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Corn or Flour Tortillas for Chicken Enchiladas?


My beloved sister is coming in to town for a visit and I want to make her chicken enchiladas with salsa verde (I make my own roasted tomatillo and chile salsa).

But do I use flour or corn tortillas? I've seen recipes with both, and I'm inclined to go with flour because it seems corn would be a bit too...corny... for the mild flavors, and hard to roll. But then I see that flour may get gummy.

Ideas, tips, experiences?


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  1. It's totally up to personal preference. Corn is very common for all types of enchiladas, and chicken is no exception. We always use corn tortillas for chicken enchiladas at home. They may or may not taste too "corny" against the "mild flavors" of chicken--again, that is completely subjective. They are not at all "hard to roll," though, since they are traditionally dipped in hot oil or sauce prior to rolling.

    1. For me, Enchiladas = corn tortillas.

      However, I've had enchiladas based around flour tortillas that were good too, but I think the enchiladas were baked with less sauce, but sauced when served.

      1. I always use the flour as the corn is a little too intense and "corny" to go w/ the chicken.Mine do not get 'gummy'
        and what with all that delicious sauce/salsa and cheese topping,just get nice and soft and yummy.Good luck!

        1. Corn is definitely more authentic. Like dave c, for me, the nixtamalized corn flavor of the corn tortillas mingling in with chiles is what makes enchiladas enchiladas. I also prefer the texture with corn tortillas, which are not as sweet and soft and don't tend to get as slimy as flour ones do.

          The cornerstones of New Mexico-style chicken enchiladas are Hatch green chiles, a good blend of sharp cheddar, jack and queso fresco, and, in most homes, a can of cream of mushroom soup. My twist is to skip the canned soup and stir a little cream cheese in with the poached chicken. It adds a nice tang and keeps the chicken moist and chicken-y tasting. It also counteracts the corniness a bit.

          Hope you and your sister have a wonderful time together.

          16 Replies
          1. re: ninrn

            You had me at "nixtamalized." Then you lost me at the cheaddar/jack and cream of mushroom soup. I guess that's "authentic" for New Mexico.

            Corn tortillas. Shredded chicken. Tomatillo and green chile salsa. A sprinkling of queso fresco. Nada mas, in my book.

            1. re: LorenzoGA

              Yeah, everything in New Mexico is weird. At least we don't add meth to our enchiladas. (At my house, anyway.)

              1. re: ninrn

                I live in Las Cruces. No cream of mushroom soup, ever. I don't know anyone who would ever use that.

                1. re: zeldaz51

                  Ask around a bit. It's a classic NM practice to add cream of mushroom soup to green chile chicken enchiladas. I've never seen it done anywhere else, and maybe not everyone in the state does it, but native New Mexicans, especially older people, know it's 'a thing' (probably because New Mexican cuisine is strongly influenced by BIA reservation food subsidies). I've even seen mushroom soup-containing enchilada recipes in local foodie magazines like Local Flavor and Edible Santa Fe, always with a note sort of apologizing for the canned soup but saying that's how it's done here.

                  http://www.nmcooking.com/green-chile-..., http://buenofoods.com/recipes/gcc.htm, http://www.food.com/recipe/green-chil...,

                  LorenzoGA, I wasn't suggesting that those other ingredients make for "authentic" enchiladas, just saying that's how one regional version is made. It's pretty delicious, too.

                  1. re: ninrn

                    It is actually a Campbell soup classic recipe from the 1970's and was cooked all over the united states. It was one of the first recipes I learned to cook as a teen...that and Campbell's hamburger chop suey, Hungarian goulash and Italian baked spaghetti. Yeah, good ole Campbell's "ethnic" cuisines!

                    I still love a good soup casserole hot dish every once in a while, brings me back decades! :)

                    1. re: sedimental

                      Campbell's may have copped it, but the condensed cream of mushroom version of chicken enchiladas has been going strong here in NM at least since the '40's. I have an Acoma pueblo recipe pamphlet from 1948 that has such a recipe in it titled: "Real McCartys Enchiladas". I think the end of WWII saw lots of surplus canned goods turning up in both reservation and military base stores here because a lot of recipes in this pamphlet call for canned soup and canned meat. This type of enchilada put down roots, though. I've seen it all over NM.

