Beef Enchilada Casserole
This easy Enchilada Casserole is layers of seasoned ground beef, beans, cheese, enchilada sauce, and soft flour tortillas all baked together in one dish for cheesy perfection. A simple, delicious one pan meal the whole family will love.
Looking for an easy family-friendly dinner? This Enchilada Casserole recipe is one of those easy weeknight meals that the entire family gets excited about when they see it come out of the oven, all steamy and cheesy and gooey.
This Mexican dish is one of our go-to recipes, when life gets busy. It’s super easy to put together, leftovers are great and it can even be assembled ahead of time.
Why you should make this recipe
- Simple & budget-friendly. This recipe only requires a handful ingredients, most of which are spices, pantry staples and inexpensive. When layered together and cooked until bubbly make a delicious Mexican casserole.
- So tasty. A combination of seasoned ground beef, pinto beans, enchilada sauce, tortillas, and melty cheese create an irresistible dish that you’ll want to enjoy again and again. You have all the flavors of enchiladas but in layered casserole form!
- Crowd pleasing. Everyone loves a cheesy Mexican meal! Even picky kids!
This beef enchilada casserole recipe includes bold spices, other common Mexican ingredients and plenty of cheese. It’s also easy to customize! Feel free to change up the ingredients based on your taste preferences. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Ground beef. You can use any ground meat from ground turkey to ground chicken, but we think ground beef gives this dish the most authentic enchilada flavor. Even cooked chicken would work.
- Spices. A combination of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper add the perfect robust taste. If you’re sensitive to spice, you may want to omit the cayenne pepper.
- Onion. For savory flavor. You can also add in some minced garlic, if you’d like.
- Jalapeño. Cooked along with the onion and ground beef to add complex flavor. If the seeds and ribs are removed, this really isn’t going to add much, if any, spice.
- Beans. Pinto beans give this recipe a tasty boost of protein and fiber. Sub with kidney, chili, or black beans, if preferred.
- Enchilada sauce. Red enchilada sauce is mixed with the meat and layered within the casserole to make this taste just like beef enchiladas.
- Cheese. Any favorite shredded cheese works great. We like cheddar cheese, pepper jack, Monterey Jack cheese or a Mexican cheese blend in this recipe. Reduced fat cheese is great, if you’d like to decrease the fat and calories.
- Tortillas. We prefer flour tortillas, however, feel free to use corn tortillas instead. Use gluten-free tortillas as needed.
How to make this recipe
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and lightly spray a rectangle baking dish (about 11 x 8 inches) with nonstick cooking spray.
- Brown meat. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat add the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, crumbling it as it cooks.
- Add seasonings. When the beef is almost done cooking, add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne. Stir to evenly coat the beef. Remove the beef from the pan and into a medium bowl; set aside.
- Sauté onion and jalapeño. Add the onion and jalapeño to the same skillet. Season with a little salt and pepper. Let cook 3-4 minutes and until softened, stirring frequently.
- Mix in beans and enchilada sauce. Add the beef back to the skillet, along with the beans, and 1 1/2 cups of the enchilada sauce. Save the other 1/2 cup for assembling the casserole. Let simmer for about 2 minutes then remove from the heat.
- Assemble the casserole. Transfer half of the beef mixture to the bottom of the baking dish followed by 1/2 cup cheese, and 2 tortillas.
- Continue to layer ingredients. Add the other half of the beef mixture followed by another 1/2 cup cheese, 2 tortillas, the other 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Bake. Remove foil and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Once done, let the casserole rest for at least 10 to 20 minutes before slicing into square servings. Top with desired toppings and enjoy!
- Sliced black olives. Pairs well with all of the flavors in this dish.
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt. Love the creamy tanginess to balance out the bold Mexican flavor profile.
- Tomatoes. Quartered cherry tomatoes or seeded, chopped Roma tomatoes or skip the plain tomatoes and use pico de gallo.
- Cilantro. A sprinkle of fresh herbs adds delicious fresh flavor.
