml) beef stock or water
- 1 (15-ounce) can (425g) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce (canned or homemade)
- 18 to 24 (4.5-inch) corn tortillas
- 1 pound (454g) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 5 cups, lightly packed)
- Sour cream
- Chopped cilantro
- Sliced jalapeños
- 9×13-inch casserole dish
- Preheat the oven 350°F (177°C)
- Brown the meat:
Add the ground chuck to a 12-inch skillet. Bring the skillet up to medium heat. While the skillet is heating up, use a spoon to break apart the meat. Brown the meat, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 7 minutes. Once the meat is no longer pink, spoon off and discard the grease.
- Sauté the vegetables and season the meat:
Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeño to the beef and continue cooking over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.
Sprinkle the taco seasoning and kosher salt over the mixture in the pan. Next, add the beef stock (or water) to the pan and stir until the meat mixture is evenly coated.
Finally, add the drained black beans to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Layer the casserole:
Pour 2 1/2 cups of the enchilada sauce into a pie dish or wide, shallow bowl. One at a time, dip corn tortillas into the enchilada sauce in the bowl, ensuring each is evenly coated in the sauce. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish with the dipped tortillas, overlapping them slightly to completely cover the bottom of the baking dish.
How many tortillas you need will depend on the size of the tortillas. If you prefer less overlap, use halved tortillas to line the straight sides of the pan. You’ll use a total of 5 tortillas per layer this way.
Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese over this layer of tortillas.
Spoon half of the ground meat mixture over the cheese in an even layer. Top the beef with another 3/4 cup of cheese.
Repeat the layering process by dipping more tortillas, sprinkling about 1 cup of cheese, the remaining beef mixture, and another 1 cup of cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas dipped in the enchilada sauce.
Pour the remaining enchilada sauce from the bowl over the top of the assembled casserole. If you prefer a saucier casserole, pour an additional 1/2 cup of sauce over the entire casserole in the pan.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the surface of the enchilada casserole.
- Bake the casserole:
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the casserole for 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the foil and bake until the cheese is completely melted and starting to bubble, another 10 to 12 minutes.
- Cool and garnish:
Allow the casserole to cool on the countertop for 10 to 15 minutes.
Cut the casserole into 8 squares. Serve the beef enchilada casserole garnished with sour cream, chopped cilantro, and jalapeño slices.
Store cooled enchilada casserole leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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