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Enchiladas - does it matter what kind of tortilla you use?

  • j

Most enchilada recipes call for corn tortillas, but they always seem to fall apart during cooking. Can you use flour tortillas? Is this common?

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  1. I never use flour tortillas for enchiladas - they get gooey under the sauce. I prefer corn that I dip in warm sauce to soften and then roll. Sure, some of them break, but when I heat them in the oven with cheese, all is forgiven.

    1. to me, the enchiladas just won't taste 'right' if made with flour tortillas..

      try briefly frying the tortillas and then dipping in heated sauce before assembling and cooking...some recipes don't even have you bake the tortillas after assembling, to avoid them breaking apart.

      2 Replies
      1. re: susancinsf

        I never have a problem with them breaking up. I fry first until just leathery and then dip in sauce. My favorite enchiladas are not rolled but stacked in layers and then a fried egg goes on top. Always use corn tortillas, if you use flour you have a burrito not an enchilada.

        1. re: susancinsf

          I fry too for less than a minute, and they hold up great.

        2. Are you LIGHTLY frying your Corn Tortillas? Some people do make Enchiladas out of flour tortillas, for me though, I don't like it at all (As others have mentioned, it gets gummy and doughy in flavor)

          What I do is lightly fry the tortillas (So they get crisp edges but are still pliable. If you can take one out with the prongs of a fork with out it falling but it still just blends slightly, that is what you want) and then dip is sauce and roll.

          I don't believe in dipping in sauce BEFORE frying. that is just a personal preference because I like the taste of toasted corn in my enchiladas.

          Don't add more sauce until you are ready to serve (Either if you are plating directly or placing in a dish to put in the oven or microwave)


          1. To me they aren't enchiladas if made with flour tortillas. I believe that it's very important that your corn tortillas be really fresh. I find that the older, more dried out ones tend to break easily. Don't fry them too much or they'll get too crisp. I don't fry mine at all -- I "paint" the surface of my cast iron griddle with oil, then heat the tortilla until it's warm and soft, then paint more and then do the next tortilla. Then I dip them in sauce and then fill them and roll them, then put sauce on top plus grated cheese, then into the oven.

            1. Definitely corn tortillas. I also fry them very lightly. Also, I find frying them get them less mushy when they are baked. When I am too lazy, I microwave them for a few seconds (covered with plastic wrap) just so that they are pliable and then roll. Do a few at a time because they have a tendency to get back to the brittle stage when they sit for too long.

              1. I always used flour tortillas because they were easier to get here, but about a year ago I used corn for the first time. I'll never go back. To me, it's like the corn tortilla melts into a cornbread consistancy which is so different than the lasagna type thing made with flour tortillas. I made them so much this winter that husband begged me to stop!

                1. Always corn torillas. I heat them lightly on a ungreased skillet, both sides, just long enough to soften them up and make them easy to roll. Keep the warm ones under a dish towel. Also like to brush on some enchilada sauce before adding the filling.

                  1. Seems to me that if you use flour tortillas, they're called "flautas" (flutes). That could be a local name, but I've heard it used all over California.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: ricepad

                      Flautas are typically rolled and fried until crisp, like taquitos.

                      1. re: DanaB

                        yes, and I've always had them made with corn tortillas as well.

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          Aren't chimichangas the same thing made with flour tortillas?

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            No, chimichangas are deep-fried burritos (made with flour tortillas) -- they're typically stuffed with meat and veg. Enchiladas are corn tortillas dipped in chile sauce, rolled, topped with cheese and sometimes more sauce, and baked.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              A chimi is like a deep fried burito. Both use flour tortillas.

                        2. I agree with the other posters, flour tortillas just don't work nearly as well for enchiladas (I've seen people do it, but the texture is never quite right.) I'm still trying to figure out the best way to make enchiladas with the ingredients I can find locally (fortunately, I found out the new Whole Foods here stocks Hatch brand enchilada sauce, which seems to be the best alternative to actual green chile I can find readily) and have experimented a bit. I've tried light frying, but found that the results were very greasy, and the tortillas broke apart anyway. I also tried simmering the tortillas in the enchilada sauce, which seemed to work reasonably well, but the tortillas soaked upo a lot of the sauce and didn't leave much to top it with. Since I'm doing this as a casserole style dish, I will sometimes opt to line the pan and top the filling with tortillas to save time and effort. So far, the results of this have been reasonably good, but I think the results are short on flavor. Any ideas?