                      You're right, sedimental, NM enchiladas are more like a casserole or a lasagna than Mexican enchiladas. Much less fresh and refined, but lush and comforting. Sort of a parallel to American vs real Italian pizza.

                      1. re: ninrn

                        anything made with cream of mushroom soup has no resemblance to lasagna. That sounds like a 60 year old recipe that needs to be forgotten, for the sake of your children at the very least.

                        1. re: genoO

                          Are you kidding!! That Cheesy Chicken Enchilada casserole was the BEST :-D. The cream of mushroom, cream of celery soup wasn't even detectable.

                          Sure it's a fat and sodium bomb, but during the 60's - height of the processed food craze - it sure tasted good ;-)

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            I grew up with that kind of stuff. It is detectable to me.

                            1. re: Becca Porter

                              Somehow I think if exactly the same stuff that's in those Campbell's cans were sold in tiny glass jars labeled "creme de champignons" or "crema de hongos", it would be getting a lot less contempt here. ;-)

                              1. re: ninrn

                                Actually, speaking for myself, I am a strict ingredients-reader. Fancy or plain names/labels don't matter to me. I have learned the hard way not to assume anything based upon name.

                    2. re: ninrn

                      I understood--no need to explain. Just giving you a hard time. I would love to sample NM-style enchiladas, cream-of-mushroom and all. Thanks for the explanation of its possible origin in BIA food subsidies. I like this explanation better than it being purely the result of Campbell's soup marketing. It's possible that both influences led to its prevalence in NM.

                      1. re: ninrn

                        Well, I've been here seven years and my husband grew up in New Mexico, so I don't think any asking around is necessary. We don't see it. Maybe the people using it are closeted.

                        1. re: zeldaz51

                          My sister took me to her favorite burrito place in San Diego, a hole in the wall, to try their shrimp burritos. She couldn't figure out why she loved them better than any others she could find. I suggested cream of something soup as an ingredient, something Mom used in many a dish, and we both agreed that could very well be it. They were very rich and delicious either way!

                2. re: ninrn

                  If it is not corn tortillas it is not an enchilada. Burrito or Chimichanga maybe but not and enchilada

                  1. Thank, you guys. Looks like I'm going to go with corn, and my salsa is sharp enough that it ought to handle the corniness.

                      1. I prefer corn, my wife prefers wheat.

                        1. Corn! flour will not do.

                          1. Corn. Always. Flour is for other things. Not hard to roll if you're making them properly. Dip in the warm sauce and roll. Or not roll, if you're making them southern New Mexico style.

                            19 Replies
                            1. re: zeldaz51

                              Will dipping them keep them from breaking? I want a pretty presentation.

                                1. re: EarlyBird

                                  EarlyBird - I've never heard of using flour for enchilada, and I haven't heard the term "corniness" before. Maybe with very cheap or poorly made tortillas that taste weird.

                                  We always dip them....gives them a bit more plasticity so you can work with them. Definitely go with corn.

                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                    Thanks. I have a great source of both flour and corn tortillas here in LA, and I think I'll go with corn and dip them. By "dip them," you mean in the sauce? Or perhaps just kind of mositen them with water or something?

                                    1. re: EarlyBird

                                      Oil, then heated sauce. Its an extra step, but your sister is worth it! In moderately hot oil, fry the tortillas for a few seconds per side and transfer to a newspaper or paper towels. Once they're all done and drained, then dip each one in the warm to hot sauce and shake it off over the pan.

                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                        I used to dip in sauce, but now only oil. I like the presentation of a pan of enchiladas with the sauce poured mainly over the middles, such that some naked tortilla remains on the ends. Purely an appearance/presentation thing.

                                      2. re: EarlyBird

                                        Corn tortillas need to be pliable in order not to crack when you try and roll them. The most traditional way to do that is to lightly fry them on both sides, drain and then drag through you salsa verde and fill. While enchiladas are certainly rolled in Mexico, they are just as frequently folded in half.

                                        There are a few ways to soften corn tortillas without frying them in oil. You can warm them in a skillet and then lightly mist them with water. You can wrap them in a damp towel and put them in the oven to warm. If you can work fast, you can simply heat them in a skill then dip and roll. All of these have the same pitfall...the corn tortilla will absorb a lot of moisture once it's dipped in the sauce and sometimes they tend to disintegrate.

