An enchilada (, ) is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a savory sauce. Originally from Mexican cuisine, enchiladas can be filled with various ingredients, including meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables, or combinations. Enchilada sauces include chili-based sauces, such as salsa roja, various moles, or cheese-based sauces, such as chile con queso.


The Real Academia Española defines the word ''enchilada'', as used in Mexico, as a rolled maize tortilla stuffed with meat and covered with a tomato and chili sauce. ''Enchilada'' is the past participle of Spanish ''enchilar'', "to add chili pepper to"; literally, "to season (or decorate) with chili". The idiomatic American English phrase "the whole enchilada" means "the whole thing".


Enchiladas originated in Mexico, where the practice of rolling tortillas around other food dates back at least to Aztec times. The people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate corn tortillas folded or rolled around small fish. Writing at the time of the Spanish conquistadors, Bernal Díaz del Castillo documented a feast enjoyed by Europeans hosted by Hernán Cortés in Coyoacán, which included foods served in corn tortillas. (Note that the native Nahuatl name for the flat corn bread used was ''tlaxcalli''; the Spanish gave it the name ''tortilla''.) The Nahuatl word for enchilada is ''chīllapītzalli'' , which is formed of the Nahuatl word for "chili", ''chīlli'' and the Nahuatl word for "flute", ''tlapītzalli'' . In the 19th century, as Mexican cuisine was being memorialized, enchiladas were mentioned in the first Mexican cookbook, ''El cocinero mexicano'' (''"The Mexican Chef"''), published in 1831, and in Mariano Galvan Rivera's ''Diccionario de Cocina'', published in 1845. Mexican cooking authority Diana Kennedy cites an early reference from an American traveler from 1883 who remarked, "Enchiladas, a greasy tortilla sandwich containing chiles and a number of other uninviting looking compounds and other nasty messes, are sold everywhere, filling the air with a pungent, nauseous smell." Kennedy goes on to heartily disagree with that characterization, likely brought on by culture shock. Another early English-language mention is found in the ''California Mexican-Spanish Cookbook'' (1914) by Bertha Haffner Ginger.


In their original form as Mexican street food, enchiladas were simply corn tortillas dipped in chili sauce and eaten without fillings. There are now many varieties, which are distinguished primarily by their sauces, fillings and, in one instance, by their form. Various adjectives may be used to describe the recipe content or origin, e.g. ''enchilada tapatia'' would be a recipe from Jalisco. Varieties include: *''Enchiladas con chile rojo'' (with red chile) is a traditional red enchilada sauce, meat, composed of dried red chili peppers soaked and ground into a sauce with other seasonings, ''Chile Colorado'' sauce adds a tomato base. *''Enchiladas con mole'', instead of chili sauce, are served with ''mole'', and are also known as ''enmoladas''. *''Enchiladas placera'' are Michoacán plaza-style, made with vegetables and poultry. *''Enchiladas poblanas'' are soft corn tortillas filled with chicken and poblano peppers, topped with oaxaca cheese. *''Enchiladas potosinas'' originate from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and are made with cheese-filled, chili-spiced masa. *''Enchiladas San Miguel'' are San Miguel de Allende-style enchiladas flavored with guajillo chilies by searing the flavor into the tortillas in a frying pan. *''Enchiladas suizas'' (Swiss-style) are topped with a milk- or cream-based white sauce such as ''béchamel''. This appellation is derived from Swiss immigrants to Mexico who established dairies to produce cream and cheese. *''Enfrijoladas'' are topped with refried beans rather than chili sauce; their name comes from ''frijol'', meaning "bean". *''Entomatadas'' are made with tomato sauce instead of chili sauce. *''Enchiladas montadas'' (stacked enchiladas) are a New Mexico variation in which corn tortillas are fried flat until softened (but not tough) then stacked with red or green sauce, chopped onion and shredded cheese between the layers and on top of the stack. Ground beef or chicken can be added to the filling. The stack is often topped (''montada'') with a fried egg. Shredded lettuce and sliced black olives may be added as a garnish. *''Enchiladas verdes'' are sauced with salsa verde and typically made with white corn tortillas, filled with poached chicken breasts and topped with queso fresco. *''Enjococadas'' are baked corn tortillas covered in jocoque and filled with queso panela and chile poblano.

Fillings, toppings and garnishes

Fillings include meat (e.g. beef, poultry, pork, seafood) or cheese, potatoes, vegetables, beans, tofu, and any combination thereof. Enchiladas are commonly topped or garnished with cheese, sour cream, lettuce, olives, chopped onions, chili peppers, sliced avocado, and salsa, or fresh cilantro.

Enchilada variations

Image:Enchilada costa rica.jpg|Three enchiladas from Cartago, Costa Rica File:Honduranenchilada.jpg|Homestyle Honduran enchiladas Image:Enchiladas_suizas.jpg|Enchiladas suizas

Costa Rican enchilada

In Costa Rica, the enchilada is a common, small, spicy pastry made with puff pastry and filled with diced potatoes spiced with a common variation of tabasco sauce or other similar sauces. Other variations include fillings made of spicy chicken or minced meat.

Honduran enchilada

In Honduras, enchiladas look and taste very different from those in Mexico; they are not corn tortillas rolled around a filling, but instead are flat, fried, corn tortillas topped with ground beef, salad toppings (usually consisting of cabbage and tomato slices), a tomato sauce (often ketchup blended with butter and other spices such as cumin), and crumbled or shredded cheese. They look and taste much like what many people call a tostada.

Nicaraguan enchilada

In Nicaragua, enchiladas are different from the other ones in Central America and resemble those in Mexico; they are corn tortillas filled with a mixture of ground beef and rice with chilli, they are then folded and covered in egg batter and deep fried. It is commonly served with a cabbage and tomato salad (either pickled salad or in cream and tomato sauce). The Nicaraguan enchilada resembles the Empanada of other countries.

Guatemalan enchilada

In Guatemala, enchiladas look much like Honduran enchiladas but the recipe is different. Usually starts with a leaf of fresh lettuce, next a layer of picado de carne, which includes a meat (ground beef, shredded chicken, or pork) and diced vegetables (carrot, potato, onion, celery, green bean, peas, red bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf, a you can season with a little salt and black pepper) next is the curtido layer which includes more vegetables (cabbage, beets, onions, and carrots) next is about two or three pieces of sliced hard boiled egg, next layer is thin sliced white onion, next layer is a drizzle of red (not spicy) salsa, next topped with either queso seco or queso fresco and lastly topped with cilantro.

See also

* Empalme * Enchirito * Mexican cuisine * New Mexican cuisine * Tex-Mex cuisine * "Wet" burrito * List of Mexican dishes



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External links

* {{Authority control Category:Cuisine of the Southwestern United States Category:Meat dishes Category:Mexican cuisine Category:New Mexican cuisine Category:Street food Category:Tex-Mex cuisine Category:Tortilla-based dishes