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: Vexorg

                            If canned tomatillos are available in your area you can make your own very good tomatillo sauce for enchiladas verdes: saute onion and chopped jalapeno, a bit of garlic, add the tomatillos (break up the tomatillos), chicken broth, a bit of salsa, simmer for perhaps 20 or 30 minutes, cool, add a bit of cream...

                            I am not sure why lining the pan and topping the filling with tortillas would be any better than broken up tortillas: they will still break up when you serve, and it may lead to the wrong tortilla/sauce/filling ratios....

                            finally, I think that the quality of the tortillas does make a difference in overall flavor.

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              obviously, you can make with fresh tomatillos also (needs to be simmered longer), if you can get them...I am assuming that you live in an area with a limited selection of Mexican items, based on your initial comments.

                              one more ingredient for the sauce that I forgot: chopped cilantro. Duh.

                              1. re: susancinsf

                                or just roast the tomatillos under a broiler or on a dry pan. Gives it a bit of a deeper, smokier flavor as compared to simmering. But either works well, based on preferences...

                                Oh, and, on the tortilla front, as everyone else has said, definitely corn. And if you want to make your own, your enchiladas will be tremendous. It makes a HUGE difference.

                            2. re: Vexorg

                              It is really easy to make your own sauce. Mince and saute onion and garlic. Puree a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes (or you can use 2 large cans of tomato sauce). If youcan get the Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes that would be even better. Add the tomatoes and chili powder to taste and salt and pepper. You can add other seasonings, like cumin and oregano. Simmer it for a while to thicken it. If it gets too thick I thin with more canned tomato sauce or chicken stock. If you use chili powder mix that has salt, you'll need to use less salt so make sure you taste it when the sauce is almost finished. I typically use ancho chili powder (Penzeys sells it online).

                              1. re: farmersdaughter

                                I make Emeril's enchilada sauce - a total snap! - and it makes double what I need, so I freeze half for busy nights.


                                I am the lone flour tortilla user, but I usually use the Canyon Ranch enchilada recipe on Epicurious, which calls for whole wheat tortillas. These don't get gummy or break down at all, which is great, and the dish is so tasty and light, it is my personal preference. I totally understand that it's absolutely not authentic, but it's delicious and incredibly healthy. A good choice for those who are looking to cook "lighter".

                                1. re: AmandaEd

                                  Corn tortillas are whole grains as well, so that does give you an option especially if you're counting calories (corn are generally lower than flour) as well as trying to eat whole grains. I have made that Canyon Ranch recipe too and agree it's very tasty! Most of their recipes are, it's just that they tend to be a lot of work!

                                  1. re: farmersdaughter

                                    That's true - I was mostly referring to the necessity of frying the corn tortillas, but I suppose you could just skip that and heat the corn ones on a hot skillet.

                                    1. re: farmersdaughter

                                      Good point! I don't fry my corn tortillas anyway. I just heat each one individually in a cast iron pan with just a little oil brushed on the pan before I heat the tortilla. I find that helps make them easy to fill and roll while avoiding the frying.

                                  2. re: farmersdaughter

                                    I have never had enchilada sauce with tomatoes in it. That seeems quite an odd addition.

                                    1. re: Candy

                                      How do you make yours? I'm always looking for new twists.

                                      1. re: farmersdaughter

                                        Almost like making gravy but using chili powder instead of flour. I use pure ground chili that I get from www.penderys.com in Ft. Worth. Bull Canyon is one of my favorites but it is essentially oil in a skillet, soften some minced garlic in the oil, add some freshly toasted and ground cumin and the chili. Stir and fry the paste and add stock whisking until the sauce has thickened sufficiently. Season to taste with salt. It is the way my mother made it and my grandsmother made it. Though my grandmother would go up to Elfrida, AZ, north from her home in Douglas and buy freshly ground chili powder up there. We were always glad to get car packages of it in the fall whereever we happened to be living at the time. Moving around the US and living in Japan requited care packages of chili and tortillas. In many places they were just unavailable. My mom told me about some transplanted westerner inviting my parents for dinner, maybe in Savannah, and to have enchiladas. She ended up trying to make them with saltines. My mom said it was pretty bad but getting tortilas in GA in the late 50's was next to impossible.