                                        When you fry the tortilla, the oil forms a protective coating around the tortilla as well as softening it. The oil prevents the tortilla from absorbing all the liquid in the sauce and prevents the tortilla from disintegrating.

                                        Good luck no matter which method you use. Chicken enchiladas in green sauce is one of my favorites :-)

                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                          Agree - I'm not a big fan of the methods that use water in the first step.

                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                            Sonoran enchiladas are not folded or rolled. They are layered in a stack. Hmm, maybe that is what I'll make for dinner tonight. Google them up for pix and recipes. I never saw a rolled enchilada until I was abut 17 and visiting a grandmother in Calif.

                                      3. re: EarlyBird

                                        It's traditional to soften the corn tortillas by lightly frying them in oil but I skip that and just heat each one over the gas burner until soft, then quick dip in the warm sauce, then fill and roll.

                                        1. re: escondido123

                                          I've had success with this method as well, just didn't want to fuss with the oil. Worked great

                                          1. re: escondido123

                                            Oh, I like that idea. I tend to put off making the enchilada recipe that my kids love because I hate the oil step. I'll have to give that a try!

                                            1. re: DGresh

                                              I brush each corn tortilla very lightly with oil and heat them on a cookie sheet for a couple of minutes in a medium oven. I much prefer it to just dipping in the sauce since the oil adds some body and mouth-feel, but it isn't as messy and doesn't add as much oil as the quick fry.

                                              Rick Bayless uses a similar technique (and says that you can use vegetable spray as well) and then wraps them in plastic wrap and heats them in the microwave. I'll try that next time since it sounds even easier than the oven.

                                              1. re: bear

                                                Bear, I like your idea of just brushing them with the oil and I bet is works like a charm :-)

                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                  DD, I find it just as easy to have some oil in a ramekin and dip my fingers in the oil and spread it around on the tortilla. I usually only do one side and stack them while I'm doing the others. Easy as can be.

                                                  1. re: bear

                                                    I just used some of these suggestions and it worked great. I did as you suggest, smearing oil with my fingers and stacking. I then spread them out on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 350 for just a couple of minutes, so they had warmed up a bit. I then rolled them with my filling and put them in the dish (I like to put the sauce on top down the middle). This was very easy compared to the frying I was doing before (and burning my fingers!)

                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                      Glad it worked out for you, DG. It's my favorite way now.

                                            2. re: escondido123

                                              I heat mine on a dry griddle. Heat one side, turn and brush enchilada sauce on, then remove and sauce the other side while the next one heats. It's a rhythm kind of thing … when they're all sauced and soft, I've got the chicken filling sitting in the cream sauce (reduced cream, basically) and a slotted scoop (Kitch-A-Ma-Jig, often sold as a cat box scoop ) to lift the stuff out. Then whatever's left over gets poured over the rolled enchiladas, cheese and chopped green onion over that, and baked until it's bubbly.

                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                Love that method, Will. I think that will keep me from worrying about the tortillas stiffening up again while rolling enchies.


                                        2. For Enchiladas, CORN please. For Burritos, FLOUR (and then fry it alla Chimichanga). Gracias madruga.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Cheese Boy

                                            Flour also for flautas, tortillas filled with shredded chicken, rolled up and shallow fried till Brown. Top with salsa, sour cream, guacamole.

                                            1. re: divadmas

                                              Hmm. Corn flautas are pretty good--nice and crispy. You need to secure them with toothpicks for frying, though.

                                              1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                Flautas made with corn tortillas are taquitos.

                                          2. The texture of corn tortillas holds up better in the baking - flour tortillas tend to get a bit mushy

                                            however corn take a bit more work and tend to be messier to make - I have used flour and lived to tell - they come fine and sometimes its what's on hand

                                            sometimes I am really lazy and just make a enchilada pie and layer corn tortilla's like a lasagna - saves time tastes as good - I would not do it for "guests" though.

                                            1. Corn! I don't know how it could be too corny - that's part of the flavor of an enchilada....

                                              1. traditionally, corn tortillas with enchiladas

                                                1. Well, I'm the odd one out. I use flour. Always have, always will. I also put a layer of refried beans on them, then my chicken mixture, then cheese and roll up. Top with sauce and more cheese. Mine don't get all mushy, either. And they look nice too!

