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Skinny Refried Bean & Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Amazing, healthier chicken enchiladas with creamy refried beans, chicken and a homemade enchilada sauce. This recipe is a crowd pleasing dinner staple!

Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hour

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Enchiladas are known in my family to be the ultimate comfort food. I’ve grown up all my life eating them a variety of different ways: red sauce, green chile, a tomatillo salsa version, avocado and even sour cream. In my opinion, all enchiladas are worthy of eating.

And shame on me for not giving you this recipe sooner! The first time I made this version, Sarah and I devoured these after a long day of photography and recipes. Our minds were teetering on the verge of delusional and delirious, but our bellies were happier than ever.

chicken enchiladas in pan

Now that Tony’s home, he’s been craving home cooked meals. So far I’ve made him turkey meatballs, healthy chicken parm, pepper jack and chicken pasta and finally, these beautiful enchiladas. He’s an athlete so I have to make sure that my recipes are both satisfying, filling and tasty. Most of the time, he is never able to tell that my recipes are lightened-up or healthier versions of his favorites.

These enchiladas were no exception.

chicken enchiladas in pan with tomatoes and cilantro

Ingredients in these healthy chicken enchiladas:

Chicken breast instead of rotisserie chicken: we bake the chicken first, then shred it. It’s easy and you don’t get the added calories + fat than your average store bought rotisserie chicken does. However, rotisserie chicken is an easy version. If you want to go that route, simply use 2-3 cups shredded chicken.

Just a little bit of cheese: I didn’t go crazy on the amount of cheese in this recipe. Frankly, it isn’t necessary thanks to the wonderful creamy beans and flavorful enchilada sauce. Major win.

Refried beans: I love, love, love using refried beans in my enchilada recipes because of the added nutrition, fiber and protein. Plus it makes the enchiladas literally melt in your mouth. Black bean refried beans are a favorite.

Homemade enchilada sauce: this is the most exciting part of the recipe. Making your own enchilada sauce is easier than you can imagine. Just tomato sauce, garlic, onions and a few spices. You are going to be making it again and again! And best yet, it cooks while your chicken breast is baking so you get two things done at once.

chicken enchiladas on plate

How to serve these enchiladas

These enchiladas are a healthy complete meal and can please any sort of crowd. You are also welcome to use small whole wheat tortilla instead of corn. I personally just love the way corn tortillas taste with the other flavors but it’s up to you.

Top them with avocado, white or green onion, tomato and/or hot sauce. Don’t forget a little sprinkle of cilantro for a boost of fresh flavor.

I hope you love these enchiladas as much as I do. If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment below or tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram!

chicken enchiladas on plate and in pan on table

Other enchilada recipes you might like:

Small Batch Green Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

Vegan Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchiladas

Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchilada Skillet

Vegetarian Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado Lime Crema

Skinny Refried Bean Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

4.92 from 12 votes
chicken enchiladas in pan
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chicken enchiladas
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Serves 12

Amazing, healthier chicken enchiladas with creamy refried beans, cheese, and a homemade enchilada sauce. This recipe is a crowd pleasing dinner staple!


  • For the enchilada sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, very finely diced/minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt, to taste
  • For the enchiladas:
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken (breast or thighs work great!)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can refried beans (I like to use refried black beans)
  • 1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 12 soft yellow corn tortillas (or sub 8 regular flour tortillas)
  • To garnish: chopped onions, avocado, tomato and cilantro


  1. Prepare the enchilada sauce by heating oil in a medium pot over medium high heat. Add in garlic and onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add in chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper and stir for 30 seconds to allow the spices to cook a bit. Stir in tomato sauce, broth, tomato paste then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Lastly stir in apple cider vinegar, then add salt and pepper to taste.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  3. To make the enchiladas: Prepare enchiladas by spreading ¾ cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. To assemble enchiladas, place 2 tablespoons of refried beans in a corn tortilla, then top with a few tablespoons of shredded chicken and about 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce. Roll tortillas up and place seam side down in pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas. 

  4. Next pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas and sprinkle with cheeses. Cover pan with foil and bake enchiladas for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with onion, avocado, tomato and cilantro, if desired. Makes 6 servings, 2 enchiladas each.

Recipe Notes

If you don't want to make your own enchilada sauce, feel free to use 1 (28 ounce) can of red enchilada sauce.

Servings: 12 enchiladas
Serving size: 2
Calories: 400kcal
Fat: 10g
Carbohydrates: 45.6g
Fiber: 10.8g
Sugar: 6.1g
Protein: 31.2g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen

Photography by: Sarah Fennel // Broma Bakery

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