- Avocados. Chopped or sliced avocados happen to be my favorite Mexican topping!
- Guacamole. Use my homemade guacamole recipe (so good!), your favorite recipe or even use store bought for delicious creaminess.
- Lettuce. Shredded iceberg or Romaine lettuce offers a fresh, crisp, contrasting crunch.
- Red onion. A little thinly sliced red onion adds extra fresh zestiness to the meal.
- Hot Sauce or salsa. Offer hot sauce and/or salsa, so individuals can customize the heat.
- Grate your own cheese. For best flavor and melting, we recommend grating your own cheese. The bagged pre-shredded cheeses are coated in anti-caking agents and preservatives and just don’t melt as smoothly.
- Heat level. You control the heat in this dish depending on what enchilada sauce you choose. Be sure to use mild, if your family is sensitive to spice.
- Make ahead. This recipe is great to make ahead and can be assembled up to about 12 hours before you plan to serve it. Prepare it as instructed, then cover it and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. You may need to add 15 additional minutes to the baking time, since you’ll be starting with a cold casserole.
- Resting time. Let the baked casserole rest for about 20 minutes before slicing it. This will help the layers hold together.
Frequently asked questions
This dish is plenty hearty to enjoy on its own, but feel free to add some sides for a full Mexican spread. We love this with cilantro lime cauliflower rice, tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, and a skinny margarita!
Cover the enchilada bake with aluminum foil for the first 30 minutes, so that the top doesn’t get too brown. Then, in the last 5 to 7 minutes, remove the foil and continue to cook, so that the cheese on top gets melted and golden.
Calories will vary a bit, depending on the exact ingredients used. However, this recipe has about 370 calories per serving with a whopping 22 grams of protein, and there are 6 servings.
Casserole recipes, like this one, are versatile and easy to customize with different ingredients, depending on taste preferences and what you have available. Here are some options:
- Swap the protein. Instead of ground beef, turkey or chicken. Try using about 2 1/2 cups shredded chicken. Sauté the onion and jalapeño first and then add in the chicken, spices, beans and 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce. Continue with the remainder of the recipe as instructed.
- Add-ins. You can leave the pinto beans out and even add other ingredients like corn, sautéed mushrooms, green chiles, and/or tomatoes.
- Make this dairy free. Use your favorite dairy-free/vegan shredded cheese.
- Keep this gluten free. Be sure to use gluten-free corn tortillas or a different gluten-free tortilla.
- Storing leftovers. Leftover casserole should be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 to 5 days.
- Reheat. Individual servings can be rewarmed in the microwave or multiple servings are best reheated an oven heated to 350°F until warmed through.
- Freezer. Baked casserole freezes well, if properly wrapped and stored for up to 3 months. To enjoy after freezing, let it defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or an oven heated to 350°F until warmed through.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Beef Enchilada Casserole
- 1 lb. ground beef
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 yellow onion, diced (1/2 cup)
- 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
- 1 (14 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14 ounce) can red enchilada sauce, divided
- 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack or Mexican cheese blend
- 4 flour tortillas, 6 – 8 inch size
- Optional toppings – lime wedges, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and lightly spray a rectangle baking dish (about 11 x 8 inches) with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat add the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, crumbling it as it cooks.
- When the beef is almost done cooking, add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne. Toss to evenly coat the beef. Remove the beef from the pan and into a medium bowl; set aside.
- Add the onion and jalapeño to the same skillet. Season with a little salt and pepper. Let cook 3-4 minutes and until softened, stirring frequently.
- Add the beef back to the skillet, along with the beans, and 1 1/2 cups of the enchilada sauce. Save the other 1/2 cup for assembling the casserole. Let simmer for about 2 minutes then remove from the heat.
- Add half of the beef mixture to the bottom of the baking dish followed by 1/2 cup cheese, and 2 tortillas.
- Add the other half of the beef mixture followed by another 1/2 cup cheese, 2 tortillas, the other 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Once done, let the casserole rest for at least 10 to 20 minutes before slicing into square servings. Top with desired toppings and enjoy!