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: boyzoma

                                                    Sounds delicious, and I'd be happy to eat that because I love melted cheese, refried beans, and flour tortillas. But that is not any kind of enchilada you'd find in Mexico. So long as the authenticity police don't catch you, you're good ;-)

                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                        I realize many would call it a type of burrito. But we call them enchiladas as I have always known burrito's to be able to be picked up and eaten. No chance of that happening with these. I, on occasion and because I had corn tortillas have used them (not often)but we don't care for those as well. Just our preference. And there is no Enchilada or Burrito police in my house!

                                                      2. re: boyzoma

                                                        Well then boyz,I'm an oddball from New York that just does it same way you describe.....on flour tortillas. A layer of refried beans,chick mixture,cheese and roll up....sauce/salsa and more cheese then bake. Delish! and we do call them enchiladas too because burritos are able to be picked up and eaten out of hand.
                                                        We just don't care for flavor of corn tortillas either.

                                                      3. Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions about technique. I'm going to go with corn tortillas and try the very lightly fried/dip in salsa verde method before rolling.

                                                        It's good to communicate with fellow cooks who know how important technique is. I'll report back.


                                                        1. You could try white corn tortillas if you're worried about corniness. Or do a trio of all three, yellow and white corn and flour, and compare.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: thymetobake

                                                            I have never noticed a difference in taste between white and yellow corn tortillas. It would be interesting to do a side by side comparison.

                                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                                              This just reminded me of something. I was at the market the other day, and they were providing samples of something on a combination corn and flour tortilla. For tacos, I love a good corn tortilla, but I usually order flour because there are so many horrible corn tortillas out there (esp when restaurants use storebought).

                                                              Can't remember the brand (could be local to here), but it had a good corn flavor, but with a mouthfeel approaching flour. This doesn't pertain to the enchilada discussion, but with so much tortilla-talk, thought that folks might be interested.

                                                              1. re: rudeboy

                                                                I think there is a recipe somewhere on Serious Eats for a hybrid tortilla.

                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  They sell them at my local grocery store and Trader Joes.

                                                              2. re: jpc8015

                                                                I think white corn tortillas have a milder flavor. I use white corn tortillas for tacos (street taco style) but I use yellow corn tortillas for enchiladas.

                                                              1. Just to chime in, definitely corn. And if you have them available in your area, Tortilla Land raw tortillas are delicious. I used them the last time I made enchiladas. I just sprayed them lightly with an oil spray and fried them on each side until they were browned. Not any more effort than frying them in oil and less greasy. They're so good I can eat them plain which I never do with regular precooked tortillas.

                                                                1. All,

                                                                  Did the enchiladas this weekend. I obtained just-made larger than normal white corn tortillas and used them. I did the dip-in-warm-sauce trick, but they still buckled when rolling them and so the presentation wasn't great. But I ended up sort of stacking them together, and when covered with more tomatillo sauce and cheese it ended up coming together like a casserole rather than individual enchiladas.

                                                                  Delicious however, with the chicken, tomatillo salsa, cheese and some cream in the filling. A nice combo of unctious and with some bite. The white corn tortillas were definitely the better option over flour.

                                                                  I'll just have to make them again to see if I can figure out how to roll them right. Shucks! :)

                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                  1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                    Thanks for reporting the results. Often, we don't know what happened to the OP in their endeavor. Did you skip the frying in oil part? Personally, I think that it is essential.

                                                                    As long as the flavor was there in the final product, then it was a success........

                                                                    My rule - if the pan is empty and people are scraping off the sides, then it's a good job no matter how you get there.

                                                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                                                      Yes, I did skip the frying, thinking the dip in sauce trick would be enough. Next time, I'll do the light frying trick.

                                                                      Very happy people and lots of scraping of the sides occurred. Delicious, just not particularly pretty.

                                                                      1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                        The frying is a must -- that's the step that softens the tortilla to make it pliable without cracking. Glad they tasted good though!

                                                                        1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                          It's actually the heat from the oil that softens the tortilla. The oil does, indeed, lubricate the tortilla making it pliable :-)

                                                                          It also provides a protective coating so that the (very porous) tortilla doesn't absorb all the liquid from the sauce and get water logged or disintegrate.

                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                            I think that your post, DiningDiva, falls into the category of food porn......

                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                              Interesting. I thought that the oil would stiffen the tortilla and make it break, but I should have done what the experts here suggested. How "fried" should it be? Very lightly I imagine.