                                        1. re: farmersdaughter

                                          For red sauce be sure to start with shiny dried whole chiles or good powdered chile, NOT the mixed spice powder (say, Gebhardts) made for lazy 'Merican chili' makers. I prefer a combo of medium heat chiles such as ancho, guajillo, mulato, and pasilla, then add a little arbol to increase heat if needed. For green sauce canned tomatillos are fine but fresh ones cook in little time. I can't go back to canned sauce, too many awful ones out there.
                                          Get a good cookbook like Bayless' Authentic Mexican for a few ideas and make them to your taste.

                                          1. re: DiveFan

                                            My mom and my sisters always have made them with corn tortillas. I fry them in olive oil just until hot then I dip them in enchilada sauce that I have warming on the stove in a very low simmer. The tortillas seems to want or do rip, and I make a point to use my hands not a fork or tongs because they will rip. I sometimes burn my fingers because between the oil and sauce being hot. Is there a certain kind/brand that is better than another? I normally use white, maybe I should try yellow. Any thoughts? Also, do you simmer you enchilada sauce as your making them?

                                  3. I've made a baked flour tortilla dish, where they're filled like enchiladas, but they're not covered with sauce. So, I guess that's not enchiladadas, but they're good. I make a picadillo type filling with olives and raisins, and the tortillas get crisp at the edges, but are soft where the rolls touch each other. I spinkle on some white cheese to melt in the last five minutes, and they're tasty.

                                    1. Traditionally, enchiladas are made with corn tortillas, in some places, chile is added to the masa to end up with red tortillas (like Enchiladas Potosinas).

                                      However, some recent recipes do call for flour tortillas, namely Enchiladas Suizas (which made Sanborns restaurants famous) which is simply chicken in a flour tortilla, salsa verde and cheese (hence, the swiss), broiled. I recently had some flour tortilla enchiladas in Mazatlán. They were called Baja Enchiladas and consisted of shrimp and lobster filling, white wine cream sauce and a bit of cheese.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: cookiejesus

                                        I've always made enchiladas Suizas with corn tortillas, scorching the tortillas on a dry griddle then brushing them with warm enchilada sauce (usually Pico Pica taco sauce these days) before filling and rolling them. I used to use a rich bechamel as the filling sauce base, but now that I'm deep in Latino territory I use the less gloppy kinds of bottled Mexican crema instead, heated with chopped scallions and cilantro, then with shredded chicken and chopped green chiles added. I use a slotted spoon to dip out the filling for each enchilada, roll them and tuck them into a greased pan, then pour the remaining sauce over all and spread on some cheese. Baked until bubbly, more like a sort of Mexican lasagna than most people's idea of enchiladas, but we like them that way.

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          I use corn tortillas, heat them on my large cast iron griddle on the flat side(other side is grill ) I take a paper towel and squirt some oil on it and let it absorb and then lightly rub it over the griddle, The heat softens them perfectly. I fill and roll. I have had flour enchiladas, but think the corn just goes better with the ingredients, Works good for me.

                                      2. It's your stomach, so use either flour or corn tortillas, and it's your kitchen so call them anything you want.

                                        I'm a Californian and love cheese enchiladas replete with freshly chopped yellow onion and homemade red chili sauce. If I want one, but I have only flour tortillas, I will use the flour tortilla. I really don't care if I have to call it a burrito (as some might insist).

                                        I will assemble the Mexican style treat (which I shall call, from this moment forth, an "Enchiritto") by warming the flour tortilla in a large frying pan over high heat, turning it often to avoid burning it.
                                        When nicely softened, I will then place it in an individual serving dish, heap on it chopped onion, red chili sauce and grated Monterey Jack and Colby mixture, roll it up, add another splash of red chili sauce, more cheese, then place it in the BROILER (under the flame) to melt the cheese. BTW:I'd never dream of baking an enchilada.

                                        When the enticing Enchiritto emerges from the heat, I'll add a dollop of sour cream, chopped onions and some avocado slices. It will look just like an enchilada, but of course, to the authenticity police, it is not.
                                        My Enchirittos are never soggy, slimy or gooey, because they are not baked and they only take minutes to make.

                                        "Authentic Mexican Food", that's an oxymoron and another subject.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jascannon

                                          "Authentic Mexican Food", that's an oxymoron and another subject

                                          Please explain... I look forward to discussing this further.

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            Our goal for this board is to share tips on making chow at home. If you've got recipes, this is the place to share them, but debating "authenticity" is off topic for this board. Thanks.

                                        2. lol that's exactly why my husband and I like them ;)