                                                                              1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                Barely fried at all. Not enough to cause any crispness.

                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                  Yeah - just two minutes per side......if that much.

                                                                                2. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                  EarlyBird... you are correct, oil and heat will stiffen a corn tortilla...if a) the oil is hot enough and b) if the tortilla is left in long enough to cook all the way through.

                                                                                  I think "frying" is actually a misnomer in that it implies a long stay in deep fryer temperature oil :-). That isn't the case. If you want to give it a go for next time, here are a few tips...

                                                                                  * Use a skillet that is large enough for you to manuver around in. I can do it in an do it in an 8" omelet pan but I usually use a 10" skillet.

                                                                                  * You don't need a whole bunch of oil. I typically use about 1/4" - 1/2" adding more if I need it.

                                                                                  * Heat the oil over medium heat, or even medium low. If it starts to smoke, that's way too hot. Turn the heat off and remove the pan from the burner to allow it to cool off.

                                                                                  * Hold the tortilla by the edge and slide it into the hot oil. With the end of your tongs, make sure it's totally submerged.

                                                                                  * Heat tortilla for 20-30 seconds, then flip

                                                                                  * Heat on the 2nd side for about 10-15 seconds. In many cases, you don't even need to do the second side, if you've used enough oil, it's hot enough and the tortilla was fully submerged.

                                                                                  * Slide one side of your tongs under the tortilla until it reaches the middle of the tortilla (more or less). Close tongs, remove tortilla from oil, turn it sideways to let excess drain off. Having the tongs grip the tortilla from the middle helps reduce tearing. This is actually more useful when dipping in the sauce, but sometimes the tortillas get limp too from oil that isn't hot enough and will tear.

                                                                                  * If making the enchiladas immediately, slide the warm tortilla into warm sauce, gently turn to coat, then remove from sauce to whatever surface you're using to fill then roll, fold, stack, etc.

                                                                                  * You can also drain them on a double thickness of paper towels and repeat until you've done as many tortillas as you want. Then drag through the sauce and fill. The tortillas do tend to toughen up a bit when fried and then held, but they soften up again when you put them into hot sauce.

                                                                                  A lot of people are afraid of the frying step because they think it's hard and will add too many calories. It's not hard, tho' it can be messy, and in my experience, while there is some oil absorption by the tortilla, it's not a huge amount. If the oil is hot enough it should just lightly cook the exterior of the tortilla, not be absorbed into it.

                                                                                  If you've ever set up a breading station (i.e. flour, egg, crumb coating), an enchilada station is much the same except it's hot and it's on your stove top and counter...hot oil, warm sauce, fill and serve.

                                                                                  Give it a whirl and see what you think.

                                                                                  1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                    You don't fry it to a crisp. What I do is heat the oil on low heat in a skillet. I only put maybe 1/3" or so. Then slide your tortilla in and submerge it. Wait a few seconds, and pull it out (I use a flat scoop with holes in it). I don't flip them -- I don't find it necessary. I drain them on paper towels. All you are doing is using the hot oil to soften the tortillas, not to brown or crisp them.

                                                                                3. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                  The frying is not a must. We heat the tortillas until soft and pliable (my husband does that over an open glass flame burner) and then immediately dip in heated enchilada sauce, fill and then roll. No problem at all -- and never any cracking.

                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                    When eating tortillas alone I dab a tiny bit of water on them and then nuke them on a plate with another plate over the top to slightly steam them. I wonder if this would do the trick?

                                                                                    1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                      Yes, and you don't even need the plates. Just put your tortilla on a paper towel, dab it with water, fold the rest of the paper towel up around it and then nuke.

                                                                                      I really think the idea that Bear floated below of lightly brushing the tortilla with oil and then heating is a great alternative, and probably faster too. I'm going to try it next time I make enchiladas. I could see, brushing the tortilla with some oil (or even better lard) and then nuking it for a few seconds to soften it before filling.

                                                                          2. From my perspective, I use only corn tortillas for enchiladas.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                                                              Thanks. I went ahead and got some excellent, just made (not technically "hand made") white corn tortillas at the market on Inglewood Blvd. in Mar Vista, just below Culver Blvd. The name is on the tip of my tongue. It's a fantastic grocery store with a heavy specialization in Latino foods. The produce is quite wonderful, but they pump out fresh made tortillas constantly. It's worth a trip alone for them.